5 Fun Things to do at Night on a Cruise

No matter your age, there are plenty of fun things to do at night on a cruise.

 

I can’t tell you how often I get asked what there is to do at night after the ship has set sail from port. So many people think they’ll feel trapped once the ship is out to sea—like they’re stuck on a floating prison. Other people think cruises are for “old people” who want to turn in as soon as the sun sets. But rest assured, that’s simply not the case.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet night of good conversation among friends or to dance the night away, there are tons of great ways to spend your nights on a cruise ship. Young or old, it’s impossible not to have a good time every evening of your cruise.

Here is a glimpse at just a handful of the fun things to do at night on a cruise.

Live entertainment

All of the major cruise lines pride themselves on their live entertainment. Most ships have an entire team of singers and dancers dedicated to bringing you amazing Broadway-style shows every other day. But it doesn’t end there, each ship also flies in special guest performers for the evenings the staff entertainers are taking a break. Their diverse talents range from magic to comedy to acrobatics and more.

But live entertainment on a cruise ship is about more than just stage shows. Each cruise has several singers, bands, or DJs that perform in the bars, lounges, foyers, and other popular spots around the ship. And there is almost always a piano bar where you can request your favorite song and sing along.

Specialty dining

In addition to the usual dining rooms and buffets, most cruise ships also have alternative dining options. For a small fee, you can enjoy a unique dining experience away from the hustle and bustle. Specialty restaurants might include Japanese teppanyaki, a steakhouse, or an Italian pizzeria. Make a reservation and share an intimate evening with your better half or share a bottle of wine—or two—with new friends.

Games

Cruise ships are notorious for their over-the-top renditions of popular TV game shows. Newlywed games, scavenger hunts, quiz shows are just a few of the common games you might find throughout the evening. You’ll get a good chuckle watching fellow cruisers take part in ridiculous competitions. And if you’re up for it, you may even volunteer to be part of the action.

Pro Tip: Bingo is a big deal on cruise ships. In fact, you can find one or more sessions per day. Jackpots are usually pretty lofty, so it attracts a broad range of ages.

Movies

Most cruise ships have a massive screen above one or more of their swimming pools. Each evening, they show popular movies on the big screen, which you can watch from a nearby lounger or while floating in the pool. Some ships even offer free bags of popcorn, and if the weather is brisk, they just might bring you a blanket to wrap up in. If your ship doesn’t have an outdoor cinema, there will likely be an indoor equivalent in one of the theaters.

Pro Tip: When a Disney movie premieres on land, it also debuts on the ship. You can see a brand new movie at sea.

Dancing

If you really want to pain the town—ship—red, put on your dancing shoes and head to one of the many dance spots. Most ships have at least one nightclub with a rocking DJ. Most nights there will be a late-night dance party in the club or under the moonlit sky on the Lido deck. There will likely be dancing in the main foyer and other live music clubs around the ship. If dancing is what you like to do, you won’t be disappointed.

Pro Tip: On most ships, the cruise staff host a 30-minute dance class highlighting a popular line dance or ballroom dance.  It usually aligns with the theme of the evening dance party so you can put it into practice later that night.

So, still don’t think there are any fun things to do at night on a cruise? Didn’t think so. Want to share your ideas? Post them on the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

 

4 Tips for Choosing Early or Late Cruise Dining

Selecting the perfect cruise dining option can be a slippery slope if you don’t know the pros and cons to each option.

 

When you book your cruise, you’ll be asked which dinner seating you want: early or late. If you’ve never taken a cruise before, this question has absolutely no context and is nearly impossible to answer. Even avid cruisers often flounder, since each cruise dining option comes with its own advantages…and disadvantages. Try these four tips to help you decide which cruise dining option is right for you.

cruise dining

1. When do you usually eat?

If you like to have dinner on the table the minute you get home from work, stick to your regular routine. Choose the early dinner seating—it usually starts around 6 p.m. But if you like to lounge around a while or hit the gym after work, you might prefer a later setting, which typically starts at 8:30 p.m.

I get up at the crack of dawn, which means I eat breakfast early. As a result, I usually have lunch around 11 a.m., so the thought of eating dinner any later than 6 p.m. makes me cringe. But if you like to sleep in, the later seating might be just what you need.

2. What activities are you taking part in?

If you like to dance the night away, a late dinner is a great option. You’ll have more energy and all the sustenance you need to soak up any spirits you might be imbibing. And you can sleep in a little longer the next morning before your stomach starts grumbling. But if you plan on turning in early, choose the earlier seating. No one wants to go to bed on a full stomach.

Evening activities are not the only things you need to consider when selecting the best cruise dining option. Check your cruise itinerary to see how long your ship will be in port each day, and consider what you plan to do once you’re ashore. If you’re not leaving the port until early evening, you may not want to rush back to the ship in time for an early dinner. If this is the case, stick with a late seating. The same thing goes if you want to take advantage of the hot afternoon sun on your days at sea. If you choose an early seating, you’ll need to cut the afternoon short in order to give yourself enough time to get cleaned up for dinner.

Pro Tip: You don’t have to show up at all for your dinner seating. There is always a buffet or 24-hour eatery you can head to instead. This is a great alternative if your shore excursion does run late and you miss your assigned seating.

3. Who is in your party?

If you’ve got children or seniors in your group, an early seating is probably better for you. But if you’re on a romantic vacation with your better half or a group getaway with a circle of friends, a late seating is the ideal choice. There are fewer children and families at this seating, lending to a more mature atmosphere.

4. Are you spontaneous?

If you still can’t decide which cruise dining experience is right for you, maybe you don’t need to choose at all. Many ships offer an anytime dining option. On NCL, you can simply show up at the dining room whenever you want, and you’ll be seated at the next available table. Carnival has a similar program—you simply show up at a designated area and wait to be assigned to a table in the main dining room.

Pro Tip: Don’t worry if you have second thoughts about the cruise dining option you’ve selected. You can always change your seating later. When you board the ship, simply head to the dining room and ask for a table at the opposite seating. The ship can usually accommodate your request.

Hopefully, now you have a better handle on how to choose the best cruise dining time for your next adventure. If you have other ideas, we’d love to hear about them on the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook page.

Things to do on a Cruise: A Fun Day at Sea

If you’re like me, you’re worried about being stuck on a ship for days with nothing to do. Fear not, there’s plenty of things to do on a cruise.

 

I remember the first time I stepped foot on a cruise ship. I was so concerned about being bored once we set sail. The thought of being trapped on a floating island terrified me. When I realized we would be spending an entire day at sea, I was sure I would die of boredom. Those of you who have been on a cruise are likely laughing hysterically right now because you know how ridiculous this is. There are so many things to do on a cruise that it’s virtually impossible to fit them all in.

Lounging

things to do on a cruise

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I like to cram as much as I can into every vacation day. I have one exception to this rule. I like to spend at least one day lounging around when I’m cruising. In fact, I’ve mastered the art of doing absolutely nothing on a “fun day at sea.” But it’s not as easy as it sounds. To relax well, you need to follow these simple tips.

As soon as you wake up on the morning of your day at sea, grab a lounge chair in your favorite part of the ship. Do this even before you have breakfast. In fact, you may even want to set an alarm for 8 a.m. to be sure you get the spot you want. You can nap later…poolside. I love, love, love lounging in the adult-only area. No children are allowed here, so it’s much quieter, and you don’t have to worry about being splashed by a kid doing a cannonball. But spaces fill up fast in the adult-only section because it’s smaller than areas dedicated to family fun.

Save Your Space

All you need to do to save a lounger is toss a towel on each chair, along with a personal item, such as a sweater or book. This will ward off others and ensure you have a place to lay your head for the rest of the day. Once you’ve saved your spot, you can dash back to your room to finish getting ready. And don’t worry about your stuff. No one is going to take it.

Pack everything you need for the day in a tote bag. This includes a book, games, a laptop, a phone, a hat, sunscreen, and anything else your heart desires. Wear your swimsuit and a pair of flip-flops or whatever you’re most comfortable in. I love a good muumuu as a cover-up. The goal is not to have to worry about going back to your cabin if you don’t need to. Once you’re comfy on deck, all you need to do is kick back, relax, and enjoy. Aside from a dip in the pool, the most exercise you’ll get is waving your hand for drink service or a quick walk to the buffet for a bite to eat.

Food and Drink

things to do on a cruise

They say the average person gains 5 to 10 pounds on a cruise. It’s easy to see why. Almost every cruise ship boasts multiple restaurants, even older, smaller ones. Let’s see, there’s the buffet and at least two main dining rooms. These are free of charge, and you can have as much food as you want. Even in the sit-down restaurants you can ask for seconds. They won’t say no. It’s gluttonous in the best possible way.

In addition to “free” food options, most ships also have a number of specialty restaurants. For an additional fee, you can dine in style at one of these upscale establishments. You can find a gourmet steakhouse or sushi station on just about every ship. Other options include Teppanyaki or French fare, for example.

Most cruise ships offer room service and 24-hour snack stations where you can get pizza, fries, and other finger foods. There is also free ice cream and a café where, for a few bucks, you can get a made-to-order cappuccino or espresso.

Drink and Be Merry

And I would be completely remiss not to mention that drinks are free-flowing all day and all night in every corner of every cruise ship. From poolside service to wine with your meal, the cruise staff are more than happy to bring you any type of beverage you desire. If you can think it, you can drink it.

Pro tip: Before boarding the boat, be sure to purchase an all-inclusive beverage package if you plan on having more than one or two alcohol-infused drinks each day. With one of these packages, you can order all you can drink at no extra charge. Without a drink package, you’ll pay $9 to $15 per drink, which adds up fast.

Entertainment

things to do on a cruiseDay or night, there is no shortage of entertainment onboard a cruise ship. When your cabin steward turns down your bed each night, you’ll get a copy of the itinerary for the next day on your pillow (or next to your towel animal). Be sure to pop it in your tote so you don’t miss out on any of the fun. It’s likely the cruise director will announce major events over the intercom throughout the day, too.

On a day at sea, you’ll find tons of things to do on a cruise. Often, there’s an entertaining cooking class with cruise staff, ice or fruit sculpting displays, silly competitions, dance classes, and more. And of course, every night at sea, you can dance the night away in one of the clubs, listen to live music at various venues, see a theatrical presentation, catch a movie on a big screen, or more.

Some ships offer Broadway caliber performances. Others have a circus at sea or even an ice rink. Acrobatics, fireworks, themed parties, and other events occur every night on cruise ships. After your relaxing day at sea, you’ll be ready to let loose with a night of fun and shenanigans.

Activities

things to do on a cruiseWaterslides, spas, bowling, and mini golf. These are just a few of the things to do on a cruise ship. You’ll find everything from bingo and chess to rock-wall climbing and video arcades on your cruise vacation.

Of course, the bigger the ship, the more outrageous the options. But even the smaller ships pack in plenty of fun. If you get tired of lounging around, just leave a sweater on your chair and wander off for a while. You’ll likely stumble upon a shopping extravaganza, a name that tune game, an art auction, or even a wine tasting. There’s something for everyone.

What’s your favorite way to spend a day at sea? Share your ideas for things to do on a cruise on our Facebook page.