Thursday, 25 October 2012

Author Spotlight - Debra Parmley talks about celebrating the holidays on a cruise ship

Kara and Viv are looking forward to celebrating New Year's Eve aboard The Wishing Star. When writing this story I drew from my own experiences as well as those of my clients who would take a holiday cruise.

Americans setting sail on holiday cruises are usually interested in celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year's Eve.

A holiday cruise can be a great way for families to come together in a family reunion style gathering. They can also be a fun way for a small family to celebrate. But it can also be a fun way for singles to celebrate a holiday, particularly the New Year's cruises.

Usually the cruise lines stick to time honored traditions, but they sometimes add innovative festivities. For example, Princess Cruises employs snowmaking machines to offer daily snowfalls in the atrium throughout the month of December. On Disney Cruise Line's private island, Castaway Cay, the tram will be magically transformed into a sleigh. And, luxury line Crystal does a full-on balloon drop in the atrium to ring in the New Year.

What can you expect onboard a holiday cruise? Of the four major holidays -- Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's -- Christmas garners the most attention.

Cruise lines serve special meals during holiday cruises. For instance, expect latkes (potato pancakes) during Hanukkah and some lines serve the traditional meal. The traditional Thanksgiving meals are served on most cruise lines.

Our family went on a Thanksgiving cruise and had our choice of the traditional foods such as roast turkey, along with such trimmings as stuffing and cranberry sauce. But given the choice between the traditional meal and surf and turf we all chose lobster tails and steak!

All the cruise lines decorate though the trimming and timing varies from ship to ship. In the fall it may be pumpkins and cornucopias, in December wreaths and decorated trees. Decorations generally go up around Thanksgiving and stay until the New Year.

Our family once took a Christmas cruise to the Caribbean and inflatable Santa's waited on the piers as we sailed into port at each island. It was fun to see how the different islands decorated for the holiday.

On New Year's Eve, a ship wide countdown to midnight is to be expected, as is a Champagne toast. Celebrations might be on the top decks under the stars, weather permitting. Or they might be down below with balloons and noisemakers.

You or your travel consultant can find out what each cruise line is doing to celebrate a holiday, from decorations, to special meals, to music, live shows and movies with a holiday theme. There may be a priest; a rabbi or a reverend on board for special religious services on some cruises. There may be special children's activities. Santa may pay a visit. There may be arts and crafts for children. There may be areas for viewing NFL on large screens. Cruising on a holiday cruise is very different from cruising on an off holiday cruise. Everyone on board the ship is celebrating the holiday too, which means the crew as well.

For Kara and Nate, celebrating aboard The Wishing Star is a romantic and memorable occasion. I had so much fun writing this story and watching them celebrate their first New Year's Eve together.

Have you ever been on a holiday cruise? If you could sail aboard The Wishing Star on a holiday cruise which one would you choose? What would you look forward to?





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