Today I will write about what there is to do on a ship. Every cruise will have what is referred to as “sea days”. Ships travel mostly at night stopping in port during daylight. They arrive in port usually around sun up, and leave around dinner time, most days. Watching either of these activities is a humbling experience. The skipper will dock his 1000 foot long ship with the ease of me doing angle parking with my car. Well almost. So, most days you have the option of taking a tour in the port, wandering around on your own in the port, or staying on the ship. Most folks will either wander, take a cab, or a bus tour offered by a local tour operator through the shipping line. But some days the ship will not dock but will continue to sail. A cruise from San Diego to Hawaii is a classic example where you have sea days, starting with about 4 if I recall.
The opportunities you have are myriad. There is the pool(s) both hot tub and regular pools. There is the chance to wander the ship and get familiar with it. The stores will all be open for business, with some bargains, but not always. There are usually presentations on the next port of call, or there will be speakers covering any one of many interesting topics. Sometimes a show will be put on where the Maitre d’ and the head chef will put on a cooking demo. These are often done as a spoof and are funny. They often lead to a tour of the galley when the show is done. These shows are not to be missed, since they are very interesting. After snaking around the galley, one will often find themselves being offered a cookbook written by the Chef. You will also be led out through a sales room where all the old stuff that didn’t sell on the last several tours will be offered at a discount, but not always. There will be special contests at the pool where the ship staff compete with the passengers. Demos of ice carving will be held, deck parties are held, but usually at night on sea days, demos of food carving are held, as are drink mixing. Or one can simply curl up on their veranda or common area on the deck and watch the world and people go by while enjoying that book you got from the library on the ship. Some ships even offer a form of rock climbing, basketball, and movies on the top deck with a 30 foot screen! And of course you can always go to a bar/lounge or get something to eat. There is always something for you to do.
Every evening there are 2 shows in the main auditorium, one before the late dinner sitting, and one during it for the early sitting diners. These are great Broadway type shows, or often comedy routines, sometime s a very accomplished magician, or musician will entertain. The lounges offer other entertainment and dancing to either live music or a late night DJ.
Dining is a great part of the cruise experience. While “fixed dining”was once the norm, it is declining in popularity as anytime and specialty dining takes over. Fixed dining means that you have a table of up to usually 8 people sitting together every night. We like this OK, since we have met some very nice folks we still hear from. Others prefer the idea of anytime dining, where one simply signs up to show up in a specific dining area, and they will sit with different people every time. Specialty dining as the name suggests will get you into a dining area where the wait staff is larger, and the meal is prepared specifically for you, sometimes wine may be included. These meals are always at extra cost, anywhere from $25.00 to $35.00 per person. The regular main dining room is pretty damn nice too so we have never found the need to go for the specialty dining. There is always the option of going to the cafeteria for dinner too, if you don’t feel up to the formality. Speaking of formality, one does not need a tuxedo to cruise, although you will see some of them around. Ladies with gowns are the same way. A dark suit for men is all that is needed for a formal night, casual nights will do for slacks and a polo shirt. The ladies will know what to wear.
Breakfast can be taken on some ships in the dining room, or with room service, or like most people up in the cafeteria. There is lots of different stuff to be had there, and some ships do made to order omelets for example. Lunch is often the cafeteria, or the dining room, but ships also offer some pool side dining of pizza or smokies or burgers. These are very good choices too.
Other than the meals in the specialty restaurants where there is a charge, the other meals are included in the cruise price. Alcohol will cost you extra. Wine starts at about $30.00 a bottle I suppose now, and if you only drink part of a bottle, you can have your waiter hold it over for he next night. Or you can buy a glass in the lounge and take it with you into dinner as we often do.
The cruise lines claim that they do not allow passengers to bring booze on board, some say they will allow 1 bottle of wine. I have seen bottles confiscated at the gangway when boarding. They will be returned when you disembark. But I have also seen duty-free shops selling bottles of liquor right beside where you check into the ship. Your carry on bag is already checked so one just puts the bottle(s) in the carry on, and walk on the ship. There is a risk, but we have always been able to get some on board. I buy a plastic bottle and put it in my checked baggage, and it has always made it OK. We have a happy hour before going to dinner, usually on our veranda as we watch the ship leave port.
Enough for today, I’ll try for some more tomorrow. Until then