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Hassle-free holiday for the whole family

A Christmas cruise for the whole family
 
Why you should take to the ocean wave
Christmas festivities are always a busy time. From preparing dinner for all the family, getting all the presents in, to making sure everyone has a drink in their hand, it can be an exhausting time for many. Which is why travelling on a cruise ship at Christmas is such a great option. Indulge in stress-free luxury, allowing someone else to take care of you for a change.
 
A major advantage to Christmas cruising is the fact that everyone is catered for and looked after. You literally have nothing to worry about, except which entertainment or relaxing pastime to enjoy next. The sheer scale of these beautiful ships mean accommodation, activities and catering are all on offer in one place. And don't forget that you are also on vacation, so you can enjoy the stunning stop-off points of your journey and the breathtaking ocean in all its glory.
 


The total package
Of course, the convenience factoris a major reason for taking a cruise holiday. The idea of being able to relax at Christmas is a huge incentive for booking a deal. Extended family groups are also commonplace on-board. Interconnecting cabins are perfect for larger numbers, and you often see families returning again and again for this unique Christmas ocean experience.
 
Janice Gray (57) and her husband Ian (59) have been cruising for 15 years, including with P&O to the Pacific Islands, and Singapore to Sydney on Princess Cruises. Having taken 17 ocean trips, and four at Christmas, there's no-one better placed to comment than the Adelaide mother-of-two.
 
"We have travelled with family and friends, including our young grandchildren. Quite simply, it's great for the family to get together and you can all just relax."
 
"Having the grandkids is fantastic because you can just enjoy watching them open the presents, without having to worry about cooking a meal and cleaning up! Also, you don't have to race around seeing people, stretching yourself to the limit."
 


That Christmas feeling  
Just because you're away from dry land doesn't mean you don't get to enjoy a truly festive extravaganza. Ships feature special Christmas lunches, games and activities, planned events for younger cruisers and all the traditional stuff: from 'let it snow' events, to singing carols and decorating contests. In some cases, there's even a chapel on-board.
 
Janice relishes the special atmosphere: "It's great to see the festivities and decorations. Santa always pays a visit and everyone is friendly. At Xmas everyone is dressed up and gets into the party spirit."
 


Repeat customers can always be relied upon
Cruisesalefinder.com.au team leader, Sarah van Iersel, looks after hundreds of Xmas cruise passengers every year.
 
"We get a lot of families and couples booking, although we also have singles. One repeat customer takes a Christmas cruise each year and loves to meet new people."
 
"There are always special touches, such as a Christmas dinner -“ it's perfect for all the mothers out there. Ships also put up decorations, so you certainly don't miss out on the festivities. It's not a surprise that people keep coming back."
 
Carnival Cruise Lines make sure Christmas is extra special, as Vice-President Australia Jennifer Vandekreeke explains: "We have special festive menus, photos with Santa, a Christmas 'door decorating' contest, along with other themed games and activities. We also host a Christmas show featuring the Captain, for the kids."
 


Where to go and book early
With so many cruise options, it's not always easy to pick your destination. Passengers often book well ahead, soon after they've finished their last Christmas trip, due to their popularity.
 
Carnival Cruises cater for more than 4.5 million global passengers a year, and as Jennifer says, it's a great time to travel, but there is a high demand: "People tend to book their Christmas holidays further in advance than a general holiday,“ often a year in advance."
 
Carnival specialise in Pacific Island cruising, predominantly offering 8-12 night trips to a variety of island destinations, including New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji. The 2014 Christmas cruise on Carnival Spirit is a 12-night Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu trip, departing Sydney on December 18. Carnival Legend has an 11-night itinerary, departing Sydney on December 16.
 
But school holidays are always are a very popular time of year for Carnival Cruise Lines: the Xmas and New Year period is no exception.
 


A family affair on deck
Some cruise lines limit the number of children on-board, depending on age-group, so don't just assume you can get the numbers you want. Again, the earlier you book, the better. But it's a wonderful family trip once you set sail. And Sarah van Iersel says it's a particularly unique demographic.
 
"I have actually booked four generations of family on one liner, from grandparents down to grandkids. One group went up to 20 people, including friends and family."
 
Christmas cruising is certainly an ocean adventure for all ages, across the generations.

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