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What Is Christmas Like On A Cruise?

What Is Christmas Like On A Cruise?

The twinkly lights are up, the smell of cloves and cinnamon is filling the air, and the hum of carols can be heard in the distance – yes, the Christmas season has finally arrived!

Although many people love to spend this time of year with their families huddled around decorated trees and decadent, homemade spreads, some choose instead to swap Christmas at home for Christmas on the high seas!

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to opt for a more nautical Noel – we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll explain what different cruise lines do during the festive season and where exactly you can travel to during a Christmas cruise.

So fasten your seatbelt (or perhaps, your life jacket), as we dive into the enchanting realm of Christmas at sea!

How Cruise Lines Do Christmas

P&O Cruises

The famous British line, P&O Cruises, is all about big, festive celebrations at sea! Onboard a P&O Cruises Christmas sailing, you can expect to see all kinds of spectacular decorations, including a gorgeous Christmas tree, children’s grottos, the opportunity to meet Santa, and a menu of heart-warming activities and entertainment, such as Christmas films screened on cabin televisions and pantomimes performed in theatres.

As for the big day itself, Christmas Day, P&O Cruises goes all out! The 25th of December onboard a P&O Cruise starts with a delicious buck’s fizz, followed by a glorious carol service, festive shows, and the main event – a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings! On family-friendly ships, Santa will make another appearance during dinner with presents for all kids onboard.

If you’d rather get away from it all instead, P&O Cruises also hosts a range of Christmas-free spaces for those who would rather sip Mai Tais than Mulled Wine!


Expect wreaths, festive trees, nutcrackers, fairy lights, gingerbread cottages, and so much more on a Cunard Christmas cruise!

Cunard is one of the best cruise lines for luxury Christmas experiences at sea, as they truly embody the spirit of the festive season. Onboard you’ll be able to enjoy carol services, periodic visits from Santa, tons of opportunities to shop for designer brands, delicious beverages, Norfolk Turkey with all the trimmings, a Boxing Day feast and the joy of a beautiful gingerbread village.

Whether you’re enjoying a drink admiring the grand Christmas tree in the atrium or snuggled up in your decadent onboard accommodation with a hot chocolate – you’ll feel the delight of Christmas in every corner of a Cunard cruise.

Princess Cruises

Imagine the sweet sound of carols in the Piazza accompanied by the glittering lights of cosy decorations, all hosted on the open ocean – that’s what it’s like to cruise with Princess Cruises at Christmas!

The cruise line is ideal for multigenerational family festive cruises, as they are committed to spreading Christmas cheer across all decks of their glorious range of ships! Onboard, you can expect to dive into special breakfast events, see an engaging Holiday Wishes Variety Show, take part in a hilarious Ugly Holiday Jumper competition, attend Interdenominational Church Services, get stuck into a Gingerbread House Making Competition, settle down to watch classic Christmas films, including Elf and The Grinch, and, of course, meet Santa!

Alongside all this festive fun, the whole family can also expect to indulge in the cruise line’s fantastic range of sleek eateries, awesome outdoor areas if you’re visiting hotter climbs, and interactive youth and teen clubs!

MSC Cruises

Fantastic for active big and little kids, MSC Cruises knows how to put on a winter spectacle at Christmas time! During the festive season, the cruise line hosts an engaging and immersive assortment of activities that all the family can enjoy.

Onboard pursuits include a Christmas-themed MasterChef cooking show, Christmas karaoke, a joyful, specially-created festive production show, opportunities for children to meet and receive a gift from Santa, movies with Santa, and MSC Cruises’ very own Winter Wonderland (Doremi Village), which plays host to a Doremi & Lego Sailor village with games, line dances and tons of festive magic.

Families looking to switch up their traditional Christmas plans for a fun-filled escape at sea can rely on MSC Cruises to host the ultimate extravaganza full of yuletide joy!

Christmas & New Year Cruise Itineraries

Most cruise lines operate a pretty packed schedule of itineraries across Christmas and New Year. Cruises at this time of year visit all kinds of exotic and exciting destinations – from Northern European cities from Southampton to more sunny locations in the Caribbean.

It’s pretty much up to you where you would like to visit on a cruise at Christmas time, as there are so many itineraries to choose from! Cruises that sail on Christmas Day typically depart just before the big day and conclude just before the New Year. However, you can still find itineraries that extend across the full length of Christmas and New Year, so you can be pampered at sea during the whole festive season!

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