As Head Chef of Azura, Nevil Heredia has to prepare over 4200 Christmas dinners. Despite this, he still looks forward to the festive period. 'I get very excited around Christmas. On board, it's really fun: we devise different menus, the ship is decorated beautifully and the mood is buoyant,' he says.
While Christmas day itself is particularly hectic, there are perks. 'After the passengers' lunch has been served, all the crew sit down together for a festive lunch of their own served by the officers,' says Nevil.
Thankfully, it's one of the many joys of yuletide cruising that passengers don't have to worry about basting a turkey or scrubbing a roasting tin come Christmas day. With the ship's crew to hand, they can focus on spending the festive season exactly how they want without having to sacrifice the Christmas traditions they do enjoy.
A Christmas countdown to remember
P&O Cruises know how to set a festive scene, so every ship undergoes a thorough makeover of pine-scented garlands, glittering wreaths and a showstopping feature Christmas tree in the atrium. It's the perfect backdrop for a host of festive events that will keep every member of the family entertained, including carol concerts, nativity plays, military-style bands and festive-themed cabaret and theatre shows.
Capturing the imagination
Nobody finds Christmas as magical as children, which is why every ship is transformed into a winter wonderland worthy of their imaginations. With regular Christmas-themed arts and crafts sessions, kids can create their own cards, stockings and gingerbread decorations while parents nip off to do some much-needed Christmas shopping. At the end of the day, families can snuggle up in their cabins or at one of the onboard cinema screens to watch a classic Christmas film.
When it comes to the important matter of presents, children can rest assured that their lists will make it to Father Christmas on time by posting them in his dedicated post box before meeting the big man in person at his onboard grotto. Parents can even arrange to have a personalised letter delivered directly to their cabin from Father Christmas.
Christmas day at sea
From sipping mulled wine by starlight to listening to the Captain read an excerpt from 'The Night Before Christmas', there are a number of ways to spend those final exciting hours of Christmas Eve. Children will particularly love Father Christmas's annual visit to the ship where he scales the funnels on top deck. Of course, passengers are welcome to attend a traditional Midnight Mass ceremony along with a host of other key religious services.
The next day, the ship really springs to life as everyone throngs to the main dining hall for a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, including table decorations, crackers and festive menu covers. In the afternoon, join the ship's carolers in the main atrium or take in a festive show at the theatre. The day is yours to spend as you wish, and at the end each guest will receive a personalised gift from the captain as well as a Christmas-themed chocolate on their pillow.
Celebrating the New Year
The festivities don't end there. Rising to the occasion is what P&O Cruises does best, so there's no better place to see in the New Year than aboard one of our ships. Passengers craft their own evening, whether that means indulging in an excellent dinner at a speciality restaurant or raising a Champagne toast to the New Year on the top deck. Wherever you are in the world, the comfort of your cabin is just a short journey away.