Because not all ports of call are for everyone – even I was having ruin fatigue at some points of our trip – not to mention there’s always going to be the day or two at sea while the ship’s transitioning between ports, cruise lines make sure that the days are packed full of activities – even if you’re more than likely going to be spending the day at the pools.
You can always count on the main theatre having a movie on during the day – which Nicole and I even took advantage of, having missed the chance to see Fast Five when it was first out at theatres – there’ll always be a selection of trivia, and even the occasional scavenger hunt. Here’s the flipcam challenge we did on the Vision of the Seas (shot in chronological order), and while we did our best to try and squeeze in as many 30 second challenges as we could, the other team managed to edge us out with a paltry 40 or so points. Close according to our host Augusto. The video’s short as a result and is just under 4 minutes long.
For the athletically inclined, most cruise ships come with a fitness centre – usually outfitted with a good selection of machines – and as in the case of the Vision of the Seas, offers Yoga classes. And of course the requisite spa, but often at cruise prices, so keep an eye out for specials listed in the daily planner – the Cruise Compass – or the discount booklet found in your state room. And then of course, depending on the size of the ship you’ll also have a rock wall, wave rider, and on some ships even an ice rink, available along side more modest trappings like a mini-putt green or basketball court. With lines Royal Caribbean and Carnival there’ll even be a full on arcade onboard. But the size and range of selection seems to be tied directly to the demographic being served, and so seems much better stocked on the routes frequented by younger crowds like the Bahamas.
For those interested in trying their chance at the tables, there’s almost certainly a casino onboard, which even included a daily Bingo draw on the Vision. If you do, just keep our best gambling tip for cruises in mind. They often offer free gaming lessons, and so for the curious, or those who have been too intimidated by the larger casinos to sit down and learn the rules of a game, the ship casino can be a much friendlier and less intimidating setting.
Like the days, the nights are jam packed with activities as well. And is one of the reasons you might want to consider “flex” dining when you cruise. Having done both this and the set seating, it’s very easy to run into conflicts with activities that you want to attend because the hours coincide with your dining time – albeit this is a more common occurrence with the earlier 6PM seating. With the larger ships you can end up with multiple performers coming aboard at different ports of calls, and so typically have a varied lineup for the duration of the cruise. For ships large enough to have a main stage, they will not only have a headliner booked for most nights, but will also have other groups scattered throughout the ship playing in the lounges and up on deck by the pools, while sing-a-long’s and Nicole’s favourite, Karaoke, are available in many of the bar lounges.
Not to mention all of the ballroom dancing we found scattered across Vision of the Seas’ itinerary. And it was actually this, that made us note the difference between the Mediterranean and Bahamian cruises, and thanks to our opportunity to speak with the cruise director learned this typical of the two different routes. While the Bahamas cruises tended to be about the beaches and late night partying, the Mediterranean cruises tended to be more about touring the ports and the ruins, while spending the night winding down after hours of sightseeing. Anecdotally there also seems to be a difference in the age range you can find aboard, with the latter being a much older crowd in general. However all of that being said, there were quite a few couples that were so amazing at how they danced and for how long, that they put much younger people to shame. And certainly intimidated a fledgling like myself.