It’s undoubtedly a thought that has crossed everyone’s minds – wouldn’t Christmas be great if you didn’t have to do all that faffing around with cooking, cleaning and decorating; without, you know, all the hassle?
Well, we are here this week to tell you there is one sure-fire way to enjoy all the festivities without any of the angst and aggravation that go with them (including having to deal with Uncle Albert’s constant whining about his National Service) – take a cruise.
It might not seem the obvious thing to do when everyone around you is getting in their annual supplies of chocolates, dates, egg nog and cheesy footballs (are they still a thing, by the way?), but, increasingly, cruise lines offer the ideal stress-free Yuletide, whisking you away to sunny climes and a carefree atmosphere where absolutely everything is done for you.
Every meal – including a proper, grand Christmas dinner – is part of the Christmas cruise package, and that means the whole festive vibe, from decking the halls to pouring the drinks, is handled by trained professionals, right down to the choice of music.
You can even do your Christmas shopping on board and have them do the wrapping. It’s a picture-perfect scenario, all aided by the soothing melody of the sea – and the sure-fire realisation that it is probably blowing a gale with rain coming down sideways back at home.
Popular December destinations include the Caribbean and Central America, Hawaii (notably with Norwegian Cruise Line), Asia (with Princess, Seabourn, Celebrity and Holland America), South America (with Oceania, Azamara and Regent), New Zealand and Australia (Cunard and Silversea) and the Canaries (Cunard).
If that is the broad picture, though, what of the small detail? Well, if things like seasonal cookies, films and entertainment are important to you, most lines ensure a generous helping of the typical accessories and activities that help to make the period special. Religious services are also part of every ship’s offering at this time of year, and hence whether it is Christmas or Hannukah, you can celebrate accordingly.
Pop-up choirs with carols are another typical festive touch, while the children certainly aren’t left out, with arts and crafts for the occasion, plus, of course, the chance to meet Santa and receive a suitable gift.
As regards some of the more individual touches, by the various cruise lines, you can look out for:
As well as the high style you expect from this ultra-luxe line; their festive ‘extras’ include a grand tree-lighting ceremony to start each Christmas cruise, plus some genuinely superb decorations and even gingerbread houses.
Tradition is the backbone of all Cunard voyages at this time of year, most notably with carols in the grand lobby, mince pies, a full gingerbread village and visits from Santa, as well as a superbly-decorated multi-storey tree in the lobby to ensure an imposing sense of seasonal style. There’s a substantial turkey dinner with all the trimmings, too.
Disney Cruise Line
If there is one line that genuinely revels in the spirit of the season, it is Disney. With their characters all sporting special outfits for the Holiday cruise, they also feature Santa’s Winter Summerland Ball and even ‘snow’ in the atrium!
It doesn’t get much more festive than a special Christmas Eve reading of ‘The Night Before Christmas,’ along with carols and a seasonal show in the main lounge. Look out for a visit from Santa and his elves as well.
The classic British line is perfect for family cruises and takes that ability to entertain everyone up to a new level over Christmas and New Year. Highlights include a Christmas Day Children’s Tea, children’s parties and a special appearance from Father Christmas himself.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
With Regent having such a strong focus on food and dining aboard their four vessels, it makes sense that their Yule speciality will also include memorable meals, especially for Christmas Day itself, with bespoke menus in all restaurants.
Possibly one of the best Christmas cruise itineraries sees the new Spirit of Discovery set sail on December 5 from Southampton – meaning you can take as much as you can carry aboard – on an epic 35-night sailing that takes in Madeira, New York AND the Caribbean. Truly, a Christmas cracker!
Live seasonal entertainment – including carols and Holiday music – is a notable Seabourn feature, while there is a special traditional duck dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas High Tea to go with them. A mini-hamper of Xmas goodies is also delivered to each stateroom on Christmas Eve.
If you ever fancied Christmas in Antarctica (guaranteed snow, after all), then the Silver Explorer could be the ideal choice, providing a distinctive experience in this truly remote – but extremely white – part of the world.
Travel to the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Panama or Tahiti for a suitably laid-back festive occasion with Windstar, featuring shimmering blue waters and white-sand beaches for a true alternative to that traditional British festive period.
The one thing you might want to bring with is a few decorations for your stateroom. This is the area that’s left up to you, but it is perfectly acceptable to take along those little festive mementoes and ornaments that you usually put on the mantelpiece, even if it is just a traditional festive stocking or Santa snow-globe.
But the best advantage of all? There is no clean-up required. All that wrapping paper, the dirty glasses, left-over sausage rolls and discarded paper hats; you’re not responsible for any of it. You don’t have to wash up a thing or retrieve all those unwanted plastic Christmas cracker knick-knacks from odd corners of the dining room.
Christmas at sea? It’s smooth sailing all the way!
Have you cruised at Christmas before, or are you interested in taking a festive voyage? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section below.