I spent Thanksgiving on a cruise – it wasn’t the vacation I anticipated

Thanksgiving on a cruise appeared like a terrific concept. I wouldn’t should stress about cooking a superbly timed multi-course meal to please my in-laws. Extra importantly, I wouldn’t have to scrub up after the feast. I wouldn’t should spend the weekend attempting to give you enjoyable methods to entertain the children whereas concurrently avoiding overcrowded shops. I may swap the chilly Northeast for the nice and cozy Caribbean.

The factor is, when you change a household vacation with a household trip, it doesn’t actually really feel like Thanksgiving anymore.

Right here’s how Thanksgiving day went down on Carnival Celebration, and what to anticipate when you determine to ditch the dishes and set sail over your November vacation break.

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Thanksgiving Day


Thanksgiving for a lot of begins with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, continues with the Nationwide Canine Present and ends with a soccer sport. Our Carnival cruise ship embraced two of the three traditions, broadcasting the parade and the NFL video games on the large poolside LED display (in addition to on all the massive and small TV screens unfold throughout the Heroes Bar and Pig & Anchor Smokehouse Brewhouse). The ship’s leisure employees additionally hosted a turkey scavenger hunt and turkey trivia.

I’m unsure many individuals had been on board to understand their efforts, although.

You see, once I signed up for this cruise, I assumed that Thanksgiving would fall on a sea day. That’s normally the case on Christmas cruises while you sometimes spend Christmas Day at sea; it is because the tour operators additionally take the break day to spend time with their households and aren’t out there to take you snorkeling or drive you round their cities.

Nevertheless, Thanksgiving coincided with our go to to Amber Cove within the Dominican Republic, in addition to the sooner or later we’d booked an extended tour. My household bought off the ship at 8:30 a.m. and didn’t get again on board till 3 p.m. We missed the whole lot however the soccer, which was by no means our custom to start with.

On our tour, I despatched my mother pictures of my household suited up in helmets and life jackets for sliding down the Damajagua waterfalls and with squirrel monkeys on our heads at Monkeyland in Puerto Plata. It solely occurred to me later to want her and my dad a contented Thanksgiving. I had already forgotten it was a vacation. It simply felt like one other day on our cruise – particular as a result of we had been on trip, not due to Turkey Day.

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It didn’t assist that the ship didn’t embellish for Thanksgiving. I used to be anticipating seasonal decor within the public areas or a pumpkin spice latte particular marketed on the JavaBlue espresso bar, however nary a pumpkin or bale of hay was to be discovered. I did meet a girl within the elevator who was carrying a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving T-shirt, and a number of other shipmates had been supporting their groups enjoying Thanksgiving Day video games by carrying soccer jerseys. Additionally, our room steward left a turkey-shaped towel on our mattress (which was a enjoyable contact).


Probably the most holiday-ish second got here when Carnival Celebration was pulling away from the pier in Amber Cove. We had been docked throughout from sister ship Carnival Freedom, and plenty of visitors on each ships got here out on the balconies and prime decks to observe the sail away. Everybody began waving and calling out “Comfortable Thanksgiving!” to one another. In that second, I felt gratitude that, even in an period when cruise ships are tricked out with curler coasters and water parks, individuals nonetheless benefit from the easy pleasures of waving at strangers as a ship heads out to sea.

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving dinner on Carnival Celebration. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

In our home, the massive deal on Thanksgiving is dinner. My husband and I prefer to prepare dinner, and so does his household. So, you possibly can anticipate selfmade pies and cranberry sauce, inventive stuffing recipes and many sides. I truly take pleasure in turkey, particularly when loaded up with sides, and I like to make sandwiches utilizing all of the leftover Thanksgiving dishes over the next weekend.

I used to be excited to see how Carnival would pull out all of the stops for Thanksgiving dinner, served on the standard essential eating room dinner occasions.

It was not formal evening, which I discovered stunning, however I suppose Carnival wanted to accommodate the sports activities staff apparel. I pressured my household to decorate up a bit anyway as a result of I used to be in a festive temper. The principle eating room was not noticeably dressed up, both; I noticed neither Thanksgiving decorations nor different nods to the vacation.

The menu, accessible solely on our telephones, did have a fall leaf design and appeared longer than a typical dinner menu. Nevertheless, the one culinary nod to Thanksgiving was a slow-roasted turkey entree, served with cornbread dressing, bourbon honey yams, gravy and cranberry sauce. For dessert, there was a selection of pecan or pumpkin pie or a vacation trifle with ginger biscotti, pumpkin mascarpone cream and mulled plum (plus no added sugar).

I’ll be trustworthy: I ordered the turkey to see how properly Carnival did Thanksgiving … after which ordered the Indian vegetarian entree of nizami paneer (a dish made with Indian cheese) and malai saag (a spinach dish) as a result of I like Carnival’s Indian delicacies. My husband ordered a candy tea-brined pork chop, my son the pan-fried strip steak and our tablemate the N’awlins BBQ shrimp. My daughter declared she was not hungry, did not just like the noisy eating room and went again to the cabin. (A lot for household dinner.)

Indian meals on Carnival Celebration. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

For dessert, I ordered one in every of each Thanksgiving dessert as a result of it’s not a vacation if it’s a must to select. My husband and son ordered Carnival’s well-known chocolate melting cake.

I began my meal with a stone fruit and discipline greens salad as a result of there was nothing inexperienced on that Thanksgiving plate — no inexperienced bean casserole or salad tossed with cranberries and pecans.

When my Thanksgiving plate arrived, the presentation was underwhelming. It seemed cafeteria-esque, with scoops of yams and stuffing, a heap of turkey slices subsequent to some sort of stuffed-turkey roulade that was not on the menu and cranberry sauce in a metallic dish. Whereas I discovered the meal to be edible — and it’s arduous to go unsuitable with mashed candy potatoes — each the gravy and the cranberry sauce had been watery, the turkey was boring, and the stuffing was uncreative.

The Indian dish was extra flavorful, however I’ve had different Indian meals on Carnival I favored extra.

I hoped dessert would redeem the meal — after which thought of how pie just isn’t typically served for dessert on cruise ships. Pecan pie is my favourite, however the crust was tasteless, and I make a greater pie filling than the Carnival cooks. The pumpkin pie got here with an cute meringue formed like a carrot, nevertheless it was additionally unremarkable. The vacation trifle wasn’t holiday-inspired in any manner, and I do not suppose it was made with pumpkin and mulled plum. (It tasted distinctly strawberry.)

Lesson discovered: Whatever the vacation, when on a Carnival cruise ship, order the chocolate melting cake. You may by no means go unsuitable with that method.


Later, when my daughter finally bought hungry and I took her to get a basic Thanksgiving meal of a sizzling canine and roast beef sandwich, we walked into the Pig & Anchor space; it was full of people watching soccer and eating on Man Fieri smoked meats. Clearly, this was the successful Thanksgiving dinner, and subsequent time I must pack my New England Patriots jersey, seize a Carnival-exclusive Parched Pig IPA and cheer for the offense (both staff, doesn’t actually matter) with my new cruise household.

Please don’t anticipate me on the top-deck Turkey Trot tomorrow. We’ll be gobbling up the Inexperienced Eggs and Ham breakfast as an alternative.

Execs and cons of spending Thanksgiving on a cruise

Thanksgiving soccer video games on Carnival Celebration. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

Let’s get the cons out of the way in which so we are able to finish on a excessive word. The draw back to spending Thanksgiving on a cruise ship is that it may not really feel like Thanksgiving. As a result of the Caribbean does not have fun U.S. Thanksgiving, there seemingly will not be fall leaf wreaths or pumpkin spice daiquiris. In truth, I noticed a number of Christmas bushes and manger shows in port. Your ship may or may not embellish, and relying on which line you sail, a turkey dinner may not be one of the best factor on the menu.

Then again, setting sail on Thanksgiving break is a good way to get every week’s trip with out lacking too many days of faculty or work. You may simply discover one thing unbelievable for you and your loved ones to do collectively, and you’ll seemingly make extra reminiscences than when you had been at house cooking.

Talking of which, not having to do Thanksgiving chores — cleansing the home, cooking, conversing civilly with your loved ones or in-laws, doing dishes — is likely to be one of the best a part of the entire trip. Should you’d in any other case be spending the vacation alone, a cruise is a good way to encompass your self with pleasant individuals and achieve automated dinner companions.

Personally, I believe I favor the home-based Thanksgiving, however I additionally like my household and in-laws, which not everybody does. If I had been to plan a Thanksgiving cruise for one more yr, I’d do a bit extra analysis on Thanksgiving actions and maybe decide a extra foodie-oriented line that would serve up a gourmand vacation feast.

That mentioned, my household had fairly a memorable Thanksgiving Day stuffed with collectively time, meals and enjoyable. I’m undoubtedly grateful for that.

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