We all know there’s a lot to be done on a modern cruise ship. Nowadays you can go rock climbing, you can learn to fence or how to tango, you can even captain the ship… or just lie back and soak up the sun!
The problem is (if problem is even the right word), is that cruise ships are big places these days (and when we say big we mean big) so just where is the best place on-board to go for a romantic dinner or to try out an extreme sport?
Well… that’s where we step in. Welcome to our guide on the best places to do your favourite things on a cruise ship!
Best Place To: Watch A Movie
You might not automatically associate a cruise holiday with catching the latest blockbuster but you’d be surprised at just how many opportunities there are to watch great movies on a cruise ship.
To start with almost all cruise ships will come equipped with a dedicated cinema that will showcase all the latest releases. You can also watch a range of movies in the privacy of your cabin on a large flat screen. Many newer cruise ships also come equipped with a large screen in the main atrium and have been known to play movies late into the night. So which ship has the best place to do this?
Edward explained: Something that brings me back to Princess for my own holiday is ‘Movies under the stars’. Once the sun has set and we are feeling satisfied from dinner, we make our way to the pool deck and cosy on up with a blanket, popcorn, warm cookies and chilled milk before indulging in one of the latest blockbuster movies under the night sky. Nothing quite like watching the big screen whilst feeling the gentle sea breeze on your face!
You can find out more from our specialist cruise consultant Edward here.
Best Place To: Get A Quiet Drink
Whilst we’re sure there will be many spots perfect for a quiet drink on your cruise there’ll always be that one spot on the ship with a much more chilled out experience than anywhere else. As a general rule of thumb this bar can normally be found right at the front of the ship on one of the higher decks. Typically with a name like the Captains or Commodore club, it will probably be a large lounge with floor to ceiling windows (affording amazing views of the sea), a bar and perhaps a piano for some quiet entertainment of an evening. And which ships have the best place to have a drink?
Dawn told us: My favourite bar on any ship is the Looking Glass Lounge on Azamara ships! As evening falls it’s the best place to enjoy the sunset and just relax. You can watch the horizon through the floor to ceiling windows and listen to some jazz with a cocktail in hand. It is definitely the best way to spend an evening!
You can find out more from our specialist cruise consultant Dawn here.
Best Place To: Party Till The Small Hours
If a quiet drink isn’t your thing and you fancy something a bit livelier then never fear, your cruise ship will hold plenty of opportunities for you to ‘shake your stuff’. All cruise ships will have a night club situated somewhere that will be open till the early hours of the morning but usually (depending on the size of the ship you’re on) there’ll be a couple of smaller bars with live music playing if that’s more your thing. So which of these bars or parties is the best to head towards to have some fun?
Delia said: My top tip for any cruise ship would be make sure you get to the sailaway party on the top deck. For me it’s one of the most iconic things about cruising as you sail away from a port, with live music playing, the sun shining and the drinks flowing. It’s a really fun and festive atmosphere and I wouldn’t miss it for anything!
You can read more tips from our specialist cruise consultant Delia here.
Best Place To: Go For A Swim
There’s nothing quite like spending a sea day lounged by or in the pool but depending on where you’re heading it’s worth doing a little research on your pool before you go.
If you’re heading somewhere hot it probably won’t matter but a lot of older cruise ships don’t have indoor pools, just the main outdoor one. If you’re planning a trip to St Petersburg or the Fjords and you get caught out by the weather you don’t want to be stuck with just the cold (very cold) main swimming pool!
You also need to combine that with the fact that some cruise ships will fill their pools with fresh water whilst others will use salt. You may not mind but we know some people prefer one or the other! If you want to compare what kind of pools are where then you can look up your cruise ship on our swimming pool guide here
Robin explained: If you don’t want to join the hordes of other eager holidaymakers in the main lido pool then a great tip is to see what your ships spa has to offer. A lot of them have pools. There’s normally a surcharge to use them but they’re much more secluded and intimate. I’d definitely recommend the hydrotherapy pool on the Queen Elizabeth… Ah…bliss!
You can find out more from our specialist cruise consultant Robin here.
Best Place To: Become A Cruise Geek
Whilst most people just go on a cruise to enjoy a fantastic holiday others are quite interested in the ship itself (yes we’re talking about ourselves here but there must be more cruise geeks out there!).
The ships library is always a good place to start as they’ll have a lot of history and information about the vessel you’re on. If you’re really curious then you might want to take a look at a behind the scenes tour. Many cruise lines offer them (for a varying amount of money) but you get to see the engine room, the galley, behind the scenes of the theatre and even the bridge!
But which ship provides the best ship tour out there?
John told us: My favourite ship for history is Cunard’s QM2. It’s just so iconic and there’s so much history behind a transatlantic cruise. If you go down to the bottom decks Cunard have put the history of Cunard you all over the walls and you can spend a fascinating couple of hours taking it all in.
You can find out more from our specialist cruise consultant John here.
Best Place To: Be The Captain
Be honest… Who hasn’t wanted to be Captain of a cruise ship at one time or another? No? Is that just us again? Well whilst you won’t actually be able to captain your own cruise ship (unfortunately), you can pretend rather easily!
We’ve already mentioned behind the scenes tours that will take in the bridge however you’ll find what you can and can’t do and can and can’t photograph will depend very much on what ship your on and who’s captaining it at the time. Some ships you’ll have to stand quietly in the corner… others you’ll be able to sit in the Captain’s chair and wear his hat!
If you don’t fancy paying for a behind the scenes tour then many ships actually have a viewing gallery located behind the bridge. You can just stroll up there most times to see exactly what day to day ship life looks like.
Hannah said: If helping to pilot a cruise ship has always been a dream of yours then I’d recommend Star Clippers for you. They’re old fashioned tall ships with real working sails combined with all the luxuries of a modern cruise ship… Plus you get to help pilot the ship and climb the rigging if you want!
You can find out more from our specialist cruise consultant Hannah here.
Best Place To: Read A Book
It may seem tame to some but sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and do nothing except enjoy a good book. As you can imagine you’ll never be short of a spot to read your favourite novel but some of our favourites would be the ships library for that intellectual atmosphere, up on the top deck on a sun lounger for that authentic holiday feeling, in your cabin for the privacy or on your balcony for the views or to be honest anywhere around the ship! Why not try a bar so you can people watch at the same time?
If it’s the case that you’ve forgotten a book and need to rely on your cruise ships library, which ship has the best one around?
Kerry advised us: My favourite library at sea has to be the ones on Oceania. They’re decked out in panelled wood walls, big comfy sofas, fireplaces and brass telescopes by the window. They’re perfect to escape into for an hour or two.
You can find out more from our specialist cruise consultant Kerry here.
Best Place To: Learn To Dance
If you’re worried about partying into the ‘wee small hours’ as we suggested earlier because you’re not a very good dancer then never fear! A cruise ship will give you plenty of opportunities to learn!
Companies like Cunard actually have dedicated ballrooms with classes run throughout the day (which you can then put into practise later that night). If your chosen cruise ship doesn’t have a ballroom then never fear as most lines will run dance classed throughout the cruise in different venues on the ship.
If you’ve the energy for it there’ll be high energy dance/exercise classes like Zumba in the gym. You could head down for a workout then take what you’ve learnt and use it in the night club when you’re throwing some shapes that night!
So which ship has the best place to learn to dance overall?
Gemma said: When I was on the NCL Epic a couple of years ago the cruise director organised some samba dance lessons up on the top deck. With the sun shining, cocktails to hand and music playing it was actually really fun… even if I was exhausted after!
You can find out more from our specialist cruise consultant Gemma here.
Best Place To: Go Star Gazing
All cruise ships are great for star gazing. In the middle of the ocean, away from land, stood on the top deck there literally isn’t a better spot to gaze up at the stars (assuming it’s not too cloudy anyway!) as there’s almost no light pollution.
That means a cruise holiday should be the perfect trip for romantics or amateur astronomers alike. But the best ship for star gazing is…
Molly thought: If you’re serious about your star gazing then I’d say you should take a closer look at Princess Cruises. They’ve got an exclusive deal with the Science Channel and will give you a guided tour of the night sky from the top deck. They show you how to get your bearings from the different constellations (and which ones are which) as well as giving you the different stories and folklore associated with them.
You can find out more from our specialist cruise consultant Molly here.
Best Place To: Gamble
Whilst those of you who don’t gamble may think every cruise ship casino is the same, we can assure you they aren’t! Some are much bigger than others, and some have better bars, tables or staff service.
So which casino (if we really had to pick one) would we say is the best place to gamble?
Steve explained: The casino on Harmony of the Seas (on Royal Caribbean) is said to be the largest ever at sea! After getting lost in there myself I can promise you it is! There is a huge range of machines and tables so whatever kind of game you like to enjoy; they’ve probably got you covered!
You can find out more from our specialist cruise consultant Steve here.
Best Place To: Have A Cream Tea
What could be more British than an afternoon cream tea?
Get dressed up a little (maybe not a full tux but you know…), sit around in opulent surroundings, drink your tea from fine china and maybe enjoy a cream scone or a cucumber sandwich served by a white gloved waiter. It’s just a quintessentially British tradition!
Lots of cruise lines offer this and you can find them advertised on the daily planner that will be delivered to your stateroom each morning; just make sure you check the location as whilst some lines may use the main dining room others may use a special room elsewhere on the ship.
But which cruise line officially has the title for best afternoon tea?
Jo gave us a tip: Probably the best afternoon cream tea I ever had was on Cunard. Other cruise lines do try, Fred Olsen spring to mind, but Cunard do formal so well and their waiters are just so well trained that’s it’s perfect. AND… They put the cream on top of the jam as it’s meant to be served!
You can find out more from our specialist cruise consultant Jo here.
Best Place To: Have A Romantic Meal For Two
You may think to yourself what could possibly be more romantic than taking a cruise but the good news is there’s even more ways to be romantic once you’re on-board!
If you fancy a romantic, candle lit dinner for two then be warned you may need to plan ahead. The main dining room on-board will only have a limited number of tables for two so make sure you book early to get on the list ASAP; failing that speaks to the maître d once you’re on-board. They may be able to sort something… but it will depend on numbers.
If you don’t want to risk the main dining room, where is the best place to have a romantic meal for two?
Julia said: Everyone always heads straight to the speciality restaurants to celebrate an important night but I’ve always preferred ordering room service and eating it out on my balcony while watching the sunset. What could be more romantic than that? (Plus room service is free AND you’re completely alone!)
You can find out more from our specialist cruise consultant Julia here.
Best Place To: Try An Extreme Sport
A cruise ship may not seem the place to take up an extreme sport but you’d be amazed at the range of things you can try these days!
If you book a cruise on one of Royal Caribbean’s big ships you can try zip wire rides, rock climbing, surfing (on their flow riders) and lots, lots more!
But with such a large fleet of ships, which would we recommend for the adrenaline junkies to head towards?
Holly told us: If you want extreme sports then check out me in a simulated sky dive on Quantum of the Seas…. Wow is all I can say! I would definitely recommend this ship for those of you that want that thrill on-board!
You can find out more from our specialist cruise consultant Holly here…
Best Place To: Exercise
We know, we know; you’re on holiday and the last thing on your mind is exercise but believe it or not there’s some crazy people out there who like to stay fit whilst they’re not cruising (not us we hasten to add but we have heard of them!)
The gym’s on-board cruise ships are often very well equipped… But who wants to go on holiday and spend time working out in the gym? Instead you should head to the pool to do some laps so you can enjoy the sunshine and blow out a few cobwebs! Some ships even come equipped with endless pools for the dedicated amongst you (you have to swim against the current so they’re perfect for a work out in a smaller pool)!
So which cruise ship pool is the best for a few laps?
Emma advised us: The pools on-board Celebrity ships are often fairly long and if you head to the adult only pools you won’t have to compete with kids having a paddle! I’d recommend a trip on one of the Solstice class ships for a relaxing swim. The adult only pools are also heated and covered so you can swim whatever the weather!
You can find out more from our specialist cruise consultant Emma here.
So that’s our guide on The Best Places To when you’re on a cruise. Did we remember to include everything or did we miss something off? Let us know in the comments below…// END - About the Author ?>