This Thanksgiving, forget the cooking and cleaning and instead focus on spending quality time with your loved ones onboard one of the five best holiday cruises for families. With sailings throughout the holiday week, these cruises keep all the traditions intact, while adding fun and inventive ways to celebrate the feast. From pumpkin-pie cocktails to post-dinner NFL games shows on jumbo screens, the comforts of home have never been more buoyant.
The newest ship in Princess Cruises’ fleet of eighteen, Regal Princess debuted in May 2014 as the sister ship to Royal Princess. Departing November 22 from Fort Lauderdale, the ship will be calling on Princess Cays, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten during a seven-night cruise. A traditional holiday feast is served in all three of the ship’s main dining rooms, and autumnal accents decorate the ship as special events for the whole family include a turkey-carving demonstration, a turkey-calling contest, and a pumpkin-themed Jr. [email protected] bake-off, in which kids create their own dessert creations. Be sure to stop by the Tree of Thanks in Regal Princess's atrium, a Princess tradition where guests add notes of gratitude to the tree’s branches. And rounding out the complete Thanksgiving experience, the ship streams NFL games on a large outdoor screen.
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At the forefront of onboard innovation and family fun, Anthem of the Seas debuted this past April. Sister ship to Quantum of the Seas, this ship is at the top of its class with cruising firsts including RipCord by iFLY (a skydiving simulator), North Star (a capsule that extends high over the deck, providing incredible views), and even bumper cars. Piloting a new program called Dynamic Dining, Anthem forgoes the traditional grand dining room for a rotating schedule of intimate restaurant-like experiences at no additional charge. On its inaugural Thanksgiving voyage (departing Cape Liberty, New Jersey, on November 22 for an eight-night Bahamas cruise), expect roast turkey with all the fixings served at the ship’s complimentary Dynamic Dining options, and seasonal arts and crafts for the younger set.
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Don’t be fooled by the luxurious touches on Celebrity Reflection—Celebrity’s newest and biggest ship was built with families in mind. It’s easy to see why this vessel is the pride of the Celebrity fleet, with its state-of-the-art Lawn Club featuring real grass (perfect for a family picnic), premium AquaClass Suites that can connect to accommodate large groups, and a kids' area on Deck 15 with three clubs for passengers ranging in age from three to seventeen. The XClub for teenagers hosts a number of daily events that make the most of the ship with scavenger hunts, sports tournaments, and karaoke. When it comes to Thanksgiving onboard Celebrity Reflection (departs Miami November 21 for a seven-night sailing around the Caribbean), make sure you plan to eat with the whole family at Opus, the ship’s main dining room, where a special holiday menu awaits.
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Norwegian Cruise Line
If you’re looking for the newest ship this Thanksgiving, book a trip on the Norwegian Escape, which will make its maiden voyage in late October (Thanksgiving sailing departs Miami November 21 for a seven-night cruise). Promising to be Norwegian’s most deluxe cruise experience to date, expect fleet-wide firsts for the family throughout this freshly minted floating city. More adventurous families will enjoy Food Republic (additional charge), where a tabletop iPad menu includes a world of flavors, from Peru to Japan, and the first-ever Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Sea, where island fare like burgers and blended drinks is a win for the whole family. As for the big Thanksgiving meal, head to Taste, the main dining room, where carved turkey, mashed potatoes, and plenty of cranberry sauce is the featured entrée of the evening, finished off with Norwegian’s signature Pumpkin Pie Martini.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Norwegian Cruise Line Guide
Disney Cruise Line
Holidays bring out the best in Disney magic onboard the company's cruises, with this line distinguishing itself with special voyages called Very MerryTime cruises. For the optimal Thanksgiving Very MerryTime cruise (departs Port Canaveral, Florida, November 21 for a seven-night sailing), bring the whole family onboard Disney Fantasy, the newest ship in the Disney fleet. The ship transforms with holiday décor as Disney characters appear in holiday-themed costumes throughout the special day. Expect turkey dinners in the main dining rooms, with the chance to digest on the top deck with fresh air and NFL games broadcast on jumbo LED screens. And when you’re ready to turn in for the night, a turkey towel creation awaits!
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Disney Cruise Line Guide