It’s really nice to be able to sleep in after a late night of karaoke singing or dancing at the clubs onboard. You’ll also appreciate a break onboard to give you some rest after a few days in a row of going ashore to hang out in the sun, swimming, snorkeling, hiking, biking or whatever else your excursions kept you busy doing. Sea days are when you can fully enjoy the activities on the ship, like climbing walls, ropes courses, pools and waterslides.
But what if you choose a cruise that has a port-intensive itinerary? One with just one or no sea days in an itinerary that can stretch a week or longer?
This is typical for expedition cruises or for smaller ships that sail in regions that have many interesting port cities packed closely together.
On my cruise on the brand-new Viking Orion, I checked the schedule and saw that we would be at a new port each day during our weeklong sailing in the Mediterranean. The cruise from Rome to Barcelona offered stops in Livorno, Genoa, Monte Carlo, Marseilles and Barcelona, each an exciting port with lots to choose from. Viking Ocean Cruises prides itself for its focus on exploration, and its itineraries give you a new place to discover each day. These types of busy schedules can be hard to handle without putting together a good plan.
I have four simple rules for the best way to enjoy a cruise with no sea days.
We like to book excursions for each port before we get on the ship. That way, we know exactly how we want each day to play out. I love to do as much active stuff as possible when I explore new destinations. So, hiking, bike tours, snorkeling and swimming are likely to be among the excursions we at least try at some of the port stops.
We mix in some long days ashore, with some half days that allow us to get back on the ship in the afternoon so we can spend time at the pool, playing trivia and trying other activities and amenities (like the spa).
If you outline a good schedule to have a general idea of how each day will play out, you will find good pockets of time throughout your cruise that allow you to do everything you want.
Be Smart and Flexible
You can be a cruise pro at planning and booking shore excursions and mapping out your daily itinerary.
But stuff happens.
Consider the possibility that you could choose to stay up really late because you are having an amazing amount of fun and a few drinks with new friends. (This happens all the time.) So, you might decide to call off the beach excursion you had planned for early the next morning.
Or maybe you have an adventure at a bucket-list destination coming up and it calls for a full day of activity. That means you’ll have to have the willpower and discipline to get to bed early to rest up for the big day.
Or rain could ruin a planned outdoors activity. Sunburn at an earlier port could nix plans for a second beach day on your Caribbean itinerary. Here’s a free tip: Work hard to avoid sunburn! It can ruin many good parts of a cruise. (Have you ever tried had a massage while sunburned? Yeesh.)
In short, you have to know your priorities and be ready to choose what you want to do that will make you happiest on your cruise vacation – especially because there are always unknown factors that arise during your trip.
The schedule on a cruise with no sea days can be overwhelming. With so many fun options onboard and ashore, you’ll want to try it all. The drinks, gourmet dinners, shore excursions, themed dance parties, karaoke, production shows, pool time, sports courts, massage and spa treatments and much more entice you during a cruise.
It can be overwhelming, especially when a huge chunk of your day will be spent in port. With no sea days on your cruise, the schedule gets condensed. The best strategy is to pace yourself so that you don’t get burned out and stressed out when you are supposed to be having a great cruise vacation.
Recharge Your Body
We love to take refreshing nap after coming back from a shore excursion, especially if we spent a lot of time in the sun, having a few beers or taking on something challenging like a full day of snorkeling or hiking. Many times, we do a good amount of all of these things in the same outing. This leaves you wiped out and in need of some rest to recharge for the evening on board. A power nap, refreshing shower and a good dinner put you right back in the swing to have fun on the cruise ship.
There are plenty of other ways to stay invigorated so you can have plenty of energy. Get a massage. Drop into the hot tub regularly to soothe sore muscles and feet, which also helps you relax and avoid stress. There’s nothing like a bit of time on the hot tub on a cruise ship that makes you forget the grind of the real world.
If you’re into fitness, get in at least several brief workouts (if you’re not feeling up to your usual full routine) throughout the week to help get your day started. Hitting the gym regularly, even if it’s just for 15 or 20 minutes, will help give you energy for the day and help you sleep better at night, too.
Dive Right In
If all else fails, you can just let it rip.
Do it all.
Enjoy the week.
Cram in as much fun as you can and rest when you get home. After all, this is your awesome cruise vacation, and you want to make the most of it.
John Roberts is a freelance writer and operator of InTheLoopTravel.com. He writes about cruising and active travel, highlighting how people can connect with the world and other cultures through rewarding travel experiences.