I’ve written a lot about cruising & how to make the most of your cruise experience. In fact, I wish I was on a cruise right now instead of freezing up north. Since this is a popular time of year to plan a cruise (it’s actually called wave season), I thought I’d share some of my favorite tips on how to have the best cruise ever:
Splurge – you’re on vacation! But not too much…
One of my favorite ways to splurge on a cruise is with specialty dining options on the ship. Some of our favorite experiences have been with Celebrity’s specialty dining, including Silk Harvest, an amazing Asian restaurant on the Celebrity Equinox & Celebrity Solstice; Bistro on Five, the crepe & panini cafe on all their Solstice Class ships (that’s me devouring a Nutella crepe on my 30th birthday above); & Qsine, the eclectic tapas-style restaurant popping up on many of Celebrity’s ships – we first experienced it on our cruise to Bermuda on Summit. Even the main dining room sometimes has splurge-worthy items on their menu – we’re just extra choosey about what we splurge on & don’t have dessert every night (lets be honest: you’re not going to love everything on the dessert menu every night!).
But don’t worry, even with all the splurging on crepes & sushi & steak, it is possible not to gain weight on a cruise. Many modern cruise ships have amazing gyms. B loves to work out almost every day when we’re on a cruise, while I usually have a goal of making it a few times during the trip & doing lots of walking in port & around the ship.
Cruise lines make tons of money on alcohol on-board. I’ve had friends cruise & their on-board charges were more than the cost of the cruise itself. Luckily, with beverage packages & strategic planning, there’s a way to save money with your alcohol consumption. Many cruise lines let you bring two bottles of wine per stateroom on-board with you at the start of the cruise. We always bring two bottles with us & ask our room steward for glasses & a corkscrew. Then we’re able to enjoy a glass of wine in our cabin before dinner – or carry a glass to the dining room with us.
Many cruise lines also offer a drink of the day, which is a mixed drink special, & some even offer 2:1 martini happy hour. I usually limit myself to one or two cocktails a week on the cruise & don’t indulge in barista made coffee (although prices are similar to the ones you’d find at a Starbucks in a major city). However, on the last day at sea, I always splurge on a fancy coffee & sit & write in my travel journal. It’s the perfect relaxing way to spend the last day of vacation.
Exploring in Port
With a few exceptions, I usually don’t believe in taking ship-sponsored shore excursions. Occasionally, a ship-sponsored excursion pays off: you’re docked in Halifax & driving two hours to Peggy’s Cove – & get stuck in a massive traffic jam on the way back (the ship waited for us because we were on a ship-sponsored excursion). You’re in Rome, but docked an hour away in Civitavecchia. But for a run-of-the-mill Caribbean cruise, we plan our own excursions & have made some amazing discoveries. We’ve snorkeled in Bermuda & St. John, discovered Trafalgar Falls in Dominica, & climbed the Duomo in Florence (okay, that was half ship-sponsored – they got us from the port to the city center an hour away).
Everything you need to know about cruising
Cruise Review: Celebrity Reflection – April 2014
Cruise Review: Celebrity Summit – August 2013
Cruise Review: Celebrity Equinox – March 2012
Cruise Review: Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas – August 2010