Christmas At Sea

Happy Holidays Everyone!

This year, for the first time, I spent Christmas far away from home… At sea. On the cruise ship.

For me, every year, Christmas is almost the same. Even when I was not living in Paris anymore. I was still coming back to my family for the holidays. Christmas is a family reunion, where food, beverages, games and…. Food again, were part of the deal. A few presents for the tradition, but the real happiness was to be all together.

This year, it was not possible for me to come back home. I was in the middle of my contract, on a cruise ship, at sea.

So what Xmas looks like at sea? What is Xmas for crew members? How do we celebrate it?

atrium disney dream cruise ship

Of course, it really depends on the cruise liner, the crew and the atmosphere onboard (so it also depends on the Management!). And it also depends on people because, as you may know, not everyone, not every culture, celebrates Christmas.

First, let’s answer the most fundamental question that you all asked: No, we do not have any time off for Christmas and, yes, we do work on the 24th and on the 25th like a classic workday. The Holiday Season is actually even busier as the Galley and Dining teams need to work harder to organize extra parties and the Officers need spend extra time with the Guests to make sure they will love their Christmas time onboard.

The ships are decorated with beautiful trees and gingerbread houses (they smell very nice by the way). Special events run just for Christmas, etc.

But what happened…. Backstage? In the crew areas? 

Of course, it really depends on the company and the organisation. So let me tell you from my experience, as it was my 1st Xmas at sea.

Well, I didn’t know what to expect but I was clearly disappointed… Maybe because nothing was Christmassy like I was used to at home…

I had my Christmas Party with my HR team (4 of us) on the 23rd. No Christmas food was offered but we had a nice time just between us, spending a great evening playing games and laughing. 
Nothing on the 24th, just a normal workday with extra visibility in Guest areas.
On the 25th, I spent time in the morning to wish a very merry Christmas to our guests and then we closed our HR office to open our presents! A successful moment as the team members didn’t know each other very well but succeeded to organized nice and fun presents.
During the day, I had time to go ashore and……. It feels very weird to celebrate the 25th of December in short trousers with 25 degrees Celsius when I am used to negative temperatures for the same period of the year. However, that was not a bad feeling at all 🙂
Our Christmas Meal was organized the same day, for dinner, for all crew and officers. Unfortunately, the food was absolutely not Christmassy (I really like this word). Just a classic menu with extra choice. No particular event was organized for the crew.


christmas tree and presents

So, basically, a little bit disappointed by the ship and the company, but my team helped a lot to organize a very nice time 🙂 The team loved to play Christmas songs all day long, decoration was displayed in the offices… Yes, Christmas spirit was definitely present onboard 😉 Who said that HR people can’t be fun!?

The month of December is very special onboard. The crew realizes (more than during their normal routine) that they are far away from home. Ups and Downs can happen at sea, so I was extremely careful with the crew on that particular month, as we can all imagine that depression can catch anyone during this special time of the year. I was not spared from this feeling and being surrounded by amazing people help a lot. I will talk to you about depression at sea one day. This very serious topic is not very famous and very interesting (from my opinion at least).
So the role of the HR (the good HR…) is to be attentive to the employees and to detect any sign of depression, and of course, to react immediately!
Lucky me, my current ship is a happy ship (you will find the definition of the happy ship in my previous posts) and the atmosphere onboard is really great. Our Christmas ran smoothly with a lot of happiness on the ship 🙂

It is now time to get ready for New Year Eve and to anticipate your next question, yes, we are going to party! Still normal workdays ahead but we will definitely take the time to have fun and to celebrate 2020! We will catch up our rest time in the next few weeks 😉

From the Bahamas, I wish you all Happy Holidays!

disney dream castaway cay


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The author is a cruise ship officer and loves travelling around the world. He started the expatriation adventure in 2016. He is passionate about learning new cultures, about local food & beer. *Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my current employer or my previous employers*

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