First timers may sometimes be a little confused regarding what is, and what isn’t included on a cruise holiday. While it’s important to remember that there are a number of activities that incur an extra cost, most activities on board ship are completely free! Here are 10 of the best activities that are included within the base price of your cruise:
While it may cost to eat in one of the speciality dining restaurants on board, the buffet, informal cafes, the main dining rooms, and even a few select alternative eateries are completely free! Included in the base price of your cruise is breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with many cruise lines also offering brunch and afternoon tea, complete with little sandwiches and the classic jam and clotted cream scone. For lovers of good food, and for those keen to try new and exciting cuisine, tucking in really is one of the best activities on board! Dining room menus are often an excellent blend of old favourites and new, exotic tastes. To give you a taste of what to expect (excuse the pun), Cunard’s sample menu includes everything from spaghetti carbonara to chateaubriand, and from strawberry tart to cassis champagne mousse. Delicious! The speciality restaurants on board are often at an added cost but considering the incredible food you can expect to sample, the expense is undoubtedly worth it, plus prices are extremely good value for money. P&O Cruises for example provide stunning speciality dining venues from as little as £5 per person and when you try the cuisine, you’ll forget all about that!
2. Catch a Concert
Love music but don’t want to pay to attend a concert? No problem! Book the right cruise, and you can see all your favourite stars on stage for free! P&O are particularly known for their themed cruises which feature some of the most popular music stars, both past and present. In 2013, P&O offered a number of ‘Here and Now’ cruises with a dedicated 80’s theme, featuring the vocal talents of Paul Young, Toyah Wilcox, and Carol Decker, amongst others. For 2014, select sailings will feature Alfie Boe, and there’s also a chance to take part in the 30th anniversary of P&O’s Music Festivals at Sea theme. These concerts are a part of the free nightly entertainment on board, all part of the base price! Norwegian Cruise Line are another fantastic example, bringing Broadway spectacles to the seas including ‘Rock of Ages’ and ‘Legally Blonde’.
Cruise lines have a reputation to uphold, so they’re committed to keeping their guests happy, particularly on sea days. Sea days are, typically, when the best activities take place on the ship, and many of these activities include learning of some sort, whether that be a new skill, or new information. It’s basically like taking an evening class – for free! Ever wanted to learn more about the history of the cruise industry? Well now you can! Fancy learning the complex rules of Bridge? No problem! You can even enjoy dance classes run by some of the best in the business. Holland America is one of
the best for dance classes. In fact, they organise a number of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ themed cruises throughout the year, offering all guests free dance tuition from celebrity judges including Sabrina Bryan and Carson Kressley, who will be appearing on select 2014 itineraries around the USA and Caribbean. P&O Cruises have featured similar sailings for guests to enjoy ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ itineraries, and the chance to learn from the very best as well as take in a string of brilliant shows. Key members of the hit BBC show feature on board, not forgetting the charismatic judge, Craig Revel Horwood.
Cunard provide a programme aboard their sailings known as ‘Cunard Insights’ and are renowned for hosting some of the most intriguing and fascinating individuals on board. Lectures, demonstrations and much more are held in numerous venues around the ship with topics including politics, photography, astronomy and much more. Queen Mary 2’s Planetarium (the only one at sea), is a great place to check out on board.
4. Get Fit
Cruising can certainly be a time of indulgence, with delicious cuisine, glamorous cocktails, and all the lounging around gazing out at the sea you can handle. However, if you’re keen to stay fit and healthy on board, get yourself to the gymnasium, out on the prom deck, or even try your hand at some deck sports. It’s all free! Royal Caribbean are considered to be one of the best cruise lines for those wishing to stay active at sea. With Oasis of the Seas offering one of the largest gymnasiums at sea, boasting 150 cardio workout machines, and with all Freedom Class ships featuring a boxing ring, there are plenty of options to keep the waistline in check and work off all those tasty treats.
5. See Broadway & West End Shows
It’s completely free to experience the magic of Broadway or the West end on board ship, with many cruise lines putting on full scale productions that really do rival their land-based counterparts. Norwegian Cruise Line is famed for featuring the world famous Blue Man Group on their Norwegian Epic Ship, while Royal Caribbean even boast their own production company. In recent years, Royal Caribbean passengers have enjoyed the songs of Hairspray, Chicago, and Saturday Night Fever, without needing to pay a penny above the base price of the cruise.
6. Go to the Cinema
Whether it’s the latest cinema releases, family favourites, or timeless classics, there is a huge variety and chances to watch films you’ve always meant to see back home. Cinema trips back home are becoming more and more expensive, so make use of this free opportunity to watch some big Hollywood blockbusters! Whether it’s in the numerous cinema areas on board ships or on the latest outdoor screen innovations, there’s nothing quite like taking in a film at sea, especially when it’s under the stars and a stunning moonlit sky.
7. Sip Some Bubbly
Cruise ships tend to have a bit of a reputation for their high bar prices – in fact, you won’t pay any more than at a bar in an upmarket hotel. However, drinking at the on board bars does cost, whether you pay on a drink-by-drink basis, or purchase a prepaid drinks package. Fortunately, there is a way to enjoy a few glasses of bubbly for free! There are two ways to drink for free on board. Firstly, consider your cruise line. Cunard place a half bottle of sparkling wine in each stateroom at embarkation to enjoy during sail off, whereas Silversea Cruises are all-inclusive, with beers, wines, and spirits served for free. Secondly, make the effort to attend the Captain’s cocktail party. These events are often quite interesting – a great way to meet the Senior Officers and learn more about the ship, and the voyage – but there’s also a complimentary glass of bubbly to enjoy!
8. Unwind and Indulge
Cruising is all about chilling out and relaxing, and it’s easy to do this without paying a single penny above the base cruise price. Luxury cruise lines such as Regent Seven Seas are all-inclusive, including spa treatments at the on board Canyon Ranch Spa, although there will be a charge for these services on mainstream cruise lines. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options. Listening to the smooth sounds coming from the piano bar, going for a swim, or window shopping are excellent ways to chill out for free. Of course, you should never underestimate the relaxing nature of simply sitting out on deck on a sunny evening, watching your fellow passengers strolling past and gazing out to the sunset – it’s a truly magical experience.
If you’re looking for some free ways to have fun on board, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Card games and bingo are common games that you can play if the weather isn’t too nice, whereas on sunny days it’s worth getting out on deck for a game of tennis, basketball, football, shuffleboard, or the classic cruise ship favourite, Deck Quiots. Cruise lines, and ships, that cater to families with young children and teenagers will often boast video game centres. Norwegian Cruise Line even have a partnership with Nintendo, supplying Wii consoles for passengers to play with during the voyage. Cruising is one of the most fun ways to travel, and an excellent way to meet others with similar interests without paying a single penny extra.
Many cruise lines now also offer an amazing array of open deck facilities for when the sun is shining. We all know children love to jump in the pool on holiday but adults get the chance to be big kids as well with a great selection of water attractions. Royal Caribbean’s ‘H20 Zone’ on board Freedom Class vessels is amazing, whilst Norwegian Cruise Line continue to raise the bar of water entertainment with incredible water parks at sea aboard their latest ships, Epic, Breakaway and Getaway. There’s even the chance to walk the plank…as safely as possible of course!
Exploring your ship is as free as it comes, and, believe it or not, you could entertain yourself for days simply by walking around the vessel as there’s always something new to see. Wall murals, paintings, artwork, cruise history, and awards are just some of the little pieces of interest that may be in display on your ship. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 even includes dedicated history corridors, showing the famous public figures of the past who have sailed on one of Cunard’s luxurious Queens. Some ships may even include activities that they don’t advertise. For example, many ships include a Bridge viewing area which is amazing to see, but due to the nature of the activity, and the potential distraction of the staff performing such a vital role, it’s not often something that is highly publicised. It’s one of many places of interest you’ll find via exploration only – see what little treasures you can find!