Are you new to cruising? Then you might be a little bit apprehensive about a sea day, wondering how you’re going to keep yourself entertained while your ship makes its way to the next fascinating port of call. Don’t be! Those who have cruised before know all too well that time spent at sea is precious, and there’s absolutely no way you can ever be bored, even on the smaller ships. Sea days are designed to be as busy or as relaxing as you make them, the choice is yours. Here’s a guide to just some of the ways you can keep yourself entertained at sea:
Sea days are the perfect opportunity for that lie in you’ve been craving all year. You don’t need to be up in time to head off and explore the day’s port, you don’t need to be on shore to meet a tour guide, so just relax and enjoy a lazy morning (but remember to turn your alarm off the night before!). Don’t feel like you need to rush to get to the main dining room for breakfast – instead, have a leisurely breakfast at the buffet restaurant, or order room service for the ultimate breakfast in bed.
If you like to stay active, there are plenty of morning activities on board many cruise lines that revolve around fitness and activity – something to get both the mind and the body ready for a busy day. This can be as formal, or as informal, as you like. Gymnasiums often open around 6am with scheduled fitness classes, but if you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed, you’ll usually find a jogging track aboard many ships that revolves around the open decks. Use this alone or join a group, the choice is yours for working up an appetite before lunch. Alternatively, you could take an early morning dip in the pool.
But hey, you’re on holiday, maybe you’d rather indulge than go to the gym. A great idea is to grab the daily schedule (these are either left in your cabin the night before, or you can pick them up from Guest Services), and check out the day’s activities whilst sipping something cold and refreshing – what a fantastic start to the day!
At midday, try to make sure you’re in one of the public areas or out on open deck, rather than in your stateroom – you’ll hear the Captain’s daily report much easier. This is one of the highlights of the day. Your Captain will let passengers know how the weather conditions were overnight and how they’re looking for the rest of the day, and will also give an up-to-date report on the ship’s current position. Also listen carefully for any useful advice the Captain may have, such as getting up early the following day for the approach into port. Some approaches are absolutely breathtaking, such as the arrival into Stockholm which sees the ship navigate the stunning archipelago or perhaps the approach into Venice sailing alongside the Grand Canal.
You may find that activities slow for an hour over lunch, so be sure to check your daily schedule to see when is best to grab a bite to eat – you don’t want to miss anything! For lunch, if you’re looking for a relaxing touch of luxury then it’s well worth making reservations in one of the speciality dining rooms on board as they’re typically a little quieter than in the evenings. This is also a good opportunity to check out the evening menu at the main dining room. Many passengers peruse the menu in advance so that they can start making arrangements for the evening – if there’s nothing that takes their fancy, there’s still time to make reservations for speciality dining, or plan a more laid back dinner in the buffet. The buffet restaurants are also a fantastic choice for lunchtime. Often when we hear the word buffet, we create negative perceptions in our mind, but like most things, cruise lines don’t do ordinary. The buffet restaurants offer an incredible choice, often with different sections for different types of cuisine, preferences, nutritional values, and of course, plenty of treats.
Even if you miss lunch, there’s always afternoon tea to look forward to from 3pm onwards, filled with sumptuous cakes and indulgences for passengers with a sweet tooth. Cunard Line are specialists at afternoon tea, especially in the beautiful Queens Room.
After lunch, there will be a whole host of activities going on; relaxing, chilled out activities for those who prefer to laze the day away in the sunshine, and active, adrenaline-pumping activities for those throwing caution to the wind. Fine art auctions, daily trivia, guest speakers and destination experts giving lectures, Hollywood blockbusters on the big screen, and live music are just some of the more relaxing things passengers can do following a delicious lunch.
On the other end of the spectrum, dance classes, rock climbing, ice skating, and even surfing simulators are available for some light-hearted fun. So what will you choose?
Evenings on board are just as special, if not a little more so. If it’s your first cruise, you’ll no doubt get advice from friends and family on what to do and how to do it but the most important thing is to find your own way. Try out all the entertainment and dining options; their all amazing. We always recommend watching the sunset at sea; it’s a unique experience that you will definitely want to capture on your camera. If you’re travelling in a balcony cabin, head down from the open deck just a touch earlier and relax on your balcony for the sunset, it’s beautiful and offers something you will never forget, especially if you’re celebrating a special occasion.
Don’t spend too much time back in your room though as there’s plenty going on in the evening that’s worth getting out and about for. If formal dress is the suggested attire for the evening, you’ll find photographers situated all around the ship waiting to take your picture. The trick is not to stop at just one. Each photographer offers something different, whether it be a screened background giving the impression you’re out under the stars, or the chance to have your photo taken in one of the ship’s most elegant areas.
A pre-dinner drink is a must at sea, and you’ll find the bars and lounges becoming more lively from around 6pm onwards, in preparation for dinner. Even if you don’t fancy a drink, the bars aren’t necessarily about refreshments at this time of day; they’re more about the entertainment. Many cruise lines place musicians in the bars in the evenings to create a particular ambiance and atmosphere, and it’s a great way to unwind.
Evening is, of course, dinner time – the most important meal of the day when you’re at sea. This is when the Main Dining Room really shines, and despite newer ships offering more diverse dining than ever before, the Main Dining Room retains a special place in many cruiser’s hearts as it isn’t just about the food, it’s a chance to meet up with likeminded people, socialise, and make new friends.
You may prefer a more casual evening, and if that is the case then don’t be concerned by formal evenings on board. Many cruise lines have these evenings but it does not mean that you have to conform. If you prefer a more relaxed ambiance then you will find plenty of choices for an informal, relaxing dinner option. Some of the best suggestions we could make for this are the themed cuisine evenings in the buffet restaurants.
The post-dinner scene is often the liveliest time on board. There’s an old (and very outdated) notion that cruise line entertainment is traditionally quaint but the truth is that there is so much choice on board, you can never fail to find something that suits your tastes. From headliner shows in the theatre to live music acts throughout the ship, there is something go on around every corner. You’ll find comedians, incredible live shows and much much more. Royal Caribbean in fact has recently unveiled the entertainment aboard new ship Quantum of the Seas, with ‘firsts at sea’ entertainment set to take cruising to a whole new level.
On board nightclubs tend to have the latest opening bars, so you can be sure there’s always somewhere to get a nightcap. Of course, these venues are also great for letting your hair down; you are on holiday after all! But if you prefer something a little more serene then consider Princess Cruises and their ‘Movies Under The Stars’. This is an al fresco cinema experience with popcorn and warm blankets just in case you feel a chill.
Experience a Sea Day
Sea days are fantastic and often provide a welcome break from exploring new destinations. They break up a cruise itinerary and offer relaxation days where you can really make the most of the facilities on board. If you’re looking for a no-fly cruise itinerary where you can really experience the joy of sea days, consider a transatlantic crossing. With between 6 and 8 consecutive days at sea, you’re sure to fall in love with everything your ship has to offer, and you’ll still have the opportunity to take in some amazing ports such as New York, Boston, or Miami – it’s the best of both worlds! Roundtrip Southampton sailings also offer great itineraries with a wonderful mixture of port and sea days that allow you to experience the best of both worlds.