Maddie (Jen Lilley) has avoided the traditional Christmas Tiger Cruise her whole life. A Tiger Cruise is an opportunity for civilians to ride a ship the last few days of its deployment. Usually, the ship pulls into a port near their homeport, picks up the “tigers” (family of the servicemembers aboard the ship) and sails the last few days home with them on board. It’s a chance for servicemembers to show their families what they do at sea, and for civilians to see firsthand what the navy does on deployment. The tigers may be sons or daughters if over the age of 8, mothers, fathers, sisters or brothers – much like a Hallmark film, there is no sex aboard a Navy ship (ha), so spouses are not allowed.
Maddie’s father was in the Navy, but she never felt the pull to cruise with him. Now that her sister’s in the Navy, she still doesn’t care to board a ship, but she’s a reporter for a Norfolk newspaper, and her editor thinks there might be a story there. Inevitably she meets
Lt. Jenkins Billy, a handsome naval officer who claims not to like Christmas. But when they stumble upon a mystery in the ship’s archive room involving a historical Tiger Cruise hookup, the two spend a lot of intimate time together, and I’m pretty sure the magic of the season just overtakes him.
Am I surprised to learn that a ship that has shared bathrooms also has an archive room? Yes I am. Am I even more surprised that despite shared bathrooms, Maddie somehow has perfectly coiffed hair every day? YES I AM. But if deployment romances are your jam, USS Christmas offers a double bill.
FYI: Shipboard scenes were filmed on the Battleship USS North Carolina, permanently moored in Wilmington, NC.