You don't need a hearth to gather around or snow drifts outside your window to have a cozy Christmas. These cruise lines serve up tons of holiday cheer on their holiday sailings with festive decorations and traditional dinners with all the trimmings. There are also special events on board, from caroling and Santa visits to gingerbread house-making competitions and ugly sweater contests.
1. Disney Cruise Line
It's not a surprise that this family-friendly line really gets into the holiday spirit. All four of Disney's ships host holiday cruises with special events like a tree lighting by Mickey himself, story time with Mrs. Claus, and festive caroling. Activities for the kids include stocking decorating and holiday-themed scavenger hunts.
2. Carnival Cruise Line
Sure, Carnival decks their halls with trees and fake snow plus roving carolers, but there are also some very Carnival-specific events for the holidays. The line is known for its wacky contests (think belly flop, hairy chest), and for Christmas time there are special ugly sweater contests. Carnival's partnership with Dr. Seuss also means that kids not only get to hang with Santa, but the Grinch as well.
3. Princess Cruises
Stockings are filled with treats and hung with care in every cabin for Christmas on Princess cruises, while "snow" falls and carolers sing in the ships' atriums. Activities get a yuletide theme as well, with holiday variety shows and gingerbread house-making contests. If you aren't up for the stress of competition, you can also try your hand at cookie and ornament decorating.
4. Holland America Line
Holland America's Christmas sailings to the Bahamas and Caribbean include time on Half Moon Cay, the line's private island, where the only shoveling that has to be done is gathering sand for castles. Back on board you'll find gingerbread villages, holiday movies and concerts, crafts, and a chance for the kids to meet Santa.
5. Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean has 17 different ships in the Caribbean over Christmas, all with lots of festivities on board. You can expect a tree lighting ceremony, caroling, classic Christmas films in the movie theater, and DreamWorks characters dressed up alongside St. Nick. "Snow" will also fall in different areas of the ship for a white Christmas — even when it is 80 degrees and sunny outside and you're decked out in flip flops and shorts.
All four Hapag-Lloyd ships are rolling out far-flung itineraries this Christmas, from Thai beaches to Australia and even Antarctica. The ships will have festive German-style decorations and activities, including real Christmas trees, caroling, cookies, a visit from Santa, crafts for kids, and a traditional German Christmas dinner with goose, sausage, and stollen, a buttery fruit-filled cake topped with powdered sugar.
7. Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity's ships roll out the Christmas cheer with festive décor, caroling, and a jolly Santa who brings gifts to the kids on board. The line has a gift for the adults, too: On Christmas sailings you can choose a special perk — such as a drinks package or complimentary Wi-Fi — when you book an oceanview cabin or higher.