One way to start new Christmas traditions is to get away from it all and wipe the slate clean after divorce.
No more “this was what we did when we were still married last Christmas Eve.”
One happily divorced woman who is now my friend, went on a Christmas/New Year’s cruise solo. She chose to surround herself with many people and felt the Christmas spirit. Not needing a date to dance the night away on New Year’s Eve was a bonus.
On cruises, there are often get-togethers for the single passengers of all ages. Beats moping around one’s flat when friends are occupied with their own holiday plans.
Both my sons and I did two holiday cruises on Cunard’s QE2 with my husband and mother. Then just the three of us did two post- divorce ones on Holland America.
What are holiday cruises like?
The anticipation starts months ahead of time when selecting the destinations. The cruises are a nice mix of exploring other cultures during the day and consuming scrumptious meals on board while possibly being serenaded by a string quartet. It was a unique experience hearing a steel band in the Caribbean playing carols and seeing Gibraltar decked out in Christmas decorations.
There are different types of entertainment – concerts, musicals, comedians, magic shows, plus much more. Other activities are lectures, cooking demonstrations, computer classes, quizzes, and bridge, just to mention a few. One can be sociable or chill out reading in a quiet corner. The kids are kept busy and the single parents get some alone time or to interact with other adults. The staff puts on a show and sings carols.
The QE2 had a traditional British Christmas which included a hilarious pantomime. Holland America embraced its Dutch heritage with their special foods and celebrations.
I packed my sons’ Christmas stockings with several small gifts. I picked up something on the trip, a local t-shirt or souvenir, since the cruise is their present. Having just a few stocking stuffers to open gets the focus off material goods and puts the emphasis on shared experiences. At home we never attended so many holiday programs or ate such feasts as we did on board.
The ships were decorated exquisitely and not having to take down the tree and so forth is a gift in itself. The time we did not spend getting tasks done in the frenetic holiday season meant we could bond in a stress-free environment. A few singles told me that they tucked away presents from their families and looked forward to opening them on Christmas Day. If you enjoy a surprise, consider going to a shop with items you like (skin serum for me) and pay them to wrap up something you can have on Christmas day.
The adults seemed to enjoy Father Christmas’s appearance on Christmas almost as much as the children.
He and the elves gave out presents while the adults sipped their spiked egg nog. My twenty-two year old was excited that Father Christmas remembered the college kids on board too.
A priest conducted lovely Christmas Eve and Day masses (actually every day). Classic holiday movies are shown in the cinema and being on this type of cruise is truly magical.
Book early since the holiday ones sell out.
I bring two non-religious holiday cards and put a little cash in them. One is a present for our cabin steward and the other for the waiter and the assistant at our table. The money I do not spend on gifts, decorating, entertainment and food pays a chunk of the cruise price. It is possible to get cruise ships out of Southampton and other UK ports which saves on transportation costs.
As a single mother it is easier to budget for a cruise holiday, since I know the costs up front. We drink water and do not have added fees, such as a beverage or alcohol package. We eat in the main dining room which is included, and forgo the pricey specialty restaurants which are not. Some cruise lines include shore excursions in their price and others alcohol with meals. Look carefully at what is included and do some comparison shopping.
I asked various singles if they felt lonely on a cruise over the holidays and their answers were a big “no.” On the various holiday and regular cruises, quite a few passengers are travelling on their own.
Wendi Schuller is a nurse, hypnotherapist and is certified in Neuro-linguistic Programing (NLP).
Her most recent book is The Global Guide to Divorce and she has over 200 published articles.
She is a guest on radio programs in the US and UK. Her website is globalguidetodivorce.com.