Planning for a Christmas Cruise


Are you fed up with cooking, cleaning and your extended family during the festive period? Maybe you think it’s tradition to stay at home? Well, now is the perfect time to make new traditions! A Christmas cruise is the perfect escape from the monotonous rituals, and the perfect opportunity to experience something a little more adventurous – without losing the festive spirit.

Here, you’ll find some tips, tricks and myth busting to get you all prepared for choosing, booking and enjoying your Christmas and New Year on board!

Who’s coming?

To find the perfect voyage specifically for you and your needs, you’ll need to think about how many people and who will be in your party.

  • Travelling with small children? Opt for a larger ship with lots of activities, childcare and fun for everyone of all ages.
  • Are you a mix of adults and children? Look for a medium-sized ship. They’ll be activities for children, but also a more suited atmosphere for adults to meet and socialise.
  • Is luxury is what you’re after, with high-quality dining, excellent entertainment and luxurious surroundings? Then look for smaller ships; they usually have fewer children (sometimes adult-only) and hold less than 950 passengers, which leaves for a more romantic atmosphere.


Are you looking to escape the cold weather and bask under the sun, or would you rather something a little more adventurous in the cold? If the latter is what you’re after, then check out some European Christmas market river cruises, where you can sail along the Rhine River in Germany, to France and explore the historic capitals of Austria and Hungary. Stop off at the infamous Christmas markets and enjoy some mulled wine, listen to carollers and soak in the culture.

  • Top Tip: To get the best prices, you’ll either want to book these trips early or if you have the flexibility to be a little more spontaneous, look for some last-minute deals!

iceland christmas markets northern lights

To be promised a ‘White Christmas’ head to Iceland, and discover a mysterious and unspoiled country full of incredible natural beauty and breath taking scenery.

  • Top Tip: Ideally, book a package deal with flights included.

If you’re looking to escape the cold, then the Caribbean Islands are what you’re after. Explore beautiful islands and be as relaxed or inquisitive as you’d like. Check out the markets, dine on local cuisine, swim in the warm sea and enjoy a stress-free pace of life!

monkey eating coconut sea turtles

If you’d rather explore the other side of the world, check out cruises from Asia and immerse yourself in the unique culture, warm weather, amazing nature and thriving cities. If  Australia’s spiking your interest, you’ll be sure to find pristine beaches, lush greenery, and some unique wildlife!

Christmas Themed Activities, Food and Celebrations

Each cruise line and ship will have its own twist and agenda to celebrating the festive season. Be prepared for sensory overload; cruise lines like to decorate the ship to Santa’s Grotto standards. Look out for Father Christmas, maybe some of his elves and mistletoe around the corner, (if you’re lucky, your children might even receive gifts from Santa himself on Christmas morning)!

Make sure to check out the planned events to see which activities you’d like to immerse yourself in the most; from festive arts and crafts, carolling to story times – there really is something for the whole family to enjoy. Usually, you’ll find holiday-themed meals that provide a wide variety of food and drinks. Gorge on turkey, gingerbread houses, Christmas pudding and all the trimmings – without the chore of slaving over the stove!

christmas drinks christmas dinner

Performances and live entertainment are a usual highlight to most cruises, and there is no exception for Christmas and New Year! If you’re sailing on a larger ship, you’ll most likely be offered a Broadway-quality Christmas show and tree-lighting ceremonies.

The festive fun doesn’t only happen on board; you can participate in local festivities when your ship docks. Get involved in carnivals, celebrations and local traditions – wherever you stop!

Do a little bit of research into the ship’s online image gallery, check out reviews and guests’ own pictures. This way, you’ll get better insights into what to expect and is being offered.

Be prepared

Your wardrobe will be dependent on your destination’s climate and weather forecast, but there are a few essentials you mustn’t forget. Check out our ‘what to pack’ guide here. One of the most impressive events to cruising is the evening entertainment and formal dinners. Make sure to include your Sunday Best for meet-and-greets with your ship’s crew, the captain and for special meals.

When it comes to sailing during Christmas, include a special holiday outfit! Whether it’s a simple festive jumper, Santa hat or a full-on Ms Claus outfit! There’ll be holiday-themed dances, entertainment and dinners to indulge in, so make sure you look the part!

Gifts are an important part to Christmas, but be mindful of the space it will take up in not only your suitcase, but also for the person receiving the gift. The cruise itself is often the gift, so a little offering may be the perfect touch to celebrate one another. If you’re likely to forget to go shopping before you depart – don’t worry – there will be shopping options on board, and at your stop-off destinations.

christmas decorations and gifts

The main areas will be decorated spectacularly, so why not make your own cabin that little bit festive, too? If you’ve got extra room in your case, bring a little Christmas tree, some lights, or a wreath to add a bit of magic. If you can’t fit them in your case, there will be plenty of opportunities to pick up some festive souvenirs throughout your journey!

Jamie, Explore with Ed

Christmas is a wonderful time of year to take a cruise, the ships are all decked out with garlands, twinkling lights and poinsettia plants and the on board spas are a perfect opportunity for some rest and relaxation during this busy time of year.

“Throughout my festive cruise on board Queen Elizabeth, guests were enchanted by the on board Chef’s gingerbread village display inside the grand Queen’s Room, a place where many of us enjoyed a luxurious Afternoon Tea. After all, Christmas time is a great excuse to indulge, and cruises offer the most enticing menus and tempting treats around the clock.” 

If you think a Christmas Cruise is for you, then check out our deals, or call us on 0808 2746 777 or browse our online catalogue of cruise deals.



About Author

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Darcy is a writer and blogger, with a passion for travel. When she's not exploring somewhere new, or writing about her experiences, you'll most likely find her on the field-hockey pitch, or indulging in a good book!

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