Disney Cruise Line Holiday Celebration Details

Disney is celebrating #HalfwaytotheHolidays and Disney Cruise Line is the perfect place to celebrate the holidays! Learn more below.


Here are all the details from Disney Cast Member Melanie Curtsinger:

The calendar may say July, but it’s never too early to start planning for the holidays, right? From the catchy holiday jingles, themed food and gatherings with family and cherished loved ones, there are so many reasons why it truly is the most wonderful time of the year!

Whether you are looking for a new family tradition or just simply want to add some cheer to the season, Disney Cruise Line has an option to make the magic of the holidays come alive – Very Merrytime Cruises!

Credit: Disney

From early November through December, the Disney Cruise Line fleet is decked from bow-to-stern with holiday cheer and entertainment during Very Merrytime Cruises. Holiday magic is unwrapped for the whole family with festive holiday decor, favorite characters in their finest holiday attire and a special visit from none other than Santa Claus.

But don’t just take my word for it! Here are some of my favorite things about these special holiday sailings on board Disney Cruise Line.

Holidays are magical aboard the Disney Dream, where the magnificent atrium lobby is transformed into a winter wonderland. In the spirit of holiday cheer, Disney Cruise Line adds sparkle to each ship during Very Merrytime Cruises, with special stem-to-stern holiday events, traditional “turkey day” fanfare, Christmas feasts, “snow flurries” and New Year’s Eve galas. (Kent Phillips, photographer)

Holly Jolly Decor

When you enter the atrium for the first time on your Very Merrytime Cruise, your eyes will likely be immediately drawn to the three-deck-tall Christmas tree. That’s right – from garlands, poinsettias and shimmering lights, décor will fill the nooks and crannies of our ships during these holiday sailings, filling your vacation with holiday merriment from the moment you step on board!


Santa Claus! 

What’s a holiday cruise without Santa and Mrs. Claus? We may not be at the North Pole, but you can still be on the lookout for sightings of ‘Old Saint Nick’ while you’re on board, and you won’t want to miss one of our favorite Disney Cruise Line traditions – Storytime with Mrs. Claus.

Credit: Disney

Characters in holiday attire

Whether it’s Mickey in his winter sweater, Pluto with antlers or Goofy in a full-fledged Santa suit, your favorite characters will be dressed in their finest holiday garb during Very Merrytime Cruises.

The holidays take on a tropical flair at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, with “snow flurries,” a decked-out Christmas tree, Disney character meet-and-greets and holiday island music. Credit: Disney/Kent Phillips

Castaway Cay

My favorite thing to do for the holidays is trade in white snow for the white sand beaches on Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s private island. But even though you may be in the Bahamas, this slice of paradise is decked for the holidays as well – with a tropical flair, of course! A massive Christmas tree, holiday island music and even “snow” flurries await your family, guaranteeing that the only “blue” you’ll be feeling this holiday season is the color of the crystal-clear waters!

RELATED ARTICLE: Very Merrytime Cruise – Our Review and What You Need to Know

Unwrap a holiday adventure for the whole family: a cruise aboard the Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy, all decked out with holiday cheer. From early November through December, Disney Cruise Line adds sparkle to each ship during Very Merrytime Cruises. These holiday-themed cruises feature exclusive offerings for the whole family to enjoy. We recently enjoyed a Very Merrytime Cruise on the Disney Dream! Keep reading for what you need to know about these fantastic cruises.


1 – Preparing for Your Very Merrytime Cruise

We had a lot of fun getting ready for our holiday cruise. We packed matching holiday shirts and brought our own stateroom decorations, along with ordering an in-room décor package. Check out our article on packing for a Very Merrytime Cruise by clicking here.

2 – Holiday Decorations Around the Ship

When you step aboard the ship during your Very Merrytime Cruise, you’ll find it decorated for the holidays. Decorations include a life-sized gingerbread house that smells amazing, garlands, poinsettias, and lights all around the ship. They really do make the ship even more magical. Finally, you’ll find a 24-foot Christmas tree in the atrium.  The tree stays dark until the first evening, during a special tree-lighting ceremony.

4 – Mickey’s Tree-Lighting Magic

On the first night of your cruise, you don’t want to miss “Mickey’s Tree-Light Magic,” a short show in the atrium lobby. During the show, Disney characters lead holiday carols and the lighting of the three-deck-tall tree. It was an entertaining show that set the stage for a great holiday cruise.

Click here to see a short video of the tree lighting ceremony!

5 – Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball

Also on the first night of the cruise, is “Santa’s Winter Wonderland Ball” in the atrium lobby. In this short show, cruisers welcome the guests of honor, Santa and Mrs. Claus. The show is a grand celebration featuring Broadway-style entertainment, favorite Disney characters, and classic holiday tunes. This evening is made complete when a particular pair of royal sisters joins the party and causes a flurry of “frozen” fun as a magical snowfall overtakes the atrium.

6 – Dickens-Inspired Carolers

Throughout the cruise, be on the lookout for Dickens-inspired carolers. They carry the spirit of the holidays throughout the ship while singing holiday classics, sometimes with the help of favorite Disney friends. At the end of the cruise, children will have the opportunity to join the carolers onstage for a special farewell show.


7 – Family Holiday Activities

During the cruise, there are plenty of holiday activities for the whole family to enjoy. Chad and our daughter had a lot of fun decorating Christmas cookies. Santa Claus is also available in the atrium for holiday photos with guests. Finally, children and teens have holiday-themed activities in the youth clubs such as decorating stockings and gingerbread men cookies, making holiday cards and creating holiday animation cells.


8 – Holiday Fun on Castaway Cay

When the ship stops at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay, during the holidays, the celebration continues with “snow flurries,” a decked-out Christmas tree, Disney character meet-and-greets, and holiday island music. The extras added some extra magic to the island.

9 – Holiday Greetings with Disney Characters

A highlight for many during a Disney cruise is the opportunity to meet your favorite Disney characters. Throughout the cruise, the characters will appear in different outfits. On embarkation day, you’ll usually find Mickey and the gang in their cruising outfits. On Castaway Cay, you’ll find them wearing holiday island attire. During a Very Merrytime Cruise, you’ll be able to meet them in holiday outfits as well! It was so much fun going around the ship to meet them and get pictures. Their outfits are really unique, so a photo with them an extra special keepsake to take home.


10 – Holiday Merchandise

No Disney vacation is complete without shopping for some merchandise, right? Disney Cruise Line offers a wide variety of items with different themes to guests. During our holiday cruise, I was most looking forward to seeing the Very Merrytime Cruise merchandise items, and I wasn’t disappointed. For the holiday season, they created a small holiday shop. Disney Dream’s Merchandise Manager told us that this was the first year they had dedicated store for the holiday items. You’ll find some items from the parks, but many items are exclusive to the Disney Cruise Line. One difference between shopping on your cruise and shopping at Walt Disney World is that on the ship, they are limited in how much inventory they can store. When something sells out, it will not be restocked during your cruise. So, if you see something you like early in your cruise, best get it then. Disney Cruise Line takes Disney Gift Cards. Disney Vacation Club members receive a 10% discount.

Click here to get a look at the exclusive holiday merchandise on the Very Merrytime Cruises.

11 – Storytime with Mrs. Claus

On the last day of our cruise, we were able to enjoy Storytime with Mrs. Claus. There was a great turnout. Many children were eager to hear from Mrs. Claus, who was sitting in her rocking chair in front of the Christmas tree in the lobby atrium. She read-aloud two stories, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “The Night Before Christmas.” At the end of the storytime, Mrs. Claus was joined by some surprise guests: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy! There was a brief time of mixing and mingling with the characters for photos, including Mrs. Claus herself. It’s a lovely holiday offering, especially for young children.

12 – See Ya Real Soon

On the final night of every Disney cruise, you can enjoy a short farewell show, ‘See Ya Real Soon,’ in the lobby atrium. We enjoyed a special holiday edition of the cheerful farewell celebration with beloved Disney characters and the ship’s crew in a musical finale led by Mickey Mouse. The end of a Disney cruise is always so sad, but the final show makes it a bit easier to say goodbye!


13 – Thanksgiving Day Extras

If your cruise includes Thanksgiving Day, you will enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving Day feast and visits from Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse dressed in traditional Thanksgiving attire. Also, during the special Thanksgiving voyages, NFL football games will be broadcast live on the ships’ outdoor, jumbo LED screens – Funnel Vision – located near the family pool.

14 – Christmas Day Extras

On Christmas morning at the atrium lobby tree, Santa Claus and his helpers will have a surprise for all the kids, and you’ll enjoy an exceptional musical performance from the children. A traditional Christmas dinner is served that night in the dining rooms. Christmas services will be held on Christmas Day with a midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Hanukkah services will be held for eight days, beginning on the 25th day of Kislev.

15 – Overall Thoughts

We really enjoyed our Very Merrytime Cruise. The ship was beautiful, and the holiday-themed extras were fun and added extra magic to our cruise. We always love greeting the characters in unique outfits, and so we were thrilled to get photos with them in unique outfits. We would love to sail over Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day one year. I can only imagine how magical waking up on the ship on Christmas morning would be. If you’re looking for some extra holiday magic on an already fantastic vacation, then a Very Merrytime Cruise is for you!

If you’re thinking about booking a holiday Disney Cruise, now is the perfect time to do so! We highly recommend booking with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner to ensure you are well taken care of and get all the discounts available to you. For more details and help booking your vacation, call (407) 442-0227. You can also get a no-obligation, FREE vacation quote by clicking here. Their services are free to you, and they can answer any questions you may have.

Editor’s Note: Walt Disney Parks & Resorts provided us a complimentary Very Merrytime Cruise and special media-specific events during the cruise. However, as always, the thoughts and opinions contained in this article are entirely our own.

For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.


Chad & Cindy Nykamp

After years of multiple Walt Disney World vacations, Cindy and Chad's dream of living in Orlando came true in 2010. After friends and family made them their go-to-people for Walt Disney World advice, Cindy and Chad launched DisneyLists.com in August 2015 to share their knowledge and love of Disney. Chad and Cindy have been Disney World Annual Passholders for years, DVC members, together have raced more than 70 runDisney races, and particularly love cruising on the Disney Cruise Line. Chad and Cindy also regularly represent DisneyLists.com at Walt Disney World media events. While attending these events, they get an insiders view of all the new things that have come to Walt Disney World. These experiences have helped them gain knowledge and expertise they happily pass on to their followers. They still can't believe how lucky they are to have such an amazing opportunity and will continue to share Disney with anyone who will listen!
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