For the landlubbers among us the thought of staying on a ship for 7 days or more may seem a little boring. But folks let me tell you if you get bored on a cruise ship then you must be the sort who is only happy hanging off the edge of a 300 'cliff by your fingernails.
From the moment you step on board for the first time your senses tell you that you are in for a ride. The air is electrified with excitation as you enter the main atrium and are greeted by ship staff (one ship we stayed on informed each family over the ship PA system as you stepped off the gangway into the atrium – wow, talk about making you feel special ).
Here are some of the activities you can experience on board as well as on shore and I think you will agree that boredom is not an option while cruising through the warm waters of the Caribbean.
Poolside is always a boisterous place with people swimming, hanging out in the hot tubs, sitting at the bar enjoying a drink, or just sitting around a table with friends talking about what's next. This is where the band is setup and it is common to see people being lead into some sort of dance by a crew member. Our days typically start and end around the pool deck.
Through the day there will be organized events on the stage by the pool. This could be a special dance, a hairy chest contest – usually for the men, a men against the women challenge which usually involves some silly activity that both parties attempt, or some other fun event. Mind you that these activities are always tasteful and can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Up top there is usually a basketball court where you can shoot a few hoops or play a full game in an event arranged by the crew, play some volleyball or as on one ship get a chance to ride a Segway – a two wheeled upright people mover . On the sports deck you can usually find a few ping pong tables, mini golf, or even an inline skate track. On Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas, as well as other's in their fleet, they have a 30 'Rock Climbing Wall. The ship provided all the safety gear including helmets and harnesses and trained crew members took care of belaying for each climber.
SPA and Gym
If you feel like working out you will find a well complimented gym containing various pieces of exercise equipment such as treadmills, exercise bikes, elliptical trainers, weight machines and free weights. They offer aerobic classes and for any who decide to start an exercise regimen onboard you can have one of the personal fitness trainers guide you through a program designed for your fitness level.
For the ultimate in pampering – hey that's what cruises do best – you can sign up for special spa treatment such as a facial, pedicure, neck massage, back massage, or even a full body wrap. They even offer the full cosmetic treatment so you can spend the day getting ready for the formal night.
Bars and Lounges
Need a break from the sun and heat then you can head indoors to one of the many bars and lounges that your ship will offer. Do you fancy sports then head to the sports bar and watch the latest game. On our last cruise we watched the Super Bowl game on a big screen set up on the pool deck.
Maybe you are in the mood for a stogey so why not head to the cigar club, or if music is your thing head off to the piano bar for some soothing sounds and if you feel like joining in, why not, the pianist always loves a little company as you get a chance to sing one of your favorite melodies.
Once night hits you can pull out your dancing shoes and head off to the disco and for a little boogeying.
With the exception of the Disney Magic every other ship we have been on had a casino. Now I am not much of a gambler but even I tried my hand at roulette – and won! Before stepping onto a cruise ship the only gambling I did was buying the Friday night lottery ticket so needless to say I was a little intimidated to take part in anything other than the slots. Now I wanted to try one of the tables, blackjack, roulette, poker, whatever but did not know the rules so I hung around the tables and just watched people playing trying to pick up the rules. Well the dealers are more than willing to help with the rules so you can ask them questions and they will explain the rules as you go. They even offer training sessions throughout the cruise so that you can have a chance to try your hand at a game without having to pony up any cash. Just think about it for a moment why would not they want to help you after the odds are in their favor that they will end up with your cash anyway. Now me and my buddies are regular fun gamblers and will head to the casino for a night or two to have a bit of fun and try to win a few bucks at the same time. I have a limit so I put aside $ 100 to gamble with and once it's gone I'm gone. But you know the three times I played roulette I came out a winner each time – it feels good to go home with the casino's money.
The Kids Club is a fun filled place for the younger cruisers to hang out with friends of their own age. Qualified cruise staff are always in the club to supervise the children and lead them in various activities such as games, crafts, tours, and sports. There is a separate club for each age group so you do not have to worry about your 6 year old hanging with the teens. At some point during the cruise they usually have one night classified as a late night where the kids get a chance to stay up late with their pals. This also works great for the parents as they get a chance to dine at one of the private dining rooms sans children.
You can give permission for the older kids to sign themselves in and out of the club but youngger children must be signed in and out by a pre-approved parent or guardian.
So there there is no need to worry about the younger set being bored lounging by the pool all day with mom and dad. Instead you may be wondering why they seem to be having more fun than you.
Did you forget to bring a book, no problem, head off to the ships library and take out novel to read or just take a break and sit in the quiet of the library and flip a few pages.
Just because you are cruising does not mean that you have to be disconnected from the rest of the world, although for many, me included, that is the idea. You can head to the Internet Cafe and send an email to all your envious friends back home or just surf the net for a while and catch up on the latest happenings.
You will find a chapel on board that can accommodate a small group – did I hear someone say they wanted to get married! On our last cruise one of the members of our group got married on board just before the ship sailed on our first day. Now that's a romantic wedding!
Food will probably be one of your most memorable experiences onboard. There is lots of it and the variety will suit even the pickiest of eaters. Most will agree that the quality and quantity of food alone pays for the cruise as you could not afford to eat on land like you do on a cruise ship and spend less money than the cost of the cruise. It's great to be able to order off a menu that does not have any prices.
While the food in the main dining rooms and buffets is nothing short of fantastic for those who might like to experience more romantic dining in a quitaire atmosphere there is usually separate dining rooms that you can reserve for a small fee (usually around $ 20 per person) . I have never found the food any better but the atmosphere is certainly more romantic.
There is no shortage of entertainment to be enjoyed onboard. You have the pool deck band, the piano bar, karaoke, but the best of all is the evening entertainment in the main theater. After a great meal in the dining room you can head to the main theater where every night you get to experience a broadway like show with singers dancers and a live band. What a way to end your day!
Did you forget something at home hey do not worry because you can head to the shopping deck and browse around for a new shirt or dress, or buy a new sun hat. If you are in the mood to splurge you can head to the jewelry store and pick out a new diamond ring or the latest Tag Heuer watch. Most ships even offer price guarantees that protect you if you find the same item in one of the port of calls at a cheaper price.
Probably one the best parts of cruising is having the opportunity to explore some of the many islands scattered through the Caribbean. So not only do you get to experience great dining and entertainment on board but you also get a chance to get off the ship and head off to some exotic island for a day trip. Imagine yourself lounging on a beautiful sandy beach in St. Louis. Martin or zip lining through the jungles of Belize, my favorite. Maybe you just want to hop a cab and do some site seeing around the island.
Whatever your fancy you are bound to find it somewhere along your Caribbean cruise.