Indulgence and Inspiration Aboard the World’s Only True Ocean Liner
Cunard first started crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 1840. For many years, sailing was how celebrities, politicians and business leaders got from America to Europe, and vice versa. The tradition continues today with a number of Transatlantic Crossing voyages of varying lengths that travel from New York to Southampton.
Cunard offers a huge variety of things to see and do both on the ship. (Most activities should be available regardless of cabin size, category or class, and some activities may have minimal cost.)
(Reasons courtesy of Bryce Sanders, a published writer who enjoys cruising.)
- Make new friends. Expect you will return knowing more people than when you arrived. You might meet a diplomat returning from Africa, a titled British aristocrat or the mother of a TV star.
- Corridor couples. Meet the people in the adjacent cabins when you see them in the corridor.
- Have breakfast and lunch in the dining room. Ask to be seated at a large table. You’ll meet interesting people. Or not. It’s only one meal.
- Laundry Rooms: Laundry is free, and these places are lively. They should really put a bar in them! You’ll find lots of chatty people.
- Afternoon Tea. It takes place in an actual ballroom! White glove service! It’s a daily event included in your cruise fare.
- Join the daily pub quiz. Teams form spontaneously. Friendships form fast. On some voyages celebrities and speakers hang out in the pub or join quiz teams.
- Do they call the ship home? On each voyage, the Captain recognizes those passengers with the greatest number of sailing days. You will see fellow passengers who have spent hundreds, maybe thousands of nights sailing the world, year after year. Start a conversation when you see them walking around the ship.
- The United Nations, with propellers. Each voyage, the ship publishes a list of nationalities represented among the passengers. British, Americans, Canadians and Germans often top the list. You may be surprised to discover people from about 20 countries are represented among the passengers. Meet some of them.
- Library quiz. It’s a multiple-question, written quiz. People grab sheets and hunt for answers.
- Meet an officer. They attend events. They wear uniforms. They have great people skills.
- Discover the cigar bar. This assumes you like cigars.
- Visit the coffee bar. It works at home.
- Read the daily program. What catches your interest?
- Themes. Did you choose the Rock & Roll, Fashion Week or Big Band cruise?
- Take in a show at night. Expect Broadway or Las Vegas class entertainment.
- Visit the casino. Will luck be a lady tonight?
- Lectures. Often the ship arranges for celebrities or notables to give a talk.
- Movies. They are usually shown in the auditorium, then broadcast on the stateroom TVs.
- Playing cards. They should have bridge sessions.
- Jigsaw puzzles. If you don’t like people that much, this might be for you.
- Board games. When was the last time you played Monopoly with adults?
- Port talks. Attend the lecture about the next port of call. OK, this might be your destination.
- Bridge tour. Visit the large window looking into the bridge. Someone explains what everyone does.
- Attend religious services. Cunard has them.
- Shop. Ships have malls. Who knew?
- Check out the art gallery. Do they have a champagne reception?
- Duty Free Shopping. You know what’s a good deal.
- Is it time for a haircut? Visit the spa.
- Support Groups. Ships might have Friends of Bill and/or Friends of Dorothy meetings.
- Acting. Do you have what it takes to perform on stage?
- Fencing. Just the basics. Jumping on tables comes later.
- iPad or tablet classes. Learn things you never knew it could do.
- Wine classes. These can be pretty serious.
- Martini classes. Enough said.
- Whisky tastings. Ever wonder what the differences were?
- Cooking classes. Like watching the Food Channel, only live.
- Dance classes. Brush up before formal nights.
- Painting classes. Ever wanted to learn how to paint with watercolors?
- Service club meetings. Cunard ships have them.
- Get professional photos taken. Update your LinkedIn photo.
- Buy the polo shirt. Back home, it’s a conversation starter.
- Take off your watch. Time doesn’t govern your life right now.
- Enjoy 25-hour days. You gain an hour when crossing time zones westbound.
- Setup a deck chair under a lifeboat. Relax in the shade.
- Early morning whirlpool. Climb into the hot tub before breakfast.
- Early morning coffee. Order coffee to be delivered about the time you wake up. Keep the robe handy.
- Watch the morning video. It’s like a morning show on a TV news channel.
- Visit the library. Find a good book. Read it wherever you choose.
- Pack the Sunday newspaper. There’s plenty of time to read on sea days.
- Sit in the sun in the library. Start reading. Fall asleep. Wake up. Repeat as necessary.
- Nap in the afternoon. Your cat does it. Why not you?
- Flowers. Order them from the onboard florist. Surprise your travel partner, if appropriate.
- Watch the sunrise while wearing robes.
- Spa treatments.
- In-Room dining. There’s a menu. Steak and Caesar salad?
- Movies. Watch one in bed.
- Champagne and caviar. Lounge pricing is surprisingly reasonable.
- Galas. Expect dressy events with live music.
- Watch the sunset. Enough said.
- See the moon over the ocean. It’s romantic.
- Hold hands. Walk hand in hand.
- Renew your wedding vows. Sometimes ships offer this service.
- Propose. Tell Customs about that expensive ring beforehand.
- Get married. This requires advance preparation!
- Host your own cocktail party in your cabin. Size doesn’t matter. Few people know those canapes served at events can be ordered from the purser’s office at a reasonable price.
- Have a drink in each bar. There might be a dozen.
- Ride the outdoor elevator. Get great views.
- Explore every public deck, top to bottom.
- Card room. Find out what they do there.
- Stand on the highest forward deck with the wind in your face.
- Take the kitchen tour. You’ll be amazed.
- Visit every lounge with music. Do it at night.
- Find your own personal space. It’s easy.
- Meet your dinner tablemates for the first time. If disaster strikes, ask to change tables.
- Bring great wine. Most ships have a corkage policy.
- Try each specialty restaurant. Expect a cover charge.
- Customize your meal. This only works at lunch when things are slow. You want the pasta as its own course.
- Dress up for formal evenings. Black tie or a dark suit meet the requirements. Women wear dresses.
- Buy wine for someone. Send a bottle to their table.
- Ask for a set of menus. Bring them home.
- Exchange contact information with your tablemates.
- Swimming. There will be plenty of pools, inside and out.
- Golf. Most ships have a simulator on board.
- Visit the gym. It’s likely huge.
- Spin class. It’s only one of several classes they likely offer.
- Jog around the deck in the morning. The wind alternates as friend and foe.
- Watch the ship leave the harbor. This can be majestic.
- Attend the required lifeboat drill. See happy people bouncing off each other.
- If your cabin has a balcony, stand out on it at least once.
- Discover the hidden balcony door between adjacent staterooms.
- Captain’s Welcome Cocktail Party. Canapes and drinks are on the house.
- Unpack once. Don’t live out of your suitcase.
- Put your wallet in the safe. Everything is charged to your key card onboard.
- Take photos. It’s all new.
- Do laundry. Cut down on how much clothing you bring.
- Send out dry cleaning. Sometimes it’s cheaper than home.
- Get to know your cabin steward. Treat staff as equals.
- Tip your cabin steward. Tipping might be included, but hand over cash, too. Help them see the world.
- Plan your next cruise. The onboard booking office makes it worthwhile.
- Watch the ship arrive in port. You get a different perspective.
- Disembark early. People carrying their own luggage are often allowed to walk off first.
- Buy foreign magazines. They will be good for the flight home.
Images Courtesy of Cunard Line, Ltd.