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Image credit: Princess Cruises

A very merry Christmas at sea

The best kind of stocking filler is a ticket aboard one of these Christmas cruises. Lauren McGroder rounds up the most jolly of them all.

It’s a well known fact that when the clock strikes midnight on 25 December, old Saint Nick swaps his coat for boardies, is bon-voyaged by Mrs Claus and cruises into the sunset. For the most festive of holiday seasons, a Christmas cruise will have you ho-ho-ho-ing with glee across the globe.

Presents in the Pacific
Christmas truly is the best time of the year with Carnival. If there’s one thing this cruise line is known for, it’s fun and for a quick, carefree getaway, the Pacific Islands is the ideal destination.
En-route, the kids can prepare for Santa’s arrival with a Christmas door decorating contest, carolling and holiday film viewings before capturing the all-important photo with Santa. There’s also a variety of performances organised by crew and passengers and even the opportunity to experience snow-falling in the Atrium.

Carnival Spirit certainly knows how to celebrate in the dining department, offering guests both a modern Australian feast of prawn cocktails, blue swimmer crab cakes and baked oysters as well as the traditional roast lamb leg, honey and mustard glazed ham and slow roasted turkey on Christmas Day. An enormous 634 kilograms of turkey, 272 kilograms of ham and 136 kilograms of prawns are expected to be consumed on board, making it safe to assume that not a single guest has a reason to feel like a Grinch this Christmas.

Cruising: Carnival Spirit
Destination: Pacific Islands
Nights: 8
Departs Sydney: 19 December

Image credit: Carnival Cruises

A traditional Aussie affair
For a traditional Australian Christmas without the stress, mess and traffic, P&O presents to you Pacific Eden. Honouring its namesake, the newest addition to the fleet boasts nine decks capable of accommodating 1500 jolly travellers as they catch some rays on deck with Santa Claus, marvel at a festive laser show and join in the merriment at the Christmas Eve concert. Kids even receive their own gift.

Of course, food is an essential component of the celebrations, and passengers will delight in the gingerbread house display, Christmas Eve lolly grotto and hot roast, served on the big day. Once appetites are satisfied the real fun can begin. Have you ever wanted to spend Boxing Day handfeeding wild dolphins on Moreton Island? P&O is ready to grant your wish, with this and other ports showcasing the best of Australia’s warm weather destinations over the course of the Christmas period.

P&O: Pacific Eden
Destination: Australia
Nights: 12
Departs Sydney: 16 December

Image credit: P&O Cruises

Carols in the Caribbean
Combine the magic of Disney with the many wonderful traditions of Christmas and you’re left with the ultimate festive holiday at sea: a Very Merrytime Cruise. The already mesmerising interior of Disney Fantasy becomes even more enchanting when decorated with garlands and a life-size gingerbread house. Throughout the cruise, Disney friends will join guests for musical performances and meet-and-greets.

Spirits will be high as the whole family gathers together to enjoy events like the Deck the Deck Tropical Holiday Party and candy-cane limbo. Christmas Eve is spent eating scrumptious cookies, carolling with the crew and receiving a festive surprise before you spend the big day at Castaway Cay. Disney Cruise Line’s private island is transformed into a snow-sprinkled paradise and even the island tram has a tinsel-tastic makeover, decorated as one of Santa’s friendly reindeer.

Disney Cruise Line: Disney Fantasy
Destination: Caribbean
Nights: 7
Departs Florida: 19 December

Image credit: Disney Cruise Lines

South-East Asian sleigh bells
For a truly unique holiday season that promises a new experience at each port, board Sun Princess as she makes a grand tour of Indonesia. There isn’t a setting more spectacular than Ujung Pandang to spend Christmas Day, having prepared for the occasion with carolling, card-making and an onboard gingerbread challenge.

The kids will enjoy a Christmas Eve reading of ‘The Night Before Christmas’ in happy anticipation of receiving a present from Santa. Once little elves are fast asleep and not even a mouse is stirring, parents can relax in their Princess staterooms with a viewing of a classic holiday film, or make things cosy and change the channel to display a traditional Yule log crackling on the fire.

Princess Cruises: Sapphire Princess
Destination: South-East Asia
Nights: 11
Departs Singapore: 18 December

Image credit: Princess Cruises

Image credit: Princess Cruises

Seasons greetings from South America
The beaches of Buenos Aires are a long way from the North Pole but we hear that they’re a favourite with St Nick when the Christmas rush is over. Take your family Santa spotting this Christmas in South America, as guests enjoy all of the traditional festive trimmings that make this time of year so special.

Celebrity’s team of expert chefs come together to create the ultimate Christmas Eve menu, as well as a midnight ‘Tree Trimmers Buffet’. For those with serious unwrapping to do, a celebratory brunch is a perfect way to reenergise, while gingerbread houses created by the pastry chefs adorn the ship. Young passengers and teens are treated to a special gift, while parents discover all the goodwill they need in the Christmas cocktail specials. In preparation, a number of shopping events in Celebrity’s luxurious boutiques, including sales, allow Mum and Dad to catch up on all of their holiday shopping with the added bonus of tax- and duty-free products!

Celebrity Cruises: Celebrity Infinity
Destination: South America
Nights: 14
Departs Chile: 20 December

Image credit: Celebrity Cruises

Mistletoe in the Mediterranean
Bells will ring in Barcelona on Christmas Day as MSC Preziosa docks and you explore this enchanting city. It’s not just the spoils of the Mediterranean that will make this the best Christmas ever, but the abundance of onboard festivities. Surrounded by mistletoe, garlands and fireworks, you’ll toast the big day with your nearest and dearest.

Kids will adore the Christmas choirs and concerts as well as a variety of holiday themed activities that run alongside MSC’s onboard entertainment programme. There are a host of programmes for babies, children and teens as well as family activities to get the whole clan together again. The merriment continues in the dining room with festive menus that would leave even Santa Claus satisfied!

MSC Cruises: MSC Preziosa
Destination: Mediterranean
Nights: 7
Departs Genoa: 20 December

Image credit: MSC Cruises

New Zealand noel
New Zealand may be our closest neighbour but experiencing the Land of the Long white Cloud during the Christmas period with Royal Caribbean is like nothing you’ve imagined. On board Voyager of the Seas, your family will be endlessly entertained by Santa and his elves as you decorate cookies and get crafty by day and then carol the night away. Parents even get a night off with a special story-time on Christmas Eve preparing little ones for the arrival of a very important guest.

After the big day, which includes a gourmet Christmas meal, Royal Caribbean continues its crusade of fun, as families conquer the FlowRider, the only surf experience at sea, enter new worlds at the 3D cinema, brave the chill at the ice-skating rink and scale the rock-climbing wall. All of this adventure and more takes place against the spectacular backdrop of New Zealand’s North Island; what more could you want for Christmas?

Royal Caribbean: Voyager of the Seas
Destination: New Zealand
Nights: 11
Departs Sydney: 18 December

Image credit: Royal Caribbean

Image credit: Royal Caribbean

A blue christmas in fiji
Throughout the holiday period the islandhopping adventurers at Blue Lagoon Cruises host a number of family cruising itineraries exploring the stunning Fijian islands. With a minimum of 68 guests on board and the accessibility of smallship cruising (imagine exploring hidden lagoons and coves), this is one Christmas at sea that won’t be easily forgotten. Choose from a three- or seven-night cruise departing on 25 December and experience all the joys of a traditional celebration, including a hot Christmas Dinner featuring a spread of roasted meats, fish, vegetables, trifle and pudding with a sprinkling of Fijian specialties. Followed by entertainment courtesy of the crew, it will be a blue, blue Christmas worthy of the King of Rock and Roll himself.

Blue Lagoon Cruises: Fiji Princess
Destination: Islands of Fiji
Nights: 3/4/7
Departs Port Denarau: 18/21 December

Image credit: Blue Lagoon Cruises

Image credit: Blue Lagoon Cruises

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