If you are heading out on your first cruise you may be wondered what to do on cruise sea days. In my experience of cruising, Cruise sea days tend to be a love or loathe thing on a cruise itinerary and the perfect number of sea days is a hotly debated topic. But it doesn’t matter whether you have one or several sea days on your cruise itinerary in this guide we will tell you what to do on a cruise sea day to make sure you have a great time.
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But before we get into what to do on a cruise sea day, we will first discuss exactly what a cruise sea day is.
What is a cruise Sea Day?
A Cruise Sea Day does exactly what it says on a tin. Cruise sea days are days that are spent entirely at sea transiting between ports and not docking.
Cruise ships have lots of amenities from pools to spas, ice rinks to climbing walls. And on top of this amenities you will find that there are more scheduled activities on cruise sea days than on port days as cruise ships lay on more entertainment.
But one of the best things about cruise sea days is that you can do as little or as much as you want.
Also, you will find that there are more restaurants and food related activities on cruise sea days compared to port days. So if you are a foodie you will find there is much on offer.
How to plan a Cruise Sea Day?
If you have one or several days at sea on your cruise itinerary you will want to plan what you want to do on a cruise sea day.
The first place to look for what to do on cruise sea days is the Cruise planner. On many ships there are daily cruise planners, sometimes called the Cruise Compass, that will list all the activities and times they are scheduled for. These used to always been available in paper form however now they are also usually available on the cruise ship app or online.
These are available on any day of your trip, both in port and on sea days. While in port they are important for knowing exactly when you need to be back on the ship after your excursion.
However on a cruise sea day it is the best way to plan your activities.
Another great way to plan for your cruise ship sea days is to research the ship you are on before you board. By researching your ship before you travel you will be able to find out about amenities and when they are usually available.
Note: for more information on how to research the best cruise ship check out this post
What to do on Cruise Sea Day
So now you know what a cruise sea day is and the best ways to plan for it we will tell you some of the best things to do on cruise sea days.
Spend Some Time by the Pool
These days most cruise ships will have pools. In fact most cruise ships these days will have several pools and hot tubs around the ships.
Now depending on the pool you are on and the pool you will select will depend on what the pool is like. Many ships these days have indoor pools or adults only areas which have a much calmer vibe.
However if you re traveling with kids, toddlers or babies on a cruise ship you may be on a ship that has a water park, splash pad or slides.
All of the pools are great, just choose the one that has the right atmosphere for you.
Top Tip: the pools get very busy on cruise sea days especially on warm weather cruises such as those cruising round the South Pacific, French Polynesia or the Caribbean. Be sure to get there early to make sure you get a good spot round the pool.
Also if you are traveling on a cruising with a baby you may want to check out our guide to can babies swim on cruise ships.
Go Ice Skating / Roller Skating
One of my favorite things to do on a cruise ship is make use of the many amenities. One of my favorite amenities that many cruise ships have is ice skating rinks and roller rinks.
You will often find out that the ice rink or roller rink have longer opening hours on cruise sea days.
Top Tip: though I don’t get sea sick on cruise ships, you will find that the roughest day weather wise on cruise ships will be on sea days.
You could be traveling long distances at great speed so you are more likely to experience some sway. Therefore if you want to do ice skating or roller skating on your sea day I recommend doing this as soon as the sea is calm and not wait as you never know when the sea will turn and they will have to close the ice rink
Therefore prioritise this early in your day if you can.
For more information on cruise ships with ice rinks check out this post.
Several ships have facilities that can give you a simulated surgery experience. This is actually called the Flowrider on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.
As with the ice rink, you will find that experience tends to have longer operational hours on cruise sea days.
Again if it is very bumpy this facility may close early so be sure to prioritise this early in the day.
Do a Zipline or Rope Course
Another feature that you will find on many of the bigger cruise ships these days is a zipline or rope course.
For instance the MSC Seaside and Royal Caribbean Harmony of the seas both have zippiness.
Again if it is very bumpy this facility may close early so be sure to prioritise this early in the day.
Go on a Water Slide
If you are on one of the larger ships you may find that there are water slides. The Longest Waterslide at sea is the blaster on Royal Caribbean while Norwegian Bliss has a free fall slide.
Be sure to check out our post on the best water slides on cruise ships here.
Play Crazy Golf
Another staple feature of many cruise ships is a mini or crazy golf course. This is a great cruise sea day activities.
If you are cruising with kids then you may be worried about how to keep kids entertained on cruises. One of the best ways of keeping your kids entertained on a cruise ship is with the kids clubs.
Depending on the ship and the age of your children will depend how long and what your kids can do at kids club. However having cruised with kids on lots of cruises I can tell you that kids clubs offer some great activities especially on sea days.
If your kids are anything like mine the problem will be getting them out of the kids club.
And if you are cruising with kids be sure to check out our guides on cruising with different aged children below:
- Cruising with a baby
- how to pick a baby friendly cruise
- Cruising with a toddler
- Cruise packing list for babies
Kids will find there are lots of craft activities in kids club but why should kids have all the fun. You will find there are many craft classes on cruise ships for adults too. Check the cruise compass for times and if there is an additional cost.
Go to a Lecture
Fun fact, my father in law is actually a cruise lecturer. He gives specialist lecturers about ports.
If you want to learn something new or find out more about an upcoming cruise port you should consider attending a cruise lecture or port information talk.
Hit the spa
I have never been on a cruise ship without a spa and it is one of my favorite places to head on cruise sea days.
Usually you will be able to get a mixture of spa treatments from facials to massages however please note that there is always an additional charge for spa treatments on cruise ships.
A lot of people associate cruises with weight gain. However there are actually a lot of opportunities to exercise on cruise ships.
Some of the ways you can exercise on cruise sea days are:
- hit the gym
- take an exercise class
- walk the promenade deck which will seriously rack up the steps on your pedometer.
Take a class
As I mentioned above there are plenty of exercise classes run on cruise shops from spinning to ballroom dancing.
Check your daily planner to find the class that suits your interest most.
Go to an Auction
Another staple of cruise ships is the art auction. I must admit I am not a fan of cruise ship art and these can be expensive. But if you like the type of art on sale this may be of interest to you.
And even if it isn’t your thing it is worth noting that usually you get a free glass on champagne if you go to the auctions.
For more information on the best free things to do on cruises check out this post.
I don’t know about you but I am always fascinated by the workings of cruise ships. One great way to learn about cruise ships while on a sea day is by taking a bridge tour.
Here you will get to see the workings of the bridge, meet the captain and get to ask any questions you have about the workings of the ship.
On top of the bridge tour you will usually be able to do a tour of the galley on sea days too.
Perhaps the most traditional entertainment on a cruise ship that harks back to the golden age of cruising is the game shuffle board.
This is especially good on good weather cruises.
Quiz and Trivia
I love quizzes and trivia. Many cruise ships will offer several trivia competitions on sea days. For instance when we were on a Carnival cruise ship during a hurricane there was almost always a trivia contest on.
Depending on the ship and line you are on will depend on the prizes you win. I have won everything from a fish bowl of cocktails to a plastic ship on a stick by playing cruise ship trivia.
For more information on specific cruise lines and ships please check out the below posts:
Eat in a different restaurant
Usually on port days there will be limited number of restaurants open. However on sea days you will find that all main dining room, buffet restaurants and most speciality restaurants will be open.
Just be sure to make a reservation at a speciality restaurant as these get busy on sea days.
There is lots of duty free shopping available on cruise ships. The shops will be open all day on sea days.
See a Show
The bigger the ship the better the shows in my opinion and on sea days you will often find there are matinees as well as evening shows to enjoy.
Watch a Movie
You will find most ships have cinemas so be sure to check what is being screened and when.
However my favorite time to watch a movie is in the evening on ships that do movies under the stars at night.
Play a Game
I usually pack several games with me for a cruise ship. Some of my favorite travel games to take on cruises include Bananagrams, Travel Scrabble and Monopoly Deal.
Click here for more information on the best travel games for cruise travel.
Hit the Casino
Some of the more modern cruise ships are doing away with casinos on cruise ships which is a great thing in my opinion. However if you enjoy casinos check that your ship has one.
Read a Book
I always take a book with me for sitting around on the deck on cruise ships. However if you forget one there is usually a library on board.
What are your favorite things to do on cruise ships?