On Board Activities

If you're worried that you'll be bored on a cruise ship, banish that idea right away. Cruise ships schedule so many activities that a day at sea can be almost as much fun (and as exhausting) as a full day of sightseeing. From ropes courses to rock climbing, trivia contests to cooking classes, wine-tasting to water slides, there's truly something for everyone.

Want to lie in the sun or take a dip in the pool? No problem. Want to spend time shopping for souvenirs, indulging in a massage or gambling in the casino? You can do it. Want to boogie board, drive a race car (at least a simulated version of one) or ice skate? Aha -- even these exotic activities can be done onboard.

The Daily Bulletin

How do you find out what's going on each day? A daily newsletter is delivered to your cabin each evening. One will also be waiting for you when you arrive. In it, you'll find the schedule for the next day's activities and entertainment offerings, as well as opening hours for the spa, restaurants, onboard shops and bars. You might also find listings for onboard or in-cabin movies, information on scheduled ports of call, debarkation and embarkation information, and sunrise and sunset times. Children registered with the onboard kids' club  will receive their own daily schedules of age-appropriate activities, as well.

Daytime Offerings

Ships try to appeal to all types of passengers, and dozens of organized programs will offer a wide range of activities, covering an array of interests -- especially on sea days. If you want to get active, you might participate in pool games, compete in basketball and volleyball tournaments, improve your golf swing or take dance classes. Indoors, you might prefer a history lecture, playing cards (bridge is especially popular) or bingo (for an extra fee), learning napkin-folding or flower-arranging, bidding on items at an art auction, playing trivia, watching a cooking demonstration or sipping wine at a wine-tasting (usually for an extra fee).
Entertainment during the day can range from musical performances by the pool to afternoon shows.
You are, of course, free to skip all organized activities and lounge at the pool with an icy cocktail. Also open throughout the day are the ships' boutiques, casinos (at sea only) and libraries -- not to mention the many venues for eating and drinking round-the-clock. Norwegian even has Wii video games hooked up to giant screens in its ships' atriums for passenger use. Outdoors, you'll find Ping-Pong, shuffleboard, basketball courts and -- on several ships -- mini-golf, rock climbing walls, rope courses and even onboard surfing. And, you can always retreat to your cabin to enjoy the view from the balcony or indulge in a mid-day nap.

The Gym and Spa

You'll be hard-pressed to find a modern cruise ship without a fitness center and spa complex onboard. While some offer just the basics, the newest models are often multi-deck, spacious areas with floor-to-ceiling ocean views and state-of-the-art equipment. Onboard fitness centers provide a range of cardio and strength-training equipment, and many have separate rooms for exercise classes. Classes tend to be offered in the morning and again in the early evening. You will find listings in daily bulletins, but if you stop by the gym, you can pick up a separate sheet that details times for all classes, as well. Be aware that, while some classes are free, ships tend to charge $10 to $15 for specialty offerings like yoga, Pilates and spinning, which you'll usually have to sign up for in advance. Some ships offer other unique fitness options, such as boxing rings and TRX suspension training.
The spa is the place to indulge in massages, facials and other pampering treatments; most ships also have salons, where you can have your hair cut and styled and get manicures and pedicures -- all for additional fees. You might also find steam and sauna rooms or a thalassotherapy pool -- a combination whirlpool and mineral bath. Some cruise lines have expanded the spa's appeal with special treatments for men (like old-fashioned shaves) and teens (including mother-daughter packages). More nontraditional spa offerings include acupuncture, teeth-whitening and Ionithermie detox. Check the daily bulletin or the spa for special offers and spa packages -- you can often save money by booking your spa treatments on port days rather than sea days.
For more on cruise ship spas, read our feature on Best Cruise Ship Spas.

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