Traditionally, the holiday season is romanticized with images of fireplaces, snowmen and presents around a tree. Letting it snow and Santa coming to town play pretty heavily into our holiday mentality. However, there is something to be said for putting these things aside temporarily and taking off on a Disney cruise before Santa’s sleigh departs.
If you have been considering a Disney cruise, there are a few things you can expect when you choose to embark this time of the year. These seasonal changes preserve the classic cruise experience but also bring in special elements of the holidays. You’ll be rockin’ around your Christmas tree while you are also rockin’ over the waves of the big blue.
DECKS THAT ARE DECKED
Many areas of the ship are decorated exquisitely for Christmas. The atrium, common areas and some restaurants are adorned with evergreen boughs, ribbon, Christmas trees and twinkling lights. You’ll even see a life-size gingerbread house. You can also expect to hear Christmas music played overhead in the intercom system throughout the ship. With all this there is little chance to escape the fact that the Christmas countdown is on even if you are in tropical temperatures.
The crew isn’t the only one decking the halls. Your fellow castaways do as well. You will pass countless doors to staterooms bedazzled with holiday magnets and sparkly garland. In the place of fish extenders, expect to find stockings hung. It is a nice twist on a cruising tradition.
CHARACTERS IN HOLIDAY DRESS
There are many creatures stirring on these ships, especially mice. Mickey, Minnie and all the rest are eager to meet everyone and come dressed appropriately in sweaters and scarves for photos. When they aren’t keeping warm in knitted hats and mittens, they might appear in classic Christmas plaids and formal wear. Each and every time it makes for a great opportunity to capture your family’s holiday photo.
Pay careful attention. There is another familiar face you might see. Santa doesn’t seem to need a chimney to find his way onboard. On a designated day and time, he welcomes all to tell him what they want for Christmas in the atrium. The navigator, the daily cruise itinerary, will list times and locations in which you can engage the characters for your own personal Christmas story.
SPECIAL HOLIDAY DRINKS
For the adult population, you have a few more beverage options than eggnog. The Disney Cruise Line creates special drinks for this time of the year. How does a Christmas Cookie Cocktail sound? Maybe something a bit more “flowery” such as their Poinse-tini will get your boat afloat. Just ask any bartender onboard for the holiday options or drink of the day if you are looking for another way to keep warm on your winter sailing.
GINGERBREAD HOUSE DECORATING AND CHRISTMAS CRAFTS
Craft time has a festive feel during the holiday months. You will have a chance to make a few Christmas cards and design your own stocking. Kids seem to especially enjoy these activities that are often held in the lounges.
For an extra fee, gingerbread house decorating is a fun activity. Given all the materials, your creative energies are let loose in a mess of gingerbread, icing, and gumdrops. If possible, book this activity early on in the cruise. It fills your room with an incredible aroma during the remainder of your sailing, and you will have more time to nibble on it before customs makes you toss it.
CHRISTMAS PARTIES A PLENTY
It doesn’t seem like the most wonderful time of the year until you attend a party or two, so Disney Cruise Line throws a few of its own. In addition to its routine Pirate Night party, everyone gathers for the Deck the Deck Tropical Holiday Party in the pool area. Activities like candy cane limbo and dancing are the crowd pleasers here.
Not to be overlooked is the tree lighting ceremony that takes place on the first evening of each cruise. After being treated to live performers singing classic Christmas songs, Disney characters join everyone in the atrium. Once they greet and entertain the crowd with a dance performance, they select a child to help them illuminate the ship’s primary tree that stands a couple decks tall. It is a somewhat inspiring experience that shouldn’t be skipped. Get to the atrium early (whether it be on the ground floor or overlooking from a balcony above) because space can be limited.
CHRISTMAS ON CASTAWAY CAY
“Christmas Island” isn’t just an Andrews Sisters’ tune. It’s a reality on Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, and most Disney cruising itineraries make a stop there. During holiday cruises, Castaway Cay is accented with tropical holiday touches that give it an extra touch of magic. A large Christmas tree, snowmen in island attire and a tram with antlers are a few of the things to be seen. It’s a marriage of winter themes and tropical breezes, bringing you warmth inside and out.
Bing Crosby may have been dreaming of a white Christmas, but I think that was just because he never took a Disney Very Merrytime Cruise. It’s an experience everyone should have at least once. Tell Santa that next year when he is making his list, he can put you down as “nautical” and nice.