Is it worth breaking with tradition to create new festive experiences and family memories?


Christmas on the MSC Splendida
MSC Splendida at Christmas time

We’re afraid we can’t answer that for you, but what we can do is tell you as much as possible about Christmas cruises so that you can make an easy and informed decision about the best Christmas experience for you and your family.

The benefits of Christmas Cruises

The main benefit of a Christmas cruise is to give everyone a break. As a nation we’ve become so worried about creating the “perfect” Christmas, that often this time of year has become the most stressful when it should be the most enjoyable. Everything is taken care of, all you need to do is pack your bags. No cooking, no worrying about if you’ve got everyone’s favourite tipple or snacks, there’s even no need to worry about finding enough chairs for everyone. You can sit back and focus on enjoying quality time with your family.

Another perk of cruising at this time of year is the pursuit of your perfect weather. If you want a white Christmas or a sun-soaked getaway, you can have your preference depending on the itinerary you choose.

Then there’s the entertainment onboard. From swimming pools and spas to all-singing and all-dancing shows, there’s something for the whole family to enjoy. Depending on which cruise line you choose there are also more festive activities to enjoy including a visit from Santa and carol singing too.

Lastly,  you don’t have to worry about hauling your Christmas decorations out of the attic to decorate your house from top to toe and then pack them up again in the new year. Instead you can appreciate the colourful Christmas decorations that flow throughout your cruise ship, keeping your festive spirits high.

Take a look at this photo below, every year Celebrity Cruises create a gingerbread town onboard, this one is aboard the  Celebrity Century:



Popular Christmas Cruise destinations


              • The Norwegian Fjords and Scandinavia: Cruise through the fjords and see some of the worlds most majestic and awe-inspiring scenery before stopping at one of the charming ports of call which are lit up with colourful Christmas lights. Browse nearby Christmas Markets (or even go ice-skating!) before warming up with hot, spiced wine and freshly made gingerbread cookies. Christmas doesn’t get more idyllic than this!
              • The Caribbean: If hot weather and sunshine is part of your recipe for a perfect getaway then a destination to seriously consider is the Caribbean. Pack your swimsuit and summer clothes, grab the sun cream and start thinking about which cocktail you’re going to treat yourself to first!
              • Alaska: If you’re seeking snow for an authentic white Christmas then Alaska couldn’t be more perfect. The temperatures are colder at this time of year but there’s something quite cosy about getting all wrapped up to head outdoors before coming back onboard and warming up in the luxurious lounges or indoor pool if your ship of choice has one. Your excursions could include dog sledding or perhaps a visit to see Santa in his grotto!
              • The Canary Islands: The Canary Islands have everything you could want as a visitor. There’s stunning beaches, fabulous dining venues and great locations to enjoy a drink or two in the sunshine. The islands also have plenty of history to discover in the ports of call, not to mention an incredible night-life if you’re also extending your cruise over New Year too!




Royal Caribbean ship at Christmas
Christmas onboard Royal Caribbean
Christmas decorations onboard Celebrity
Celebrity Cruise decorations


What to bring on a Christmas Cruise

There’s not much you really need to bring on a cruise for Christmas. If you do exchange gifts with the family and you’re worried about lugging these onboard and taking up space, you could always treat older family members to one of the spa treatments onboard or vouchers for a meal in one of the speciality restaurants which isn’t included with your package. Otherwise you could always pick up a special souvenir in one of the ports of call which is a great way to remember a unique Christmas experience. You might also want to bring a little Christmas tree for your cabin. You can buy tabletop Christmas trees which come with all the decorations in one box for around £20-£30.  It’s a good idea to bring special occasion wear too. Most cruise lines plan Christmas parties and the dress code is a little more formal. Gents may want to pack a suit whilst ladies might want to opt for a cocktail dress.   

How do the cruise lines make it special?

Every cruise line is different here’s some of the ways in which your Christmas cruise could be made special:

    • Decorations throughout the ship (most cruise lines)
    • Visit from Santa (most cruise lines)
    • Carol singing (most cruise lines)
    • Card and decoration making (most cruise lines)
    • Special Christmas menus with traditional treats like sugar cookies, gingerbread, mulled wine and eggnog (most cruise lines)
    • Special Christmas show (Most cruise lines)
    • Christmas cooking classes looking crafting with sugar and marzipan (Azamara)
    • Christmas music available in your cabin (Carnival)
    • Holiday movies in the onboard cinema e.g. Polar Express (Carnival)
    • Decoration making in the Kids Club (Carnival)
    • Midnight buffet on Christmas eve (Celebrity)
    • Gingerbread houses (Celebrity)
    • Santa’s late night milk and cookie snack (Holland America)
    • A turn-down gift in passenger staterooms (Holland America)
    • Snow machines in the atrium (Princess Cruises)


        So there you have our insider guide to Christmas on a cruise ship. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask in the comments below and we’ll reply as soon as we can.