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5 festive alternative ways to ring in 2011

By Natalie Avon, Special to CNN
Go on a cruise for New Year's Eve, and the start of 2011 will be smooth sailing.
Go on a cruise for New Year's Eve, and the start of 2011 will be smooth sailing.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Try an alternative New Year's Eve destination to start the year off right
  • Some cruise lines offer holiday cruise packages
  • Attending a gala or ball will give your celebration a glamorous feel
  • A yoga retreat or guided meditation at midnight will keep your mind at peace
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(CNN) -- It's New Year's Eve, and you're parked in front of your television with a bottle of stale champagne, watching the ball drop ... again. Wouldn't you rather be cruising the open seas or riding a roller coaster?

We thought so.

Start the New Year off right doing something extraordinary. Sure, you might have already exceeded your holiday budget, but plan ahead so next year isn't so predictable.

Relaxing cruise

Standing around in the freezing cold waiting for the ball to drop is so last year. Book a cruise and start the year feeling warm, cheerful and relaxed.

Holland America Line books holiday cruises to the Caribbean, Mexico and Hawaii, among other destinations. Trips can range anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, and you won't have to worry about finding a ride home or navigating the crowds in Times Square.

If you're on a Royal Caribbean cruise for the holiday, there is a themed party for adults and separate New Year's Eve parties for teens and kids. You'll miss out on fireworks, but the all-you-can-eat appetizers will more than make up for it.

Amusement park

If you're going to be cheering or shouting at midnight anyway, you might as well be at the top of a roller coaster.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio is open from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. on New Year's Eve, with the park transformed into a winter wonderland for the Holiday in the Park event. While surrounded by thousands of colorful holiday lights, patrons can enjoy live entertainment and festive treats, in between riding roller coasters.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in the San Francisco Bay Area will also be open late on New Year's Eve, from 4 p.m. to midnight, though rides close at 11:30 p.m. The celebration will feature family sledding, dance parties, live music and fireworks. And like Fiesta Texas, Discovery Kingdom will also be hosting Holiday in the Park.

Peaceful meditation

Want a little more "om" in the New Year? Meditating your way to 2011 might be the way to do it.

To enter January feeling fully renewed, embark on a four-day yoga retreat to Sedona, Arizona. On New Year's Eve, participants journal about the year's gains and losses, share intimacies with one another and partake in silent group meditation.

For those in New York who have seen the ball drop one too many times, the Chakrasambara Kadampa Meditation Center and the Vishwa Dharma Mandalam will offer guided meditation and devotional mantra chanting, respectively, at the end of 2010.

Winter fun

Though known best for its immaculate skiing, Vail, Colorado, has many options for other winter fun on New Year's Eve.

Start the day off skiing at Vail Mountain, which has 31 lifts, three terrain parks and 193 trails. The park is open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and has chic lodges for hot drinks and snacks après-ski.

Ice skating at Vail Square in Lionshead Village is another way to enjoy winter weather. The space is surrounded by fire pits, boutiques, galleries and cafes. Move over to Golden Peak Village at 6:15 p.m. for the torchlight parade, holiday music and fireworks on the mountains -- a snowy way to ring in the New Year.

Swanky gala

If you're set on getting all decked out for the New Year, Washington D.C.'s Gala is the place to be.

The event is held at the Wardman Park Marriott Hotel and offers eight different cultural celebrations spanning seven ballrooms. Featured cultures are New York City, Russia, Cuba, Ireland, China, New Orleans, Jamaica and Italy. Tickets range from $109 to $239, depending on the package you select.

To really go all out, the Imperial Ball at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna is selling tickets for 570 Euros (about $750) that include a four-course dinner, a welcome cocktail, red and white wines, champagne and seat reservation. Plus, you'll be ringing in the New Year with the imperial court.