For many, Christmas aboard a cruise ship offers a welcome getaway from the annual hectic preparations, obligatory hosting duties, and necessary post-festivities tidy-up. With some of the best chefs in the world, bucket-list destinations, and world-class entertainment, it’s not surprising that more than ever people are choosing to spend the festive period at sea.

With the holiday season well upon us, we take a look at what to expect from cruise interiors during the Christmas period, from giant Christmas trees to elaborate gingerbread houses and everything in between.

Throughout the Christmas period, most major cruise lines undergo a dramatic makeover, with their standard shows being swapped out for pantomimes, gourmet menus being replaced by three-course Christmas dinners, and mulled wine being served on arrival (if you’re sailing with Cruise & Maritime Voyages that is). The most noticeable change, however, without a doubt is the cruise ship’s interior. Come December 1st once-familiar ships transform into winter wonderlands, with a festive redesign across the atrium and main public spaces.

Arguably the main feature, grand Christmas trees fill the ship’s atrium, as guests wonder at the tinsel and ornaments covering the staircase. While most cruise lines opt for one statement tree, adopting a “the bigger, the better” ethos, others choose quantity, with P&O using a total of 249 trees across its 7-ship fleet in 2016. Some ship’s Christmas trees even come complete with their very own onboard Santa Claus.

Alongside the traditional Christmas tree, guests can expect to see plenty of mistletoe, holly, and wreaths, but each Cruise Line celebrates the festive period in its own way.

Christmas on Cunard is the embodiment of class, which isn’t out of the ordinary for this century-old cruise line. Throughout December you’ll find a lively gingerbread village, (an annual creation by the ship’s chef), along with periodic snowing events featuring light (simulated) snowfall. Accounting for its Jewish guests, Cunard also features Hanukah-oriented décor across the holiday period, with a grand menorah featured in the lobby.

Alternatively, P&O offers a traditionally British Christmas, with more than 44,000 decorations across its fleet, while Hurtigruten gives guests a taste of Christmas in Norway, as well as encouraging its passengers to share their local traditions.

The family-friendly Disney Cruise Line gives its younger passengers a Christmas to remember, enchanting them with regular snow flurries, a giant Christmas tree, reindeer, and life-size gingerbread houses. Carnival even installs its very own American-style mailboxes for children to post letters to Santa through.

When it comes to Christmas, cruises have to be even bigger and better than they are for the remaining 11 months of the year. From implementing big, bright lighting installations to creating festive colour palettes, cruise interiors must be transformed within a short period of time, creating on-board winter wonderlands for its travelling guests.

Can we expect Christmas cruise interiors to change? Or is this the one aspect of cruising that will remain the same?