11 Things Only Serious Cruisers Know

things serious cruisers know paul gauguin
There are some things you can only learn through experience. - Photo by Paul Gauguin Cruises

How much of a die-hard cruiser are you? Check out these 11 things that the most hard-core sailors among us know to be true:

1. Baked Alaska is actually not disgusting.

baked alaska cruise ship

It's actually quite appetizing. - Photo by LarisaS / Shutterstock

In fact, you’ve been known to get downright giddy about layers of ice cream and sponge cake topped with meringue, though you may never admit whether it’s the dessert you love or the parade of waiters who serve it or the fact that it’s delivered to your table flaming.


2. You can — and should — order a second entrée.

msc divina eataly

Eataly on MSC Divina - Photo by MSC Cruises

If you can't decide between the chateaubriand and seafood pasta on the dining room menu, you know to order both. And when your appetizer is insanely yummy, you ask for another. Nobody is judging: We once saw a growing teenager order the whole menu — and eat most of it.


3. The stairs are actually faster.

carnival atrium elevator stairs

They may be easier, but elevators can take forever to arrive. - Photo by Carnival Cruise Lines

Your mother was right: You really can burn calories going up and down the stairs. Plus, the ship's staircases help you avoid what can be an incredibly painful cruising experience: waiting forever, and then boarding a super slow and super crowded elevator. Bonus: The broad staircase landings are often decorated with interesting art.


4. Formal doesn't usually mean formal.

formal wear cruise ship

A tux just takes up valuable storage space. - Photo by Shutterstock

You never bother packing a tux or gown for a typical Caribbean cruise. All but the most formal cruise ship dress codes require nothing more than a short cocktail dress for women and a jacket and tie for men. In fact, as you know all too well, some passengers will go even more casual.


5. You don’t have to get off in every port.

mini golf carnival dream

Take advantage of onboard activities while everyone else is in port. - Photo by Carnival Cruise Lines

One of the best times to be on the ship is when everyone else is on shore. Without crowds, you get access to the best-positioned lounge chairs and other popular shipboard facilities. Plus, you cruise a lot, so you’ve seen plenty of ports before. Bonus: The spa discounts treatments on port days.


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6. You get hungry at 4 pm, regardless of what you eat for lunch.

ncl pizza contorakas

Many ships have pizza spots where you can grab a quick bite before dinner. - Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line

You know to check the daily schedule for afternoon tea, 24-hour pizza spots, and room service hours. Maybe it's the sea air, the fact that you keep active, or the late-night hours, but you often feel the need for a fourth meal.


7. Costume parties are fun.

halloween costume party cruise ship

Halloween on a cruise ship? Yes, please. - Photo by

When is the last time you dressed up as Twiggy, Madonna, or Blackbeard … or all in white? Shipboard activities calendars often include dance parties that offer the opportunity to don costumes. You always check the schedule in advance, bring appropriate garb, and look like you belong.


8. You shouldn’t pack the kitchen sink.

suitcase overflowing cruise

Pack strategically. - Photo by bikeriderlondon / Shutterstock

You know that many ships have little in-room storage, as well as a passenger laundry room, so you’re not afraid to use it. However, your cruise packing list includes those little extras (say, a power strip for your electronic devices) that make your cabin feel like home.


9. 15-foot waves mean fewer people in the dining room.

holland america veendam dining room

Rough seas are frustrating, an empty dining room is not. - Photo by Holland America Line

To paraphrase Mark Twain, there is a sense of insufferable conceit that comes with having your stomach behave in rolling seas. For those prone to seasickness, there are over-the-counter and prescription medications that provide relief; for the rest of us, a stormy night means great service at dinnertime.


10. Shuffleboard isn't as easy as it looks.

shuffleboard cruise ship

Just because the average player tends to be older doesn't mean it's easy. - Photo by Steve Mason / Thinkstock

Yes, you’ve picked up one of the broomlike cues and tried to push a disc across the deck to the opposite scoring diagram. The goal: to land in the 10-point spot. Even when you’re sober, the feat is much more difficult than it sounds or appears, and if you’ve already started your predinner cocktail, you’re lucky if you don’t hit passengers walking the ship's promenade.


11. There is such a thing as a cruise bargain. cruiseline price alert

Price alert - Photo by

You know that it pays to make friends with your travel agent, sign up for the cruise line's loyalty program, and use's "Price Alerts" feature to keep an eye on fares. You’re no fool: You always keep an eye open for last-minute deals.


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