Do you love cruising? There’s lots of times you have those “How can I make this happen” moments. After years or cruising, here are the shortcuts my wife and I have discovered.
- How to have the hot tub all to yourselves. Before booking, study the deck plan. How many hot tubs are aboard the ship? Where are they located? Book a cabin closest to a hot tub. Ours was an inside cabin on one voyage. Learn the schedule when the crew takes off or replaces the netting signifying it’s closed. Now you can get up early, put on your robes and be the first in (or last out at night!)
- How to nail down a deck chair. It’s bad manners to stake out a deck chair and not use it. Here are two strategies. First, anticipate the movement of the sun. You choose a chair that’s in the shade of a lifeboat earlier in the day. No one wants those! A little while later, it’s a perfect location with sun and shade. The second strategy is to go with a group of fellow passengers who guard a row of chairs or bring your book, magazine or filled tote bag, which you leave on, not beside the chair. If you aren’t gone too long, your chair should stay yours.
- Be treated well by your cabin steward. There are several methods. Bear in mind they see hundreds of passengers in a season. They are good at reading you! Here are a few ways: Own great luggage. Your matched pieces of Louis Vuitton luggage speak volumes! Very wealthy people do book ordinary cabins! Engage your steward in conversation, treating them as an equal. Tidy your cabin before leaving it. Your steward shouldn’t be stepping around your discarded clothing.
- Change your table in the dining room. If you and your tablemates don’t hit it off on night #1, speak to the maître d’ on your way out the door. They have seen this problem before. They should be able to handle it immediately. You might also check out your table location in the afternoon before your first dinner. You wanted to be seated on the lower level because of mobility issues. They put you up top. Same scenario. The maître d’ should be able to solve this quickly. Be polite and smile.
- Get a good seat in the theater. This can be important for shows and lectures. Arriving early is the obvious solution. Here’s another one. Visit the theater when it’s empty. Find the entrances, especially those on the lower level towards the front. Enter through these less used entrances. Finding seats up front is easier if you enter from the front and can get a view of the seating with the stage at your back.
- Get the best wake up call ever. Forget the phone, clock or smartphone. Before turning in, order rolls, juice and coffee using the breakfast form. Hang it on your door handle before turning in. A knock on your cabin door heralding the arrival of croissants and coffee is a great start to the day.
- Finding a romantic setting. Sunrise and sunset and two magical times our on deck. If you have a cabin with a balcony, you should get one or the other. Dressing for dinner and getting out on deck with your partner at sunset is another way to capture memorable moments.
- Hosting your own party. Passengers hold cabin parties. In port, buy your mixers. Onboard, buy duty free liquor, assuming the ship allows you to bring one bottle to your cabin. Serve one type of drink. Gin and tonics are a good choice. Order canapes through the purser’s office. Your cabin steward should be able to supply the glassware and cocktail napkins. Tell your friends to show up about 45 minutes before dinner.
- Getting laundry done. We pay attention to the laundry locations when we book our cabin. Develop a routine that brings you past it a few times a day. Have your laundry ready to go at a moment’s notice. When you see a free machine, change your daily routine and get your laundry started. Don’t put this off until the end of your voyage.
- Get invited to sit at the Captain’s table. This is the grand prize! There are no guarantees. It helps to be a frequent passenger. Mention it upon arrival to the headwaiter, maître d’ or section captain for your section of the dining room. A good reason helps. It’s our 25th Ask “Would it be possible to sit at an officer table?” The purser, deputy captain and chief engineer often host tables. The Captain’s table might be hosted by one of those other officers. There are no guarantees, but it doesn’t hurt to be polite and ask.
There are many ways to create memories at sea.
Cover photo: Breakfast, by Bryce Sanders