Cruise lines are quick to advertise all of the fantastic ports they visit. On a typical Caribbean cruise, there are anywhere from 3 -5 port stops per week; generally, the ship arrives in port around 8 am and departs around 5pm, so passengers get a full day to explore the island, visit the beach, or participate in an adventure such as ziplining or snorkeling. Just don’t miss the ship – unless you are on a cruiseline sponsored excursion, they won’t wait for you and you may have to figure out how to catch up with your belongings from a tiny island with sketchy communication.
I’ll cover the ports we visited on our Getaway cruise in my next post. This one, however, is about what cruise itineraries label as “At Sea”. Most cruises include at least one, and often 2 or 3, of these luxuriously lazy days, when the only thing you need to plan is when, what, and where to eat. You can’t get off the ship – you and your 4000 new friends are going to spend the day together no matter what. All ship services are open on a sea day, including the casino and shopping, both of which typically close during a port visit. Our sea day activities generally went something like this:
Our Getaway cruise itinerary included a sea day on Day 2 (the first full day), and on Day 7 (the last full day). In my opinion, this is perfect. The first sea day allows passengers to sleep in, unwind and enjoy the ship, without the pressure of feeling like they need to explore a destination. And the last day is for revisiting favorite activities, exchanging contact information with new friends, tipping the staff, and savoring those last moments of vacation (and packing, but we don’t like to talk about that). The seas were as calm as a bathtub, making both of our sea days a relaxing pleasure.
In the evenings, we enjoyed the ship’s wide-ranging entertainment. Throughout the ship, it’s easy to find something to do just by wandering around. Musical groups grace the atrium and several bars; the casino is always open at night, and bartenders do their thing throughout the ship.
In addition, there are scheduled entertainment options, which differ each night. In the main theater, on several nights the ship presents an abbreviated version of Broadway’s “Million Dollar Quartet”, which tells the story of an impromptu recording session between Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis. We saw this show on our last Getaway cruise and noted that the performer playing Jerry Lee Lewis was different – and we had been incredibly impressed by the one we saw last time – so we opted to skip it this time. He may have been just as good, but we wanted to keep our memory.
We did, however, take the time to see the NCL version of “Burn the Floor”, the self-described “Ultimate Ballroom Sensation”, a “high voltage theatrical dance experience” with “jaw-dropping choreography”. Our description: “beautiful sexy people dancing around the stage with no plot”. Honestly, both Husband and I took a little snooze during the show – maybe because we sat in the back of the theater, it just didn’t capture our attention.
We also took advantage of a comedy show, starring Vince Acevedo, a Chicago-based Puerto Rican comedian. There are up to three comedy shows a night, with the latest, at 11:00pm, billed as the “adult” show – in other words, some dirty jokes and swear words. Vince’s comedy was not particularly filthy but genuinely funny – we had an unexpectedly good time.
Another favorite was “Howl at the Moon”, a dueling piano sing-along show. The singers are multi-talented, singing and playing songs by request, and often adding drums, harmonica, or guitar as well. This show’s success does depend on the crowd, however; the first time we went, it was a little slow due in part to some of the song requests. The second time we went, it was much more rollicking – we find that people on cruise ships tend to “let loose” a little more than they might at home. On the last night of the cruise, other performers from the ship’s various shows often crash the party and sing or perform with the Howl at the Moon musicians.
Another memorable entertainment experience was the “Ultimate 80s Party”, held at Spice H2O, on the top deck/rear of the ship under the stars. Classic 80s videos played on the huge screen at the back of the deck: Madonna, Michael Jackson, AC/DC, Cyndi Lauper, Bon Jovi, etc. while we danced with some of our new friends. Some of the cruise director’s staff, who are responsible for keeping guests entertained throughout the ship, dressed up in 80s garb and even performed the “Thriller” dance. Husband and I both grew up during the 80s and enjoyed the flashback.
We missed the “Glow Party”, which is also held at Spice H2O – it’s essentially a dance party where wearing white is encouraged, and blacklighting makes everyone look cool even if they are bad dancers.
I can’t leave a discussion of the onboard pleasures of a cruise without mentioning a quintessential element: returning to your stateroom to find that your room steward has not only performed a turndown service, but created a towel animal! Here are a few that graced our room: thanks Angelo!