If you’re longing to put some wonder and delight back into Christmas (after all, it can be a stressful time of year), look toward the sea and take a cruise that includes the Christmas holiday. Cruise lines make Christmas at sea absolutely wonderful!
We spoke with Henk and Lucia Barnhoorn, experienced and well-traveled Cruise Specialists Voyage Hosts about Christmas Cruises.
Cruising at Christmas can restore your enthusiasm for the season. After months of incessant advertisements for Christmas sales, trailers of disaster movies set to open on Christmas Day, and other things that can dampen the holiday spirit, it’s lovely to step aboard a ship that’s draped in twinkling Christmas decorations. There may even be some faux snow!
“Decorations are everywhere in the common spaces of the ship, and they are gorgeous,” said Lucia. “It instantly puts you in the spirit of the season.”
“The atrium of the ship is always a wonderful place for photos, because every level will be decorated,” added Henk. “Every table in the dining room will be decorated.”
“And, when you sail with Cruise Specialists hosts, we’ll put a little decoration on your stateroom door, too,” said Lucia.
You won’t have to miss worship services. Many cruise lines arrange special non-denominational services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day; some offer Catholic mass as well.
If you love the hymns and carols of Christmas, check the daily bulletin for sing-alongs, opportunities to go caroling around the ship, or even join a passenger choir.
You can look forward to a delicious feast. And, you don’t have to lift a finger to plan it, shop for it, prepare it, or clean it up. “Christmas dinner on a cruise ship is a lot of fun, with all the traditional favorites,” said Henk. “There may also be some specialties of the region you’re sailing in, or of the home country of your cruise line.”
You can assure the kids that Santa will be able to find the ship. “There are usually lots of families with children on a Christmas cruise, and it’s a great thing to watch the children making lots of new friends,” said Henk. “There are usually plenty of grandparents, too, and it’s very family-oriented.”
Many cruise lines provide a small Christmas gift for each child, presented by Santa himself (so much more fun than waiting in line for him at the mall).
We were on a Christmas cruise where all the kids gathered around the big tree in the atrium early on Christmas morning, still in their pajamas. It was so sweet to watch them accept their gifts from Santa.
You can expect lots of holiday-themed entertainment. The deck parties, shows, movies and more will reflect festive holiday themes, recalling everything that’s best about the season. Most cruise lines ramp up their kids programs for Christmas, too, with activities like cookie decorating, Santa parades, and readings of favorite holiday tales.
You won’t have to miss your extended family or friends. One solution is to invite them along: you could even cover a portion of their fares as a Christmas gift. If that’s not possible, don’t worry. “If anyone on a Cruise Specialists hosted cruise starts missing home a little bit, we are there to be their family,” said Lucia.
Finally, Christmas isn’t the only holiday you can celebrate on a cruise: most cruise lines decorate and have special menus and activities for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and the New Year, too.