1. Home
  2. Planning
  3. Cruise Tips and Advice
  4. 4th of July Cruise Festivities: From Fireworks to Apple Pie

4th of July Cruise Festivities: From Fireworks to Apple Pie

4th of July Cruise Festivities: From Fireworks to Apple Pie (Photo: Gino Santa Maria/Shutterstock)
4th of July Cruise Festivities: From Fireworks to Apple Pie (Photo: Gino Santa Maria/Shutterstock)

Find a Cruise

Kids running around in face paint, clutching melting ice cream cones; ribs and corn grilling on the barbecue; the splashing of pool games, the waving of flags and even the crackling of fireworks -- this isn't the Fourth of July in your backyard, this is the Fourth of July on a cruise.

Whether you're sailing through Alaska's Last Frontier or far away in exotic waters, cruise lines find a number of ways to celebrate America's birthday. From traditional meals and red, white and blue decor to new traditions like an Americana-themed silent disco party, there are many ways to observe and revel in July 4th at sea. (One line even hosts its own grand fireworks display!) Find out which lines do what for an Independence Day cruise.

Updated June 20, 2018

American Cruise Lines

Over the Fourth of July holiday this year, American Cruise Lines has nine small ships sailing across the U.S. Its fleet of paddlewheelers and small coastal ships are cruising in Alaska; Puget Sound and the Columbia and Snake Rivers; Mississippi and Ohio Rivers; New England and Maine. Every ship in the fleet will celebrate Independence Day in classic American style with a festive barbecue hosted on the top deck. Ships are decorated in patriotic decor and passengers receive American flag pins and small flags. Onboard, some ships might have photo booths with patriotic hats so all passengers can dress up and commemorate the holiday together. The line also makes sure all passengers have every opportunity to attend fireworks displays -- if they are not already deckside, then attempting to view the displays overhead as they cruise along America's rivers, coastlines and waterways.

American Queen Steamboat Company

This year, American Queen Steamboat Company will celebrate the Fourth aboard three ships. American Queen will be docked overnight in Paducah, Kentucky for the holiday, enjoying themed decor, a picnic lunch and the local fireworks display (with drinks) from the ship at night. American Empress will be docked in Richland, Washington enjoying decorations, patriotic music, a Fourth of July deck party and the Columbia Park fireworks display. American Duchess will be sailing along the river, broadcasting the New York City Fourth of July fireworks spectacular onboard.

Azamara Club Cruises

Azamara will decorate the Living Room with Fourth of July decorations and host a celebration in the evening. This year it's a port day for both ships, so passengers will mostly spend time ashore. Live music will be featured from Azamara's entertainment staff and a DJ.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line

Fourth of July celebrations sailing Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line will take place on both Grand Celebration and Grand Classica, including a special barbecue and pool party on July 4th, themed foods in the buffet, parades, live bands and performances as well as other themed activities onboard.

Carnival Cruise Line

Fourth of July aboard Carnival Cruise Line is robust, with activities like an ice cream-eating contest on the lido deck, themed movies like "Captain America" or "Independence Day", a patriotic scavenger hunt, trivia contests, photo opportunities, food and beverage specials and more. Ships are decorated with American flags and crew are outfitted in special costumes like Uncle Sam.

Celebrity Cruises

To celebrate Independence Day, Celebrity hosts an Independence Pool Party featuring live music, DJs, pool games and special giveaways. Additionally, the Oceanview Cafe (buffet) and Mast Grill (poolside grill) feature a special "All American" menu.

Cunard Line

The 2018 Independence Day sailing of Cunard's Queen Mary 2 will overnight in Boston on July 4, providing a great opportunity for passengers to enjoy celebratory fireworks.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line celebrates Independence Day in all-American fashion. As the only cruise line with fireworks onboard, Disney Magic, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy will all have a special themed Fourth of July fireworks show to end the day. The entire Disney Cruise Line fleet celebrates with themed food and drinks, patriotic decor and special activities throughout the holiday for all ages.

Holland America Line

In recognition of Independence Day, Holland America serves holiday menu items for breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with drink specials. Festivities include a Fourth of July reception and happy hour.

Island Windjammers

If you're sailing the Caribbean on Island Windjammers over July 4, you'll see the ship outfitted with American flags and sparklers, and burgers are hot off the grill for lunch.

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic

Lindblad hosts an all-American barbecue onboard all ships fleetwide to celebrate Independence Day.

MSC Cruises

For July 4th on MSC Seaside, cruisers can celebrate with all-American themed bites and activities like sporting events, themed arts and crafts for kids, performances in the ship's atrium, a Fourth of July line-dancing party on the pool deck, movies under the stars and an Americana-themed silent disco. In addition to a variety of patriotic and themed decor in Seaside's four-story atrium, crew will also sport themed costumes during various activities throughout the week. Several all-American favorites are served in the buffet.

Norwegian Cruise Line

To kick off Independence Day on Norwegian, a "Red, White and Blue" theme party is hosted by the cruise director on the pool deck in the afternoon or evening (weather permitting). Activities vary by ship, but cruisers might encounter ice-carving demos, pie-eating contests, pool games, themed trivia, a patriotic scavenger hunt, face painting, a mini carnival for kids, a festive pub crawl (adults only), the ensuing patriotic singalongs, photo shoots with Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty, and even a Fourth of July-themed murder mystery dinner. There are Fourth of July decorations throughout the ship, and passengers will be able to enjoy themed drink specials, desserts and of course, classic American barbecue and apple pie.

Oceania Cruises

Regatta will be sailing the Inside Passage of Alaska this July 4th, and a special "country fair" might be arranged on the pool deck, weather permitting. A Fourth of July barbecue menu is planned for Waves Grill and Terrace Cafe. Waves Grill will feature items like barbecued spareribs and chicken, baked beans, baked potatoes and corn on the cob. In Terrace Cafe, cruisers will find hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad and coleslaw, in addition to the food in Waves. Dessert will feature an old-fashioned apple pie; red, white and blue cheesecake; a U.S. flag cake; and watermelon.

Paul Gauguin Cruises

To observe Independence Day this year, the Paul Gauguin cruise ship will host a barbecue-themed lunch, Fourth of July-themed trivia contest, country music and dancing, and even an onboard talent show.

Pearl Seas Cruises

Pearl Seas Cruises' ship, Pearl Mist, will conclude an 11-night "Great Lakes & Georgian Bay" cruise on the Fourth of July holiday. The sailing arrives in Chicago on the 4th for the last evening of the cruise. Passengers will be treated to spectacular Chicago-style Fourth of July fireworks displays and celebrations along the waterfront, with a special Fourth of July-themed meal and celebration onboard.

Princess Cruises

Festivities take place on select Princess voyages and include decorations, specialty decor packages, a Piazza cake display, ice-carving display and Fourth of July picnic-themed buffet offerings.

Royal Caribbean

Select Royal Caribbean ships will host themed events and activities for Independence Day, such as festivities on the Boardwalk or Royal Promenade for the whole family to celebrate together, balloon drops, trivia fun and more.

Seabourn Cruise Line

To commemorate the Fourth of July holiday, Seabourn hosts a themed dinner in the Colonnade with cake and decorations on display in front of The Restaurant and Colonnade.

Silversea Cruises

For July 4th, celebrations onboard Silversea ships are kept low-key with a large mix of international passengers sailing. A special celebratory cocktail is created to commemorate the day, and menus in Silversea's dining venues might highlight Fourth of July culinary favorites.

UnCruise Adventures

Ships in expedition line UnCruise's fleet sport decorations for Independence Day, and host a barbecue on deck.

Windstar Cruises

Star Legend is in Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm for the Fourth of July this year. The day will start off with a Fourth of July pancake breakfast in Amphora and Veranda. The ship's lunch menu will feature Alaskan halibut in the Veranda on the carving station, plus Windstar's signature burger and Nathan's hot dogs. A Fourth of July wine tasting will be held for passengers (featuring American wines). Dinner will include a large July 4th cake display at the Amphora entrance along with Alaskan King crab kegs. Alaskan beer and drink specials are on tap.

Find a Cruise

Popular on Cruise Critic

Best Time to Cruise
It's one of the most common cruising questions: When is the best time to cruise Alaska, Australia, the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Hawaii, Europe or the South Pacific? The answer depends on many variables. For example, fall foliage enthusiasts will find September and October the best time to cruise Canada/New England, whereas families prefer to sail in summer when temperatures are warmer for swimming. The best time to cruise to Alaska will vary depending on your preferences for viewing wildlife, fishing, bargain-shopping, sunshine, warm weather and catching the northern lights. For most cruise regions, there are periods of peak demand (high season), moderate demand (shoulder season) and low demand (low season), which is usually the cheapest time to cruise. High season is typically a mix of when the weather is best and popular travel periods (such as summer and school holidays). However, the best time to cruise weather-wise is usually not the cheapest time to cruise. The cheapest time to cruise is when most travelers don't want to go because of chillier temperatures or inopportune timing (too close to holidays, the start of school, etc.). But the lure of cheap fares and uncrowded ports might make you change your mind about what you consider the best time to cruise. As you plan your next cruise, you'll want to take into consideration the best and cheapest times to cruise and see what jibes with your vacation schedule. Here's a when-to-cruise guide for popular destinations.
Onboard Credit: How to Get It, Where to Spend It
Free. Money. Are there two more beautiful words in the English language? While money doesn't grow on trees, increasingly it can be found somewhere else -- on the high seas. Call it an incentive, call it a bonus; whatever you want to call it, onboard credit lets you spend more freely with less guilt. You've paid your cruise fare, and now you can splurge on those enticing extras -- Swedish massage, specialty restaurant, an excursion to snorkel among shipwrecks -- without busting your budget. Not many need convincing as to why onboard credit -- money automatically deposited into your onboard account-- rocks, but finding out exactly how to get it and where you can spend it is a bit trickier. We found eight ways to hit the OBC jackpot and offer even more suggestions on how to burn through it, although you probably have your own ideas already.
7 Ways to Outsmart Deck Chair Hogs
In the wee hours of the morning, under the cover of darkness, they creep. Their flip-flops smack across the pool decks of cruise ships everywhere as they shuffle like a horde of zombies armed with towels, sunscreen and books. If it sounds like a scene from a horror movie, you're on the right track. We're talking about deck chair hogs -- those inconsiderate fellow passengers who rise before the sun to stake out prime poolside real estate, mark it with personal belongings and then abandon it, rendering it useless to others. If you've had enough, we urge you to stand up to these selfish sunbathers and claim the deck chair that's rightfully yours. Join the peaceful revolution by employing the following seven tips for outsmarting deck chair hogs.

Find a Cruise