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‘When you’re on a ship, everything is so easy.’ How to spend New Year’s Eve on a cruise.

Cruises for New Year’s Eve provide an alternative to celebrating on land.
Cruise lines host a variety of holiday celebrations.
According to some passengers, the sailings provide convenience as well as a communal celebration.

On New Year’s Eve, Kouri Marshall goes big. The 40-year-old nonprofit director usually spends the holiday with family and friends, hosting a dinner with wine at his home, or attending an event in Chicago, where he lives.

“I embrace the challenges of the past year and look forward to the joy that awaits in the coming year,” he told USA TODAY.

However, a few years ago, he decided to go bigger by taking a cruise. Marshall rang in the new year on a Royal Caribbean International Caribbean cruise, where passengers toasted with champagne and dressed in tuxedos and gowns. “I felt like I was channelling Titanic energy,” he said.

He and his friends spent the night in the main dining room, eating, listening to live bands, and dancing in a conga line. “And then, at 2 a.m., I was eating a pizza because, after all, it’s New Year’s,” he explained.

New Year’s Eve cruises provide an alternative to on-land celebrations, with onboard festivities to mark the passing of midnight and provide travellers with a unique way to begin the year.

The frequent sailor had always wanted to spend the holiday sailing, so she celebrated with a party on the lido deck during their Carnival Cruise Line voyage to the Bahamas. The 33-year-old, who works in patient care for an orthopaedic practise, said she felt more camaraderie with her fellow passengers on the ship than she would at a restaurant or party elsewhere.

When the clock struck twelve o’clock, she exclaimed, “Everyone was just getting along fine. Everyone was just overjoyed. People who did not know each other were hugging… So it was a fantastic time.”

Gianfrancesco, who lives in Sicklerville, New Jersey, planned to use the trip to kick off a year of travel. She had three other cruises planned, including a “bucket list” transatlantic voyage from Italy, but all were cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Sailings for New Year’s can be more convenient than land-based celebrations.
Other travellers use the convenience of a cruise ship to celebrate the holiday in ways they might not have otherwise.

When Nick Vitani is at home, he does not celebrate New Year’s Eve. “If I’m at home, in my old age, I barely watch the midnight countdown,” the 60-year-old joked. “I’ll be lucky if I make it that far.”

Vitani, who works in information technology and as a travel agent, is also concerned about driving safety during the holiday season. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there is usually an increase in drunk-driving fatalities around Christmas and New Year’s, with 837 people killed in drunk-driving crashes in December 2019. Vitani feels more secure on a cruise ship.

“You can get dressed in your room and walk right to where you’re going to eat,” he explained. “You don’t have to drive to the parties, and you don’t have to park.” Over the last decade, he and his wife, Barbara, have spent between five and seven New Year’s holidays on cruises, including last year.

They spent a portion of New Year’s Eve playing games in the casino and drinking with friends in the ship’s lounge. At midnight, they were showered with balloons on the ship’s promenade.

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