Tips for Finding Peace and Quiet On Board
To us, cruising brings to mind visions of dreamily flip-flopping up to a pool deck to sip on a margarita and soak in a good book under the Caribbean sun. But – as you all know, this
isn’t always the case. On a brilliantly sunny day, you might meander out to the pool only to find it overrun with fellow sun-worshippers, all fighting over a handful of deck chairs. Hordes of energetically splashing children take over the pools; and the sound of the waves is drowned out by the outdoor movie or resident band.
Poof! Your much anticipated peace and quiet is gone!
But, we are here to tell you that peace is still possible to find. You may just have to try a little harder to find it. There are no hard and fast rules to guaranteeing you a quiet getaway, but we thought we would help you out with some basic tips to help you tune out the distractions while you cruise.
To Find Peace and Quiet:
- Book a Sanctuary:
Big balcony suites make for an idyllic retreat, with the extra living space inside and a private veranda outside. So, when the public areas are overwhelming, you can seek solace inside your cabin. Balcony cabins are increasingly becoming the standard on newer ships, so upgrades are also becoming more affordable.
- Live at the Spa:
Spa suites and cabins, a recent trend on cruise ships, allow passengers to create their own spa-themed experience on board with accommodations near the spa, VIP spa privileges and soothing in-cabin amenities (such as spa showers and yoga mats).
- Spend your way to Quiet Times:
Classed cruising is making a comeback, so you can spend your way to privacy and relaxation if you can afford it. On Norwegian Cruise Line you can book a courtyard villa, which has spacious accommodations and a luxurious “ship-within-a-ship” experience. On the Norwegian Epic, villa guests have exclusive access to their own pool and sundeck, gym, and dining and nightclub facilities. On Cunard ships, the Queen’s Grill passengers have their own dining rooms, sun decks, lounge areas and butler service.
- Book a Kid-Friendly Cabin:
If you are travelling with your kids, minimise the stress involved by booking a cabin designed with families involved. On Disney Cruise Line, the cabins have split bathrooms so you can maximise the kid’s bath and bed time. And, the family cabins on Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises and Celebrity Cruises offer separate bedrooms for kids, or at least partitions between the pullout sofa and the master bed.
- Pay Attention to Location:
The cabins on some ships don’t shut out ambient noises entirely. So, if you want a quiet in-cabin experience, make sure the laundry room, elevators and other noisy public facilities aren’t within earshot of your room, including above or below your cabin.
- Free Yourself for Dinner:
It is becoming the norm, not the exception, on cruise ships for guests to be allowed to choose when to eat and with whom. This is great news for people who prefer intimate meals to the (awkward) exchange of pleasantries over your dinner, at an assigned table. But, keep in mind that on larger ships you may have to wait a while for a table.
- Try Breakfast (or Lunch or Dinner) in Bed:
You will be guaranteed an intimate breakfast for two when you dine in your cabin. Try breakfast in bed, lunch on the balcony and dinner at the table in your cabin. Some lines go above and beyond when it comes to room service, to try turning it into an event.
- Consider the Alternative:
Nowadays ships are offering plenty of bistro-style “alternative” restaurants where you need to book your table ahead of time and pay extra for this more intimate experience.
- Off-peak Dining:
To maximise your chances of snagging a quiet table for two, try to arrive for dinner once the rush is over or before it starts.
- Eat Ashore:
For an authentic meal in a foreign country, port days are your best opportunities. To avoid a hectic rush back to your ship, a leisurely lunch ashore is always a good idea, but some ships also stay ashore well into the evening, or overnight, affording plenty of time for relaxing dinners.
- Cruise Intensively:
A port-intensive itinerary means you will be off ship for much of the cruise, exploring at your own pace. Windstar Cruises and Oceania Cruises keep sea days to a minimum, and emphasise time in port. Look for itineraries with overnights in port to totally maximise your time ashore.
- Or, Look for Sea Days:
If all you want to do is lounge around the pool, listen to music, read a good book, watch movies and simply relax and unwind, you might prefer itineraries with lots of sea days. With nowhere to go but the open sea, you can almost feel the stress melting away into the horizon.
- Choose the Route Less Travelled:
Boutique, expedition and small-ship lines have a distinct advantage over mainstream mega-ships. They fit into smaller; lesser-known ports and can deliver blissfully crowd-free shore days.
- Play the Numbers Game:
To guarantee you don’t end up on an overly full cruise, avoid-peak season cruises – especially during school holidays. Have a look at our previous article “When is the best time to cruise?” for information on peak seasons for popular destinations so you can work out what might be the best time for you to set sail. Otherwise, consider a repositioning cruise – these take place in off-peak months, and tend to be long transoceanic journeys or oddball itineraries. Not only does this mean they are often less crowded, but they are also often cheaper.
- Go It Alone:
Explore ports independently, or if you can afford it, hire a private car and/or a private tour guide. This gives you more flexibility compared to ship-organised tours, and it is less exhausting – you can sightsee at your own pace, skip things you don’t want to see and you don’t have to deal with large groups of people.
- Escape Private Island Crowds:
Cruise line private islands offer many perks – pristine beaches, plenty of water sports and lunches that don’t cost extra. But, with everyone in the same small place, it can feel just like being on board. To escape the crowds, consider renting a private cabana – you will have a private space, with a place to shower, change and store your things. You can also indulge a little and splurge on an alfresco massage.
- Stay On Board:
Avoid irritating lines, aggressive touts and packed beaches and remain on the ship when it anchors in a popular port. On board you will be able to breeze through the buffet line, book a spa treatment for when it suits you and you won’t have to fight for your favourite deck chair.
On the Ship:
- Go Against the Flow:
Every ship has a daily rhythm that influences the movements of people on board, and creates opportunities to find seclusion in certain rooms and decks at specific times. For example, hit the gym at lunch time rather than in the morning. Go to the internet café during dinner on a sea day. Or, get a chair in the observation lounge in the morning rather than at sunset.
- Walk (or sit) the Promenade:
The promenade – the outside walking area – is a great place for some peace and quiet. Far from the pool-deck action, it isn’t a connection point between major public rooms, and it often has deck furniture for reading or napping. Some promenades wrap the entire ship and are great alternatives to the gym for some exercise.
- Let the Experts Guide You:
Concierges, private butlers and the guest services desk know their ships’ quiet nooks, so ask for their insider tips to find the best unknown places.
- Hit the Adult-Only Enclaves:
More and more ships are separating under-18’s from their parents in order to maximise the peaceful coexistence of all concerned. While you may not be able to escape all of the people, you can grab some drinks and a sun lounger for a kid-free afternoon.
- Relax Around the Clock:
Night Owls have the run of the ship while everyone else is asleep – the lounges and libraries are empty, the buffet is open and the sky is waiting for some star-gazing.
What to Avoid:
- Inside Cabins:
If your idea of relaxation is spending time alone, or as a couple, away from the ship’s social scene, then we definitely recommend that you don’t book a windowless inside cabin. The cramped quarters are sure to force you out into the hustle and bustle and away from the peace and quiet.
- World Cruises and ‘Grand Voyages’:
These lengthy voyages aren’t for hermit crabs, as they attract hordes of repeat cruisers and promote a lot of social bonding.
- Theme cruises:
On these cruises the theme essentially takes over the whole ship, and nearly everything revolves around it. The experience is all about connecting with people socially in big group activities – so definitely not your thing if you want solitude on your cruise.
- School Holidays:
When school is out, mainstream cruises tend to fill with children/families. This isn’t a problem if you are cruising as a family, but if you are travelling alone or with just your partner, this can influence the type of cruise experience you have.
What are your tips for finding peace and quiet during your cruise?