Christmas on board?

Christmas at sea is traditionally one of the most popular choices of cruise vacationers. Every year cruise lines pack these sailings with extras to make the celebration very special. And many cruise lines this year have lengthened their itineraries and added ports of call to make the last Christmas of the century the best one yet.

According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), holiday sailings are sold out many months in advance. This year, several lines still have space available — no doubt due to the attention being paid to the “turn of the millennium.”

“Christmas at sea is one of the best times to sail,” says James G. Godsman, president of the CLIA. “You can avoid the last minute hassles of Christmas preparations and emerge from the holidays actually relaxed rather than exhausted.”

This sounds like a good idea. Most cruise lines offer a festive holiday atmosphere on board, with Christmas trees and greenery, gifts for the children, religious services such as midnight Mass or a nondenominational service, caroling and special Christmas culinary delights. And, somehow, Santa Claus manages to pay a visit to almost every ship.

Carnival Cruise Lines’ sps will welcome Santa Claus as he comes on board with his bag of gifts for youngsters. Guests will enjoy caroling under the stars on deck, classic Christmas-themed movies, a special Christmas Day menu and traditional decorations.

Princess Cruises has combined Christmas and New Year’s on the 16-day cruises of the Royal Princess from Buenos Aires to Santiago and of the Sky Princess from Sydney to Auckland. A 14-day cruise of the Pacific Princess will feature ports in Europe and sacred sites of the Holy Land. If you’re in the festive spirit, contact CARPTravel for information on what’s available for your last minute Christmas cruise.