Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hip Getaways: Cruising 101 - On-Board Activities

If you're thinking of cruising away on your next vacay make sure you tune in to Katie Schmeer's Cruising 101 series for The Hip & Urban Girl's Guide. Here's her third post on Cruise Activities.

Cruises are excellent for their breadth of on-board activities. Days at sea don’t mean that sitting on the deck and being bored. Every night you will receive a schedule that details all of the activities that will be taking place the next day. You are certainly not expected to follow this schedule and you may have any of the following to choose from: dance classes, movies, art shows, demonstrations (ice sculptures, towel folding, cooking), cards, trivia, rock climbing, mini-putt, virtual golf, surfing (yes, that’s right), games, casinos, video arcades, swimming, spa services, etc. 
It would take too long to go into detail of all of these potential activities, but the bigger and newer the cruise ship, the more amenities it likely has packed on board. If you are travelling with an older individual who has no intention of leaving the ship, even on days when you are in port, this is something to consider, likewise, if you have several days at sea. That said, if you are looking more for destinations and/or want to save some money, older or smaller ships will not have all of these options and will cost less as a result. 
For parents, there are excellent kids’ programs on board catering to different age groups. You simply sign your children up for the program and you are free to spend a day lounging by the pool, margarita in hand, while your child is safely and happily occupied. 

After dinner, you may want to partake in the shows that the cruise is featuring. These might include musical performances, comedy acts, dancing and even aerial performances, like what you might experience in something like Cirque du Soleil. On my most recent cruise, there was even an ice show.

I have noticed a big range in these performances, having experienced both cheesy, cliché and horrible shows, all the way up to something I would expect on Broadway! I find that Royal Caribbean has particularly excellent shows, but this truly seems to be a hit or miss category. Your itinerary will specify what show is being presented that night and sometimes there are “adult only” shows, as in the language or subject matter will be geared towards the 18+ crowd. These shows are offered later at night and well past bedtime for the little ones.

As I mentioned before, every cruise will have certain formal nights, which offers a chance to get dressed up and wander the ship in full formal-wear, drink in hand. During these nights in particular, you may want to take advantage of the cruise photographers. They will be harassing you throughout your stay, in the hopes that you will buy one of the many pictures they will take of you, (you are not obliged to buy anything), but on this night, you may actually seek them out. Stations are set up around the ship and you, your family, friends and/or significant other, can get a portrait taken. The next evening those photos will be placed in a photo section, where, if you find one you like, it can be purchased. You can also have them transferred to CDs, if you foresee the need to make more copies. The photos tend to be on the expensive side, but in my case, I used this opportunity for my engagement photos. So a definite score for me! --- Katie Schmeer

Check back with us next week for more from our Cruising 101 series!  Read more from the series here.

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