Cruising for Christmas – what is life like on board over the holidays?

More Kiwi grandparents, parents, and kids are choosing to pass on the presents, ditch the dishes, curb the cooking, flag the extended family, and spend Christmas day on a cruise with their nearest and dearest. But can you really get the iconic Kiwi Christmas experience on board? It turns out that aside from being the best possible prezzie you could receive, there are a lot of perks in taking a cruise over the Christmas holiday.

Forget the stress
The obvious advantage is that all the stress is taken out of catering for Christmas. There’s no call to slave over a hot stove, and Grandad can put away the blunt carving knife because the ship chefs have prepared a spread of all the traditional Christmas fares. The buffets become a banquet of suckling pig, roast turkey and chicken, honey glazed ham, seafood, salads, among many other fine dining options in specialty restaurants. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Azamara Club Cruises also often regionalise their food, meaning you are even likely to see a cheeky Pavlova on the dessert display. Everyone knows half of Christmas Day is spent in post-lunch siesta so you might as well be lying back on a lounger in the sun on the top deck.

The magic is kept alive for the kids
If you thought that being on the open ocean would mean that Santa’s sleigh couldn’t get to you, you’d be wrong. The magic is kept alive for the kids with Santa appearing throughout the ship to give every child a gift, and take plenty of along with his elves.  On Royal Caribbean ships, known for their family focus, the kids get to gather around Santa on Christmas Eve for a storytelling session. There’s even a cookie decorating class for families if you feel like leaving something out for him. Santy is also known for his New Year’s party trick of making an appearance on the FlowRider surf simulator to show the kids how it’s done.

There’s a real festive buzz on board
Small touches, like a scale village made out of gingerbread which is put on display by the chefs on Celebrity Cruises make for a fun atmosphere. There is also something to be said about being on a cruise ship at a moment when everyone is feeling festive, bringing together the traditions and culture of a varied international mix. You can carol in the atrium of the ship with 2000 of your extended international family with a mix of Aussie, Kiwi, American, European, and Asian guests. There is also a midnight mass on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day where guests can join together in reflection and celebration. On Celebrity Cruises a diversity of religious services are performed by Rabbis, Priests and Reverends on Christmas voyages. Then on New Year’s Eve the largest celebration you’ve ever attended will culminate in a ship-wide countdown to midnight and a champagne toast.

Duty free shopping
You will not miss the hectic rush of Boxing Day sales or the chaos of shopping malls leading up to Christmas. Another great advantage of cruise ships is the duty free shopping at the boutique stores while in international waters.  In particular, Celebrity Cruises hold shopping events in their luxurious boutiques like Tiffany and Co, including pre-Christmas sale shows featuring luxury brands such as Bulgari and Roberto Coin, along with precious gemstones like diamonds, yellow emeralds, and tanzanite. Other shops include camera stores, watch shops, ship souvenirs, and handbag showrooms.

Leave the notorious NZ weather behind
Every Kiwi knows the hit or miss weather that we get over Christmas. Another advantage about being on board a floating resort is that each day you can leave the weather behind. The climates of Asia and the South Pacific islands are always warm at this time of year so you can usually rely on a sun soaked hot holiday.

Your money is better spent
Christmas can start to feel like a ritual of unnecessary expenditure. Did you really need or ask for a new tie rack? How many more boxes of soaps and perfumed candles are they going to buy you? The real point to Christmas, of course, is the time spent with loved ones. It makes sense to take the time and money you would have spent on presents and spend it on an experience the whole family can enjoy together.

Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara Club Cruises offer Christmas itineraries suitable for families of all sizes and ages, whether that’s the thrills on board Ovation, Voyager, and Explorer of the Seas or the modern luxury of Celebrity Solstice, or the cultural experiences aboard Azamara.


Local and Asia Xmas Cruises

12 Night New Zealand Holiday Cruise – Ovation of the Seas
Departs Sydney on 17 Dec 2017 making calls to: Bay of Islands, NZ;  Auckland, NZ; Tauranga, NZ; Dunedin, NZ; Dusky Sound, Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound, NZ.

Departs Sydney on 20 Dec 2017 making calls to: Noumea, New Caledonia;  Mystery Island, Vanuatu; Lifou, Loyalty Island; Maré, New Caledonia.

Round trip departing Hong Kong on 24 December 2017 making calls to Hanoi (Halong Bay) Vietnam; Hue/ Danag, Vietna; Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; Kaohsiung.

Departs Hong Kong December 23, 2017 making calls to: Overnight in Hanoi, overnight in Da Nang, overnight in Ho Chi Minh City, double overnight on Bangkok, Ko Samui, Singapore.