Cruise Themed Nautical Birthday Party: Great kids party theme where your guests sail away for the day with a house turned cruise ship!
When my youngest daughter Maddie turned nine, she decided on a Cruise Themed Nautical Birthday Party to celebrate! We love theme parties and this idea was so fun.
We have been very fortunate and Maddie has enjoyed a cruise every winter for the last few years. In fact, some of our happiest family memories have been created on board cruise ships, so it seemed like a very fun theme for a party, and way for Maddie to share her love of cruising with her friends.
The Cruise Terminal -Boarding The Ship
Our intention was to make our guests feel like they were getting on a cruise ship and taking a mini cruise, with some of our very favourite cruise ship activities as part of the cruise themed party itinerary.
I found some amazing printables that were perfect for our party. I used picmonkey.com to add text. If you don’t know this site, it’s great -easy to use and free, and will allow you to edit, and add text to images. I used the large sign and added text to make signs. We put a “Cruise Terminal” sign on the front door to set the tone for the party as soon as our guests arrives. WE also had a “Ship Boarding” sign for our little check in area. This was such a fun idea to greet our fellow passengers as they arrived. One little girl even brought a real suitcase with her to get into the theme.
We used our console table as a check in area.
We sent guests a “ticket” invite for the party. When they arrived they had to sign in with their ticket and get their sea pass, just like a real cruise. We transformed our old sea pass cards into new ones for our party guests using Canva. The homemade cruise ship party pass was complete with each guest’s name and the date of the sailing… I mean party. It’s fun to use the name of specific ships you’ve sailed on as well. This was such a great way to get the kids excited about our party theme before they even arrived.
At the sign in table they had to sign the registration sheet, and then they received their sea pass, which we hole punched and attached to a lanyard for them, just like they do on a real cruise. Maddie had so much fun checking in all her guests and it was the best way to start off our party.
As they signed in there was a ship photographer ready to snap a shot of them boarding, just like on a real cruise. We set up a little photo booth backdrop of nautical party supplies. For the photo booth decor we used a net, luggage, and an inflatable beach ball. We also made an anchor and life preservers out of cardboard. This was a quick and inexpensive project, that added a lot to our mega deck party vibe. All that was missing were the palm trees! We asked our guests to pose with a hat. We picked up the captain and sailor hat at the party store and they were the perfect costume accessories.
It’s always so fun to include a photo booth at a special occasion. After the party we shared all the photos with our guests. It makes such a great keepsake from a party, and a happy memory to look back on.
?My girls wore blue and white striped dresses for the party with white leggings underneath because it was a bit cold that day. These simple nautical inspired outfits were perfect for the party.
Welcome Aboard Drink
After the guests boarded it was time for a welcome aboard drink. We picked up frozen pina colada mix at the grocery store and made mini virgin pina coladas for them with fun little umbrellas, which helped get everyone in the cruise mood. The girls were all so excited about their fancy drinks and it was easy way to get the party started as soon as they arrived.
We decorated our living room party space with a few nautical decorations like the flag bunting from the party store, and some driftwood, sea shells, and starfish. The cruise themed touches helped turn our living room into the “Sandbar Lounge”. It was perfect for a mocktail to start off our cruise on the high seas with a little bon voyage party. Everyone had a good time dancing to music and saying cheers to one another with their fancy drinks as we started celebrating this special occasion.
Napkin Folding Class
Our first activity at sea was a napkin folding class. On the cruises we’ve been on there are always fun little classes on sea days run by the cruise director or other ship staff. On the cruise your waiter is often an expert at napkin folding and loves to show the kids his or her tricks of the trade, and also the room steward often leaves amazing towel animals on your bed at night. Cruising has come to mean fancy napkins and fancy towel folding for us. So, when the classes are offered, Maddie enjoys going and learning how to do it too. One time, we were given these great instruction sheets, which Maddie still had so we just photocopied for the party.
Maddie had a great time being the napkin folding instructor and teaching all her little friends, and grandparents how to fold the perfect napkin.
Lunch In The Dining Room
After napkin folding class it was time for a fancy lunch in the main dining room. Fancy lunches and dinners have become a real highlight of cruising for us. In the early years the kids ordered from the kids menus. We used to bring electronics to keep them entertained. Now, the girls are becoming real foodies. They’ve really enjoyed trying out new things and ordering off of the adult menu sometimes. Maddie had a lot of fun coming up with her three course menu. We included lots of favourites from cruising. Guests were given three choices for each course, and the waiters came around and took each of their orders for lunch. We wanted the menu to feel fancy, but not so fancy that the kids didn’t know what to order or enjoy their choices. I tried to make sure there was something that everyone would enjoy, even our more picky eaters.
Not included on the menu was the bread. Every meal on the ship starts with a basket of delicious fresh made bread. We didn’t make our own bread, but we did include some really yummy choices that everyone seemed to really enjoy.
- Chocolate Milk
- Shirley Temple
- Caprese Salad
- Caesar Salad
- Fruit Platter
- Gnocchi with Italian Sausage and Mushrooms
- Mac and Cheese
- Pepperoni Pizza
- Chocolate Glazed Donuts
- Chocolate Fondue with assorted Dippers
- Mini Brownie Madness Ice Cream Sundae
The menu items ended up being a great choice for kids. Everyone found something they liked, and it was fancy enough to feel extra special, but not so fancy that they didn’t like anything. And we did serve a few people two desserts. 😉
We didn’t do a birthday cake, but the birthday girl ordered the mini Brownie Madness Ice Cream Sundae, and we put a candle in the brownie and sung happy birthday to her with it!
My husband Roland and friend Heather were the waiters and I was the chef for the afternoon. It was a lot of fun preparing a kid-friendly, but fancy meal. Just like on the ship, you could even order two desserts, which has to be one of the best cruise highlights.
Our boat theme table setting was perfect, with a blue and white color scheme and more cruise theme party decorations. We used lanterns and nautical rope and seashells on the table. We found the perfect nautical napkins at the party store. At each place setting there was a menu. And we marked the table with a place cards showing the table number, just like they do in the main dining room on a real cruise
Staff Name Tags
I also made fun name tags for the “staff” with our names, and the countries we were from. Just like on the real ship. And we all wore our black and white “uniform”.
After lunch our guests headed back to the Sandbar Lounge for karaoke. On our last cruise, with great friends of ours, there was family karaoke theme nights. Our girls were brave enough to give it a try. They had such fun times singing karaoke together, all that was missing was a dance floor! After having the other activities, this was the perfect way to end the cruise party. Our guests were a little shy at first, but we still had a lot of fun.
Sea Themed Loot Bag
One of my favorite things about themed parties is coming up with a themed goodie bag. We sent our guest home with a little sea themed favor bag. There were lifesavers, goldfish crackers, cracker jacks, and chips ahoy cookies. I made a fun little label for our “ships ahoy” cookies.
We had a great time celebrating our girl with her own little cruise. Birthday parties are such a great excuse to do something extra special. I hope you’ll find some of these great ideas helpful if you’re planning your own cruise themed party.
With a special Cruise Themed Nautical Birthday, life really is a party!
More Cruising Posts
You might also enjoy our cruise planning party where we got together with family to plan our next cruise adventrue.
Also check out our Top 10 Tips for Cruising with Kids post.
You might also like our post on Cruising: The Perfect Affordable Family Vacation.