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What To Do On Sea Days While Cruising

Aft of a cruise ship

Whether you are new to cruising or a seasoned veteran, most cruise vacations come with some sea days. These are days with no docking or tendering. Itineraries to the Caribbean may have non-port days at the start of your trip and one on the last day. However, if you plan to cross an ocean, your cruise may include a long stretch of continuous sailing. So, what to do on sea days?

Believe it or not, some passengers love sea days. It’s an opportunity to disconnect from the real world and do nothing but relax. Since you’re not rushing off the ship for the day or taking an excursion, your day has no set itinerary. Isn’t this how a vacation should be?

Writing this, I’ve just completed my third repositioning cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii. While I only stepped off the plane 9 hours ago, I’m already missing the hot weather, tropical flowers, and ocean breezes.

An itinerary to Hawaii usually includes five consecutive sea days to cross the Pacific Ocean, but this last sailing took six days. The cruise director joked that it took six days because the Captain needed an extra day to find Hawaii, lol. 

While vessels vary as to the amenities they have onboard and activities offered, be sure to tour your ship on embarkation day. This is a great time to discover the type of cruise ship amenities so you can have fun at sea. Here are some suggestions for what to do on non-port days.

Take An Onboard Class

Not only is your vessel a floating hotel but it can also offer an array of intuitive classes, most of which are free. These classes tend to be offered on sea days as a fun activity for cruisers.

Activities during the day can include computer classes or photo editing. To add some creativity to your day, try your hand at a scrapbooking, watercolor painting, or jewelry making.

For those that have rhythm and don’t have two left feet, learn some ballroom dancing or line dancing steps. I have to confess; I have tried ballroom dancing a few times, and it’s much harder than it looks. My excuse is, that I was born with two left feet, and I’m sticking to it, lol.

What to do on sea days? Take an onboard class or lesson. This is a cooking demonstration on the Coral Princess.
Watching a cooking demonstration on the Coral Princess

Other classes that may be offered by your cruise ship for an additional fee can include wine pairing and cooking lessons.

Play A Game Or Do A Puzzle

Every single ship I have sailed had a games room on board. If you’re traveling with family, be sure to check out their selection of games and puzzles. The games rooms have many tables, but you are free to take a pack of cards or games, back to your room or other areas of the ship to enjoy during sea days.

The selection of cruise ship games can include dominoes, checkers, chess, Chinese checkers, scrabble, monopoly, and more.

Crosswords puzzles and Sudoku puzzles are usually offered daily in the library or guest services area. If you love games, don’t limit yourself to what’s onboard. Some passengers bring their own Mahjong sets, while others bring Cards Against Humanity or even cribbage boards.

My husband and I bring “Roll For It” which is our favorite travel game. It’s an easy game for 2 or more players and takes up little room in your luggage.

My husband and I are puzzle fanatics, so it’s fun to stop by the games room to start, add, or finish a puzzle. If you start a puzzle, you can just leave it for others to work on. In fact, it’s incredible to see how quickly a puzzle is finished with so many people working on it throughout sea days.

Read A Book On Sea Days

Sea days are the perfect time to curl up with a book, don’t you think? Every cruise ship has a library, and these vary in size and selection of books. Why pack a heavy book in your luggage when you have a full library available to use onboard?

Some libraries offer books in languages other than English. Some also have a donate and take section where passengers can leave behind their books for others to enjoy.

What to do on sea days? Read a book from the cruise ship library
The library on the Celebrity Eclipse

If you are sailing with Princess Cruises, consider joining the Princess Book Club. The book club allows for literary discussions among book readers while sailing. Depending on the length of your cruise, several book club meetings may be scheduled.

If your embarkation day is fast approaching and you haven’t read the book, don’t worry. The ship’s library will carry a few copies of the chosen book for passengers to borrow.

Play Mini Golf

Looking for what to do on sea days to entertain your family? Check to see if your cruise ship has mini-golf on one of the upper outdoor decks. Mini golf is a fantastic activity regardless of your age. But since it’s outdoors, it’s best avoided on windy days.

What to do on sea days? Play mini golf, scale a climbing wall, fly down a zip line or try out the bumper cars.
Climbing wall on the Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas

If your ship doesn’t include mini-golf, it may have other activities instead. Some include climbing walls, bumper cars, merry-go-rounds, zip lines, and ice-skating rinks.

Watch A Movie Or A Concert

Just because you’re on vacation, doesn’t mean you can’t have a date night. Sea days are a perfect time to plan an intimate dinner in a specialty restaurant and enjoy one of the latest movies under the stars, in a movie theatre, or in the privacy of your stateroom?

While most cruise ships have a large flat-screen TV on an outdoor deck, Princess Cruises takes it to the next level with their “Movies under the stars.” Most Princess ships feature a massive TV screen close to the outdoor pool area. The 300 sq. foot, LED screen generally shows a movie each night, weather permitting.

During the day, relax on a comfy deck chair and watch a music concert, movie, or sporting event. At night, cuddle with a loved one under a blanket while savoring some complimentary fresh popcorn while you watch a movie under the stars. A perfect recipe for date night on a cruise ship!

Indulge In A Spa Treatment

If you’re still working full-time, the hustle and bustle of everyday life generally do not leave time for pampering. However, when you’re on a cruise ship, there is plenty of time. Be sure to check out the spa area and the treatments it offers.

You can indulge in a full body massage, herbal body wrap, manicures, pedicures, teeth whitening as well as facial and hair services. It’s a great way to use free onboard credit.

On sea days, pamper yourself in the ship's spa
On sea days, pamper yourself in the ship’s spa

On a honeymoon or wanting some quality time with your loved one? Cruise ships provide plenty of ways to add romance with your significant other. Consider a couple’s hot stone massage. I think I died and went to heaven, the first time I had one onboard a cruise ship.

A spa is a popular place on sea days. If you’re on a budget and do not want to spend money on a treatment, you can still pamper yourself by using the complimentary sauna and steam rooms. Both the sauna and steam room heat have a way of relaxing your achy muscles.

Attend An Art Auction

Looking for some artwork to decorate your home? Why not attend an art auction on board your cruise ship? The artwork offered comes in various mediums and styles to suit every buyer and can be shipped directly to your home.

You are not obligated to purchase, but you can enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne just by attending the auction. The art gallery sometimes offers lectures on a particular artist. For instance, I have seen lectures on the works of Thomas Kinkade and Peter Max.

Cruise ship art auction
A selection of paintings at the art auction

Sing Your Heart Out

Cruising allows you to sing your heart out during karaoke. While I can’t sing and I know most of us can’t, karaoke is meant for us who can’t hold a tune.

If you have a fear of singing on a stage, just remember you don’t know anyone on board, and you’re not likely to see any of those people again. Life is short, sing like no one is listening as the saying goes.

Hide Some Rubber Ducks

Cruising ducks has become very popular on cruise ships. Guests hide ducks around the ship for strangers to find. It’s a friendly game of hide and seek that brings a smile to those who find them.

While the game started on a Carnval Cruise ship, the event has spread across most cruise lines. I left ducks on my Serenade of the Seas cruise to Alaska. It was fun to see how long it took for others to find them

Enjoy An Evening Show

One of the things I love about cruising is the Broadway-type shows offered in the evening. Some of the most amazing musicals I’ve enjoyed included renditions of the Lion King, Hair Spray, and Rock n’ Roll shows.

These shows are well orchestrated and rarely disappoint. On some nights, instead of a theater production show, your cruise ship may have a magician, acrobats, piano player, or comedian.

Most cruise ship theaters are tiered with three levels of seating, so there is never a bad seat wherever you chose to watch. Enjoy a cocktail while you watch the show or take along a travel mug of coffee or tea.

Take A Behind The Scenes Ship Tour

It takes a large team of hard-working staff to keep the operations of the ship running smoothly. During your cruise, you might consider taking a behind-the-scenes tour. Some ships offer a tour of the galley, while others offer an extensive tour of the bridge, laundry area, engine room, and theater areas.

I have done three galley tours on Celebrity and Princess ships. It was fascinating to see where thousands of meals are prepared every day.

Go To The Gym

If you love to work out, a cruise vacation allows you not to break the routine with a fully equipped gym. While the ships include plenty of treadmills, bikes, and elliptical machines, the gym often gets quite crowded in the mornings. Knowing that you might want to consider choosing an off-peak time.

Most gyms also offer additional classes for a small fee. Check to see they offer yoga, Pilates, or aerobic classes.

If the gym isn’t your thing, most ships include a jogging or walking track on the upper deck which will allow you to walk at your leisure. Maybe if you walk enough, maybe you can eat an extra dessert at dinner, lol.

If the weather isn’t behaving, most ships have a complete circuit on a lower deck. Try checking out the main or promenade decks as these offer a walking area that is completely covered.

A typical cruise ship gymnasium
A typical cruise ship gymnasium

Do Some Duty-free Shopping

During your cruise, check out the duty-free and other shops onboard. Be sure to watch your daily newsletter too because most cruise lines offer massive discount sales at certain times.

I’ve been to many USD 10 sales where everything is USD 10. Selection can include jewelry, watches, purses, ties, scarves, hats, beach bags, and much more. This is a great time to stock up on gifts for family and friends.

The fragrance shops can also offer significant discounts on men’s and women’s fragrances.

Attend A Meet And Greet

I’m a social person and love to meet people from all over the world. What better way to do this than during my vacation? During my many travels, I’ve met some fantastic individuals from all over the world.

Whether you are traveling alone or with a loved one, be sure to attend a meet and greet on a sea day. Sometimes, you’ll meet people to buddy up with on excursions. Sometimes, you’ll create a lifelong friend who shares the same interest.

Meet and greet groups sometimes do a cabin crawl event too. The event allows participants to view each other’s staterooms. It’s a fantastic way to see the layouts of cabin categories.

Have Fun At The Casino

If you’re not afraid to lose some hard cash, have fun in the ship’s casino. Casinos are usually only allowed to operate in international waters, so this is a sea day or evening activity as you sail between ports.

While I’m not a gambler, I have watched a few slot machines and poker tournaments and found them fascinating. The slot machine tournament was a barrel of laughs and entertained me without spending any money.

If you’re a hard-core gambler but want a little fun, try your hand at a friendly game of bingo. I’ve sailed many that offer a free cruise for two on their last night of bingo.

Relax By The Pool

Pool deck on Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas
Pool deck on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas

Let’s face it, you’re on vacation to get some R & R. If all of the above doesn’t appeal to you, there’s always the swimming pool and hot tubs. Most vessels come with both outdoor and covered pools so you can relax on a lounger regardless of the weather conditions.

Carnival Spirit's the "Green Thunder" water slide
“Scare yourself silly” as the Green Thunder water slide suggests

Being an adventurous person, I find it hard to sit still by a swimming pool. However, give me a water slide, and I’ll be the first to slide down regardless of how scary it looks.

I remember sailing the Carnival Spirit and couldn’t wait for the “Green Thunder” water slide to open so I could try it. It’s renowned for being the steepest water slide at sea and riders travel at 65 kph to the bottom.

If you’re not fond of sea days, consider a river cruise since every day is a port day.

Happy travels ~ Karen