How to Get Maximum Enjoyment From Cruises

It’s no secret that I absolutely love cruising. Every year I organize a few cruises and try to get as many of my friends as possible to join me. The only limit I have on how many days per year I spend at sea is how many days I can convince friends to cruise with me.

Their initial impressions are not always positive. Immediately upon boarding you’re greeted with weird upsells, shows that don’t sound very good, and a very annoying mandatory life boat drill. By the end, though, almost all of them love cruising and can’t wait to go on the next one.

It’s important to realize that unless you’re a retiree in your 60s or so, cruising isn’t built for you. If you’re a younger person who likes to be productive and active, you’re swimming upstream a bit. However, cruise ships are so huge and have so many spaces and activities that you can cobble together your own amazing trip. As a bonus, you’ll be doing things that most people aren’t so it won’t feel crowded.

Before I even go on a cruise, I try to find one that has at least one activity that I like to do. My favorite is rock climbing because it’s physical, I can only do it for a short amount of time, and it’s a challenge. Almost all big Royal Carribbean ships have rock climbing. I also really love the surf wave, and even mini golf is pretty fun. Some cruises have roller skating, ice skating, or laser tag.

My favorite line is Royal Caribbean because they have so many fun activities, but if I’m not going to go on one with activities, I like Holland America or Celebrity because their food is a little bit better and the ship environments are really nice.

I know people who like to cruise solo, but I find it a lot more fun to do with friends. Even one friend is great, but a big group can be really fun. As I write this I’m on a cruise with seven other friends, and different groups of us like to eat, work, and rock climb together.

Once you get on the ship, drop your stuff off at your room and scope out the whole ship. Before I started doing this I would often find really cool spaces or venues on one of the last days of the cruise and wish I had found them earlier.

In particular I’m looking for a place to work. Since no place is actually meant for work, this usually means I’m spending my days in a lounge or bar that may or may not be open during the day. On ships you’re generally allowed to go anywhere, even if it’s closed. Right now I’m writing in the dining room between lunch and dinner as the waiters line up the glasses on all of the tables.

In the morning I usually go to my work spot and have tea with my friends. Cruises are very relaxing and it’s nice to look out at the sea, so I really enjoy having a situation where I can sit and stare out at the ocean over a cup of tea while talking with my friends. Other people have breakfast, go for a jog, or swim. One of my friends is so obsessed with the Flowrider surf machine that he would often get a session in before I even woke up.

I skip breakfast, but if you eat breakfast you’re probably better off at the buffet than the dining room. It’s about the same quality food.

You can eat lunch in the dining room or the buffet. At lunch it can be a toss-up which one has better quality. Recently some cruise lines have been doing chopped salad bars in the main dining room where you point and they make you a huge awesome salad.

After lunch I always work. I know I titled this post how to get maximum enjoyment, but getting work done is part of that for me. Just two or three hours of really focused work with no distractions can make a day at sea very productive. On my last three cruises I’ve written a year of blog posts twice and a book once. The consistency of the days makes it very easy to divide a task up across days and make sure it gets done.

If I’m ahead of schedule I’ll sometimes take a break in the middle to go rock climbing or something, but I always ensure that I finish my tasks before dinner time. Dinners on cruises can be big, and sometimes I don’t feel like working afterwards.

Every other day I do a workout before dinner. Ship gyms used to be terrible, but now they’re more than adequate for a solid workout. I try to time it so that I can pack up my work, get in my workout, take a quick shower, and walk to dinner.

You should always eat dinner in the main dining room. Breakfast is questionable, lunch can go either way, but dinner is much better in the dining room. My favorite night is lobster night, where I routinely eat 12-16 lobster tails. Rack of lamb night is my second favorite. I’ve had some excellent fish as well as some terrible fish, so it can be a bit of a gamble.

What most people don’t know at first is that you can order as many things as you want from the menu. On normal nights I’ll typically get 4-5 appetizers/salads/soups, 2-3 entrees, and 1 dessert.

After dinner I like to read, do crossword puzzles, or hang out with my friends. One friend and I have the tradition of watching the show Billions, so we try to sneak into a conference room and hook our laptop up to their system.

One of my favorite parts of being on a ship is the sleep. There’s nothing like the rocking of the ship in a dark stateroom to get you well rested and ready for another amazing day at sea.

I wrote this over a year ago, but by the time I was ready to post it, Covid hit. Now cruises are just starting to get back in business and it’s a great time to book new ones. I had seven canceled during Covid so I’m raring to go. Even if you’re skeptical about cruises, you owe it to yourself to get a few friends together and give them a try. You’re very likely to be surprised at how awesome they are. And of course… book using my site, cruisesheet.com.

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Photo is a glacier from a cruise ship. Alaskan cruises are uniquely beautiful. I’m hoping to go on 1-2 this year.

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