What to Expect on a Christmas Cruise


Cruising over the Christmas period is not the typical experience you would expect at other times of the year. Many cruise lines embrace Christmas with vigour, but remember that this is also a much more popular time of year to book a cruise so think ahead.

Christmas Cheer

Carefully consider your itinerary when booking a Christmas cruise. Ships on a regular weekly schedule will mostly maintain their normal itineraries. This means you may end up in port on Christmas day, when everything is shut. Cruise lines with varying itineraries will try to arrange for ships to spend big holidays at sea.

Ship restaurants will offer holiday menus with seasonal favourites such as turkey and eggnog. There are various holiday parties as well as religious services (led by priests, rabbis or ministers depending on your religion) for those who don’t want to miss out on their usual Christmas day practises.

Passengers of all ages can look forward to carolling, seasonal films and festive performances from the entertainment staff. There will also be lots of festive décor around the ship.

Cruise Directors tend to offer special entertainment over the Christmas period and this will vary from ship to ship. You can expect your Cruise Director to host a special Christmas show or dinner, but it is best to check with individual lines for exact details of this.

What do the Different Cruise Lines Offer?

Various cruise lines will offer different entertainment over the Christmas period:

Royal Caribbean get into the Christmas spirit with cookie decorating and a parade featuring Santa and his elves. The on-board cinemas screen Christmas classics, and on ships with rinks, there’s ice-skating to enjoy.

P&O Cruises traditionally have Father Christmas to wish passengers a Bon Voyage as the ship sails, along with a port band playing Christmas songs. Public rooms are decorated to a high standard and there is entertainment in the form of carol services, a nativity and Christmas music played throughout.

On Christmas Day, Father Christmas visits, church services are held and a festive feast is served.

Thomson Cruises are decorated with wreaths and festive signs proclaiming traditional holiday greetings. The Cruise Director will host several themed shows and at least one seasonal film will be shown. Again, Father Christmas makes an appearance before a traditional Christmas dinner is served.

Every cruise puts its own spin on Christmas, but you can rest assured that you will feel relaxed and entertained on a Christmas cruise.

Christmas Cruise Deals

Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Tanya Hart


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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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