What to Expect Sea Days on A Cruise

By: Linda Coffman

All days at sea aren't identical, but they do have a lot in common. Most ships schedule activities, port talks, lectures, games, and fitness programs on a non-stop basis. This is the time to personalize your cruise experienceyou can participate in any or all the activities scheduled or do nothing more strenuous than lift an umbrella drink while reading a book poolside.

No doubt you noticed that the shops and casino were closed when you boarded your ship. Local regulations preclude them from opening while in port; however, once at sea, all the ship's facilities are available during set hours.

Again, let your daily schedule be your guide. I like to have a highlighter to mark the events I don't want to miss. Examples of some activities to choose from are:

* Exercise & fitness classes
* Spa and salon services
* Casino gaming & "tournaments"
* Bingo
* Lecturesfor instance: port & shopping, health & fitness, lifestyle, language classes
* Bridge lessons & tournaments
* Pool games & ping-pong or shuffleboard contests
* Art auctions
* Dance classes
* Horseracing (a shipboard classic)
* Wine tasting
* Meetingsfor instance: service clubs & Friends of Bill W

In addition, the library and card room are available for quiet pursuits, as are many of the ship's lounges.

The swimming pool is one of the most popular spots on board during sunny sea days. Towels are provided, but please don't "save" deck chairs unless you are occupying them! A lively band plays poolside and the pool bar is a great spot to meet and greet new acquaintances. Even if you aren't a sun worshipper, you can enjoy the festivities from a shaded chair.

Breakfast and lunch during sea days are casual and often adhere to open-seating in the dining room (meaning you can go at any time during specified hours). Shorts are acceptable, but no bathing suits, please! If you don't want to change from swimming pool attire, toss on a cover-up and head for the lido buffet. Some ships feature a grill near the pool and sunbathers can grab a quick bite without sacrificing any tanning time.

Sea days, particularly if they are the second and next-to-the last days of the cruise, are usually capped by formal evenings. During the first formal night, the Captain hosts a reception for all passengers. Upon arrival, you are greeted by the ship's Social Hostess, who introduces you to the Master of the Vessel (another photo opportunity). Complimentary beverages and hors d'oeuvres are usually served and the Captain takes the stage to introduce his officers and staff.

Ship photographers will set their equipment up in a variety of locations before and after dinner to snap formal portraits and they will also make the rounds in the dining room to take informal shots of couples and groups.

Then, Bon Appetit! You're off to a formal dinner, followed by an elaborate production show in the main theatre. Afterwards, one lounge might offer karaoke, another may feature a pianist, and yet another swings into disco mode until the week hours of the morning. There's a lot to keep you busy if you choose. Or you may simply want to take a romantic stroll in the moonlight on the promenade deck before retiring to rest up for a day in port.

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