I have read many times on CC that cruising over Christmas is on many cruiser;s bucket list so I thought I'd do a review specifically about being on board for Christmas.
We boarded the Rhapsody on the 19th December, She is a beautiful cruise vessel and looks even more beautiful with her Christmas decorations up. (I believe they go up late Nov) There is large glittering Christmas tree in the Centrum, pots of red Poinsetta spread around the balconies on each level of the Centrum. There was a buffet display of Gingerbread in the Windjammer (Buffet Restaurant) and on Deck 4 or 5. Both looked absolutely gorgeous and were very tempting but sadly we were not allowed to eat. It was there for display and photo purposes only.
The entry to our Deck has a small Christmas decoration on the wall. I put up two lovely cardboard decorations on our cabin door which got lots of favourable comments. Several others put up small red stockings on their cabin door but majority of people on our deck did not decorate their cabin door.
Being a Christmas cruise, my fellow passengers were smiling, relaxed and happy. Everyone said hello in the lifts which was very nice.
Christmas Eve was a port day and we were in beautiful Champagne Bay, Vanuatu. On disembarking our tender, we were met by a crew member dressed as Santa and you could have a professional photo ($16.95 AUD) taken with him on the beach. He was there until about 3.30pm. My teen had this done and it was her favourite photo of the cruise.
Most of the Christmas activites seemed to occur on Christmas Eve.
Our Cruise Compass came with a blank RCCL christmas card and a candy cane.
Many of the guests were Christmas gear - hats, t-shirts and illuminated decorations!
The movie of the day was "A Muffet Christmas Carol" (!)
8,00pm we had Christmas Concert in the Centrum with the Royal Carribean Singers.
2 male and 2 female leads from the Production Shows, dressed in formal wear, sang on the steps of the Centrum. This was excellent.
Headliner Show was Patrick McMahon singing Kenny Rogers, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash.
this was not "Christmassy" so I did not go but my teen did and she loved it - even though she did not get "the old people jokes" between songs - her words.
10.00pm Christmas Champagne in the Centrum
Free glass of red, white or green "coloured" champagne in the Centrum
followed by the Cruise Director at 10.25 reading "Twas the Night before Christmas"
10.30pm Christmas Carolling with RC Officers, Crew and Production singers.
We were all given song books.
Officers, crew, and Production singers in long gold gowns on the steps of the Centrum
All guests joined in singing the carols
Followed by a spectacular aerial performance in the Centrum to Michael Buble music. Loved this!
Midnight Mass was held in the theatre.
There also appeared to be face painting in the centrum as many of the young kids were "rudolph" etc.
Was a sea day.
Staff in Windjammer welcomed us all wearing Santa hats (this may have happened on Christmas eve as well but I can't remember.
"Santa" was in the Centrum from 9am-11.30am. Handing out a free RCCL gift to each child. He sat on the traditional red chair and you could get a professional photo if you wished. Teen gifts were RCCL towel or drink bottle for boys. Scrapbooking/cardmarking for girls. Your child was ticketed off a list - so no double dipping!
Rest of the day was very quiet. Teens a bit disappointed. But if you were cruising in a big family group I am sure you would have a lovely day.
The "Mens Belly Flop" was re-scheduled to Christmas Day and the teens enjoyed this and it attracted a big crowd but this would not be normally held on Christmas Day.
Christmas Movie was "A Christmas Story" - bit dated to say the least.
In the MDR for dinner, we had Christmas crackers on the table (one per guest) and some Christmas items on the menu. Food and service excellent as always.
Production Show was "Ballroom Fever" - again not Christmassy but again my teen loved it.
At 7.30pm The Big Band played Christmas music. This did not attract much of an audience.
Boxing Day - sea day - no cricket - teen disappointed.
27th Dec - we were "near" Australian coastline so Boxing Day test on room tv and pool tv - teen delighted.
This Christmas Cruise was my first cruise. I loved it. it was a full ship but it never felt crowded. Always could a find a deck chair or seat. Buffet ran smoothly. Never crowded or too busy. Calm seas and beautiful weather There were kids on board but you didn,t see them until Christmas Day (they must have spent most of their time in kids clubs). My teens were disappointed by Christmas on board but they loved the cruise overall and want to cruise again - soon.