Christmas in the South Atlantic is hot! That’s only if you consider temps in the 85- to 95-degree category “hot,” but no way is it a white Christmas – unless you’re talking white hot.
Christmas in the South Atlantic – especially on board a lovely ship like Azamara Quest – is absolutely delightful. Boarding in Rio de Janeiro, calling in Uruguay and disembarking in Buenos Aires was chuck full of Christmas spirit, yet everyone thanked God for air conditioning at the same time!
I spent nine days on board the Quest over the Christmas holiday and it was a memorable experience.
Azamara doesn’t do glitz or neon, décor is always elegant and low key. For example, table centerpieces throughout the ship were a collection of acorns, ribbon and a little bit of tinsel in low glass vases. Christmas trees — and there are a few — are underdone by some stateside offerings, underdone but tasteful.
Individual decorations, brought aboard ship by passengers, range from a bow of silvery tinsel, a collage of a colorful gift tags, and the ubiquitous toy Santas taped or glued to the suite’s door.
The ship offered special meals for Latin and Europeans guests who celebrate the holiday on Dec. 24 and again for North Americans on Dec. 25. The arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus on the pool deck was dampened when swarms of small mosquitoes infested the ship, but fumigation and the Quest’s well executed Plan B, brought the North Pole visitors to the Mosaic Lounge where a five-star holiday buffet was set up and where the ship’s entertainment staff performed. On Christmas morning a Catholic mass was scheduled with Father Daniel Avila.
Christmas music rang throughout the ship and all seemed happy to celebrate the day. A special production show was entitled “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”
I had the good fortune to celebrate Christmas Eve with a family in Uruguay where an asado (an array of barbecued meats) dinner was served at 11, where Papa Noel brought children gifts at midnight, where the holiday was greeted with a fabulous white sangria, and where we reboarded the ship at 3 a.m. Christmas morning. Great fun.
And I was told by Hotel Manager Ryszard Gusmann that on the cruise before – from Malaga, Spain to Rio – during the celebration of Hannukah, the kitchen staff made latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (doughnuts) on a daily basis for passengers who fell in love with the crispy pancakes typical for the Hannukah holiday.