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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
6. You get hungry at 4 pm, regardless of what you eat for lunch.
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 on a cruise ship? Yes, please. - Photo by Cruiseline.com
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.
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.
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.
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.
Price alert - Photo by Cruiseline.com
You know that it pays to make friends with your travel agent, sign up for the cruise line's loyalty program, and use Cruiseline.com's "Price Alerts" feature to keep an eye on fares. You’re no fool: You always keep an eye open for last-minute deals.