What to Expect on a Christmas Cruise

You might be thinking about getting away for Christmas for the first time. Here are tips and useful information on what to expect on a Christmas cruise vacation.

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Christmas is an exciting time of year, and is even more exciting when you will be spending the holiday on board a cruise ship. But what can you expect on a Christmas cruise and how is it different than cruising at other times of year?

When Is Christmas on a Cruise Ship?

While Christmas arrives every year on December 25, the exact dates when Christmas celebrations occur on cruise ships can vary. While each cruise line will have at least some holiday festivities throughout the season, the cheeriest of holiday cruises might start as early as late November or early December and could stretch through the end of the year or even the first few days of January.

How holiday celebrations are handled on board will depend on the cruise line, the length of the cruise, the exact itinerary and where the ship is embarking for each sailing. For each line, however, the climax of the celebratory season is the week of December 25, and that is when passengers will see the most seasonal spirit on board.

What You Will Always Find on a Cruise – Even at Christmas

It is important to note that even during the holiday season, cruise lines do not sacrifice their signature services, fun and luxury. Regardless of when you set sail, you’ll still be treated to attentive service, delicious gourmet food, exciting entertainment, exotic ports of call, relaxing spa facilities, state-of-the-art gym equipment and a full schedule of activities such as trivia contests, craft projects, cooking demonstrations, casino tournaments, deck parties, poolside games and more.

Also Read: Is a Christmas Cruise Really Worth It?

No matter what holiday you may celebrate – or none at all – these fabulous facets of a cruise vacation are always available. While there may be more holiday touches on board during the Christmas season, you don’t need to worry about the basics of a cruise vacation being neglected.

What to Expect on a Christmas Cruise
Photo By: Melissa Mayntz

Special Activities on a Christmas Cruise

Depending on the cruise line, sailing date, port itinerary and passenger complement, a wide variety of holiday happenings may be found on board a cruise ship. Just some of the Christmas fun you may find includes…

  • Holiday-themed craft projects, such as making cards or ornaments
  • Christmas tree or Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremonies
  • Gingerbread displays or decorating activities
  • Ugly sweater or Christmas costume contests
  • Caroling parties or holiday music from deck musicians
  • Visits from Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus or other seasonal celebrities
  • Holiday story times or Christmas bedtime stories
  • “Snow” celebrations on deck or in a large atrium
  • Seasonal movies offered on poolside theaters or in-cabin televisions
  • Special holiday-themed entertainment shows
  • Christmas or other holiday-themed trivia contests
  • Religious services or non-denominational Christmas services
  • Special gifts for passengers or special gifts available for purchase

While not all of these activities are offered on every cruise or with every cruise line, any cruise that sets sail near Christmas is sure to have special activities in store for its passengers to celebrate.

Other Holiday Touches You’ll Find on a Cruise Ship

Seasonal activities aren’t the only holiday fun you’ll find on a Christmas cruise. During the holiday season, ships are decked out in their finest seasonal attire with garlands, ribbons, twinkle lights, trees and even gingerbread villages on display.

The gift shops may be offering specials so you can pick up that seasonal souvenir for everyone on your holiday list, and on-board photography studios may offer specials to turn your very best formal night portraits into holiday cards. Menus are infused with holiday favorites and seasonal drinks may appear as drink specials during Christmas sailings.

As you pull into ports of call you’ll be greeted with local festive flair and decorations, and some cruise destinations may be in the midst of their own celebrations with parades, holiday bazaars and other seasonal fun.

Even passengers get into the spirit and you’re likely to see plenty of stateroom doors decorated with holiday touches, and more than one passenger is likely to be wearing a Santa hat, light-up necklace or seasonal sweater.

Also Read: 10 Useful Christmas Gifts For Cruise Travelers

No matter how you like to celebrate the holiday season, you’re sure to find festive fun on a Christmas cruise. With so much going on and so many amazing holiday touches on board, an oceangoing holiday could be your very best Christmas ever. Happy Holidays!

Melissa Mayntz
Melissa Mayntz
Avid, enthusiastic cruiser (30 cruises and counting!), having sailed on multiple cruise lines, 20+ different ships in a variety of classes, and visited ports of call in more than 6 countries, including Caribbean, Mexican, Alaskan, and Hawaiian ports. Widely traveled on multiple continents, as well as a professional freelance writer and editor with more than 18 years experience and thousands of articles published. Find out more about us here.


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