Looking for the ultimate guide to fun cruises? You’ve come to the right place! Whether you’re about to set out on your first cruise or are practically a professional sailor, these 12 upgrades to your cruise vacation are sure to help maximize the fun the next time you set out to sea.
Of course, cruises inherently put forth a recipe for near-effortless fun, what with vacation must-haves like accommodations, dining, entertainment, service, and transport from port to port all conveniently bundled in. But you can take your cruise to the next level by integrating these expert cruise tips, from the practical to the aspirational.
Simply employ these 12 savvy strategies to help ensure the most memorable and fun cruises to be had, and you’ll be sure that your next vacation at sea won’t be your last.
Start Your Vacation a Day or Two Early
Racking up a whole lot of stress is no way to start off a vacation, and anybody who’s ever nearly missed a bus, plane, train, or boat knows that type of anxiety doesn’t feel very good. Worse still, unlike other modes of travel, if you miss out on your cruise’s scheduled embarkation time, there’s no “next” cruise to catch—you’ll be solely responsible for making it to the next port of call on your own dime and ingenuity . . . if that’s even an option.
Don’t risk cutting it close, especially if you have long or connecting flights or the potential of winter weather that might cause hiccups with your transit plans. Instead, plan to book a hotel and get to your embarkation port a day or two in advance of your sailing. You’ll arrive at the port city early and entirely stress-free, and have the bonus of an extra vacation day or two to sightsee and explore a new place—such exciting ports are hardly in short supply, from Boston to Buenos Aires to Barcelona.
Bonus: If there are any jet-lag acclimations to be made, you’ll be miles ahead of the curve by the time you actually sail away.
Splurge on a Veranda
If you’re sailing anywhere with warm weather and welcoming ocean breezes, stepping just outside your stateroom for a quiet coffee in the morning, to lounge with a good book, or to enjoy a room service dinner can add a whole new dimension of relaxation to your vacation. Not to mention that you can take in the views of approaching ports or perhaps even get a front-row seat for some primo marine wildlife viewing.
Sure, there are decks loaded with outdoor public spaces all over the ship, but a private, peaceful nook all your own can be a welcomed oasis away from the crowds and hullabaloo that are common to fun cruises.
Pack What You Need for Your First Day in Your Carry-On
The second you set foot on your ship, the adrenaline kicks in as cruise vacation time officially begins. Pack a carry-on filled with all of the essentials for embarkation day so you can start having fun as soon as you board the ship.
Make sure you come equipped with must-haves like medications, a phone charger, and toiletries for freshening up. If visiting the pool deck is your first order of business, be sure to tote along a swimsuit, sunscreen, sunglasses, and sunhat.
And if you’re just arriving from somewhere with a significant difference in climate, be sure to bring a change of clothes—you don’t want to be wearing winter boots when the sunshine calls for flip-flops.
Download the App
Looking to up the ante on fun cruises? There’s an app for that. Technology has revolutionized the way we travel, and today’s cruise apps can help cultivate an even better vacation experience, offering a seamless digital space to explore ship deck plans, view itineraries, and onboard activities, make dining and shore excursion reservations, and more. Simply download the free app to your smartphone ahead of your sailing to take advantage of all sorts of pre-cruise and onboard features.
With the Celebrity Cruises app, you can board faster with online check-in, consult ship deck plans, review daily activity schedules, book shore excursions, make restaurant reservations, and track your onboard spending. The app—which connects on a complimentary basis to the ship’s Wi-Fi—even has a chat feature, so you can easily stay in touch with friends and family onboard, too.
Dine and Drink Out on Deck
Endless ocean views out to the horizon, exotic ports coming into focus, warm ocean breezes misting across your face: This is all part of the magic of a vacation at sea. Accordingly, if you’re sailing anywhere with warmer temps, you’ll want to maximize those moments with lots of time spent out on deck.
Happily, cruise ships cater to the experience with plenty of alfresco tables to enjoy meals and drinks, whether tucking into a breakfast buffet, poolside burger, or romantic dinner under the stars. Of course, there’s also the obligatory frothy umbrella drink that you simply must indulge in at least once or twice on your trip. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have your own private veranda, your morning coffee or an evening nightcap just outside your stateroom can be an excellent way to kick off or round out the day.
Don’t miss, too, the fun-filled “sail-away” parties on deck, which are held every time a cruise ship pulls away from port and out to sea. They offer a festive opportunity to bid adieu to the coastline, typically in the company of live music, free-flowing drinks, and fellow cruisers, freshly back onboard from a day’s adventure ashore.
Take Time to Appreciate the Cosmos
Speaking of stellar things to do on a cruise, setting aside some moments to appreciate your celestial surroundings is pretty high up there. It’s not every day, after all, that you get to take in the spectacle of the sun dipping down below the ocean horizon—or perhaps the sun rising above it, if you’re an early riser. The sun’s big movements make for dramatic rituals worth incorporating into your daily onboard routine.
Come nightfall, stargazing is another wow-factor event. From your ship’s perch, in the midst of the ocean, you’ll enjoy uninterrupted views of the cosmos above, far away from the light pollution found back on land. Find a quiet, dark spot toward the cruise ship’s upper decks to contemplate some of the most jaw-dropping views.
Research the Ports in Advance
A little spontaneity goes a long way in most facets of life, but when it comes to travel, the biggest rewards are typically reserved for those who take their cruise planning seriously. Chances are, the ports you will be visiting are brand new to you—and the single day you have in port may be the one and only chance you’ll ever get to explore them. Accordingly, it’s well worth your while to begin reading up on the itinerary’s destinations long before you step foot on the ship.
Once you’ve read the latest port guides and destination guidebooks, you’ll have a good idea of what kind of experiences await ashore—and can pick out excursions that best match your personal vacation style, whether beach-bumming, museum-hopping, wine-tasting, or hiking or biking is more your speed.
Keep in mind that the most popular shore excursions tend to fill up fast, which is another reason that you shouldn’t leave your decision-making until the last minute.
Experiment with Food
Even if you’re not the most experimental foodie by nature, a cruise vacation affords the perfect opportunity to give your palate a bit of an adventure, too. On Celebrity, you can pore over menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs with plates that feature regional ingredients and influences, which vary with the ports visited. Plus, you can count on Celebrity staples like Italian and sushi, American steakhouse, and French bistro, too.
Use the opportunity of endless styles of food on a cruise to broaden your culinary horizons. For instance, on any given night in Celebrity’s main restaurant, you might tuck into beef carpaccio or frog legs for an appetizer, followed up by quail with black-truffle stuffing or vegetable paella with Israeli couscous as a main. Bon appétit!
Consider Dressing Up
Let’s be honest: Most of us aren’t racking up regular gala invites these days. And apart from the odd wedding, modern life doesn’t call for too many occasions to get all dressed up. Happily, cruising is one of the rare forms of travel where getting decked out is commonly embraced—if you want to partake, that is.
Celebrity doesn’t require any mandatory formal nights, but we do weave in Evening Chic nights on every sailing. These special evenings, which occur once or twice per cruise, invite cruisers to dress up a bit come evening time: say cocktail dresses for the ladies or dress pants with an optional blazer for the gents.
Feeling like doing it up even more? Dust off that formal gown and tuxedo, which wouldn’t be out of place on their ships either.
Though optional, many cruisers do choose to partake in the dress code, and it helps to create a sophisticated atmosphere and air of elegance on board the ship—which can transform an ordinary evening into an extraordinary one. It’s well worth the effort of packing a little extra to help pull that magic off.
Take the Cruise Ship Photo
Speaking of getting all dolled up, it’s a perfect opportunity to snap a photograph to remember. Sure, we’re all photographers these days, with just about everybody equipped with a smartphone camera in their pocket. But there are dozens of opportunities to have a professional photo snapped during the course of your cruise, and you can be sure that the top-quality camera equipment and keen photographer’s eye is going to turn out a keepsake photo that trumps what your cell phone might capture.
Go for one on an “evening chic” night—you’ll have a quality image to bring home that’s printed out and ready for a frame to help preserve your cruise vacation memories for years to come.
Allow for Downtime
Between jam-packed onboard activity schedules and ports brimming with endless things to see and do, there have been plenty of cruisers who have returned home from their trip feeling that they need a vacation from their vacation. While you’ll naturally want to make the most of your sailing, don’t let FOMO override your need for good old-fashioned R&R, too.
Make sure you allow for at least a few days to simply sleep in, and be sure to carve out some time to do not much of anything, whether that means lingering over your morning coffee on your stateroom balcony, curling up with a good book in the onboard library, or lazing poolside for hours on end.
The spa is a refuge worth seeking out, whether indulging in a treatment or booking an AquaClass stateroom that gets you access to the spa facilities, with features like tropical rain showers and aromatic steam rooms.
Some cruisers even like to stay back during at least one scheduled port call. When the ship empties out as guests go on excursions, you’ll be free to enjoy the onboard facilities sans the crowds.
Ready to set sail on the most fun cruises out there? Celebrity Cruises is just the ticket, with 14 ships sailing to more than 300 ports worldwide. Browse our itineraries and be on your way to booking your dream cruise today.