We want to discover local cultures and enjoy authentic experiences, so the prospect of immersing oneself in a particular country's way of life often grabs the headlines in the weekend travel supplements. It has become key to attracting 'new to cruise' guests who are concerned that a day at sea will be a bit dull. We agree that the destination is key to the cruise, but is every day in port too much of a good thing?
The perception that a day at sea on a cruise ship is going to be spent surrounded by thousands of other passengers, fighting with a heaving mass of people to try to stake out some territory by the pool, couldn't be further from the reality of a luxury ship. I could go through the passenger to space ratio of the top lines versus the mainstream megaships but the simple reality is that it never feels too busy anywhere on a luxury ship.
Grabbing a couple of loungers by the pool, or in a quiet spot elsewhere, isn't a challenge and doesn't require a pre-dawn alarm call. There are no queues at the restaurants, which will offer à la carte delights or buffets of superb fresh food. This level of space helps create a calm and relaxed atmosphere and means that a day at sea can come as a welcome respite from active, sometimes tiring, days ashore.
There is often a certain amount of pressure to explore every port on your itinerary, which can add up to an exhausting holiday. It's a phenomenon that isn't replicated when staying at a hotel or resort, where being based in one place means days exploring the local sights can be interspersed with lazy days by the pool guilt-free. On a welcome sea day, you can indulge in a late breakfast, chill out in the sunshine and enjoy a leisurely lunch in a choice of outstanding restaurants without the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out).
For those who need more than just beautiful sunshine, a good book and a spot by the pool there are usually a range of activities that can easily fill a day. Exactly what is available will depend on the individual cruise line but commonly there will be a range of lectures and port talks, not to mention seminars and wine tastings. You could learn Bridge, a foreign language, the foxtrot, or some new computer skills. You can watch a movie, a cooking demonstration or, on some ships, practice the recipe yourself. You could visit the spa, the gym or even the bridge. Why not brush up on your golf swing, play tennis or head to a fitness class?
It might just be a chance to enjoy a long lunch overlooking the ocean. No matter how you enjoy spending your time, a holiday should always end with you returning more relaxed than when you departed, and some time at sea provides the perfect opportunity for this. It might be a bit of an exaggeration but this is why many repeat guests will say that the best thing about being in port is staying on board!
So whether it's one day in the middle of an otherwise port-intensive trip, or a number of sea days in between the exotic ports of call often included on an ocean crossing, don't be put off by days at sea. You might find they become the highlight of your trip!