Twelve Unforgettable Experiences for Your Next Cruise
Most people secretly want “Once in a Lifetime” experiences. It’s been said Millennials value experiences over products. With a little advance planning, your next cruise can leave you with lasting memories. Which ones sound best to you?
Slow Down! What’s This Advance Planning Stuff?
Advance planning is another way of saying “Put in a little thought beforehand.” Cruise lines have personalities. People who like dressing up shouldn’t be choosing a casual dress code ship. People seeking peace and quiet shouldn’t choose a Rock ‘n Roll themed voyage.
As you read through these ideas, the advance planning required should be pretty obvious.
A Dozen Ideas
- Renew your wedding vows at sea. Everyone’s seen movies where the captain marries people at sea. Some lines also do renewals of wedding vows. Check this out with your travel agent beforehand. They can check. Cunard does it. My wife and I did it while celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. Engaged, but not married? People do get married and have their reception at sea. That’s going to be a lot more expensive!
- Smoke a Cuban cigar. This isn’t getting into health issues regarding smoking. There are plenty of cigar smokers in the world. For US citizens, the “forbidden fruit” for many years was Cuban cigars. Yet when you sail in the Caribbean or Europe, you visit places where they are openly sold. If you are a cigar fan, buy one. Smoke it slowly. Remember the moment. Check the current US Customs laws. (1)
- Savor the oldest Scotch you’ve ever tasted. You’ve got plenty of time at sea. There’s lots of bars. The poolside bar is probably not the best option, but there’s likely an elegant one near the dining room or overlooking the ship’s bow. Unlike many stateside bars, prices are usually clearly marked in a drinks menu. You are in a world without sales tax, but there’s probably an automatic gratuity added. Johnnie Walker Gold Label is about 18 years. It’s been said Blue Label is about 25 years, but there’s no age listed on the bottle.
- Order caviar and champagne. If it’s an elegant ship, they’ve got elegant experiences. During a slow time in the afternoon, ask about the availability of caviar. If they have a champagne bar, that’s the logical place to start. The price will probably be lower than you might expect. Ships can source provisions all around the world. Getting champagne should be easy. Your spouse or significant other will be blown away.
- Explore the haunts of your favorite literary character. You are a James Bond fan. “Dr. No” and “Casino Royale” were both filmed in Nassau. Here’s the advance planning part: Choose a ship that stops in Nassau! Watch the movies again before the trip. Follow in Bond’s footsteps once you are ashore.
- Sit at the Captain’s Table. This is both impossible and possible. Your ship likely has a huge, twelve-person round table in the center of the dining room. It’s empty except on evenings when it’s hosted. Seating changes each time. Ask your travel agent to make a notation in your record that you “Would like to sit at an officer table.” That table might be hosted by the Safety officer or the Staff Captain, because the Ship’s Captain has other responsibilities. It’s “the Captain’s Table” but the captain isn’t actually there. Introduce yourself to the maître d’ the first day. They will likely do what they can, but there are no guarantees. The seating at the big round table is always changing. You are only there once.
- Enjoy a meal in a celebrity chef’s restaurant. Many ships have themed restaurants, where you pay a surcharge to have dinner. In some cases they are affiliated with a famous chef who has designed the menu and recipes. Book a table for dinner. The cost will likely be far less than the equivalent meal stateside.
- Get a drink named after you. Bartenders can be fun people. It’s been said one of the features of the Cipriani Hotel in Venice is you can ask the bartender to create your own personal cocktail. If you find a bartender who knows what they are doing, enjoys their job and is knowledgeable, why not ask them? Start by telling that Cipriani story…
- Go an entire day without accessing the Internet. That’s a story you can tell at home! It’s likely your cellphone doesn’t work, because there are no cell towers at sea. That should knock out texting too. The ship likely has WIFI, but it’s often slow. Take the plunge and disconnect. Take your watch off too.
- Meet a famous person. Get a selfie. Some ships do themed voyages, like Rock n Roll cruises. Others have famous actors or politicians as lecturers. These folks are usually accessible. Approach them after the lecture or event. Ask intelligent questions. Ask if you could get a selfie with them.
- Thoroughly explore someplace you might never see again. Many people visit a port, walk around, have a drink or lunch and hit the shops. No wonder some people think all Caribbean ports are the same! Thoroughly research your destination beforehand. Get a good map. Buy a tour guide and read it. Find the famous restaurants. Learn what makes the place special.
- Prove to the world you are really smart. Some ships have themed quizzes. Cunard’s James Bond quiz night, held on a formal night in the Commodore Club, is my favorite! (They should do that more often!) If James Bond is your specialist subject, this is your opportunity to shine! How you beat all the other contestants will be a story you will tell over and over!
Many of these lifetime memories don’t require a huge cash outlay. They do require some advance planning.
Story by Bryce Sanders
Photo credit Dennis Cox (Château de Commarin in Burgundy, France)