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Cruise into the Holidays

Nov 12, 2014 03:51PM ● By Dia

Have you ever considered Thanksgiving in Turkey or Santa Claus at sea? As multi-generational travel becomes more popular, families are considering celebrating the holidays on a cruise. Travel professionals have seen that family cruises are on the rise, and have been for a number of years. “With cruise lines providing activities and events for all ages, traveling with extended family has become more and more popular over the years,” said Cruise Holidays Owner Mike Currie. “Especially in Texas with four of the major cruise lines embarking from the Gulf.”

How to plan 

As excited as you might be to cruise your way into the season, there are important things to note, which are applicable any time of year. When planning a cruise it is best to consult a travel professional. Someone who knows the industry can help pick the line and ship that is right for you. Family cruises, in particular, require advance planning on a larger scale, Currie said. Typically, it is necessary for one family member to take the lead and visit the travel professional to serve as representative for the family. The agency can then help plan an itinerary for each of the family members and for the family as a hole. A good travel agent will be invaluable in anticipating your needs, providing consultation and thinking of the details of which you may not be aware.


For example, they will help you choose a destination fit for the whole clan — looking at factors such as how much time at sea they want to spend. When considering the cost of any cruise, remember shore excursions and onboard spending for various services and activities. Find out what’s included and what’s not to avoid surprises. It is also important consider the length of your voyage. If you are a first timer, you may want to consider a shorter trip to get the hang of it. Otherwise, if cruising is your thing, a longer trip might be better. Also, evaluate your accommodations. “The phrase ‘we’ll never be in the cabin’ is not really true,” said Rick Eberst, District Sales Manager for Celebrity Cruises. “Do you want to cruise through the blue waters of the Caribbean or the majestic mountains of Alaska in an inside stateroom?”

What to pack

Packing for your trip can seem ambiguous at times. Traveling to a destination with warm temperatures may make for obvious luggage contents. However, what if your cruise ship includes an ice skating rink? Then you’ll need long pants and shorts for the trip. According to Royal Caribbean, there are standard packing guidelines each vacationer should follow for an enjoyable time at sea and port.

You’ll want a basic bag you carry at embarkation that has a few personal items to get you through the first day and night of your trip. This might include necessities you wouldn’t want to be waiting on your luggage to have. In order to pack properly for the rest of your adventure, you must know what both daytime and nighttime weather will be like. Warm days and cool nights? Pack a sweater or light jacket. Cold days? Pack some gloves. Taking a Caribbean vacation with an onboard water oasis? Pack two swimsuits!


Although veteran cruisers may choose to skip the formal dinners, first time cruisers want to be sure and have the proper attire for these dinners. While you will be able to rent a tux on the ship, don’t forget your dress shoes! Another shoe prep reminder: if you plan on going on excursions at port, walking shoes are a must. You don’t want to tour the streets of Europe in flip-flops.

What to do

During the holiday season, the most popular destinations include those that provide warmer weather, such as the Caribbean. Most families aren’t looking to trade the cold weather at home for cold weather elsewhere.

As exciting as you try to make the idea of staying on a ship for a week, the best way to sell the holiday gathering on the open water to your family is through on-board activities. Let’s start with the youngest of cruisers. Most ships made for families have childcare services.

Many ships of mainstream lines, such as Norwegian Cruise Lines, have activities made for a 

 variety of youth age groups —from toddler to teenager. Activities for the whole family include seeing a show such as the Blue Man Group on the Norwegian Epic, or the Illusionarium on the Norwegian Getaway. And nothing says a holiday family gathering like a good meal. Opt for fine dining or a buffet. Many ships put on a holiday spread for Thanksgiving and Christmas. With meal preparation gone from your to-do list —along with the task of entertaining your family —there is only one thing left to do. Sit back and enjoy your family gathering on a cruise.