Top 10 Things to Do on a Cruise on a Rainy Day

rainy day on cruiseIf you’ve taken enough cruises, chances are you’re going to experience your fair share of rainy days while at sea.  On my last cruise it was cloudy or rainy almost the entire trip, so it inspired me to write this post on some fun things you can still do even if the skies are a little foreboding.  Don’t let a little rain ruin your vacation.

These are my top 10 things to do on a rainy day at sea but feel free to add your own to the list in the comment section below.

Spend some time in the spa

No matter how much rain is pouring out of the sky it will always be calming and relaxing in the spa.  Besides getting a facial or some other treatments you can always just enjoy watching the storm from the warm tepidarium or sauna if the ship has these features.  There is usually an indoor hot tub in the spa as well, and this is a great place to avoid the rain while enjoying some relaxation.

Check out a book from the library

The library on a cruise ship is often overlooked by most passengers.  You will not find a vast array of books here, but it’s a nice place to sit and read and get away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the ship.  And besides finding a few good books to read during your cruise you can also check out some games to play with your cruise mate or family.

Hit the arcade

Even if video games aren’t really your thing you should check out the arcade at least once anyway.  My wife and I seem to always end up playing air hockey on every cruise we go on, in addition to a competitive game of skee-ball.  You might have to endure some adolescent interaction, but a rainy day is a great time to feel like a kid again.  Just remember that the cost of those arcade games adds up fast on your cruise account. It catches me by surprise every time.

Order room service and enjoy the storm from your balcony

This is an activity I look forward to the most every time it starts to rain at sea, provided the wind is not blowing the rain onto the balcony of course.   With some food delivered by the room service staff you can simply enjoy watching the rain from your balcony.  The rain at sea is so different from watching it on land, and it provides quite the relaxing spectacle in my opinion.

Karaoke

Even if you don’t feel like singing your heart out  in front of a bunch of strangers you will probably never see again anyway, it’s always fun to listen to the singing talent (or lack thereof) on board.  Check the ship’s itinerary but there is almost always karaoke going on, especially on a sea day.

Find a covered  place to watch the pool deck TV screen

As soon as it starts raining the lounge chairs on the pool deck usually clear pretty quickly, but you can sometimes find a place that is covered and still has a view of the pool deck TV screen.  But even if watching what’s on the screen isn’t your thing it’s a fun place to people watch as well.

Get a galley tour on the cruise ship

Not every cruise line offers a galley tour for free, but often on sea days you can get the tour as an excursion.  It’s a fun thing to do if you’ve never seen the inner-workings of the kitchen, and it really is amazing how the well-trained staff serves so much quality food on a daily basis.

Watch a movie in your cabin

In your cabin you will be able to watch a number of newly released movies.  The charge for each movie will be applied to your on board account and usually you will have 24 hours to watch the movie.  And while some would think it crazy to be in a cruise cabin watching the television on vacation, others will find it the perfect way to relax on a rainy day at sea.

Get a workout at the gym

Now I know a few readers will be very opposed to this idea as well (after all, a cruise is time to do nothing, right?), but the gym is a great place to get out of the rain but still be active.  This is for those who can’t stand to sit still.  They can still enjoy watching the rain storm while burning a few calories from the chocolate melting cake.

Explore the ship

Cruise ships have so many little hidden gems that most cruisers will overlook simply because they didn’t take the time to read over the daily itinerary or explore the ship.  I always enjoy roaming the ship and exploring each floor to find rooms and spaces I didn’t know existed before.  Just make sure you don’t go anywhere that’s off limits.

So what would you add to your list?  Let us know what you like to do when it rains on a cruise in the comments below.

10 Reasons why Quantum of the Seas is the Cruise Ship for You 

 


Try indoor skydiving - photo courtesy of Royal CaribbeanWhen Quantum of the Seas hits the cruise market in November, it will be Royal Caribbean’s first new ship since Allure of the Seas made a splashy debut in 2010.

Allure was the second in the line’s wildly popular and innovative Oasis Class, but it has been heralded as much for being the biggest cruise ship in the world as it has for its cool first-in-cruise features like its neighborhood concept and enormous Aqua Theater high-diving show.

With Quantum, the cruise line is going somewhat smaller but no less glitzy; the new ship features so many innovations that would appeal to virtually anyone, its hard to imagine it won’t be a huge hit for the company that keeps raising the bar for activities at sea. Not convinced? Here are 10 reasons Quantum of the Seas is the ship for you.

Try indoor skydiving - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

1. You can try skydiving at sea. People probably thought Royal Caribbean was nuts when it added the FlowRider surfing simulator to its ships. Turns out, it was a stroke of genius, and people flock to it to give it a try or watch as others do. (The spectacular wipeouts are the stuff of legend.) So this time, when RCI announced it was adding a RipCord by iFly skydiving simulator to Quantum, it just made sense.

For free, each passenger will get a chance to spend a full minute experiencing the sensation of a skydiving freefall. And adrenaline junkies who get hooked on the experience can book additional private skydiving time (for a yet-to-be-determined fee).

Play at the SeaPlex - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

2. You can play at the SeaPlex. OK, so maybe we were a little skeptical when we first heard about its bumper cars, floating DJ booth and roller skating. But we’ve seen the light, and this space is going to be just plain fun.

Designed to entertain with a huge variety of activities, including Xbox gaming and full-court indoor basketball, we can see this spot as the place to be on sea daysor when the weather is lousy.

Staying fit on Quantum - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

3. You’ll have no problem staying fit. A new generation of cruisers has cruise lines paying attention to fitness activities, an area that was traditionally more of an afterthought on older ships.

New ships these days generally have excellent fitness centers and a variety of classes designed for those who want to try something new or just keep up with the routines they do at home. RCI has upped the ante, bringing in former NFL player Dhani Jones, who also made a name for himself trying new sports and traveling the world in his cable TV series “Dhani Tackles the Globe.” Jones has served as an adviser, providing input for the ship’s fitness facility and activities.

On Quantum of the Seas, passengers can try out hot fitness classes like FlyWheel and FlyBar; on shore at the cruise line’s private islands of Labadee and Coco Cay, passengers can take beach bootcamp classes. While the classes require a fee, passengers still can stay in shape onboard for free at the fitness center, which will be stocked with TechnoGym equipment.

Dining options on Quantum - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

4. You’ll find so many dining options. Royal Caribbean certainly isn’t the first to offer flexible dining options, but its “Dynamic Dining” concept might feature the most diversity among “free” choices. About half the restaurants on Quantum of the Seas are included in the cost of the cruise, and the variety is exceptional, with American comfort, Asian and contemporary sit-down dining options to go with casual bites like a hot dog cart and pizza. In the age of for-fee restaurants, passengers on Quantum of the Seas have plenty of included options for food; they don’t need to spend another dime. Still, if they want to try something different, the ship can accommodate.

Alternative for-fee restaurants run the gamut from traditional steakhouse (Chops Grille) to molecular gastronomy experience (Wonderland). Royal Caribbean also joined forces with celeb chefs Michael Schwartz, Jamie Oliver (aka the Naked Chef) and Devin Alexander, whose Devinly Decadence offers nothing but healthy-yet-delicious food choices. (We loved the healthy hamburger RCI featured during its Dynamic Dining reveal event.)

Dreamworks characters on Quantum - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

5. Families can stay together. Clearly, RCI was thinking aboutfamily cruisers when it came up with activities for Quantum of the Seas. And yes, there are kids clubs, the DreamWorks Experience, a large pool deck and a massive movie screen.

But we love the idea of interconnected cabins that will accommodate grandma and grandpa, mom and dad, and the kids. Multigenerational cruisers on Quantum of the Seas can book three interconnected cabins, each with its own living space and bathrooms, to provide together (or quiet) time.

Cabins are connected via a vestibule and can sleep between eight and 10 people. Total square feet is a comfy 575, and when the balconies are combined, you get a whopping 216 square feet of outdoor space. Even those travelling with a smaller brood will like the Family Junior Suites, which each include a half bath in addition to a full bath with bathtub, a must for anyone travelling with toddlers.

Two70 entertainment venue on Quantum - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

6. It’s whimsical. So much about Quantum of the Seas is designed to appeal to the inner child. Interior cabins have floor-to-ceiling HD TVs that broadcast real-time ocean views. (Royal Caribbean calls these virtual balconies.)

A giant glass-enclosed gondola attached to a mechanical arm atop the ship rises 303 feet above sea level, providing breathtaking views at sea and in port, a feature called the North Star.

Robots serve up drinks in the Bionic Bar, and a multimillion-dollar space, called Two70, incorporates technology, music and entertainment into what the cruise line promises will be like nothing we’ve seen before. Even the 2,980-piece art collection, which includes a 30-foot magenta bear on the top deck and a giant electronic helix in the atrium, screams fun. It’s true: Some of the features might border on gimmicky.

But isn’t a cruise vacation about letting loose and having a great time? There’s no way you’ll take yourself too seriously when you’re walking between the legs of a giant bear to enter a bumper car arena.

Improved internet access on Quantum - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

7. You can stay in touch with loved ones at home. With its partnership with communications company O3B, Royal Caribbean says Internet speeds onboard Quantum of the Seas will match speeds on land, something unheard of on cruise ships.

That means passengers who purchase Internet packages — pricing and packages haven’t been determined yet — can access email, share photos via social media or make video calls to shore. Royal Caribbean says the improved Internet speeds will drive down the costs, as well, which is a trend we hope catches on.

Staying in touch onboard Quantum - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

8. You can stay in touch with loved ones on the ship. With Quantum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has introduced two new apps that can be used to enhance the booking and cruise experience.

The first, Cruise Planner, is designed to be used before you set sail to book things like excursions, dining and spa treatments. The second, Royal IQ, includes a component that will allow passengers to keep in touch with one another via their cellphones with texting and calling.

This is especially helpful for families or groups traveling together, when coordinating schedules can be tricky. Royal Caribbean has yet to announce the cost of using Royal IQ to communicate on the ship, but the fee for similar apps on other cruise lines is nominal. (Norwegian Cruise Line‘s iConcierge, for example, carries a flat fee of $7.95 per person.)

Quantum cruise cabin - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

9. Forget the loved ones: Cruise solo. Until fairly recently, cruise lines haven’t been particularly interested in catering tosingle travelers and instead focus on more lucrative couples or families.

Those who cruise by themselves often are forced to pay nearly double the per-person rate non-solos pay. (Cruise lines call this fee the “single supplement.) NCL’s newest ships in particular have bucked that trend, adding funky solo cabins and solo lounges for those cruising alone.

Quantum of the Seas has 28 solo cabins, which are fairly large (119 square feet) compared with other solo cabins. We love the inclusion of a standard-size bathroom and roomy balcony (12 have this feature), which is not typical when it comes to single-cabin options.

Quantum conveyance - photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean

10. It will get you warmed up for Anthem of the Seas. The lament heard most often at Cruise Critic is that Quantum of the Seas seems great, but it’s only in the U.S. for a short time before it heads to Shanghai, which will be the its permanent homeport.

Quantum of the Seas will sail from Bayonne, New Jersey, to the Eastern Caribbean from November 2014 to April 2015 before making its grand voyage to Shanghai, where Royal Caribbean will market the ship toward Asian passengers.

That means U.S. passengers have a scant six months to try out the ship. Still, identical twin Anthem of the Seas, which debuts in spring 2015, makes Bayonne its homeport starting in November 2015, sailing Bahamas cruises and Caribbean cruises. So if you don’t get a chance to sail Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas will provide virtually the same experience a year later.

Big Ships vs. Small Ships

Big Ships vs. Small Ships: the Pros and Cons of Cruise Ship Size

allure of the seas cruise ship sailsToo big or not too big? That’s the question for a lot of cruisers thinking of trying a ship of a different size, whether they’re newbies or old salts. With mega-vessels featuring a dizzying number of amenities, dining choices and entertainment options, and small ships offering a more intimate and often exclusive experience, the size decision can be a difficult one.

We’ve compiled a list of elements to consider before making a choice about whether bigger is better or small is the way to go. Check out our pros and cons below.

Editor’s Note: For the purposes of this article, we’re considering “small” ships to be any vessel carrying 1,599 or fewer passengers and “big” ships to be anything with a passenger capacity of 1,600 or more.

Big Ships

Number of Passengers

kids cook as part of activity on celebrity reflectionPro: If you’re someone who doesn’t mind a crowd, a big ship is the place to do it. With some ships — like those in Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class — carrying more than 5,000 passengers per sailing, it’s unlikely you’ll run into the same folks twice during a week long voyage. With so many bars, lounges and out-of-the-way nooks and crannies, it’s easy to find a spot for yourself, but those who like to constantly meet new people will particularly find mega-ships appealing.

Con: Sailing on what’s essentially a floating city can be overwhelming and likely won’t feel intimate. On large ships with poor layouts, lines for everything from the buffet to the theatre can be long, and good luck finding a deck chair by the pool.

Dining Options

geoffrey zakarian restaurant ocean blue on norwegian ncl breakawayPro: If you’re easily bored with eating in the same dining room every night, large ships provide lots of options to switch it up. On larger vessels, you can have sushi one night, Italian the next, French the following evening and seafood or steak the day after that. The possibilities are almost endless, which is a plus for anybody who’s a picky eater (or anybody who’s travelling with one).

Con: Chances are good that you’ll end up shelling out extra cash to dine at least a couple of the alternative eateries. Reservations can be difficult to come by for some of the more exclusive options; if you’re dying to try one in particular, book before you board.

Entertainment Offerings

princess theater on regal princess cruise shipPro: Larger ships boast more bells and whistles, so it follows naturally that they present more entertainment options. From comedians, game shows and Broadway revues to magicians, movies and dinner theatre productions, there’s something to keep just about everyone busy.

Con: Sometimes it’s difficult to decide where you want to be and what you want to do. Should I catch the movie on the pool deck or head to the lounge for karaoke? If I miss the show tonight, can I see it again during this sailing? Also, a select few events do carry an additional fee to attend, which can be a drawback.

Activities

the waterslide on carnival breeze cruise shipPro: Add ropes courses, skydiving and innovative water slides to the host of options that keep passengers busy onboard. Because larger ships offer something for just about everyone, they’re often a solid choice anyone who’s easily bored, couples or groups with varied interests and multi-generational groups. (Think bingo for grandma and grandpa, dinner shows for mom and dad, and innovative children’s programming for the kids.)

Con: As is the case with a large selection of entertainment options, having too many activity choices can make any cruiser’s head spin.

Small Ships

Number of Passengers

people sit under a sail on island windjammers diamantPro: Small ships, by definition, carry fewer passengers. You’ll likely see the same faces over and over on a daily basis and get to know them exceedingly well by the end of your sailing.

Con: If you’re someone who prefers to keep a low profile, a vessel with a larger passenger count is probably a better bet. On a smaller ship, a handful of annoying passengers can make or break a trip.

Dining Options

a dining room onboard regent seven seas marinerPro: Many small ships, due to their limited space, have only one main dining room for meals, and they generally don’t allow for anything other than eating at set times with set table mates. (Others might have alternative eateries, but they’re limited.)

Con: Menu options can be slim, especially with a shortage of alternative restaurants. If you’re someone who likes variety, you might have trouble finding it on a smaller vessel.

Entertainment Offerings

empty theater on seabourn questPro: You won’t find much in the way of casinos, theatre productions or magicians, but that leaves room for more educational pursuits. Small ships often provide enrichment seminars on everything from photography to local culture. Sometimes local performers are brought on board to entertain, as well. Think historians, musicians and dancers.

Con: If history and culture aren’t of interest to you, you might have trouble finding something to occupy your time on board. Be prepared to bring some reading material.

Activities

spin bikes and balls fitness center gym on azamara journeyPro: Because small ships don’t offer the plethora of amenities that large ships do, the sailings they provide focus mainly on the destinations they visit, rather than the vessels themselves. That means excursions are key, and they often focus on the history and culture of a region, making it easy for cruisers to immerse themselves in their surroundings and learn a lot about the places on which they call. Also, due to their tinier size, small ships can call on more remote ports that can’t accommodate mega-ships.

Con: Marathon shore excursions can leave you feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation. Prepare to spend a day on board relaxing and taking it easy if it gets to be too hectic.