Galveston Cruise Parking: Stateroom Secrets Cruise Lines Don’t Want You To Know

Your stateroom is your home away from home during your cruise vacation. It is best to take advantage of every available amenity that your stateroom has to offer. Here are a few secrets that most people do not know about your cruise line stateroom.

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Stateroom Secrets Cruise Lines Don’t Want You To Know

Metal Inside and Out: Most of your stateroom is made of metal, therefore magnets can be very helpful. Using magnets throughout your stateroom can be an efficient way to keep itineraries, daily newsletters, schedules, and to do lists organized.

Let The “Sunshine” In: Since most staterooms do not have any available natural light, they get very dark when the overhead lights are turned off. Using your television tuned to the cruise ship camera station can act as a great nightlight. It will also be a great weather gauge for the upcoming day’s events.

Where’s The Plug: In today’s connected world, your stateroom has limited outlets. Most cruise ships do not have USB outlets for charging your small electronics, so we suggest you bring a surge protector or two to expand the number of outlets available. (check to make sure that they are allowed on your particular cruise line)

Bedding and Storage: Most of us are very picky about our bedding, sheets, and pillows. If you fall into that category, check with your steward to see what bedding options are available. Non-allergenic pillows, memory foam mattress toppers, and extra blankets can be available upon request. Your stateroom is space efficient to say the least. Cruise ship designers make good use of space and offer as much storage space as possible. Be sure to explore your cabin thoroughly to discover all of those hidden spaces to store you belongings.

Secrets The Cruise Lines Don’t Want You To Know Series

Food Secrets Cruise Lines Don’t Want You To Know

cruise parking galveston, galveston cruise parking, cruise terminal parking galveston, galveston cruise terminal parkingYou deserve to get the most out of your cruise vacation experience. Many times the cruise line does not spell out all of the services available. There are certain secrets that are not disclosed that can save you money, provide more options, and allow you to enjoy your cruise vacation even more.

The dining experience on a cruise ship is an amenity that many people do not take full advantage of. Many dining tips are not know until you take several cruises on the same cruise line. But we have put together a series of “Top Secret The Cruise Lines Don’t Want You To Know” list to keep you in the know!

Food Secrets Cruise Lines Don’t Want You To Know

Main Dining Offers Unlimited Options: Did you know that you are not limited to one selection from each course of the main dining room menu? You can choose a few appetizers, two main courses, and multiple desserts for your meal. This is a great way to sample foods that you have never tried before, or refuel after a long day of excursion fun.

Room Service for Free or Discounted Rates: Royal Caribbean offer room service for a discounted rate of $7.95 and from a specific menu Carnival offers room service for free. This option is a well kept secret that most cruisers do not know. Relax on your day at sea and enjoy in cabin dining for a relaxing change of pace.

Breakfast Buffet is Not The Only Option: Depending on your cruise line, there may be other options for breakfast than the breakfast buffet. Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean restaurant’s offer limited to full breakfast menus. Your cruise newsletter will announce which restaurants are open for breakfast offering you an alternative to the breakfast buffet.

Specialty Restaurants are Not Busy The First Day at Sea: Most people tend to eat in the main dining room or the buffet the first night on the cruise ship making the specialty restaurants relatively empty and easy to book your reservation. Many specialty restaurants offer special deals the first night at sea, so definitely look in to the special offers available.

Free Desserts: Many of the onboard coffee shops offer free pastries, confections of various types, and small desserts. Check with them to see which offer free options. Ice cream is available as well from soft serve machines and some cruise lines offer hard-serve stations at the buffet. Do some research to find the locations and times to soothe your sweet tooth.

Hassle Free Embarkation Day Dining: The chaos on embarkation day ensues as soon as you board the ship. Many people explore the ship, their stateroom, and of course the food options available. Many of your fellow cruisers will hit the buffet while waiting for their cabin to become available, so choose an option that will be less crowded and busy.

Drink Smart: Since there is not a “open container” law on board the cruise ship, you can take your drinks anywhere on board. For you beer drinkers, ordering a bucket of beer can save some money. If you are traveling with friends, this is a great way to share the expense of a refreshing, ice cold beer.

In addition, many times buying the entire bottle of wine is less expensive than buying a few glasses. If you don’t finish it, not to worry, your server can save your bottle to enjoy your next evening. Most cruise lines will allow you to bring a bottle of wine or champagne per adult. (most charge a cork fee) **Do some research before you bring your own wine. Many times the cork fee plus the purchase of the bottle of wine can be more expensive than buying the bottle of wine on board. Watch your cruise newsletter to find the drink of the day or special drink offers.

Secrets The Cruise Lines Don’t Want You To Know Series


6 Signs You Just Returned From Taking A Cruise

People are either cruisers or they are not. Some people love the relaxing, carefree atmosphere of a cruise while others are terrified of being “locked up” on a boat with strangers for a week. For us, we love cruise vacations and making memories with family and friends. If you have just returned from a dreamy cruise vacation, here are six signs that you just got back!

1. You make Donald Trump Look Like He Needs a Tan

Food is not the only thing that is served in high quantity on a cruise ship. Mother Nature provide and endless amount of sun that you can enjoy and get your tan on. This is especially noticeable if you cruise during the winter or if you are from an area up North that does not see many sun bathing opportunities.

2. You Frequent the International Food Aisle At Your Grocery Store

Cruise vacations allow you to sample many different types of food in a very short time. Recreating that delicious meal when you return home is the goal of even the novice of chefs. You will find yourself shopping for tropical spices and seasonings upon your return.

3. You Become The Best Salesman For The Cruise Industry

You just had the time of your life on your cruise vacation and you want to share your experience with everyone you meet. To you, there is no better way to spend your vacation and you have already began to plan your next adventure. You eat, sleep, walk and talk the cruise life when you return and want everyone to enjoy cruising.

4. Your “little” House Doesn’t Seem So Little Anymore

A cruise ship is like a floating city; large massive and elaborate “boat.” Until you arrive in your stateroom and you realize that the closets in your house back on shore are not so little anymore. You begin to appreciate the size of your home and your ability to stretch out without touching a wall.

5. You Begin to Evaluate Your Ability or Inability To Cook

After feasting on multi-course gourmet meals for the last week, you have now realized that you are not as good of a cook as you once thought. You might even find yourself enrolling in cooking classes in an effort to recreate that unforgettable meal from your cruise vacation.

6. Your Social Media Becomes An Ad For Cruise Vacationing

Every time we have returned from a cruise vacation, we spend days sorting through the endless number of photos taken while on board. What better way to share your experience that social media. Your social media feed begins to look like an advertisement for your favorite cruise line.



Galveston Cruise Parking: First-Timers’ Guide to Onboard Activities

If you’re worried that you’ll be bored on a cruise ship, banish that idea right away. Cruise ships schedule so many activities that a day at sea can be almost as much fun (and as exhausting) as a full day of sightseeing. From ropes courses to rock climbing, trivia contests to cooking classes, wine-tasting to water slides, there’s truly something for everyone.

Want to lie in the sun or take a dip in the pool? No problem. Want to spend time shopping for souvenirs, indulging in a massage or gambling in the casino? You can do it. Want to boogie board, drive a race car (at least a simulated version of one) or ice skate? Aha — even these exotic activities can be done onboard select ships.

Regardless of your activity levels and preferences, you can’t help but find a way to keep yourself entertained on a cruise ship. Here’s our breakdown of the types of programs and amenities you’re likely to find to keep you busy and happy during your time onboard.

The Daily Bulletin

How do you find out what’s going on each day? A daily newsletter is delivered to your cabin each evening. One will also be waiting for you when you arrive. In it, you’ll find the schedule for the next day’s activities and entertainment offerings, as well as opening hours for the spa, restaurants, onboard shops and bars. You might also find listings for onboard or in-cabin movies, information on scheduled ports of call, debarkation and embarkation information, and sunrise and sunset times. Children registered with the onboard kids’ club will receive their own daily schedules of age-appropriate activities, as well.

Daytime Offerings

Ships try to appeal to all types of passengers, and dozens of organized programs will offer a wide range of activities, covering an array of interests — especially on sea days. If you want to get active, you might participate in pool games, compete in basketball and volleyball tournaments, improve your golf swing or take dance classes. Indoors, you might prefer a history lecture, playing cards (bridge is especially popular) or bingo (for an extra fee), learning napkin-folding or flower-arranging, bidding on items at an art auction, playing trivia, watching a cooking demonstration or sipping wine at a wine-tasting (usually for an extra fee).

Entertainment during the day can range from musical performances by the pool to afternoon shows such as comedy, small acts like singers and dancers or a high-diving and acrobatic show in the pool and movies (in an indoor cinema — perhaps even a 3D one — or poolside).

You are, of course, free to skip all organized activities and lounge at the pool with an icy cocktail. Also open throughout the day are the ships’ boutiques, casinos (at sea only) and libraries — not to mention the many venues for eating and drinking round-the-clock. Outdoors, you’ll find Ping-Pong, shuffleboard, basketball courts and — on several ships — mini-golf, rock climbing walls, rope courses and even onboard surfing. And, you can always retreat to your cabin to enjoy the view from the balcony or indulge in a mid-day nap.

The Gym and Spa

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a modern cruise ship without a fitness center and spa complex onboard. While some offer just the basics, the newest models are often multi-deck, spacious areas with floor-to-ceiling ocean views and state-of-the-art equipment.

Onboard fitness centers provide a range of cardio and strength-training equipment, and many have separate rooms for exercise classes. Classes tend to be offered in the morning and again in the early evening. You will find listings in daily bulletins, but if you stop by the gym, you can pick up a separate sheet that details times for all classes, as well. Be aware that, while some classes are free, ships tend to charge $10 to $15 for specialty offerings like yoga, Pilates and spinning, which you’ll usually have to sign up for in advance. Some ships offer other unique fitness options, such as boxing rings and TRX suspension training.

The spa is the place to indulge in massages, facials and other pampering treatments; most ships also have salons, where you can have your hair cut and styled and get manicures and pedicures — all for additional fees. You might also find steam and sauna rooms or a thalassotherapy pool — a combination whirlpool and mineral bath. Some cruise lines have expanded the spa’s appeal with special treatments for men (like old-fashioned shaves) and teens (including mother-daughter packages). More nontraditional spa offerings include acupuncture, teeth-whitening and Ionithermie detox. Check the daily bulletin or the spa for special offers and spa packages — you can often save money by booking your spa treatments on port days rather than sea days.

Kids’ Programming

For the under-18 crowd, many mass-market cruise ships have separate kids’ areas. While you won’t find expansive facilities on luxury lines or ships that cater to older passengers, more family-oriented ships have huge facilities that often include multiple play areas for the youngest cruisers, teen hangouts and discos, kiddie pools, water slides, arcades and kid-focused deck space.

Parents can sign children up for these onboard “camps,” and trained youth counselors will lead them in various organized games, contests, scavenger hunts, arts and crafts projects, pajama and dance parties or simply supervised play. Some lines have partnered with outside sources to offer unique programs, such as acting and juggling classes, hands-on science experiments and DJ training. Children can spend as much or as little time as they want in the kids’ clubs, either participating in activities or just hanging out. (The amount of freedom allowed varies by age group.)

Youth lounges often close during meal times so families can dine together; some cruise lines offer the opportunity for kids to dine together, so parents can enjoy a leisurely, adult-oriented meal. Free programming for the younger kids tends to end around 10 p.m.; after this time, parents can choose to pay an hourly fee for group babysitting (often referred to as late-night parties) in the kids club until midnight or 1 a.m.

Babies and toddlers younger than age 3 (and who aren’t potty trained) are generally not allowed in the drop-off camps. However, families with very small children might be allowed to use youth facilities for parent-child playtime at designated times. Certain lines — like Disney and Royal Caribbean — have nurseries where parents can put their little ones in the care of nannies for a few hours, usually for an hourly fee.

Evening Entertainment

After dark, most ships take on a Vegas aura. Casinos might be open during the day, too, but at night, they’re packed with people playing the slot machines or trying their luck at poker or blackjack. Lounges feature live bands and cabaret singers for your dancing or listening pleasure, while piano bars, complete with sing-alongs, are popular hot spots on many ships. And, especially late at night, the disco will be hopping.

On several nights during your cruise, the ship’s theater will feature big production shows with high-tech effects like lasers and videos, as well as elaborately costumed singers and dancers performing popular rock hits and tunes from Broadway shows. On other nights, look for featured singers, comedians, magicians and sometimes even performers you’ve heard of or seen on TV. For those passengers with performance skills, many ships feature karaoke, and a few even have a passenger talent show. Even small ships will have some sort of entertainment — a local visiting dance troupe, a duo with a keyboard or a crew member with a guitar.

Outdoor movies on the pool deck are another favorite evening activity on many cruise lines. Passengers can cuddle up on lounge chairs with blankets and popcorn and watch new releases on giant LED screens. It’s like being at a drive-in movie — just on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean.

5 Reasons You Should Never Sneak Alcohol on a Cruise

Sneaking alcohol on a cruise has always been a popular pastime for those who are willing to break the rules to avoid paying for drinks onboard. Mainstream cruise lines prohibit passengers from bringing their own liquor, beer and other alcohol (with the exception of wine or Champagne) on ships. Why spend more money than you have to, when you can try to pull a fast one on security staff?

Many “rum runner” passengers have sneaking alcohol on a cruise down to a science, stuffing refilled mouthwash bottles and purpose-made plastic bags in their checked luggage. Some even go as far as appointing the least guilty-looking family member to do the dirty work. Grandma doesn’t deserve this.

As stealthy as these rule-breakers think they are, cruise lines know all about alcohol-packing hacks. They know all the common hiding places, as well as which containers are most suspicious.

While the worst that likely will happen is a trip to the naughty room and having your prized bottle of Caribbean rum confiscated, we can think of five reasons why you shouldn’t sneak alcohol on a cruise. Don’t worry, rule-breakers: You can still enjoy a carefree vacation by cutting in line at the buffet and hogging as many deck chairs as your heart desires.

1. It’s embarrassing.

Remember how it felt to be called down to the principal’s office in grade school? Getting caught sneaking alcohol on a cruise is twice as embarrassing. Cruise lines will usually slip a note in your suitcase before it’s delivered to your cabin on embarkation day, letting you know if something was confiscated. If your bag is locked, and they suspect you might have some inside, you’ll be summoned to the naughty room to open it. Talk about feeling like a misbehaved child.

2. You’ll get the stink eye from other passengers.

Cruisers bold enough to try sneaking alcohol in their carry-on bag will not only have to suffer through public humiliation, but also reproach from passengers who are stuck in line behind them. Waiting in line is bad enough; the last thing anyone wants is to put their vacation on hold because someone else didn’t follow the rules. Even though you might be sailing with thousands of other passengers, somehow the people you annoyed at security will be the ones you run into over and over onboard.

3. You could end up losing money.

If you dropped $10 to $30 on purpose-made containers to sneak alcohol on a cruise, you’ll lose all that money — plus whatever you spent on the booze inside — when you get caught. If you opt to hide bottles in your suitcase instead, whether or not you’ll see those bottles again depends on the cruise line. Some might confiscate it indefinitely, while others will hold on to it until the end of the cruise. As you’re likely going to pay for drinks once your stash is gone, you’ll end up spending more money after a failed smuggling attempt.

4. You’re under 21.

Generally speaking, 21 is the minimum drinking age on any cruise that begins in a U.S. home port. Underage passengers who try to sneak alcohol onboard face the same repercussions as anyone else; the booze will get confiscated. The only difference is they won’t get it back at the end of the cruise. If you do make it through, you put yourself at a high risk for hurting yourself or others (for example, with alcohol poisoning, falls and sexual assault). Cruise lines reserve the right to disembark passengers who violate their alcohol policies, so obey the rules and avoid sticky situations. Age limits are in place for a reason.

5. You can bring wine or Champagne instead.

Most cruise lines let you to bring at least one bottle (typically 750ml) of wine or Champagne onboard. (Some even allow bottled water, cans of soda and juice, no questions asked.) Although corkage fees might apply if you decide to drink your own bottle in the main dining room or a specialty restaurant, you can save money by enjoying the wine in your cabin. If you do bring your wine to dinner, the corkage fee is often around $15, cheaper than purchasing a bottle or several wines by the glass. You also get to enjoy whatever red, white or rose you please.

10 Tips on How Not to Get Sick on a Cruise

Avoid Getting Sick on Your Cruise

Most cruise travelers enjoy their cruise vacation and stay perfectly healthy. However, with a change in diet, changes to your daily routine, and a lack of sleep can greatly reduce your body’s immune system. Common cruise illnesses are: upset stomach, sinus and head colds, seasickness, sunburn, dehydration, and jet lag just to name a few.

Combined with thousands of passengers spreading germs and the common ailments listed above, it is relatively easy to stay healthy and happy on your cruise vacation if you follow a few simple steps.

Here are 10 tips for staying healthy and reducing the potential of getting sick on your next cruise.

Wash Your Hands Often

Thoroughly washing your hands – more than you normally would – is the #1 way to avoid getting sick. Wash before you eat, after you use the restroom, when you return from an onshore excursion, after shaking hands with other passengers or staff, and after touching any surface that is often touched by others. Many cruise ships have hand sanitizers strategically place throughout the cruise ship – TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THEM! Hand sanitizers are not a replacement for washing your hands thoroughly, it definitely is helpful in spreading potentially hazardous germs.

If you have ever cruised on Norwegian, you can sing a long with the Washy Washy Song. Catchy tune, but the message of staying healthy is priceless.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking a lot of water is a great way to stay healthy. Flushing your body of toxins, and rehydrating after a long day in the sun can prevent your body’s immune system from declining. We suggest bringing a reusable water bottle, fill it up at the many different ship’s restaurants. If you are going to be very active during an offshore excursion or you are prone to dehydration, you might want to choose a drink with added electrolytes.

**Remember: Alcohol can also dehydrate you. Be mindful when consuming alcohol that it can lead to dehydration. We suggest choosing water every so often when drinking alcohol to reduce chances of dehydration. To cut down on Want to save on bottled water and other drinks? You might want to purchase a beverage package from your cruise line.

Don’t Drink The Local Water

Following up a tip on drinking a lot of water, it sounds strange to say don’t drink water. What we are saying is make sure that you drink the RIGHT water. The public water in some countries is unsafe to drink. We strongly recommend drinking only bottled water with a closed seal during onshore excursions.

We also suggest avoiding ice or fruit where you eat the skin, and uncooked vegetables.

Avoid Jet Lag

Nothing is worse that missing out on your vacation due to jet lag. We suggest arriving a day or two early if you are departing out of a port that is in a different time zone that where you live. Another tip is to not take a nap when you first arrive in  your cabin, head to bed at a decent time your first night to avoid that “hung over” feeling, and spend a lot of time in the sun to absorb as much natural light as possible. If you are highly prove to the affects of jet lag, you might want to consult your physician before your cruise to see what they recommend.

Wear Sunscreen

Applying sunscreen is a great way to avoid painful, irritating sunburn. You don’t have to be poolside to get a sun burned, walking the streets of a destination port, any water sport activity, or enjoying exotic beaches in a climate with more intense UV radiation than what you are used to can lead to a sunburn in no time. Apply and re-apply your sun block may be annoying, but it can prevent you from enjoying the days following while you nurse a lobster red sunburn.

Don’t Overeat at the Buffets

Vacation Planning, cruise Vacation Planning, onboard cruise activities, cruise travel tips,Avoid getting sick on your next cruise, 10 Tips on How Not to Get Sick on a CruiseA huge attraction to cruise vacations is the food. Endless possibilities of all you can eat buffets, followed by night after night multi-course meals of rich, calorie filled meals that can irritate your stomach. Bloated, sluggish, and queasy can follow over indulging on a cruise vacation.

According to the polls of several online cruise reviewers, it appears that the average weight gain on a 7-day cruise ranges from 5 to 10 pounds, depending on several factors such as amount of alcoholic drinks and workout frequency. (Source www.cruisereviews.com)

We are not saying that you skip tasting the many joys of food on a cruise ship, but we do recommend not over eating and watching what you eat. Eating at a slower pace, not only allows you to enjoy your food, it allows your body to properly digest your food.

Remember, you are on a cruise ship. The restaurant’s never close, so pace yourself and eat smart.

Take The Stairs

It is easy to over-indulge while on your cruise vacation. After all, you are on vacation. Unless you are an avid gym rat, you don’t want to spend time sweating in the ship gym while on vacation.

One easy way to exercise on the cruise ship is to take the stairs. Great cardio, great leg workout, and you will save tremendous amounts of time not standing around waiting for an elevator.

Take It Easy on the Alcohol, Sailor

It is fun to have a drink or two, enjoy the ship’s entertainment, and enjoy a poolside drink, especially since you don’t have to drive home afterwards. However, if you are looking to stay healthy, drink in moderation. Avoid drinking yourself sick, or to a point you are impaired. Not only is it hard on your body, your judgement makes you more accident prone, potentially a danger to yourself or others.

Be Honest on Pre-Boarding Forms

Let’s not only keep ourselves healthy, but let’s keep everyone else health as well. Fill out the pre-boarding paperwork in regards to illness, sickness, and sickness symptoms accurately and honestly. By doing so, you can meet with the ship’s medical team to design a course of action to keep you healthy and those around you. It does not mean that you will be refused to board the ship, it is a precaution to protect yourself as well as others.

Better Safe Than Sorry

A cruise vacation will make life-long memories for you and your loved ones. Cruising while healthy will only make the experience more enjoyable for you and those around you. Following a few steps can help prevent you falling ill while vacationing.


Top 10 Things to Do on Sea Days

Top-10-Things-to-Do-on-Sea-Days-1When it comes to sea days, you either love ’em or hate ’em. What else can you do, apart from throwing your vacation dollars into a slot machine or onto a card table?

It is great news that cruise lines are increasing the number of sea day activities available to guests. Want to start prepping for your sea day fun in advance? Here are our picks for the top 10 things to do on sea days.

1. Hang out by the pools

What’s the quintessential activity onboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean? Sunbathing, of course!

While every major cruise ship has the requisite pool, hot tub and rows of lounge chairs, some take pool time to new heights. Royal Caribbean’s Freedom-, Oasis- and Quantum-class ships sport surf pools, interactive water parks for kids and zero-entry pools for wading. Disney Dream’s pool deck — with special pools for adults and little kids — is circled by a water coaster ride. Carnival and Norwegian compete on the water slide front, while Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships go a more Zen route with beautiful adults-only solariums that offer lap pools and retractable roofs.

2. Work out

When the closest you come to getting exercise during the workweek is speed-walking from your desk to the printer or running for the bus, time to work out in a state-of-the-art gym can be one of the many perks of vacation. Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class and Freedom-class ships have huge fitness centers with boxing rings and Pilates reformer machines, while Seabourn’s Odyssey-class ships have Kinesis walls to improve flexibility and muscle tone. While most onboard fitness centers are located top-of-ship with sea views through floor-to-ceiling windows, Carnival takes workouts alfresco in its SportSquare. Beyond the gym, Crystal offers special Walking on Water (WOW) vests and LEKI walking poles for power strolls, Princess features swim-against-the-current pools and Royal Caribbean and Norwegian boast rock climbing walls.

3. Find your bliss

On the other hand, maybe you planned to indulge in a little pampering during your time off. The majority of cruise line spas are operated by Steiner Leisure, so the offerings are the same across the board. But beyond the massages, facials and mani-pedis, passengers can book Botox injections and teeth-whitening treatments, fancy shaves for men, special teen treatments, couple’s mud baths and a variety of gooey wraps that claim to do wonders for your skin, circulation and general well-being. Some of the best spas go beyond the treatment rooms. Many, like the spas on Norwegian and Celebrity ships, have thermal suites with saunas, steam rooms and heated relaxation chairs. Oceania, Carnival, Costa and Cunard offer thalassotherapy pools for therapeutic dips. For the ultimate splurge, book a spa villa on Seabourn’s and Disney’s ships for your own personal spa retreat with ocean views.

4. Eat, drink and be merry

Courtesy of NCL.com
Courtesy of NCL.com

Eating and drinking make up a large fraction of time spent onboard. Perhaps you’re fond of the smorgasbord approach, picking this and that from the Mongolian Wok, Tandoor Indian food, New York-style deli or the pizza, pasta, and burrito bars on Carnival. Or maybe you like a leisurely sea day lunch at upscale Holland America’s Pinnacle Grill or a Champagne brunch at Disney’s adults-only Palo. Those predisposed to a liquid diet can kick back with buckets of beer and fruity cocktails from poolside bars, glasses of wine with lunch or even milkshakes on Oceania and fruit smoothies on Royal Caribbean.

5. Learn something

Toss the trashy novel, and make your brain do a bit of work on your cruise. And we’re not talking about the fierce team trivia competitions for bragging rights to a logo cap or bag. Learn a new language on Crystal or Celebrity, learn to cook in the show kitchens of Holland America and Oceania, make scrapbooks on Celebrity or participate in a Discovery at Sea scavenger hunt on Princess. Several lines offer computer and digital photography classes, so you can come home with the most sophisticated vacation photo presentations ever.

6. Get silly

It’s perfectly acceptable to drop your workweek formality and get a little silly on a cruise. Some might say that you’re missing out on the true cruise experience if you don’t get off your high horse and get into the onboard fun and games. Carnival has perfected the art of pool games with events like the Hairy Chest Competition, Rubber Chicken Olympics and Battle of the Sexes. Royal Caribbean is known for impromptu dance parties on the Royal Promenade, while Disney enlists its famous characters to round everyone up for fun. Join in the life-size renditions of popular board games on Carnival’s Hasbro, The Game Show. It’s OK to show off your rusty dance moves or cheer loudly for your favorite — you will very likely never see any of your shipmates again.

7. Be entertained

Matinee performance, anyone?

Courtesy of NCL.com
Courtesy of NCL.com

While mainstream ships always have some sort of evening performance scheduled, some entertainment-focused lines keep their theaters full on sea day afternoons. Royal Caribbean tops the leaderboard on this one with matinees of its ice skating and Aquatheater shows, as well as midday showings of its Broadway shows, like “Hairspray.” It’s also known for afternoon parades through its ships’ Promenades, complete with Dreamworks characters and colorful costumes. Norwegian Getaway and Escape get loose with “Wine Lovers The Musical,” a daytime wine-tasting comedy show experience.

8. Go to camp

If you’re a kid, that is. Knowing that the under-18 set doesn’t want to play bingo with mom and dad all day, cruise lines have built elaborate kids’ recreation areas that will have adults

Courtesy of NCL.com
Courtesy of NCL.com

wishing they could turn back time and join in the fun. Think mocktail bars for sodas and smoothies, Internet and video game consoles, piles of board games and toys and some hands-on crafts projects — plus shipwide scavenger hunts, pizza parties and karaoke contests. Disney leads the pack with playrooms straight out of its hit movies, like Toy Story and Monsters Inc., and cutting-edge, computer-generated, interactive game floors inspired by brands like Marvel and Star Wars. Royal Caribbean reaches out to the youngest cruisers with a Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, providing age-appropriate activities for interactive play sessions, as well as care for kids as young as six months to three years. Trained counselors wrangle the little tykes and keep an eye on teens, so kids and adults can pursue their favorite activities in harmony.

9. Seek out thrills

Courtesy of Carnival.com
Courtesy of Carnival.com

Move over, chair hogs. A new breed of cruiser has abandoned poolside vegging for high-octane pursuits onboard. They’re skydiving on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships and ziplining several decks above sea level on its Oasis Class. They’re dangling from great heights on Norwegian Escape’s largest ropes course at sea. And, to cool off after all that exertion, they speed down any number of onboard water slides … again and again and again.

10. Retreat from the world

You’re on vacation, and a little peace and quiet would be nice. Unfortunately, your 3,000-plus shipmates might have other ideas, making a ruckus on the lido deck while poolside movie screens blare rock concerts. You could retreat to your cabin… or seek solace on a serenity

Courtesy of Carnival.com
Courtesy of Carnival.com

deck. Princess pioneered the concept with its adults-only Sanctuary sun decks, where you can buy a day pass to plush lounge chairs, alfresco massages, Evian misters and even MP3 players loaded with New Age selections. Lines from Holland America and Oceania to Carnival and Norwegian rent out private cabanas, where you can draw the curtains on the world as you savor fruit skewers and chilled towels. If nothing else, look for adults-only sun decks to avoid the little splashers who often take over the main pools.