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Trip or Treat?

Frightful fun: Do cruises celebrate Halloween? Complete guide to tricks & treats at sea

Halloween cruise extravaganzas ensure guests can truly get into the spooky swing of things while away on vacation.

Halloween cruise celebrations see multiple cruise lines making sure passengers old and young can get into the (wait for it) spirit of things.

So, to ensure the only ghosting that’s happening is by a costumed companion and the only grimaces are those carved into a pumpkin, we’ve looked into how cruises from Disney to Royal Caribbean celebrate the vacation and answered your burning questions regarding Halloween on a cruise ship.

Do cruise ships do anything for Halloween?

Yes, plenty of cruise lines celebrate Halloween – although some more than others. Think costume parties, scary movie marathons, trick-or-treating, ghost ship tours, decorating contests, pumpkin carving, fright nights and even special shore excursions! Check out our list below for what individual lines do.

Do people dress up for Halloween on cruise ships?

Yes, lots of people choose to don fancy dress during Halloween celebrations – but of course, if you don’t wish to, you’re under no obligation to wear a costume if you don’t wish to look (wait for it) a fright.

If you’re feeling tentative, maybe just opt for a mask or a spot o’ face paint? Either way, it’s advisable to pack whatever get-up you have planned in advance.

What cruise lines celebrate Halloween?

The following lines all put on Halloween cruise festivities (although some only celebrate on October 31 itself so do check if you’re pinning your hopes on a ghoulish knees-up).

Princess Cruises
Disney Cruise Line
Royal Caribbean International
MSC Cruises
Carnival Cruise Line
Virgin Voyages
Celebrity Cruises
Norwegian Cruise Line
Holland America Line

Princess Cruises

What does Princess Cruises do for Halloween?

Princess offers a whole (g)host of Halloween-themed activities for vacationers cruising onboard its ships fleet-wide.

The whole family can get creative with pumpkin carving and arts and crafts sessions (think spooky origami, paper quilling and pom-pom making activities) as well as fancy dress.

Guests and crew come together for a Princess Cruises Halloween Costume Contest on Halloween Night in the Piazza. The night kicks off with a special Halloween performance by the crew, followed by a parade where guests are introduced with their character names. Prizes will be awarded by judges for the best costumes.

Feeling brave? Join a guided ghost tour of the ship, led by the cruise staff, to explore places known for their spectral tales and sightings.

Kids can have fun with a costume parade, scavenger hunt and plenty of treats while adults looking to escape any little horrors can join the Princess Halloween Fright Night Party.

If you need fuel for ghost-busting, spirits can take on more meanings than one thanks to such themed drinks as a tequila and lime ‘Devil’s Brew’ and a blue ‘Zombie Smash’ with gin, vodka, rum and curacao.

Going out sound more trick than treat? Get cozy in your stateroom instead and enjoy a scary movie marathon. Choose from classics such as Edward Scissorhands, Poltergeist, Alien, Insidious, The Ring, Hocus Pocus and Young Frankenstein, all available on your TV.

Other Princess Halloween cruise activities include: Halloween Trivia, Witches hat toss, Guess the weight of the pumpkin, cabin door decorating contest and Halloween costume contest.

Disney Cruise Line

What is different on a Disney Halloween cruise?

The Disney Cruise Line Halloween on the High Seas celebration is an annual affair with oodles laid on for passengers on most itineraries departing late September through Halloween. You’ll know if you’re on one – each ship is fully decorated with themed regalia!

At Mickey’s Halloween Masquerade, guests are invited to dress up and have a frightfully good time with their favorite Disney Characters (plus the Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus fame and Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas). There are meet and greets too on a Disney Halloween cruise so kids (OK, and adults) can get up close to their heroes (you know, to make sure their costume isn’t better).

Elsewhere during Disney Cruise Line Halloween on the High Seas, there are creepy craft activities suitable for the whole family and also chilling delights such as special Halloween treats (chocolate spider cake anyone?), drinks, and trick-or-treating. There’s even a magical Halloween tree with its own tale and jack-o-lantern lighting ceremony!

Guests can also enjoy Disney Halloween movies, stock up on special Halloween-themed items, take part in spine-tingling trivia, and more.

Consider yourself more of a Disney villain? There’s a grown-up Halloween cruise party too in the adults-only part of the ship during Disney Cruise Line Halloween on the High Seas. Just remember what they say about pumpkins after midnight though…

Royal Caribbean

Does Royal Caribbean celebrate Halloween on their ships?

Yes, Royal Caribbean makes the most of the spooky day with (ship-dependent) Halloween-themed carnivals and photos, haunted houses (packed with zombies, murderous doctors, clowns – yup, the classics) and scary cakes at the buffet (and we don’t just mean the calorie content).

Everyone is welcome to dress in their creepiest garb – sometimes there are even costume parades – and you can anticipate plenty of decorations too on a Royal Caribbean Halloween cruise, from carved pumpkins to spider webs. Some guests love to jazz up their cabin door with themed paraphernalia too.

Adults have their own fancy dress party (along with a contest – and no, cat ears won’t cut it) while kids are taken trick or treating around the ship by the kids’ club crew.

MSC Cruises

Do MSC cruises celebrate Halloween?

Yes, MSC Cruises Halloween cruise festivities generally span from October 10 to November 2. Activities include costume selfie competitions, family game shows, Halloween makeup sessions, quizzes, parades, themed karaoke and dance lessons and pumpkin-carving contests.

Elsewhere younger passengers can get stuck into such kid-friendly celebrations as Halloween-bedecked entertainers, a costume parade, dance parties and a Scary House night in the children’s area.

There’s plenty for teenagers too, with a Halloween night party and costume and makeup competition.

Thirsty adults don’t go without – each MSC ship also features a unique Halloween-themed bar plus Halloween treats are served in the buffet.

Remember to pack your gladrags, too – there’s a big MSC Cruises Halloween party and the best dressed takes home a prize! We’re thinking this isn’t the time for a Mean Girls-esque Playboy bunny outfit…

What’s more, MSC Cruises just unveiled a Halloween sale 2023 with up to 45 percent off on Winter 2023/2024 and Summer 2024 sailings. Running from October 24 to November 2, deals apply to cruise-only and fly-cruise packages to various exciting destinations.

Choose from reduced sailings for a winter escape or summer getaway. MSC Euribia offers 7-night voyages from Southampton starting at £419 per person, while MSC Seaside offers two weeks in the Caribbean for £1,869 per person, including flights. MSC Virtuosa visits Dubai, Doha, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Sir Bani Yas with costs starting from £1,134pp for seven nights. Eligible airports include Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester.

MSC Yacht Club, the premium cabin experience, also offers discounts and £250 onboard credit for Winter sailings on MSC Euribia.

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Halloween cruise vacations go all out, offering a spooktacular smorgasbord of activities throughout all of October, ensuring 31 days of eerie entertainment.

The Carnival experience gets a Halloween makeover with the presence of Patch, a colossal 12-foot pumpkin pirate [above] who stands guard in the atrium of most Carnival ships – a towering figure who sets the perfect Halloween tone for Carnival guests (and arguably might give them a fright after too many drinks).

On the topic of which – on Halloween cruises Carnival Cruise Line pampers its guests with festive treats and drinks at the ship’s restaurants, including the tantalizing ParchedPig Pumpkin Ale.

The Carnival Halloween cruise program boasts exciting highlights, including pumpkin carving, lively costume contests, trick-or-treating and special Halloween-themed versions of beloved onboard events like Patch’s Halloween Deck Party, Spooktacular BINGO, and Ghouls, Goblins and Ghosts Trivia. Time to brush up on your phantom facts.

Guests can also revel in the spooky fun with special Halloween-themed DiveIn movies presented on the poolside Seaside Theatre of the ships.

Virgin Voyages

After a Halloween cruise for adults? Virgin Voyages Halloween cruise celebrations break away from the stereotypes – no pumpkin patches or haunted house in sight (OK this might be the occasion for that sexy bunny get-up)

What’s more, Halloween lasts for a full two weeks on Scarlet Lady (from October 13 through November 1) and is also honored on repositioning voyages on Valiant Lady and Resilient Lady) with the extended festivities culminating in a fleetwide extravaganza on October 31 to bid farewell to the spooky season in style.

The exclusive Virgin Halloween cruise for adults, aptly named “No Kids. Just Treats,” features shipwide costume parties and contests, unique Halloween experiences and an unforgettable Scarlet Fright Night that promises spine-tingling excitement.

Get ready to turn heads in your most chilling costume at the Haunted Halloween Costume Party, where you can compete with fellow passengers for the chance to win valuable prizes.

On Fright Night Scarlet Lady undergoes a Halloween transformation filled with thrilling surprises. With an abundance of themed Halloween events and activities scattered throughout Virgin Voyages ships, there’s plenty of opportunity for travelers to satisfy their sweet cravings or unleash their inner party animal on the dance floor.

Celebrity Cruises

Guests young and old can revel in the spookiest season of the year on Celebrity Cruises vacations spanning October 31, as the line lays on a plethora of themed entertainment, culinary delights and onboard decorations.

Indulge in trick-or-treating, savor seasonal cocktails and embrace fun costume parties on your Celebrity Halloween cruise.

Kids can immerse themselves in Halloween merriment thanks to such exciting activities as a candy scavenger hunt and a costume parade while adults can summon the spirits (sorry not sorry) with Halloween-themed cocktails or attend a Halloween Ball silent disco.

Spend quality family time with Celebrity Cruises Halloween-themed movie nights (think Beetlejuice, Ghostbusters, Hocus Pocus, Frankenstein and Casper) under the starry skies, test your knowledge at a themed trivia night, get stuck into Halloween-themed arts and crafts and groove to the beat at a family dance party.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line adorns ships with classic decorations and offers tasty treats and specialty cocktails as it gets into the Halloween vibe.

Passengers are encouraged to don costumes, as a range of activities awaits, from parties to Halloween-themed movie nights and trick-or-treating for the little ones.

You can also look forward to additional NCL entertainment, such as a thrilling Thriller dance contest, a mysterious Halloween murder dinner, a trick-or-treat scavenger hunt and spine-tingling movie-themed trivia.

NCL is also proud of its itineraries that visit ghoulish locations come late October. For instance, a Canada & New England cruise calls into Salem, known for its 1692 witch trials, and on Mexican Riviera sailings calling at Puerto Vallarta around Halloween, you can stop off and enjoy the Day of the Dead Festivities.

There’s also a Norwegian Cruise Line British Isles itinerary that calls at Edinburgh from where guests can visit The Greyfriars Kirkyard – considered Scotland’s most haunted cemetery, featuring the Covenanters’ Prison and the tomb of Thomas Riddell Esquire, the inspiration for iconic Harry Potter baddie, Voldemort.

Holland America Line

Holland America’s global Halloween extravaganza is a spirited affair, marked by pumpkin patches in the ship’s atriums and masquerade costume parties held in the Crow’s Nest, B.B. King’s Blues Club or the midship Lido Deck. It’s worth making an effort – awards (well, sweets) are doled out for the funniest, most creative, best team and best overall costumes.

Families can also join in the fun with trick-or-treating as part of the Club HAL program and enjoy Halloween-themed movies.

For the foodies on a Holland America Line Halloween cruise Chef Rudi Sodamin conjures up “pumpkin-centric” creations from the kitchen for HAL’s Halloween-themed menus, while bars serve up special concoctions like the Vampire Martini and Midnight Pumpkin Cocktail.

Festivities continue with entertaining pumpkin-carving demonstrations and contests where passengers vote for their favorites, as well as a thrilling Halloween-themed night in the ship’s casinos.

As with NCL, HAL guests can enjoy some eerie excursions around the world too, from Mysteries of Palermo and Italian Countryside & Catacombs trips to The Ghosts of Old Quebec and the Ghosts & Goodtime Girls (Skagway, Alaska) experiences.

Published 10.19.23