COEUR d’ALENE — Glittering, painted ornaments dangled from the cabin ceiling.
Cups of hot cocoa with whipped cream piled high were handed to smiling guests.
Songs of sleigh bells and Christmas cheer could be heard throughout the cabin.
A countdown of "5-4-3-2-1!" cued the colorful fireworks to explode over Santa's house, and the lights of the North Pole began to twinkle on the waters of Lake Coeur d'Alene.
"It's amazing," 8-year-old David Baker said Tuesday evening as he enjoyed a candy cane aboard the Lake Coeur d'Alene Cruise boat.
He was one of more than 100 attendees who experienced the magic of the Holiday Light Show Media Kick-Off Cruise, where guests were treated to a bountiful spread of goodies during a Journey to the North Pole cruise across the lake to see Santa.
Santa read the names of the children on his "nice" list who were on board. David was glad he made it onto that list rather than the alternative.
“I was the third name,” he said, his eyes wide. "I was shocked."
His mom, Suelynn Parker, was pleased with the experience, as well.
"I honestly adore it,” she said. "It’s friendly, it’s happy going, the food is wonderful. And to top it off the hot cocoa is the best."
The cruise featured a good heckling from the Grinch, visits from Rudolph and Frosty and plenty of family photo opportunities.
"Being a parent myself, I think it’s really great to get everyone in one place because you’re so busy during the holidays. You’re going shopping, you’re going to Christmas parties, you’re being pulled in a million different directions,” said Amy VanSickle, director of marketing for The Coeur d'Alene Resort. "To be on a boat all together in one place to enjoy the holidays is really unique. You’re away from all your tablets and technology and your kids get to actually experience the spirit. You get that one-on-one time together outside of your house."
Also aboard the Mish-an-Nock were several happy elves, enthusiastic to share their love of the holiday season.
"Like Buddy the Elf said, the more people that believe in Christmas, the more the Christmas spirit grows. It makes the sleigh fly," said "Elfie," played by Teresa Scarborough. "We’ve got to have more Christmas spirit. It’s the one time of year aside from Halloween that we all get to be kids again. We get to believe in magic."
Through Nov. 27, tickets for the Journey to the North Pole cruises are $17.07 for adults, $16.32 for seniors 55 and older and $6 for kids 6 to 12. From Nov. 30 through Jan. 1, Monday through Thursday, tickets are $22.25 for adults, $21.25 for seniors and $7.50 for kids 6 to 12. From Nov. 30 through Jan 1, Friday through Sunday, tickets are $23.25 for adults, $22.25 for seniors, $8.50 for kids 6 to 12. Tickets on all cruises are free for children 5 and younger.
Info: www.cdacruises.com or 855-379-5478