Holland America Line Central America Christmas Cruise

Deborah Wheeler


By Deborah Wheeler

There are several great reasons to consider a cruise this Christmas. Whether you are looking to be surrounded by holiday festivities at every turn, looking to escape the usual holiday traps, or just want to connect in new ways with your loved ones, cruising during Christmas can be a great option.

You cannot wrap a cruise ship and put it under the tree, but it is a wonderful gift to give yourself and those who will cruise with you. I have always enjoyed holiday cruising myself as a way to enjoy the season of celebration with beautiful decorations, festive activities, and lovely food--but with absolutely none of the stress and hard work to pull off that perfect holiday event.

A holiday on the high seas can be the perfect antidote to an otherwise drab or stressful holiday season. The greatest joys of cruising during the holiday season include:

1.       More Festivities

If you are looking for immersion into the spirit of the holidays, you can’t do better than a cruise at Christmas. Cruise lines often decorate their ships lavishly during the holiday season and feature special holiday-themed entertainment, food, and activities.  On one holiday cruise I took aboard Holland America Line, the ship was decorated bow to stern for the holidays. Enormous Christmas trees, sumptuous decorations, and elaborate presentations filled the public spaces and created a lovely and warm effect. A special Christmas Dinner and celebration truly made the season bright for me. The holiday excitement to be experienced aboard a cruise ship is often unparalleled and allows you to truly surround yourself with the sights, sounds, and smells of the joyous season.

2.       Less Festivities

Perhaps you are a little burnt out on the festive atmosphere, wanting to escape all things resembling the commercial Christmas, or are looking to wind down from a hard year? Cruising at Christmas time is also a good idea. Onboard the cruise ship you can participate in as much or as little Christmas as you desire. What did I do when I had my fill and just wasn’t interested in the Christmas carol sing-along? I headed over to the ship’s library instead to work on a puzzle and read the latest bestselling novel. What did I do when I had no great interest in a festive dinner with lots of jolly folks? I made my reservation for a private table in a quite restaurant or enjoyed in-room dining.  Cruising at Christmas means you can dial down the festivities whenever you desire to the level you desire.

3.       No Stress

Whether you are choosing to immerse yourself fully in the many Christmas festivities offered onboard, or, you are more than happy to leave the celebrating to others, a cruise means less stress for you. There’s no extra stress planning the holiday activities, no preparing the house for guests, no decorating, and no cooking. You get to relax and enjoy being spoiled yourself for the holidays. Any time I have taken a holiday cruise I have enjoyed the escape from the usual holiday stressors.

4.       A Focus on Others

One of my favorite reasons for cruising, at any time of the year, (but especially during a stressful holiday season), is the opportunity to meaningfully reconnect with loved ones. I greatly appreciate the opportunity I have when cruising to slow down a bit and spend time with my loved ones. A holiday cruise allows me to put my energy and focus where I want: on the people I love. I have been on more than 10 cruises with my husband and every time I am glad that we have carved out that time to spend together. The holidays are a time to focus on others and there is no better gift you can give others this season than your own time.

5.       Remember the Reason for the Season

Giving gifts is an important symbol of the Christmas holiday. But gifts do not need to be wrapped in shiny paper to be valuable. I spent one great Christmas week in Guatemala and Mexico on a Central American Cruise aboard Holland America Line and had one of the most relaxing and memorable holiday seasons ever. I joined a humanitarian tour, Go With Gus, in Santo Tomas, Guatemala during a port stop there.  During our stop in Livingston, and along our river cruise down the Rio Dulce River, we met many of the local children. We stopped to hear school children sing a Christmas song for us and watched them paddle their canoes out on to the river. The gifts we brought the children were not wrapped and they did not seem to mind. Nor did they notice how much we received from them on that day. The gifts they gave us were likely not even known to them.  As a result, we experienced the true reason for the season during that cruise.


Dr. Deborah Wheeler, a travel writer and clinical psychologist, has worked for more than twenty years in the management and leadership of travel, education, healthcare, and criminal justice organizations. She has appeared on television and radio programs as an expert on child psychology topics of interest to parents and served as a subject matter expert in psychology and business. Dr. Wheele...(Read More)

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