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Fourth of July Celebrations: How Cruise Lines Are Marking Independence Day

Brittany Chrusciel

Jun 16, 2023

Read time
7 min read

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 celebrations in your backyard, this is the Fourth of July on a cruise.

Whether you're sailing through Alaska's Last Frontier or cruising the Caribbean’s 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 Fourth of July celebrations at sea. (One line even hosts its own grand fireworks display!).

Find out which lines do what for an Independence Day cruise to remember.

On This Page

American Cruise Lines

Sailing the Intracoastal Waterway with American Cruise Lines (Photo: Jeannine Williamson)

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, Ohio, and Tennessee 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, guests can view the displays overhead from each ship’s top deck lounge or the nearly 100% private balcony staterooms aboard American’s small ships, as they cruise along America's rivers, coastlines and waterways.

American Queen Voyages

The iconic crimson-red paddlewheel of American Empress (Photo: American Queen Voyages)

Stopping in Detroit on its 11-day voyage between Toronto and Chicago, Ocean Voyager will have front row seats of the Ford Fireworks happening along Detroit's downtown Riverwalk on June 26. With unobstructed views of the yearly display, passengers will ring in July 4th early during this nighttime spectacular before the vessel resumes on its Great Lakes tour the following day. 

Azamara Club Cruises

White Night Deck Party on Azamara Pursuit (Photo: Cruise Critic)

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.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Fantasy (Photo: Cruise Critic)

Fourth of July is a popular holiday aboard Carnival Cruise Line ships. Here's what passengers can expect: games like an Ice Cream Eating Contest, American-themed pool and deck games, a Patriotic Parade, 4th of July Deck Party, themed trivia, bingo, movies, line dancing, plus themed activities in the kids and youth zones and themed photo opportunities.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Apex at sea (Image: Celebrity Cruises)

To celebrate Independence Day, Celebrity will offer a 4th of July cake at the Oceanview Cafe; at the Mast Grill, cheeseburgers and fries will be served; a Red, White & Blue Extravaganza will take place at Camp at Sea. There will be a 4th of July party and a celebratory themed cocktail served.

Cunard Line

Queen Mary 2 (QM2)

Cunard celebrates Independence Day with a special annual sailing onboard Queen Mary 2, staying overnight in Boston on July 4. Passengers will get the chance to witness the historic city's celebratory fireworks.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Magic in Cozumel (Photo: GTS Productions/Shutterstock.com)

Disney Cruise Line celebrates Independence Day in all-American fashion. As the only cruise line with fireworks onboard, Disney Wish, Disney Wonder, 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

Maasdam (Photo: Holland America Line)

In recognition of Independence Day, Holland America will host an evening celebration with U.S.A.-themed party music performed live and hosted by the Cruise and Travel Director. There will be a themed breakfast in the Lido and Dining Room with Berry Spangled Brioche, Yankee Doodle Waffles and Stars and Stripes Parfait.

Island Windjammers


If you're sailing the Caribbean on Island Windjammers over July 4, you'll get to celebrate Independence Day with burgers and hot dogs on the beach for lunch and in the evening, at a Caribbean barbecue that takes place on an island complete with bonfire.

Lindblad Expeditions

National Geographic Islander II at sunset (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

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

Margaritaville at Sea

Margaritaville at Sea sailaway (Photo/Chris Gray Faust)

Fourth of July celebrations sailing Margaritaville at Sea will take place on Margaritaville at Sea Paradise, 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.

MSC Cruises

MSC Divina

For July 4th on MSC Cruises' U.S.-based ships, including MSC Seascape and 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

Pride of America alongside in Hilo, Hawaii on April 12, 2022 (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

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

Oceania's Regatta in Alaska (Photo: Oceania Cruises)

Depending on the ship, the onboard demographic, and location on the 4th, Oceania's ships may offer a traditional July 4th “All American” menu selection of favorites, a traditional 4th of July barbecue and on-deck ‘country fair’ if the ship is at sea.

Paul Gauguin Cruises

Paul Gauguin (Photo: 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 Mist

Pearl Seas Cruises' small 210-passenger Pearl Mist will be sailing the Great Lakes over the Fourth of July. There will be onboard festivities, themed dinners and special cocktails.


Princess Cruises

Sapphire Princess

Festivities take place on select Princess Cruises' voyages and include decorations; themed movies at Movies Under the Stars; themed gameshows and music playlists throughout each cruise; crafts and other activities in youth and teen centers; hot dog eating competition on the top deck and themed cocktails.

Royal Caribbean

Aquatheater performances aboard Wonder of the Seas are stunning (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

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

Seabourn Quest (Photo: Seabourn)

To commemorate the Fourth of July holiday, Seabourn will host a festive themed sail away party, themed dinner in the Colonnade with commemorative cake and decorations on display in front of The Restaurant and Colonnade.

Silversea Cruises

Silver Shadow Dining

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

Safari Voyager

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

Windstar Cruises

Cruise guests watch the sun set from the sun deck of Star Breeze. (Photo: Colleen McDaniel)

Star Breeze is Alaska 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.

Updated June 16, 2023
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