Actor, singer, and new father Carlos PenaVega is no stranger to cruising. As a frequent Royal Caribbean guest since he was a kid himself, he knows his way around, whether that’s appreciating balcony sunsets, hopping on the FlowRider surf simulator to ride the wave like a pro, or experiencing the sadness of your last day on board.
Continuing a five-year tradition, he and his wife Alexa decided to now take their first holiday cruise as a family—with their new son, Ocean.
We caught up with Carlos before they set sail to hear about their exciting holiday plans, favorite traditions, why he’s happy to continue combining his favorite holiday and vacation, and why it helps take the stress out of the season:
Why did you choose the holiday time to take a cruise?
Besides our obsession with just sailing on cruise ships, our entire family lives on the east coast! It is nearly impossible to get them to fly anywhere. Cruising over Christmas has become our go-to for the past five years. It’s a chance for all of us to get together and really be able to relax without the stresses of the holiday season. No cooking, no cleaning and lots of food and sunshine.
What are some special holiday events you have planned for your trip?
Over the holidays it’s really special to get dressed up and have an amazing evening. We love Izumi [the sushi and hibachi restaurant], Alexa would eat there every night, but steak is a must for me on Christmas Eve, so Chops Grille it is!
We always get new matching PJ’s—Ocean included—and have no fear roaming the ship in them on Christmas morning! Breakfast is our most important meal that morning; we all gather in one room and eat on the balcony and open presents.
Do you have any plans for decorating your stateroom?
I am obsessed with Christmas and decorations! If we were coming from home, there would be twinkle lights and garland everywhere, but since we are coming from filming in Vancouver, we are going to soak up the Royal Promenade’s Christmas decorations.
Each ship goes all out with Christmas lights and music, which makes for a very special week for everyone on board. When I first asked Alexa to cruise over Christmas, she was worried the “Christmas feeling” would be lost because we were on a ship. Let’s just say we have continued cruising for the last five years, and I don’t think she minds one bit!
What was the allure of cruising during the holidays for your family joining you?
My relatives—the Pena family—were the first generation of obsessive cruisers, so I have them to thank for my obsession! But really, all of us love it. You get to visit so many places without the typical travel hassles. We get to be on a beautiful ship, enjoy amazing food, entertainment and sunshine! It also relieves some of that holiday pressure: “Whose house to go to for Christmas? Resolution… the ship!”
Where will you be headed and which destinations or shore excursions are you particularly excited about?
We love Labadee! The private “resort-like” beach experience is incredible. The water is warm and jet skis and zip lines make for great adventure! We also love hitting up the beaches and local eateries in Cozumel. The best is just exploring places where you may not normally spend a week vacationing.
Are there any special traditions you’ll be participating in while cruising or any events you’re excited to share with Ocean?
This will be Ocean’s second Christmas but he was less than a month old during his first, so this one will be more memorable. We are absolutely wearing matching PJ’s.
Alexa really wants Ocean to unwrap a gift—even though we are on a cruise, that doesn’t mean Santa won’t stop by!
You can follow Carlos’ holiday cruise on his Instagram @therealcarlospena and even on Ocean’s account since he is starting on social media early. Want more? Carlos and family will also be taking over @RoyalCaribbean this Christmas, so follow along to see how they’re celebrating (and maybe even a peek at the Christmas jammies).
If Carlos’ holiday plans have you considering your own holiday cruise tradition, explore your options here.