Star Clippers — What’s it Like Sailing on a Tall Ship

Have you ever dreamed of sailing on a tall ship?

 

Thanks to Star Clippers, you can make this dream a reality. This luxury cruise line gives you the opportunity to sail the seven seas aboard a real life tall ship. Whether you fancy the warm, azure waters of the Caribbean or the picturesque seaside villages of the Mediterranean, Star Clippers offers exciting itineraries all over the world. And the best part is that you’ll feel like you’re sailing on your own private yacht…for real.

sailing on a tall ship

Sailing on a tall ship was truly a dream come true for me. Several years ago, I wrote a feature story about a high school girl who had taken part in a tall ship sailing challenge. Her story resonated with me, and I longed for my own tall ship sailing opportunity. It has been on my bucket list for years, so when Star Clippers invited me on board for one of their first Indonesian sailings, I jumped at the chance to be part of this premier opportunity. As an avid cruiser, I had done a lot of research on the company and was eager to give it a try. I was not disappointed.

From the moment you step on board a Star Clippers ship, you’re treated like family. Since each of the ships in the fleet carries fewer than 230 guests and about 75 crew, there’s an inherent intimacy that envelopes you from the minute you step on board. And even though you’re getting a five-star experience, the atmosphere is casual and laid back. It is a working ship, after all, and you will be a part of the action — even if only as an observer.

So let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we? I know you’re curious about what it’s really like to be sailing on a tall ship and if it’s right for you.

sailing on a tall ship

Will I Get Seasick?

I’m going to start with the topic I know is on everyone’s mind because the first question people ask when they hear I’ve sailed with Star Clippers is, “Will I get seasick?” And the short answer is not likely, unless you usually do, then maybe.

While tall ships maintain Old World charm in terms of style and experience, their systems are marvels of modern technology. Equipped with stabilizing gear and operated by extremely experienced crew members, there’s not a lot of rocky motion. Like any of the large cruise ships, you will feel the boat move from side to side. And, of course, there is the chance that you may hit some rough waters. So, if you’re someone who is prone to seasickness, come prepared. But for the most part, once you get your sea legs, you won’t feel a thing. Not knowing what to expect, I brought along a few didn’t find it to be any different than any other sailing experience I’ve ever had, from river cruises to massive ocean liners.

I’ve got a stomach of steel, but not knowing what to expect, I brought along a few over-the-counter remedies, just in case. In the end, it was a waste of money — the seals are still on the jars. I didn’t find sailing on a tall ship to be any different than any other sailing experience in terms of seasickness, from river cruises to massive ocean liners. It was, quite literally, smooth sailing for me.

Is the Ship Well Designed?

Ropes and knots, wooden wheels and brass compasses…these are the kinds of objects that come to mind when you think of sailboats, and they abound on Star Clippers. Star Clippers doesn’t cave to contemporary design standards. There is no over-the-top artwork or supersize seating areas. Rather, what you see is what you get. It’s a working ship, and much of its charm comes from the fact that you’ll need to walk around booms and sails as you navigate the upper deck. As you lay in your lounge chair by one of the small pools, you can watch the crew at work as they raise the sails, wind up ropes, and swab the decks.

sailing on a tall ship

sailing on a tall ship

It’s likely you’ll spend most of your time on the upper deck of the ship since there aren’t a lot of places to sit around inside. These ships are pretty compact, so most of the interior space is reserved for cabins, the dining room, and a small shop. There is a lounge area with a bar and several banquets where you can enjoy a drink with friends. There is also a small library where you can relax and read a book, or if you must, catch up on work. From the sketchings of sailing ships hanging on the walls to the antique-looking velvet banquets and navy blue carpeting that’s woven with a rope pattern, every detail of the ships’ decor harkens to old-school nautical traditions. It’s quaint and endearing and exactly what you’d expect from a tall ship sailing experience.

sailing on a tall ship

What are the Cabins Like?

Like the rest of the ship, they’re designed with a nautical theme. Star Clippers offers a five-star experience, but it’s only classified as a four-star because of the size of its cabins. They’re modest…most rooms have a queen bed (or two singles, depending on your needs), a small bathroom, and a small closet (that has a surprising amount of storage space). You can get larger suites  — some even include a full-size jetted tub, but they’re limited, so you’ll want to book early to get your hands on one of those. That said, once you learn the space, you and your cabin mate will get into a rhythm that has you maneuvering around each other with ease.

sailing on a tall ship

sailing on a tall ship

Each cozy cabin is designed for efficiency — making the most of the limited space. If you’re looking for extravagance or opulence, you won’t find it here. The rooms are wee, but they’re comfortable and have everything you need to make the most of your stay. My motto when I’m on vacation is, “If you’re spending all your time inside your room, you’re doing something wrong.” And this is especially true of tall ship sailing. This is an experience that’s meant to be enjoyed from the upper decks rather than inside your suite.

Pro Tip: There are some interesting room configurations, so be sure to let your travel agent know at the time of booking if you have any special requirements, such as mobility issues. One configuration requires guests to climb up a few steps to get into bed, for example. While you’re rewarded for your efforts with a porthole staring straight out into the seas, it may be a challenge for some guests. (I personally think these rooms are kind of cool if you don’t mind a little extra effort.)

Are the Meals Good?

They say a picture speaks 1,000 words, so I took a ton of pictures of the food. It’s exceptional.

sailing on a tall ship sailing on a tall ship

Need I say more? Okay, maybe a little bit more…each day, there are several options for breakfast. If you’re an early riser — like me — you can grab a pastry in the lounge area to tide you over until the buffet begins. Most mornings, it starts around 8 a.m., but if there’s an early morning excursion, it will open earlier.

Throughout the day, there’s a constant supply of cold water to wet your whistle. You can also make yourself a cup of joe or a spot of tea anytime you like. Everything you need is always available. And there’s always a basket of fresh fruit on hand for anyone who has the midnight munchies or needs a pick-me-up between meals.

Each evening during happy hour, a delicious spread of both savory and sweet treats is laid out for everyone to enjoy. This is a great time to snag a few extra cookies to take back to your cabin for later, but you didn’t hear it from me.

While there is a lunch buffet served daily in the dining room, it’s quite likely you may never have a chance to enjoy other than on sea days. There’s a good chance you’ll be exploring the local flavors while in port. But if you do get a chance to eat on board, you’ll be treated to soups, salads, a carving station, several side dishes and dessert options, and more.

Dinner is served in the main dining room at about 7:30 p.m. each night. There are several options for entrees, including a fish, poultry, and vegetarian meal. This means that everyone can find something to their taste (see what I did there?). In addition, there are always a couple of options for appetizers, salads, soups, and desserts. Everything is perfectly cooked, seasoned, and plated. You won’t be disappointed.

Beverages other than water, tea, and coffee are available for a nominal fee. The prices are in Euros and are comparable — and maybe even a bit cheaper — than some of the larger cruise lines. We paid the equivalent of $8 for a drink that would have been $12 on other ships. Drink packages are available for groups of 10 or more.

Are There Onboard Activities and Entertainment?

If your favorite thing about cruising on the massive ocean liners is the Broadway-style entertainment, sailing on a tall ship may not be right for you. But, if you like sharing intimate dinners with new friends from around the world, watching local entertainers perform traditional music and dances, and staring at the stars, then you’ll love Star Clippers.

Throughout the day, you can attend story time with the crew to hear about places they’ve been or take part in a workshop about astronomy, knot tying, towel folding, and more. You can even take a tour of the ship, climb up to the crow’s nest, relax in the bowsprits, or try your hand at steering the ship.

sailing on a tall ship

Before dinner each night, the crew performs what feels like a sort of ritualistic ceremony as they raise the sails. Watching the crew working like a well-oiled machine to the sound of  Vangelis’ 1492: Conquest of Paradise never gets tired. It was always my favorite part of the night.

Most nights, there is some form of entertainment after dinner, from a talent show put on by the crew to locals who come on board for a few hours to showcase their culture. There is a piano man on board who performs nightly and also acts as a DJ for anyone who feels like cutting a rug after the show. Dinner typically lasts well into the evening, ending well after 9 p.m., so the entertainment doesn’t start until about 10 p.m. By the time it ends, most people are ready to call it a night. For those who aren’t quite ready to settle into slumber, simply staring at the stars as you sail along is a serene and surreal experience that comes a close second to watching the sails unfurl each night.

What Kinds of Ports and Excursions Can I Expect?

Star Clippers has several ships in its fleet, and they voyage all over the world, from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean and Asia. You can expect to visit some very traditional ports, and you can also expect a few unconventional extras. I happened to be on one of the first sailings out of Benoa, Bali, in Indonesia. Most of the places on our itinerary were very off the beaten path. In some cases, there were no docks, and we had to disembark our tender boats a few feet from shore or climb across fishing boats. It was an adventure for us, as well as for the locals who were not accustomed to tourists. Many wanted to take their pictures with us. Others were eager to sell their wares.

Other itineraries venture to more traditional locales, such as Corfu and Monte Carlo or St. George’s and Phuket. If you’d like to experience the open water, you can even take a transatlantic sailing.

At every port, Star Clippers typically offers at least one shore excursion. I took part in some incredible experiences that were truly one of a kind, including climbing to the top of a bubbling volcano after riding a horse through a sandy desert landscape. And if you happen to be visiting a beach port, Star Clippers will bring all sorts of watersports gear ashore for you to use, including canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards. You can even rent snorkel equipment on board.

What Should I Wear?

From the moment you step on board a Star Clippers ship, you feel like you’ve been transported to a different world, a preppy one where penny loafers, a polo shirt, and khaki trousers…that’s right, I said trousers…are the kind of clothes you wear for an afternoon on the top deck navigating the high seas. But the great thing about Star Clippers is that there’s no need for dress clothes for formal attire. Simply slap on a swimsuit and head to the upper deck — no trousers required.

And at night, anything goes. Most women wear a sundress or a pretty blouse paired with dress pants, but there’s certainly no need for anything more formal than that. If you’ve had a full day of fun in port, you can come as you are to dinner, and no one will blink an eye. It’s truly casual and carefree environment. Wear whatever makes you happy.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind your itinerary when packing, and be sure to bring along the necessary items if you happen to be visiting places, such as religious sites, that require your legs and shoulders to be completely covered.

What was the Overall Impression?

So what’s the verdict, you ask? Would I ever take another Star Clippers cruise? In a heartbeat. In fact, I can’t wait to share another tall ship sailing experience with my friends and family. If you enjoy river cruising, then sailing on a tall ship is likely also for you.

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sailing on a tall ship

Oregon Girl Around the World

3 Reasons to Take a River Cruise

A river cruise is a great way to see the world.

 

These days, you can take a river cruise just about anyplace, and while they’re wildly different from ocean cruises, rivers cruises have plenty of unique perks. Whether you’re looking to take a European river cruise, an Amazon river cruise or anything in between, you’re sure to find an itinerary that suits your tastes. Check out these 3 reasons to take a river cruise.

river cruise

Friendships

A river cruise can be quite intimate. In fact, most only carry a couple of hundred passengers at a time. Since there is no extravagant entertainment on a river cruise, you’ll have lots of time to get to know the people you’re sailing with. It’s quite likely that you’ll make new friends while onboard. Reminiscing about your daily adventures over a glass of wine or cup of coffee is a great way to cap off an evening on a river cruise. Ask around, and you’re sure to hear stories of people who have made lifelong friends while on a river cruise.

river cruise

Ports

Since the ships are so much smaller, river cruises can sail into plenty of ports the big ocean liners can’t. If you want to get away from the typical big city cruise itineraries, you’ll find all sorts of alternatives on a river cruise. You can get right into the heart of France’s wine country or moor up right alongside the Christmas markets in Germany. And don’t even get me started on the sites you’ll see sailing the Mekong. It’s truly unlike anything else you’ll ever experience.

river cruise

Culture

If you want to get up close and personal with the people and culture of a place, a river cruise can help you do that. Often, river cruises invite locals onboard to entertain the guests. From woodcarving in the Black Forest to classical Khmer dancing in Cambodia, you can get a glimpse into local customs and traditions that you simply won’t find anywhere else. Not to mention, the dining rooms typically offer local delicacies at every meal and serve wines, beers, and spirits from the region through the voyage.

river cruise

What reasons do you have to take a river cruise? Have questions about what to expect? We’d love for you to leave a comment below.

What Does it Mean to Tender on a Cruise?

So you’re reading the website description for your cruise, and it says you need to “tender” to shore.

Unless you’ve taken a cruise before, you’re probably wondering what the heck that means. In a nutshell, a tender is a smaller boat that carries people from the ship to the shore.

What Are Tenders?

Many times, tenders are owned and operated by local companies. They are small ferry boats that hold anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred people. If there are not enough local ferry operators to service the cruise ship’s needs, the ship may even drop a few of its own lifeboats into the water to use as tender boats.

Side note: My mom thinks this is about the coolest thing ever and insisted I mention it in this post. The reason this is cool? Because you get to see what lifeboats are like and how effective they are. Wash the thought of rubber dinghies floating in a vast ocean out of your head. Lifeboats are fully operational boats that hold hundreds of people.

Why Do Cruise Ships Need Them?

Sometimes, ships aren’t able to dock in port. The water may be too shallow, or there may be a coral reef nearby. In some cases, the port city may not have a dock large enough for a cruise ship, or it may already have other ships using the dock. For whatever reason, your ship needs to park in the open water, and you need a more practical way to get to shore than swimming.

tender

How Do They Work?

Your ship’s cruise director team will let you know in advance of reaching a port if you’ll need to tender. They will also explain how the process is going to work for your ship. In some cases, it’s a free for all. Simply head to the gangway, and walk onto the next tender. In many cases, people who have purchased tickets to ship-sanctioned shore excursions will be given exclusive access to the first few tenders. Once they are all on their way, the ship will open up the tenders on a first-come first-served basis. Typically, the ship will tell you in advance an approximate timeline for when this will happen so you can be prepared.

Some ships require people planning to board early morning tenders to acquire a tender ticket when they are ready to get off the ship. There tends to be a bit of rush-hour traffic until about noon, so the ship tries to manage the chaos. You will likely need to go to a lounge or theater area to obtain a ticket. That said,  you will only be able to get a ticket if your entire party is ready to go. If you’re still waiting on someone to finish breakfast or apply sunscreen, hang tight, and let someone who is ready to go get on board instead. If you’re a late riser, by mid-day, the traffic tends to die down and tickets will likely no longer be required.

Tenders run all day while you’re in port. They are a continuous service so you never have to wait long for the next boat. In most cases, as soon as one is full, the next one pulls up and starts loading.

Have questions? Let us know.

What to Expect on Cruise Embarkation Day

So you’ve never taken a cruise, and you’re wondering what to expect on embarkation day.

 

Going on vacation is an exciting experience. And you probably can’t wait to get on the ship. But you have no idea what to is going to happen when you arrive at the cruise ship terminal. Here are seven things you can expect on embarkation day.

Baggage Porters

No matter how you arrive at the terminal, there will be people waiting to take your bags…for a small fee. You can tip what you want, but baggage porters will expect a few bucks for carting your bags onto the boat. And you don’t have any other option than to hand over your bags, unless you travel with a carry-on. Anything larger than that, and you would be allowed to bring them on board yourself.

Security Check

As soon as you pass through the doors at the terminal, you’ll be expected to submit your bags to a security check, much like the kind you find at an airport. You’ll place your carry-on onto a conveyor belt for a quick X-ray before you walk through a metal detector. After that, you’re free to go.

Pro tip: Be sure to check with your cruise line to find out what’s allowed on board before arriving at the terminal. Last time I took a cruise, I found out you were no longer allowed to bring a bottle of water on board—something I had done a million times before.

Navigating the Crowds

There will be a lot of people at the terminal when you arrive, and it may look a lot like mass chaos. I can assure you that the cruise lines have done this thousands of times before, and it will be orderly, even though it may not look like it. Still, expect to wait in long lines. And be sure to check with the cruise staff at the front of each line to be sure you’re in the right one. Some people get priority boarding, and you’d hate to find out after a half hour of waiting that you’ve got to start over in another line.

Pro tip: Some cruise lines off skip-the-line passes for a small fee. Check out this option if you want to jump past everyone else and get on board faster.

Checking In

Once you’re at the front of the line, it’s smooth sailing from there—pun intended. Just like checking into a hotel, you’ll present your identification, as well as a credit card for incidentals, grab your room key, and be on your way. It’s that easy.

Smile for the Camera

Before you leave the terminal, you’ll be herded into a corner for a quick picture on a cheesy backdrop. You can choose to bypass or stop for a quick snap—though the cruise staff will enthusiastically encourage the latter. It costs nothing to take a photo, and you’ll have the option to purchase it later. Who knows, it might turn out great!

Touring the Ship

Once on board, it’s a good idea to get the lay of the land. Take yourself on a quick tour of the ship, checking out all of the nooks and crannies. The spa staff even offer guided tours of their services.

Planning Your Week

The first day is the perfect time to plan for the rest of your week. Book a spa package, attend the shore excursions overview session, and find out about other special events happening on board.

What other advice do you have for embarkation day? Share your thoughts on the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

 

 

3 Reasons Why Having a Balcony Cabin on a Cruise is the Best

There are so many amazing reasons why having a balcony on a cruise is amazing.

 

Now, it’s no secret that I love to cruise. And I can’t always afford to have a balcony cabin, but when I do, it’s fan-freaking-tastic. Don’t get me wrong sometimes getting a balcony simply isn’t worth the extra dough. If you’re sailing off-season when there may be cold weather or high winds, there’s just no point in having a balcony off your stateroom. Wondering what makes a balcony cabin so special? Check this out.

balcony cabin

Soothing Sounds

Listening to the water lapping against the side of the ship at night is such a soothing sound. I often leave the door open just a crack so I can hear the waves crashing on the open ocean.

Light Show

Nothing beats waking up to a beautiful sunrise right outside your window, except maybe watching the sun sink below the horizon at night. One of my favorite things to do after dancing the night away is bring a cup of ht cocoa up to my cabin to enjoy while staring at the stars.

Beautiful Vistas

If you’re sailing someplace warm or where there are great views—I’m thinking of places like Geirenger, Norway—then it’s totally worth shelling out the big bucks. Any time you’ll be sailing near the shoreline for the majority of your trip, you can catch some amazing sights day and night. You don’t want to miss a thing. And I just love when I wake up with views of a foreign place outside my window—so inspiring.

balcony cabin

Why do you love having a balcony cabin on a cruise? Share your thoughts with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

5 Reasons a Cruise Cabin is Better than a Hotel Room

A cruise cabin has some major advantages over a hotel room.

cruise cabin

I know, you’re thinking, “how different can they be?” And you’re right. In terms of the amenities the room itself provides, they’re pretty similar. You’ll find a bed, bathroom, and dressers, for example. But there are a few pretty big differences, too. Check out these five reasons—in order of importance—why a cruise cabin is better than a hotel room.

1. Towel Animals

cruise cabinNothing brings a smile to your face like a towel monkey hanging from the curtain rod. It seems such a simple thing, but it’s true. Each night when you return to your room, you’ll find a different animal crafted from the linens. Elephants, dogs, swans, and snakes are just some of the adorable animals you might find frolicking on your furniture. I especially love when my sunglasses become a prop for a personal touch.

2. Nightly Turndown Service

Do you remember the tale of the cobbler and the elves? When the cobbler goes to bed at night, the elves come and do his work for him. Well, the cabin crew on a cruise ship are kind of like those elves. Sometime between when you leave for dinner and when you next return to your room, a magical transformation will take place inside your cruise cabin. The lights will be dimmed, your bed will be turned dine, the bathroom will be restocked.

3. Personal Touches

From the minute you board the ship to the day you disembark, your cabin porter will provide personal service tailored just for your needs. You can expect to see them almost every time you step out of your cruise cabin. They’ll greet you by name and offer assistance or advice. Once, a porter from a previous cruise recognized me many months later on a different ship in another part of the world. That’s how awesome they are.

4. Starry Nights

There’s nothing quite like sitting on your balcony late at dusk and watching the sun sink behind the horizon, except maybe waking up early to watch it rise over the ocean. With the sound of the waves crashing below and the gentle rocking of the ship, it’s an experience you simply can’t match in a hotel room.

cruise cabin

5. A Whole New World

By far, the absolute number one reason a cruise cabin is better than a hotel room is that you can go to bed in one city and wake up in a totally different one.

Do you have other reasons why a cruise cabin is better than a hotel room? Share them with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

 

7 Ways to Stay Fit on a Cruise

So you want to make sure you stay fit on your cruise vacation.

 

But you’re not entirely sure what options are available to you. Maybe you’ve heard the rumor that most people gain five to seven pounds on a cruise. The good news is that there are plenty of ways you can keep in top shape. In fact, I often go home a few pounds lighter. Check out these helpful tips.

Stay Fit on a Cruise Eat Right

There are tons of healthy eating options on a cruise ship. From salads to oatmeal, you can find plenty of delicious and nutritional foods. Okay, okay, I know…you’re surrounded by a ton of amazing food on a cruise so how can you be expected to curb your appetite? I’m the last person to suggest you steer clear of the dessert bar, but remember that moderation is the key to keeping your waistline trim. If you have Fruit Loops for breakfast, consider a salad instead of fries at lunch. A bit of give and take can go a long way, especially if you do any of the other things on this list, too.

Take the Stairs

Cruise ships are like floating islands. Only instead of spreading out over vast amounts of land, they rise upward, which means they have lots of stairs to climb. You could always take the elevator, but if you take the stairs everywhere you go, you’ll get a great workout. I love to skip the gym on vacation, so this is my absolute favorite way to stay fit on a cruise.

Hit the Gym

If you can’t live without your daily workout, there’s no need to fear. Even the smallest river cruise ships have gym facilities. On most ocean cruise ships, the gym houses a host of treadmills, bikes, weights, and more. And the gym is usually near the top of the ship and features floor-to-ceiling windows. You can stare out at the peaceful surroundings while you work up a sweat. Often, the ship’s fitness crew will provide personal training or group classes for a small fee.

Take a Dive

There will be at least one pool on your ship. And most ships have one that is designated for adult use only. If you’re up early, it’ll likely be empty. Take advantage and swim a few laps.

Go for a Walk

If swimming laps isn’t your cup of tea, maybe walking laps is. Most ships have a walking and jogging circuit on one of the upper decks so you can get a bit of sunshine while you walk. Raining? No problem, walk indoors. I like to start at one end of a deck, walk to the other end, take the stairs up to the next deck, and so on.

Dancing

Working out and eating right may not be on the itinerary for your vacation. You just want to treat yourself and have a good time. Got it. How about dancing the night away? It burns a ton of calories, and it’s fun. Next to taking the stairs, this is my favorite way to stay fit on a cruise.

Take a Hike

Cruise ships offer tons of active shore excursions. You can often find hikes, kayaking, and other fun outdoor activities on the agenda. They’re great ways to keep in shape while exploring new destinations.

How do you stay fit on a cruise? Share your ideas with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

 

 

6 Places to Find Peace and Quiet on a Cruise Ship

There area plenty of places where you can find peace a quiet on a cruise ship.

 

If you’re like me, as much as you love the live entertainment and activities on a cruise, you also want a little time to yourself. I love to kick back with a good book, and just relax. It may be hard to imagine anyplace on a cruise ship where you can get away from the hustle and bustle, but if you know where to look, you can carve out a little space that’s all your own.

peace and quiet on a cruise ship

Check out these six places where you can find peace and quiet on a cruise ship.

1. The Library

Every cruise ship has a special place set aside for people to read, play, cards, and do a little work. It’s usually tucked away in a rarely used corner of the ship. Typically, talking in anything louder than a hushed tone is taboo in the library.

2. The Spa

It’s no surprise that you can find peace and quiet in a spa, but what many people don’t know is that for a small, daily fee, you can buy access to an exclusive part of the spa that is off limits to other guests. Typically, these rooms feature a few hot tubs, heated lounge chairs, floor-to-ceiling windows, snacks, and other amenities that make it the perfect, peaceful retreat. Ask at the spa reception desk for more details.

3. The Upper Deck

Look up. Look way up…above the Lido Deck where all the outdoor action takes place, you’re bound to find at least one or two more decks. On these upper decks, you’re far enough from the noise of the pool and other activities yet still near enough to the buffet that it’s the ideal place to kick back. And, you can still get a great tan since you’ll be outside in the sun.

4. The Cafe

In addition to the tea and coffee service at mealtime, most cruise ships have an onboard cafe where you can buy a latte or cappuccino for a nominal fee. It’s often located someplace mid-ship in a quiet corridor. Not a lot of people hang out at the cafe, which makes it a great place to grab a cup of joe and enjoy the silence.

5. The Spaces in Between

Take a walk around your ship. Chances are that you’ll find a cozy space in a quiet corner that you can call your own. Plenty of ships have window seats lining the aisles, lounges that are unused during the day, or even lesser-known hideaways just waiting to be discovered (check out the hanging chairs between the family and adult pools on the Norwegian Epic, for example).

6. Your Stateroom Balcony

Now this might seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Your stateroom balcony is the perfect place to watch the world go by in complete silence. I love to wake up early and watch the sun come up, or at night, bring a hot cup of tea back to my cabin and stare at the stars while reading a good—AKA cheesy—romance.

These are just a few of the places where you’ll find peace and quiet on a cruise ship. Go others? Share them with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

Top 5 Reasons to Spend Your Sea Day on the Lido Deck

The Lido Deck has tons of fun stuff to do on a day at sea.

 

But what is a Lido Deck, you ask? Well, it took me about five cruises to realize that the Lido Deck on pretty much every cruise line is the upper deck where you’ll find all the outdoor pools and fun in the sun. If you’ve booked and inside cabin or have only a window in your room, it’s fair to say you’ll spend most of your time on board the ship on the Lido Deck. But even if you have a balcony in your cabin, there’s no way it can compare to all the action that goes on upstairs.

Check out these five reasons why the Lido Deck is the best place to spend a fun day at sea on any ship, big or small.

1. Food

You never have to walk too far from your lounge chair to find something to eat on the Lido Deck. Typically, it’s on the same floor as the buffet, but there are often several other dining options as well. If you’ve got a hankering for a hot dog, burger, or fries, chances are you’ll find them at the outdoor grill. Often, on sea days, cruise lines will host a seafood BBQ or dessert buffet by the pool. On most ships, you’ll also find free ice cream and several bars on the Lido Deck. You can’t lose!

2. Playtime

If you’re looking to spend the day in the sun—and here’s hoping you’ve got it for your vacation—the Lido Deck is the place where it’s at. The bigger ships will have at least two pools on the open-air Lido Deck. One is designated for adults only, while the other will be for families with children. There may also be an outdoor water park, climbing wall, mini golf course, basketball court, and more up on the Lido Deck.

3. Music

If you love music, the Lido Deck is the place to be. Many of the bigger ships have live bands playing throughout the day. Soul-soothing Caribbean sounds waft up through the air around you as you relax and enjoy the ambiance. On some of the smaller or more budget-friendly cruise lines, a DJ spins tunes in place of a band. This person will often take requests and tailor the music to the people he’s playing for. It sets a great vibe for the day.

4. Entertainment

There is no shortage on entertainment on the Lido Deck on a day at sea. Hairy chest contests, dance offs, ice carving demonstrations, and cocktail competitions are just a few of the fun activities you might find around the family pool. If you’re looking for peace and quiet, stick to the adult-only area because you won’t find it on the Lido Deck.

5. Movies

Dive-in theaters are common on most cruise ships. One of the pools will likely have a massive screen hanging just above it. Often, blockbuster movies play throughout the day and into the evening. You may even find a popcorn machine at one of the bars where you can grab a bag of buttery goodness to snack on while you watch the movie.

I usually make my way up to the Lido Deck bright and early on a sea day. I toss a towel over my favorite lounger and kick back with a good book and a nice cold bottle of water. I put my swimsuit on under my comfy clothes or cover up, pack a tote bag filled with everything I might need for the day, like sunscreen and my camera, and soak up the sun…okay, so I burn easily and most sit in the shade, but you get the gist.

What’s your favorite thing to do on the Lido Deck. Share your ideas with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

Food on a Cruise: What to Expect for Free

Did you know all of your food on a cruise is included in your cruise fare?

 

Not everyone realizes that the price you pay to get on board the ship includes three meals a day—or as many as you’d like, really. That’s right, there’s no shortage of food on a cruise. But is it any good? And will there be anything you like? The answer to both these questions is a resounding, “Yes!”

Whether you’ve got a hankering for sushi or steak, ice cream or apples, you’ll find something for every taste on a cruise ship. I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t like vegetables, and even I can find an overwhelming amount of delicious fare to chow down on. So, what can you expect for free? Let’s take a look.

Main Dining Room

Each night, a three-course, gourmet dinner is served in the main dining room. You’ll get your choice of three or four appetizers, entrees, and desserts, and you can order more than one of each if you’re feeling extra hungry. Typically, the menu matches with your itinerary, serving up local flavors whenever available. And you can count on lobster being featured at least once on your cruise. On most cruises, you can choose either an early or late seating in the dining room, though many cruise lines also offer a dine anytime option. In the morning, you can grab breakfast in the main dining room if you prefer being served over standing in line at the buffet.

Buffet

Day or night, you can always find a wide array of options at the buffet. It’s open bright and early, offering made-to-order omelets, sausages, cereals, pastries, and more. At lunch, you can find a variety of salads, soups, sandwiches, meats, vegetables, and other snacks. For dinner, the buffet often includes the same foods being featured in the main dining room. The only difference is that you have to serve yourself, and you can take as much as you want.

Poolside Grub

While the buffet is usually only a hop, skip, and a jump from the pool area, on most cruise ships, you’ll find a poolside, outdoor eatery. These quick-service restaurants typically offer up fast foods like burgers and fries. My personal favorite? Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint on Carnival Cruise ships. The fires are to die for.

24 Hour Snacks

Are you the type of person who likes a bedtime snack? Or maybe you want something greasy to fill your stomach after a night of partying. If you’re like me, you get hangry if you don’t eat every couple of hours. Have no fear…you’ll always have access to food on a cruise, whether it’s the wee hours or the middle of the night. Most cruise lines have a designated 24-hour restaurant where you can grab some chicken tenders, a chocolate brownie, fries, and other fan favorites.

Room Service

I cannot tell a lie…I have never ordered room service on a ship. I figure if I’m sitting in my room when there are so many amazing activities going on, I’m doing something wrong. But I recognize, there are times when you just want to drink a cup of coffee or an orange juice on your deck when you wake up in the morning. And you don’t want the hassle of having to get dressed and go get it yourself. Room service is always available with a limited menu.

Pro Tip: Depending on the time of day (like 2 a.m.) or the type of food you want (AKA an entire pizza), there may be a nominal charge for room service.

Sea-Day Specials

On some ships, you’ll find special food-based events on days when you’re at sea. These may include tasting menus or cooking classes. Watch your daily itinerary for times and events. Two of my favorites happen to take place on Carnival cruises. Each sea day, Carnival hosts an afternoon tea in one of the dining rooms. Choose from several specialty teas, and enjoy macarons, traditional English sandwiches, scones, and other delicious treats. Carnival also puts on a special sea-day brunch that includes some fun food selections. My favorite is the cereal-crusted French toast.

Specialty Splurges

In addition to all of the amazing free food on a cruise, there are a few specialty restaurants on each ship that cost a few extra dollars. These fine-dining establishments specialize in everything from Italian to French to Asian cuisine. If you’re celebrating a special occasion or just want to try something different, you can treat yourself to specialty experience, such the entertaining and flavorful Japanese teppanyaki restaurant on Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL). You will also find a cafe or bakery on most cruise ships where, for a few dollars, you can grab a sweet treat, such as gelato, cupcakes, or biscotti. If you’re a fan of the TLC hit show Carlo’s Bakery, you’ll be excited to know you can grab one of Buddy’s infamous cannolis on most NCL ships.

With the exception of the cafe and specialty dining venues, all of the food on a cruise is free. Tell us about your favorite foods to eat at sea on the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook page.