Spending the festive season on a cruise is one way to ensure that there are minimal tears, no burnt turkeys, and everyone gets to relax.
Ship crews pull out all the stops to get their guests in the mood for Christmas with activities, shows and food – and the celebrations often continue into the New Year.
While contemporary lines like Royal Caribbean and P&O have plenty of festive fun for children like pictures with Santa, upmarket premium and luxury lines like Oceania Cruises will be rolling out feasts for foodies during Hanukkah and Christmas.
See what the different lines do to welcome the season’s festivities aboard.
Norwegian Cruise Line
On NCL, the staff deck the fleet out in holiday décor of green and red decorations. There will be Christmas trees and a giant gingerbread house crafted by the chefs on board. The chefs will also be preparing special dining menus with extended Champagne offerings as well as holiday treats which are available throughout the cruise.
Christmas themed dishes include Roasted Maryland Turkey, Baked Country Ham, Fruit Cake and a Milk Chocolate Yule Log.
Get into the festive mood with Christmas carols sung by the crew in the theatre and, of course, keep an eye out for Santa! The kids will also have the chance to enjoy one-on-one time with Santa and tell him what’s at the top of their wish list while posing for a photo.
The Viking ships will be decorated for Christmas with festive adornments and guests can even help with the Christmas tree decorations. The line also has Christmas carol singing, gingerbread cookie demonstrations by the ship’s executive chefs. The dining and entertainment will also reflect festive traditions. The line will also have New Year’s Eve party for all guests.
The line will be bringing out the trees, garlands, lights, menorahs and gingerbread villages to decorate their fleet. While onboard, you can also tuck into some of the special holiday treats like fruit cake, candy canes, Italian panettone and Russian tea snowballs. Egg nog will also be served on the eve and Christmas day in the Grand Dining Room and Terrace Café. If that is not enough to get you excited for the big day, there will also be a special reading of “The Night Before Christmas” on the eve. On Marina and Riviera there are also special holiday arts and crafts activities in the Artist Loft. Jolly Saint Nick and his helpers will also make a special appearance aboard each of the ships on Christmas Day. Special services will also be held onboard for both Christmas and Hanukah.
On Oceania, Christmas Dinner is typically a seven course feast featuring items such as an amuse-bouche of lobster medallions with daikon and caviar in acacia honey vinaigrette; Napoleon of sautéed duck foie gras and rhubarb with a violet and hibiscus flower sauce; creamy pumpkin soup cappuccino with fried parsley; a whole roasted Christmas Tom Turkey with apple stuffing; and, if there’s still room, an indulgent Christmas pudding.
Regent Seven Seas
The line has plenty of festive activities line up for the holidays. Start with Christmas bingo or a Christmas team trivia before heading to a special Chef’s Christmas Lunch. In the afternoon, tuck into popcorn as the theatre shows Christmas and holiday movies. Head for a tea with a Christmas flare prepared by Regent’s pastry chef.
Regent Seven Seas runs a unique hallway holiday party. Take a glass from your suite and step into the corridor where members of the ships company will be in the hallways to greet you. Wear Christmas colours while wine and canapes are served, with singers carolling their way around the ship. Remember to catch Santa as he brings Christmas cheer to the ship as well as “The Magic of Christmas” show for the whole family in the theatre.
Seabourn kicks off the holiday season with Thanksgiving, where guests can enjoy a traditional turkey dinner, prepared by the ship’s Executive Chef and his team. As Christmas approaches, the ship will be transformed into a holiday wonderland with gingerbread village displays and evergreen hangings draped from railings and balustrades. Seek out the additional displays at the buffet and The Restaurant, containing Christmas chocolates, a chocolate Santa Claus, fresh Christmas cookies, candy canes, dried fruits and fresh clementines.
Tuck into the duck main course on Christmas Eve dinner and start off Christmas Day with a brunch buffet crowned with a Yuletide Log cake and cookies. There is also an eggnog, Glogg and Gluhwein party. Fit in Christmas cake at Christmas High Tea and Christmas day dinner will have your classics: traditional roast turkey, English pudding, mince pies with lots of decorations, crowns and each guest receives a Christmas cracker.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival knows we Aussies celebrate Christmas Down Under a little different. Instead of a sweater party, they got a ‘Festive Outfit’ competition. Dress up in your most creative, original, embarrassing, wild and/or cute outfits to win prizes! There will also be a ‘Let it Snow Event’ in the Atrium where you’re invited to join the Carnival crew to sing Christmas carols as the snow display gently falls.
The Christmas tree will also be in the Atrium, awaiting it’s grand light up in the Tree Lighting Event, where the lights will be synchronised with your favourite holiday music. Families will also have their chance for their photo op with Santa this year when he graces the Atrium. You can even squeeze in a letter to be sent to the North Pole. Christmas will also be celebrated with a Christmas lunch with all the trimmings and crackers.
The line will also honour the Aussie tradition of Boxing Day cricket with a live broadcast of the Ashes test match. A backyard cricket will also be hosted in the on board Sports Cage.
A Christmas sailing on a Cunard Queen is filled with fine traditions, beautiful Christmas trees, special menus, festive entertainment and a carol or two in the Grand Lobby, says the line. Go onboard to take in the Christmas tree and accompanying decorations in the Grand Lobby. You can also lookout for the Gingerbread Village that the Chef Patissier spends weeks planning, baking and icing. The festive menus feature Christmas favourites like roast turkey, pudding and more. And of course, Santa will be there to bring delight to all.
Princess Cruises has Christmas activities planned for the adults and the kids on their Christmas sailings. The adults can go for a ham carving class while the kids get into gingerbread house building and kids carols. The feast on the eve and Christmas day will include ham, turkey and pudding.
The Christmas Day Buffet will also include items like eggnog, raisin bread, cooked ham, roasted duck and turkey as well as Yule log cake. If you are feeling peckish in the afternoon while waiting for the tree lighting ceremony and surprise visit from Santa, you can also tuck into afternoon tea featuring Dresdner stolen, Christmas cookies, French patisserie, cakes and various open-face and closed sandwiches.
P&O Cruises offers a festive cruise themed with carolling, delicious Christmas fare with all the trimmings for lunch and dinner on Christmas Day and a visit from Santa with presents for the whole family. The Christmas dinner features entrees like ocean trout cake, melon tartare with mint and ricotta cheese with ginger marmalade, game confit terrine with apple compote and cumberland sauce. For the mains, you get a selection of sesame seed crusted snapper with ponzu broth, cured leg ham in mushroom and sourdough crust or sage and honey roast turkey with stone fruit stuffing.
Christmas on Royal Caribbean features the time-honoured tradition of lighting the tree and the ship transforming into a twinkling Christmas wonderland. There will also be Christmas feast in the main dining room, featuring festive favourites. You can also join Santa’s elves in making mischief on the decks, sit down for a family story time.
Take plenty of photos around the ship and of course Santa when he comes round to deliver small presents to all children and teenagers on Christmas. Other festive activities on board include carolling ugly sweater and ornament decorating, holiday games and trivia, gingerbread cookie decorating classes and a holiday movie night. Midnight Mass will be held on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Celebrity Cruises offers a luxurious Christmas with holiday meals created by Michelin-starred chefs. The ship will also be decked out with decorations along with plenty of festive holiday shows you can enjoy. You can also get in the holiday spirit with some Christmas carolling as Santa comes round to deliver gifts to children.
Crystal’s ocean itineraries that fall over the Christmas and New Year period has special holiday activities and decorations – with sounds, sights and smells of Christmas filling the ship. Whether it’s guests and crew alike coming together for carols in Crystal Cove, screenings of Christmas classics in the Hollywood Theatre, or special holiday performances. You will be welcomed onboard with decorations throughout the ship. Traditional eggnog and Christmas cookies are never far, along with a Grand Gala Buffet and Holiday Dinner at Waterside.
The line will have holiday themed meals as well as a public display of gingerbread houses and decorations. Silver suites and above will also be decorated with gingerbread houses. There will also be Christmas carolling as well as holiday themed cocktails. The new holiday cocktail menu is not yet ready but going by last years, there might be Baileys Cinnamon Spice, Frost D’ Snow Man, Gingerbread Martini and many more.