Disney Cruise LineHolidays

Holidays Around the Parks: Disney Cruise Line Edition

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Yes, the holiday decorations are being packed up and put back into storage for another year. But I just couldn’t let the season slip by without including a round-up of the decorations on a Disney cruise. Technically, my cruise on the Magic for New Year’s wasn’t a MerryTime cruise, but the decorations were still up for us. My luck is your gain. Here’s how DCL decks the halls for the holiday season.


There’s nothing like boarding a Disney ship, is there? The applause, the moment of Wow as you step into the atrium. It’s marvelous, isn’t it? On every other cruise I’ve done, we’ve entered on Deck 3, but perhaps because we were docked in Miami, this time we entered in on Deck 4, which gave a wonderful view of the atrium’s Christmas tree. What a way to start a trip!


We tend to like to board after 12 PM so that people are getting ready to camp in the halls for access to their staterooms, and it makes for a less crowded time in Cabanas for lunch. To what do my wondering eyes should appear? It’s Gingerbread! These are the same miniature gingerbread bites that you can buy at the Grand Floridian gingerbread house. They really are marvelous, aren’t they? And as all-you-can-eat, it makes them taste even better.

After dropping our stuff off, we like to wander around the different kids’ clubs, which are in open house mode at the beginning of the cruise, meaning anyone can go in. Specifically this time, I was looking to see what decorations were still up. Here’s the setting in Edge, the tween club.


And the teen club, Vibe, also had a tree on display.


The Oceaneers Club and Lab, the dedicated spaces for kids on the Disney ships, had a variety of trees up. This one, near the main floor, had books in it to match the theme of the open space in the Club.

Back in the Avengers room, lots of stars for a very superhero-styled tree.

Andy’s Room was all about toys, of course. Check out the vintage Slinky Dog-style decoration in this wreath.

What was a pleasant surprise for me is just how many decorations were around the ship. It seemed that the parks this year went a little light in places on décor, but every time you rounded a corner, there was some more DCL holiday magic. This tree was outside of the Buena Vista movie theater.

A more traditional and classy setup appeared at the Walt Disney Theatre.

The restaurants also got into the holiday spirit, with subtle nods to the restaurant’s theme. At Lumiere’s, look for the hidden roses in the tree’s decorations.

Carioca’s had one of my favorite decorations on the ship. The splash of colors and poinsettias made this something I wish I could have brought home for my front door.

Not to be outdone, Animator’s Palate put up their own festive decorations to meet the restaurant’s theme.

Even Palo got into the act, with this small yet elegant tree.

Speaking of food and drink, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the holiday specialty drinks that were available on board. They were beautiful and delicious. I had more than one Candy Cane Chocolate Mocha–had to try it hot and cold to make sure that they were both equally yummy, of course.

And a drink with a little added Disney touch always tastes better, doesn’t it?

Down in the atrium, each ship does its own gingerbread house display, which is quite a competition between the ships in the fleet and an impressive amount of work. Here’s the entry from the Disney Magic. Isn’t that spectacular?

Even though the decorations on board the ship are wonderful, I’d be remiss if I didn’t spend some time talking about the decorating on Castaway Cay. Some of the decorating, like garland around some posts, was subtle.


Depending on the garland that you looked at, you could see a variety of flowers and sea life.

Some decorations, like the wreaths and garland at the Castaway Cay post office were beautiful yet not overstated.

But they all fit well with the island theme, having lots of sea and nautical touches.

However the big attraction, and I do mean big, is the Christmas tree on the island. It is as impressive as those seen in Disney parks. Look at its size compared to the ship!

There’s so much to see on this tree, with lots of sea life and buoys, tropical flowers, and more. My favorite are the octopi.


Next to the tree is a sleigh and a snowman and wife…er…sandman…um… so these giant things that look like snowmen, but are sand-themed. You get the idea.

Doesn’t everyone wish they could send this as their holiday greeting?


Although I’m a fan of the trees at Disney Parks, this may be my new favorite setup. Of course any trip to Castaway Cay makes everything better, right?


With the decorations all around, if you are a big fan of Christmas décor, I highly recommend booking a MerryTime cruise. There’s so much to see, and I can only imagine that events during those cruises are equally as special.


With that, it is time to put the tinsel away and take down the lights for this year. Did you have a favorite place for holiday decorations from Disney this year? Was Universal’s holiday décor your favorite? Ever been on a MerryTime cruise? Let us know in the comments.

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Julia Mascardo

Former writer, editor, and social media manager of TouringPlans. Embarking on new adventures with husband, kid, and cats.

4 thoughts on “Holidays Around the Parks: Disney Cruise Line Edition

  • My family has been on two Merrytime Cruises, and we loved it. The decorations were fantastic, seeing the characters in their holiday attire was nice, and the holiday themed shows were great! On Castaway Cay, was the tram decorated? On the Disney Cruise website’s section describing the Very Merrytime Cruises, it states “Plus, the island’s tram is decorated to resemble a reindeer, complete with antlers and a tail.” However, when we visited Nov 30, 2017 and right after Christmas in 2015, the tram was not decorated either time. I wondered if it was done closer to Christmas.

    • It wasn’t decorated on ours either — that would have been neat to see!

  • Great pictures. Thank you for sharing. I am planning to book Thanksgiving week in 2019 as soon as the dates get released. How was Castaway Cay that late in the year? I am guessing not many people in the water.

    • The water temperature was in the low 70s, and so it was pretty cool. I went in about as far as my ankles and that was enough for me. There were a lot of kids who went in, so they were far braver. It really depends what your tolerance is. During the day we were there, a cold front came through and put the temperature down below 70, so most people went back to the ship where they had extra activities scheduled. We changed into jeans and jackets and wandered the island looking around, shopping, and hunting for Pokémon.

      It was cold enough on the ship and on Castaway Cay for about half the days that doing things like getting in the pool weren’t our cup of tea, and the hot tubs were wall to wall people. That said, if you’re not really a pool person, it is a wonderful time to sail.

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