As 2016 rapidly moves into the rear view mirror, it’s no surprise people are firming up their plans for New Year’s Eve, which for many will probably involve a party of some description.

For those who find themselves on a cruise to ring in the new year, partying’s night of nights is like no other at sea, with an unabashed atmosphere on even the most restrained of vessels. Whether it’s a gala and formal evening with a special menu to typical balloon drops or a wild deck party, there is literally a style for everyone on most ships.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, New Years Eve cruises often sell out months in advance as one of the most popular itineraries on each ship’s calendar, with few if any special deals applicable. But what will you find aboard a New Years Eve cruise and why are they so popular? Let’s take a look at the plans for Australia’s favourite cruise lines on December 31.

Passengers celebrating New Years Eve aboard a Carnival Cruise Line vessel.
Passengers celebrating New Years Eve aboard a Carnival Cruise Line vessel.

It’s not just the adults having fun on Carnival Cruise Line, with the Camp Ocean Kids Club program offering special late night events for the little ones on New Years Eve at no extra charge. Kids participating can celebrate with a special teen disco, late night movie night or special slumber party, meaning parents can still let their hair down until the wee hours.

On a more sedate note, guests on Princess Cruises will celebrate in a more upscale fashion, enjoying a balloon drop and champagne fountain with the night’s dress code taking a formal tone. Guests dining in the main dining room will find Princess branded noise makers, hats and fascinators, with a special Curtis Stone curated formal menu being served.

Ships operating in warmer temperatures such as Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific will offer a special Movies Under The Stars presentation to ring in the New Year in every time zone. The presentation shows the location of every Princess ship in the world on New Years Eve and acts as a fun way to continue the party all day and into the night.

Selected ships in the Norwegian fleet will offer fireworks at sea, if the wind conditions are right.
Selected ships in the Norwegian fleet will offer fireworks at sea, if the wind conditions are right.

Continuing the party into the night is Norwegian Cruise Line, which offers fireworks at midnight on selected ships (and very much dependent on weather conditions).

The amazing pyrotechnics display is a part of the special ’80s’ theme night and forms the backbone of New Years celebrations on the line. A midnight treats buffet lets guests sample some decadent delights as their first meal of the New Year. Continuing the culinary journey on New Year’s Day, guests are invited to enjoy a special holiday village of chocolate and cute little gingerbread houses.

While revellers on Norwegian might be awake to enjoy part of New Year’s Day, those aboard P&O Cruises Australia will most likely be sleeping off one of the greatest nights of their lives.

The Australian line celebrates with a “Gatsby” themed open deck party with the celebration roaring on until sunrise in The Dome nightclub aboard all five ships. More sedate parties take place in other bars and lounges, with acoustic singers and bands providing a relaxed evening.

P&O's New Years Eve party takes a Gatsby theme.
P&O’s New Years Eve party adopts a Gatsby theme.

If raging and dancing until sunrise is your style, the massive party that Royal Caribbean will throw on Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas’ in the Royal Promenade might be right up your alley.

Large countdown clocks appear in the Promenade on December 30 and count down the minutes until midnight the next night. The long space is perfectly proportioned for multiple conga lines which inevitably appear while all the boutiques and dining venues lining the internal strip fill with crowds, so get in early if you’re looking for a seat.

On Holland America Line, a gala ball and formal evening set the tone to a New Year’s Eve full of glamour and class. A celebratory menu is in place in the dining room, with delights such as HAL’s famed Celebration Salad, which is only available on New Year’s Eve.

Each ship’s orchestra takes pride of place in the main theatre to countdown the New Year, playing Auld Lang Syne at the stroke of midnight to encourage guests to join together and send off 2016 and welcome 2017 in style. The formal evening continues upstairs in the B.B. King’s Blues Bar. albeit with a more lively tone, while the old favourite MIX Piano Bar caters for those looking for a more reserved alternative.

Moving to a much smaller ship, premium expedition brand Ponant does New Year’s Eve in a very different way. Guests on the line’s vessels in Antarctica are offered the opportunity to go ashore at midnight, with the midnight sun making for a rare opportunity to see in the New Year in daylight. The party then continues back onboard in the numerous bars and lounges.

Ponant guests can discover a very different New Year's Eve onshore in Antarctica at midnight.
Ponant guests can discover a very different New Year’s Eve onshore in Antarctica at midnight.

Have you ever considered cruising for New Year’s? Or sailed one before? Tell us about it.

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