Twenty suggestions for cruise experiences you might kick yourself if you miss

I have 20 don’t-miss cruise experiences for your next voyage.

cruise experiences

Regent Seven Seas Voyager at Tallin, Estonia. Copyright © 2018 NSL Photography. All Rights Reserved.

There are many cruise experiences that you’ll learn on your first or second cruise that you likely didn’t anticipate. The importance of learning about the ship’s various public areas and their locations. Activity opportunities, not just in ports, but on the ship itself, on days at sea and nightly, sailing to the next port.

I have 20 suggestions and experiences you might kick yourself for missing on your next cruise. So, start planning now to take full advantage of what your cruise ship has to offer.

The first cruise experiences after boarding your cruise — tour your ship from bow to stern to investigate all public areas. Learn about what your ship has to offer throughout your voyage while at sea.

You are being secretly taxed at airportsReconnoiter the ship after embarkation boarding:

It is extremely helpful to tour the ship on your first day, unless you’ve recently cruised on that ship. You’ll want to find the locations of the restaurants, spa, entertainment and sporting venues, fitness center, pools, stores, casino, offices and other public spaces located aboard your ship. You’ll be able to ask about operating times and availability, particularly if you need to sign up to use them, reserve times, etc.

Consider a beverage and/or alcohol package:

According to the cruise, it may be beneficial to sign up for a beverage and/or alcoholic beverage package. Most people sign up for them long before their cruise, but if you haven’t, it’s typically not too late on the day of embarkation.

Book shore excursions for open times/dates you didn’t purchase in advance:

You never know when you’re going to be able to return to your cruise’s ports of call. Unless you’ve been to them in the past and have seen everything worthwhile, seriously consider signing up for open dates/times on your schedule that you haven’t yet booked up.

Book meals at specialty restaurants and don’t forget your cabin’s veranda is a great place for a cozy meal.

Book specialty restaurant meals:

Most medium and larger ships have multiple restaurants. Don’t have all your meals in the “main” dining room. Take advantage of the other restaurants on your ship to enjoy a variety of cuisines and experiences.

Have a private meal on your veranda:

We try to have a breakfast or two on our cabin’s veranda and if it’s been a long day of shore excursions, at least one dinner there. We typically have a private afternoon tea there, too.

Make photographic memories:

Even if you don’t own a camera, use your cellphone to capture memories of your cruise. I think you’ll be happy you did.

Shipboard entertainment these days is first rate, but don’t miss great sunsets and watch the stars — even the Milky Way.

Don’t miss shipboard entertainment, as well as a quiet evening stroll on the deck:
Much of the entertainment on cruise ships these days is terrific. Entertainment is far superior than even 10 to 15 years ago. As good as entertainment on ships has become, a quiet evening stroll for couples can be great fun under a starry sky.

Take time to watch a sunset or two:
Don’t miss the opportunity to see and photograph a sunset or two from the deck of your ship. Catch the colors of the sky at the horizon and their reflection of the red/yellow sun on the sea.

Find a dark space, if you can, to look at the stars:
Especially if you come from a large urban area and its massive light pollution, making it impossible to see more than the moon and a few stars, find a good dark place aboard your ship to take the opportunity look upward and marvel at the starry night sky.

Use the fitness center and consider a class there. Plus, indulge yourself at the ship’s spa and accompanying areas.

cruise experiences

Photo ©Kevin Bluer

Use the fitness center:

If you use a gym/fitness center at home, you’ll want to keep it going aboard your ship, particularly on sea days. I find time for my usual every-other-day workout, even when we’re in port.

Consider a fitness class:

As long as you’re at the fitness center, consider signing up for a class. On most ships the fitness center classes are free. You might find that what you learn in one of the classes is really helpful for you after you return home.

Take advantage of the spa, sauna, steam room and massage opportunities:

Sometimes it’s nice — and a wonderful break — to pamper yourself in your ship’s spa and other facilities. I’m a sucker for a sauna or steam myself, particularly after a workout in the fitness center.

Plan your days at sea like you did for shore excursions:

While you can sleep in and lounge all day and evening (except for meals, of course) to enjoy your days at sea, I suspect that you’ll have more fun being active for at least part of the day. Cruise ships have all manner of activities available for days at sea. Find out what you can do early on. Sign up for activities that require it as soon as you can, and plan a schedule for yourself for those activities and others.

Bridge and ship’s galley tours are fascinating. If available, seriously consider signing up for them.

Tour the bridge:

A ship’s bridge is the nerve center. I’ve toured many ships’ bridges over the years and found their equipment and operations fascinating.

Tour the galley:

I love to cook and have had some training over the years. To me, the best tour on a ship is one that takes you through the galley. The equipment is usually amazing as is how the kitchen operates to get all those meals out. The food storage and pantry, plus pot, pan and dish cleaning operations, are fun to see. Hopefully you’ll get to see the wine cellar. Some of the ones I’ve seen have no rival on land.

Take a class on sea days:

Cruise ships have a wide variety of classes available for passengers on sea days. I always take a cooking class or two or more. To this day I make some of the recipes I learned about on cruise ships.

Go dancing:

If you’re on the ship as a couple, take advantage of the evening music in a club on board your ship, as most medium and larger ships will have that opportunity regularly.

The nightly newsletter on your cruise is full of important information to maximize your cruise vacation experience.

The nightly newsletter:

Don’t miss reading the nightly cruise newsletter to be sure you know all about the next day and the opportunities available for your enjoyment aboard the ship and ashore.

Consider cruising unplugged:

Think about making your cruise vacation an unplugged one, away from your cellphone (better have an international cellphone plan on most cruises if you use it on the ship) and the Internet. If you want to stay in touch with family and friends, watch out for revealing you’re away on social media as that can alert thieves that your home is vulnerable.

If you loved your cruise, consider signing up for another to get the shipboard discount:

Join UsMost cruise lines offer a significant discount if you sign up for another of their cruises before your cruise is over. While you really have to want to go on another specific cruise and know your available dates, you can save by signing up.

These are my top 20 “don’t miss” suggestions, although there are even more great things to do on cruises. Research and planning are the watchwords. Bon voyage.

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