Weekly Wednesday – Christmas at Sea

Have you ever been on a cruise ship for Christmas? Many people I know have sailed during the holiday season, but few have actually been on the open waters on Christmas Eve and Day. Spoiler alert: I have sailed on Christmas and it was a truly unforgettable experience, and you’re about to embark on that journey down memory lane with me. So, if you want to know what it’s like to be on the open seas with Jolly Saint Nick, please read on!

Ship Décor

There is something very magical about boarding a giant cruise ship for the very first time. Even if you’ve sailed before, each ship has its own unique design and “wow” factor. Sail during any of the major holidays, and the décor gets amped up! My Christmas at sea took place on the familiar Carnival Splendor in December 2017. From the moment you walk across the gangway and into the ship’s atrium, you are greeted by the sights, sounds and smells of the holidays. The multi-story Christmas tree is set up and adorned with lights and ornaments, and there’s even a menorah for the passengers who celebrate Hanukkah.

Gingerbread Village

As you continue to walk the ship, you notice little decorations scattered about from the miniature Christmas Tree at the Passenger Services desk, to the garland strung throughout the atrium. There’s even an awe-inspiring Christmas Village on display that the ship’s culinary team worked hard to create. Every time you walk past this display your nostrils would fill with the smell of sweet gingerbread. It was tempting to reach across the barrier stanchions put in place to break off a chimney so we could have a taste.

Planning for Christmas at sea, I decided it would be fun to get into the holiday spirit while onboard so I created a decoration for our stateroom door, pieced it all together, folded it up nicely and packed it in my suitcase. Due to many delays that I experienced getting onto the ship, I feared that my plan was going to fail. I finally received everything by Christmas Eve and was able to surprise my stateroom mates. While they were off walking the ship, I carefully unpacked my bags and decorated the door and room. The door design was perfect and fit exactly how I envisioned. It was a fireplace with a wreath and a hearth which is where I hung our stockings. Step inside the room and you were greeted with hanging ornaments throughout, plus a miniature paper tree with several small presents under.


Latkes with sour cream and applesauce

What holiday celebration would be complete without signature dishes? The Christmas Cruise was no exception. As the 8 nights of Hanukkah progressed, each night at sundown there would be a ceremony to light the candle with the rabbi who happened to be onboard. One of the nights, the passengers who were present for the candle-lighting ceremony were treated to traditional Jewish offerings of Latkes with sour cream or apple sauce.

Christmas day, however, saw a truly unique dinner menu in the Main Dining Rooms. Appetizers included Duck Pot Stickers, Pumpkin Bisque, and Oxtail Consomme. The Entrees available included Spinach Fettuccine with Chicken Tetrazzini, Grilled Black Tiger Jumbo Shrimp, Turkey Dinner, and Clove and Maple Syrup Marinated Baked Virginia Ham. The culinary creations were flavorful and beautiful, altogether! It didn’t stop there, either. Dessert presented a Dulce Chocolate Spiced Pumpkin Pate, Raspberry Holiday, and for drinks they offered Autumn Cream Martini and Pumpkin Spiced Café.

The food was delicious, as always, and the unique offerings were no exception. Its so wonderful to see the culinary team whip up unique dishes


As mentioned earlier, there were Hanukkah celebrations nightly when the candles were lit on the oversized menorah in the ship lobby. There happened to also be a priest onboard who had requested to use the chapel to perform secular mass for those who wished to attend.

Cruise Director MarQ on Christmas Eve

Our cruise director, MarQ also hosted a Midnight Mass service in the main theater. It was a lovely service with music to sing along to. He led the audience through the service and at midnight, delivered a very heartwarming speech.


Sailing on any holiday is a treat! While you can’t get in your car to drive around the neighborhood to look at the holiday displays on people’s houses, you have the wonderful opportunity to stroll the long corridors on the ship and admire the hard work that fellow passengers put into decorating their stateroom doors. There may be no chimney for Santa Claus to slide down to deliver presents, but the activities that were arranged onboard gave a sense of hope and joy for all the children. There was a mailbox in the lobby where you could drop off letters to be delivered to the North Pole and story time for the little ones to enjoy.

This year has presented its challenges to sail the open waters, so I hope that this Weekly Wednesday greets you and your family warmly and with great health! Have you sailed on Christmas? Share your experiences with us. If you haven’t, prices are still low and there is still time to book your very first Christmas-at-sea for 2021!

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