Here’s what usually happens to novice cruisers. After unpacking and settling in, they pick up the daily entertainment schedule and promptly freak out. How on earth can anyone fit it all in? Relax. You don’t have to do it all. But you can give it a good try!
See a show
Many larger ships carry a troupe of entertainers who put on the razzle-dazzle on stage each night. P&O ships feature original productions such as Off the Charts, showcasing hit songs by Amy Winehouse, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and Adele. See hit Broadway shows such as Legally Blonde and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (on select Norwegian Cruise Line ships) or Cats and Mamma Mia! (on select Royal Caribbean ships). If you have your heart set on catching a headline show, make sure you arrive early to grab a seat. The good news is there’s always an alternative if the theatre is full. Catch a musical duo or a piano man performing in a more intimate space.
Movies under the stars
Does your ship feature an outdoor movie screen? Check the schedule to see what’s showing and head up on deck to snuggle under a warm blanket. Princess’ movie line-up features an impressive array of recent releases.
Rethink what you’re packing if you plan on attending an onboard party. P&O has introduced a 1920s-themed Gatsby party as the new cocktail night on cruises of three nights or longer. On two and three-night cruises, a white party – where everyone dresses in top-to-toe white – is held as the sailaway party (except for cruises departing from Auckland where it’s an all-black party, naturally).
Bring a Halloween costume (or two) if you plan to set sail with Disney during September and October. Four ships feature special Halloween activities such as ghost stories, pumpkin carving and mask making.
A game of mini-golf is perfect for the whole family – and tackling the course is usually included in the fare. Take your best swing on the top-deck courses found aboard Carnival ships and select Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney ships.
Learn a new skill or two
Always wanted to learn how to dance the rumba or mix a mojito? P&O offers a range of classes on every cruise but foodies can delve into their favourite topic while on a dedicated three-night food and wine cruise (Australia and New Zealand departures) that includes everything from cheese and wine masterclasses to battles against the onboard chefs. Holland America offers itinerary-themed cooking classes that reflect the sailing region – you could learn how to make jerk chicken in the Caribbean or pasta with chorizo sauce in the Mediterranean. On Oceania’s Marina and Riviera ships, you can take a spot at your own work station in the culinary centre and learn how to grill pizza on a barbecue, roll sushi, compile a Moroccan tagine or cook a Cuban family meal.
Are you too embarrassed to admit you can’t work your smartphone properly or want to improve your photo-editing skills? Crystal Cruises teaches all this and more at its Computer University@Sea classes. Likewise, Holland America offers digital workshops that show people how to take better photos, make a movie and more.