Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sun November 29 2015

Opinion Home | Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

  • Amber Nolan | November 29, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    7 Cruises Chock-Full of Christmas Cheer

    7 Cruises Chock-Full of Christmas Cheer

    PHOTO: Holiday toast by the captain on an AmaWaterways vessel. (photo courtesy of Amawaterways)

    The holidays are a popular time to set sail on a cruise vacation, and major lines are marking the occasion with itineraries that really deck the halls. Here are seven especially jolly options:

    Royal Caribbean

    On Royal Caribbean, expect roasted Vermont turkey with chestnut stuffing and holiday-inspired drinks. Kids can have Christmas cookies and take photos with Santa, watch a parade, enjoy hot chocolate during a holiday movie, or decorate Christmas ornaments with their families.

    The Majesty of the Seas embarks on Christmas Eve from Miami and visits Key West, Nassau, and the cruise line’s private island in the Bahamas.

    If this year is too soon to sneak away, a similar itinerary is offered aboard the Enchantment of the Seas that sets sail from Miami December 23, 2016.

    Holland America

    This year, Holland America will serve classic holiday meals and Christmas-themed, Royal Dutch High Tea. Children can enjoy holiday crafts and a visit from Santa, and the crew choir will perform carols.

    The company’s latest ship, Nieuw Amsterdam, embarks on a nine-night cruise beginning December 18 to the Eastern Caribbean and will even call at the newest port, Amber Cove, in the Dominican Republic.

    Those planning ahead for 2016 can check out the MS Koningsdam (debuting in April), which sails a Western and Eastern Caribbean combination voyage on December 23, 2016.

    Princess Cruises

    Princess’ ships will be decked out in festive decor like wreaths, mistletoe and Christmas trees. Yuletide carolers roam the vessels, waiters don Santa hats, and Christmas-themed films and live performances take place.

    A special Christmas dinner features roasted turkey or goose, mincemeat pie, chocolate yule logs and Christmas cookies. Little ones can create ornaments and Santa Claus visits on Christmas Day.

    The Crown Princess heads to the Mexican Riviera this holiday with a departure from Los Angeles on December 19. The ship calls on Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta during the eight-day voyage.


    Set sail through coastal Norway with Hurtigruten for a chance to see the Northern Lights while en route to small fishing villages. Sample Julgrot (rice pudding) and gingerbread onboard, and on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, guests can learn Norwegian carols or help the crew decorate the tree.

    There’s also a Christmas Eve buffet followed by a visit from Santa Claus and a Christmas Day brunch. Numerous sailing dates are available on 6, 7, 11, or 12-day cruises both this year and next holiday season.


    During AmaWaterways’ Christmas market cruises, passengers savor complimentary mulled wine, hot chocolate and apple cider onboard as well as traditional German fare and holiday dinners. Tree-decorating contests, gingerbread making, carolers and a Captain’s Christmas party keep the festive spirit going.

    The “Christmas on the Rhine” cruise tour begins in Amsterdam December 21 aboard the AmaCerto on an eight-day trip to Basel, Switzerland. Guests can explore the quaint Christmas markets located in small villages, or tour medieval castles and gothic cathedrals.

    MSC Cruises

    During Christmas, MSC Divina will be glittering with lights, decorations, Christmas trees and a new gingerbread village. There will also be a roster of activities including Christmas carols, an evening show, themed cooking classes, arts and crafts, parades, a visit from Santa Claus, and seasonal movies played on an outdoor jumbo screen.

    The ship embarks from Miami on December 19 for a seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise to Nassau, St. Thomas, and San Juan. Or, for next holiday season, the Divina sails a Western Caribbean route from Miami to Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Nassau departing December 23, 2016.

    Carnival Cruise Line

    A number of Carnival ships will be sailing short getaway itineraries over Christmas, including the Carnival Elation, which cruises from New Orleans to Cozumel and Progresso, Mexico on a five-night voyage. The fleet will be decorated with Christmas trees, wreaths and mistletoe, while in-room music systems feature holiday favorites. Kids from “Camp Carnival” will put on a special holiday show and Santa Claus makes an appearance during the cruise. Traditional roasted Tom turkey and pecan pie will be served on Christmas Day.


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Amber Nolan Captain’s Blog: Cruise Tips and Advice

Amber Nolan Amber Nolan loves to be on the water, and although she enjoys the fun and excitement of larger cruise ships, she prefers setting sail on smaller vessels to unique destinations. Originally from western New York, this restless traveler has a knack for finding creative ways to travel and befriending interesting characters along the way. On her most recent adventure, she hitchhiked on private aircraft across the United States. She previously served as the cruise editor at Sherman’s Travel but her work can also be found on and USA Today Travel. She current resides in South Florida.
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