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What It’s Like to Celebrate Christmas in the Caribbean

They say there’s no place like home for the holidays, but when a Carnival cruise ship is your home away from home during Christmas time, you’ll discover that there’s really no place quite like the Caribbean. From Antigua to Cozumel, you’ll visit incredible ports of call throughout the region of some 5,000 tropical islands and cays, enjoying the unforgettable opportunity to spend your holiday on sunny beaches, snorkeling over coral reefs, exploring rainforest trails and strolling down the streets of charming colonial cities. Travel to the Caribbean any time from the day after Thanksgiving through Christmas Day, and you’ll get to experience special festivities onboard that’ll have you and your loved ones celebrating the season like never before.

a man and a woman lying on a beach wearing santa hats

Christmas Traditions

Spending Christmas in the Caribbean certainly doesn’t mean missing out on all the traditions your family enjoys at home, such as singing carols, mailing letters to Santa, and doing arts and crafts. During a yuletide cruise vacation, your ship will be adorned from bow to stern with beautiful decorations, including numerous Christmas trees, huge wreaths, twinkling lights and romance-coaxing mistletoe. A special tree lighting ceremony takes place in the lobby on select ships, and the Let it Snow celebration brings snow onboard so the kids can frolic, throw snowballs and build a snowman…before going back to have fun in the warm Caribbean sun. You’ll also have the chance to welcome Santa Claus during ‘Tis the Season celebrations, which include an ugly sweater or festive holiday hat contest as well.

 a Christmas tree in the atrium of the Carnival Vista

Parties and Shows

Christmas time at home often means going to parties and special seasonal shows. You’ll have the chance to enjoy plenty of both, Caribbean-style, on a holiday cruise. The onboard theater hosts a spectacular live Holiday Show featuring top-notch singers, dancers and musicians, plus everyone’s favorite green Christmas curmudgeon, The Grinch. Live musicians and DJs around the ship will play music with a seasonal spirit, and you can party the night away at the Mega Deck Party and the onboard nightclub. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to raise a glass and make a Christmas toast with a Caribbean twist, perhaps with a fruity cocktail at RedFrog Rum Bar or while singing along to your favorite holiday tunes at the Piano Bar.


Christmas at home might mean you get the chance to relax a little bit, although, in reality it’s more likely to be a whirlwind of preparation followed by exhaustion. When you cruise to the Caribbean for Christmas, it’s just the opposite. The decorating, cooking and cleaning are all taken off your hands. Your time is your own to do with whatever you desire. Give yourself the gift of a massage or beauty treatment, plus some “me-time” in the sauna and steam room, at Cloud 9 Spa. Spend your time onboard soaking up the Caribbean sun by the pool, and maybe mustering up the energy to go down the waterslide or grab a snack.

The relaxation doesn’t need to stop when you’re visiting the glorious islands of the Caribbean either. Choose from such tranquil shore excursions as the Deluxe Catamaran Sail and Snorkel with lunch and drinks in Amber Cove, Dominican Republic and the Beach Break by Boat and Sunset in Curacao.

Family Time

For many, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year because it means spending time with the family and on a family cruise in the Caribbean you’ll enjoy more special moments together than ever before. So many great cruise activities are designed with the whole family in mind, such as Dive-In Movies, featuring favorite holiday movies poolside under the stars, and Stage Shows that are equally entertaining for all ages.

There are many happy family memories to be made during Christmas time at destinations throughout the Caribbean too. You’ll never forget swimming with dolphins in St. Kitts or Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic, or encountering stingrays up-close in Grand Cayman. A day at an all-inclusive beach resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica or a wildlife river cruise in Belize will go down in family history as a highlight of the best Christmas vacation ever.

a family about to enjoy a dive-in movie at carnival seaside theater

Are You Dreaming of a White (Sand Beach) Christmas?

Whether you’re spending a week or more cruising in the Caribbean or treating yourself to a delightful weekend getaway, a Christmas cruise promises to be an experience you’ll never forget. Trade snow and ice for sand and turquoise seas, dull office parties for lively celebrations on deck, and hot chocolate beside the fireplace for ice creams by the swimming pool. You’ll still have family photos by the tree, and the kids can still tell Santa what they’re hoping for this year… but you might be happy to discover that your trip to the Caribbean is the greatest gift of them all.

Note: Onboard activities, shore excursions, and dining options may vary by ship and destination.