Thanksgiving Cruises Are on the Rise

published Nov 23, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Disney Cruise Line

If you’ve ever fantasized about swapping your hometown Thanksgiving for a Turkey Day spent aboard a cruise ship, you’re not alone. According to a recent New York Times feature, a growing number of Americans are opting to spend the holiday on a cruise — some alone, some with relatives, and some with new friends.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a brutal blow to the cruise industry (and the travel industry as a whole), cruise bookings for Thanksgiving are on the mend, to say the least. Viking Cruises and Holland America Line told the Times that Thanksgiving week cruises were nearing capacity, and mostly populated with American travelers. A Viking spokeswoman added that Thanksgiving bookings have risen by 48% this year over 2019, before the pandemic was even on the horizon.

“In the past, it was, you happen to be cruising on Thanksgiving and there was a turkey,” Cruise Critic editor-in-chief Colleen McDaniel told the publication. “Now it is, you are cruising because it is Thanksgiving.”

As these kinds of cruises become more and more commonplace, many cruise companies have begun offering holiday menus. Holland America Line, for instance, offers a special Thanksgiving menu that includes items like turkey and apple sausage stuffing.

This uptick in Thanksgiving cruise popularity coincides with what experts expect to be the busiest Thanksgiving travel season since pre-pandemic times. AAA predicts that 5.46 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving. That’s a 1.5% increase over 2021 and 98% of pre-pandemic volumes.

According to AAA, over 1.4 million travelers are projected to leave town for Thanksgiving, whether it be by bus, train, or cruise ship.

Meanwhile, 49 million Americans are expected to travel by car, 2.5% below 2019 levels. Conversely, air travel is up nearly 8% over 2021, with 4.5 million Americans flying around the Thanksgiving holiday in 2022. That’s nearly 330,000 more travelers than in 2021, and nearly 99% of the 2019 volume.