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Our Christmas to remember


From watching Father Christmas arrive down the funnel to carol singing and nativity plays, there are so many special moments to share on a Christmas cruise. We talk to the Cole family to find out more

The Cole family

The Cole family

Christmas cruising combines all the things you love about the festive season – the sparkle, the singing, the feasting – with none of the things you don’t, such as food shopping, peeling spuds and endless washing up. We work extra hard to create a truly magical atmosphere. Our ships are beautifully decked out with garlands, tinsel and trees; there are gifts for all the guests (yes, Father Christmas comes on ship, too); and there’s fabulous food and drink to enjoy, plus an amazing array of events and activities for all the family.


For Wendy and Richard Cole from Birmingham, joining Britannia for a two-week Christmas cruise in the Caribbean with their children Louis, Eva and Tristan, and Nanny Margaret and Grandad Graham was the ideal way to be together and relax. The thought of forgetting about the usual domestic hassles of Christmas while enjoying a sunshine holiday made a cruise particularly appealing for the adults. For the three youngsters, it was an adventure they will never forget.


‘We knew it would be different and it was, in a brilliant way,’ says mum Wendy. ‘From the minute we got on board, we realised that we weren’t going to miss out on all the things we love best about Christmas at home. The crew, and especially the children’s club staff, were amazing and worked so hard to make everything special – from the letters and presents left in the cabin for the children, to the cabin stewards putting decorations on our doors.’


Dad Richard agrees. ‘There were so many activities for the children to get involved in. Seeing them in the nativity play on Christmas morning in the Headliners Theatre is something we’ll never forget – nor them singing with all the other children in the carol concert in the Atrium on Christmas Eve. Standing on deck together, waiting for the captain to announce the arrival of Father Christmas was magical. It was wonderful to see the excitement on the faces of the little ones. Everyone was so happy.’


It was the first time the children had experienced Christmas away from home, but it got the thumbs up. ‘I wasn’t sure that you could have a proper Christmas on a ship,’ says Louis, 11. ‘But actually it was better than being at home. I liked visiting the Caribbean islands. I love swimming so I got to do it every day, as well as doing all the Christmassy things. We all played games on deck on Christmas morning after we’d opened our presents.’


For eight-year-old Eva, it was a very exciting time. ‘It was funny being in the sunshine for Christmas but I really liked it. You don’t normally build sandcastles on Christmas Eve – Dad helped us build a huge one! There was lots to do every day and I even had a junior pamper in the spa! I made some great friends at the children’s club. I liked the carol singing and being part of the nativity play. I was a bit nervous about being on stage in front of everyone as I was the narrator, but it went really well and everyone was clapping and cheering at the end.’


Five-year-old Tristan wasn’t sure Father Christmas would make it all that way. He needn’t have worried. ‘I was really excited on Christmas Eve because Father Christmas was coming. We all waited with the captain to see Father Christmas arrive down the funnel. It was really funny. He sent us a letter and gave us a present as well. He came a very long way to give everyone a Christmas present on the ship. All of the reindeer must have been very hot.’


The decision to do something different had been a big one for Wendy and Richard. ‘Christmas is such a special time for the family and we normally do the same thing each year at home,’ says Wendy. ‘We’d cruised before and always had great fun, so we really went for it. The evening entertainment throughout the cruise was fabulous, and don’t get me started on the food! For us, that was one of the biggest plus points. No worrying about the shopping, cooking and clearing up, meaning no stress whatsoever and no sweating in the kitchen all morning, grappling with the turkey. The chefs did it all for us and prepared all our favourite Christmas dishes, so we didn’t miss out on anything. It felt so festive and traditional.’


The children benefitted from their parents feeling so chilled out, too. ‘We got to spend lots of time with Mum, Dad, Nanny and Grandad,’ says Louis. ‘They were all really relaxed because they didn’t have to prepare anything for Christmas dinner.’


‘We all liked getting dressed up for the special events,’ adds Eva. ‘And we got to stay up much later than we do at home. Everyone was very kind and really looked after us.


But let’s leave the last word of recommendation to Louis. ‘When I told my friends about what we’d done, I think they were jealous. I’d love to do another Christmas cruise now that I know what a good time you can have.’