If you’re ever wondering what to do on sea days on a cruise, here’s a list of things to do on a cruise ship! Cruise activities abound and you’ll never be bored on a sea day.
Don’t worry about finding things to do on a cruise while you’re at sea – ships these days are floating all-inclusive resorts and you’ll have no trouble keeping busy.
In fact, I’ll wager that you won’t do a fraction of the things available, and you’ll be jonesing to book another cruise as soon as this one ends so you can do all the things offered on your cruise!
Some folks worry about being bored on a cruise ship when it’s out to sea, but I can assure you that will not be a problem. Cruise ships are full of wonderful fun features and activities to keep everyone happy and busy.
On our Panama Canal Cruise we had four sea days, and on our most recent Mexico cruise we had two sea days. It probably sounds silly, but one of my favorite things about cruising is the sea days!
I am so lucky to work with and have been hosted by Princess Cruises (thank you, Princess!) – Love the Caribbean. Support the Caribbean. Cruise the Caribbean.
Explore the ship
You guys. These ships are literal works of art and a treasure trove of things to see and find. I feel like I’m on a scavenger hunt whenever we board a new cruise ship.
One could easily spend days exploring all the nooks and crannies.
When we went to Panama, we were on the ship for eleven days. Four of which were at sea. I didn’t find out there was a miniature golf course until several weeks after we were home and I saw it in a friend’s picture!
Not because it was hidden, but because there are so many things to do on a cruise ship!
By exploring the ship you’ll be able to find all the fun things you want to try to do on your cruise. The brochures are all well and good (and I don’t suggest skipping them!), but it’s so much fun to discover it in person too.
This is one of the things to do on a cruise that you should not skip and also try to on your first sea day!
Visit the Spa
You’ll definitely want to book your spa treatment as soon as you board to make sure you get a great time for your appointment. I’d personally like to suggest the hot stone massage. Sally and I had one on our Mexico cruise. And then we went back for another.
The Lotus Spa on Princess offers all kinds of treatments like massages, manicures, teeth whitening, facials, hair appointments, and so much more. You could spend an entire sea day just in the spa!
Pro tip – make sure to ask if the spa is running any specials when you book your appointment. Often there will be discounts on certain treatments, or bonuses for making an appointment early in the morning. Sally and I got a free eye treatment for booking before 8am!
Spend time in the Sanctuary
Most ships will have a private area of the deck just for adults. On the Princess line it’s called the Sanctuary, and aptly. The Sanctuary is quiet and peaceful and another place I could easily spend all my time.
When you’re deciding what to do on a sea day, be sure to look into booking a time in the Sanctuary. There’s a private pool, personal waiters, and a special menu for drinks and treats.
It’s a great way to feel pampered and rested.
Get a huge salad at the buffet
This sea day activity is probably going to sound silly, but I find that when I’m cruising I tend to forget about my fruits and veggies.
Well, unless you count what’s in a bloody mary and a strawberry daiquiri!
The all day buffet, called the Horizon Court on Princess, is chock full of delicious and healthy salad options.
We like to make sure we get a couple big salads on our days at sea to counterbalance all those treats we’re indulging in. It’s just what to do on a cruise. Hah!
Then ice cream
Let’s be practical, we are on vacation after all. And that soft served just calls your name after a warm morning of exploring the upper decks of the ship.
Did you know there’s a photography studio at the tippy top of some of them? And others have a disco!
All that climbing definitely deserves a cool creamy treat.
And maybe more ice cream
There are a lot of places to get ice cream on a cruise ship! If soft serve isn’t your gig, try the buffet or one of the restaurants for something a little fancier.
Mary and I hit up the Horizon Food Court for scoops of ice cream. Don’t forget the sprinkles!
Get a massage in your room
If trekking to the onboard spa sounds like too much trouble, you can book one directly in your room! I would like to reiterate that my personal favorite massage is the hot stones. Feels so good!
In room massages on the cruise are also a great option for couples massages if you want some private time.
Enjoy the view
They say that good fire is the original entertainment center, but I personally think it was water. I don’t know about you, but I could sit and stare at the ocean with a hot cup of coffee for hours.
There’s something truly mesmerizing about it.
And depending on where you’re cruising you may see some really gorgeous sites! We’ve spotted whales, dolphins, and coastline mountains before!
I think I took about 12 thousand pictures of the water on our last trip. It’s just so shiny and pretty. I kept trying to capture the way it makes me feel.
One of the huge bonuses to having a balcony room, is getting up in the morning and sitting in your robe staring at the water with a cup of hot coffee before you get moving.
Explore the photo gallery
There are professional photographers hanging out all over the cruise ship snapping photos of everyone having a great time.
There are also set days and times where there are fun backdrops available for more professional style portraits.
It’s a great opportunity to get that long put off family picture! After the pictures are developed, they are put in the photo gallery for you to find and purchase if you love them.
There’s never an obligation to buy the photos, so make sure to pose for lots!
If you find several pictures you love, make sure to check out the picture packages offered. There are usually discounts and perks thrown in if you grab a package.
We did the picture package for our Panama cruise and I love having all of those non-selfie shots of us as a couple!
Go for a run
While this is not something I personally would ever do on vacation, or ever (#notarunner), I hear that cruise ships are a great place to take a run.
On some levels, the outter deck is a track and the wall is marked with distances.
I’m definitely not a runner, but I will admit to using the track to get my daily steps in. I like to walk and listen to an audio book.
Take a nap
How often, as adults do we have the luxury of taking a nap? And better than just taking a nap, taking a nap on a cruise ship means you’re being rocked to sleep, probably after a massage and a good meal.
I never forget to schedule an pre-dinner nap. It might actually be my favorite thing to do on a cruise ship sea day!
Have afternoon tea
I want to take my daughter on a cruise one day if only to do afternoon tea. On sea days, the dining rooms will often offer afternoon tea with dainty sandwiches, tea (duh), and small desserts.
Admittedly, I thought it was a little silly the first time it was suggested we go, but I enjoyed it so much and now afternoon tea on the cruise ship has become one of my favorite things to do on sea days.
The waitstaff wears white gloves and tea is served in actual tea pots rather than a cup just delivered to your table. It’s a great option for a lighter meal too since everything is in small portions.
The whole thing just feels fancy and whimsical, and I can’t say enough nice things about the staff. They really go above and beyond to make the service feel special.
Explore the shops
You’d better believe there is shopping on a cruise ship! And on sea days, most ships have pop up stores in addition to their regular shops.
They also tend to run special sea day sales, so it’s a great time to indulge in a little retail therapy.
You can find everything from souvenirs and toiletries to high end jewelry, shoes, clothes, art work, and home decor.
Check out the entertainment
Sea days are full of scheduled entertainment and activities. From pool deck competitions, to bingo games! There are dance parties, bingo, poker tournaments, and so much more.
The best part is that not only are the activities fun, but there are often awesome prizes to be had!
Gamble at the casino
Black jack, poker tournaments, penny slots, roulette – you can find it all in the cruise ship’s casino. I’m not much of a gambler, but you can bet I drop a few coins in the slots every trip. Can’t win if you don’t try, right?
The casino is closed while the cruise ship is in port, so that makes sea days the perfect time to get your gamble on!
Take a tour
Have I mentioned already that cruise ships are huge? HUGE! Not only huge, but huge and intricate, and incredibly interesting. Which is why cruise ship tours are so neat.
Ask at the reservations desk what tours are offered on your cruise. We took one of the bridge that was incredible. You also will get a tour of the galley if you book a chef’s table dinner.
Eat at a specialty restaurant
Speaking of dinner. One of my favorite things to do on a cruise is try out all the specialty restaurants.
And a sea day is especially perfect for this, because you have all day beforehand to relax and get gussied up for your big date.
Dinner in the main dining rooms is always free, but if you want to try something a little more upscale, check out the high end specialty restaurants.
There are usually several to choose from with a variety of cuisine themes.
You’ll pay a small premium for your meal, but holy heck – so worth it. And still much less expensive than what you would pay in a land based restaurant.
My personal favorite on Princess are the steak houses. Mmmmmmm.
There are also pop-up restaurants that will occasionally appear on ships. There will be limited reservations and you’ll have to pay a small premium as well, but they’re usually super themed and super fun!
We had an amazing crab boil meal at the Crab Shack!
If you don’t boogie down to Dancing Queen at least once on your cruise, did you even go? Hah! Dancing is one the best things to do on a cruise ship because you can totally let loose. No one there knows you or cares that you’re doing a waltz to 80’s hair band music.
Most ships have at least one lounge that offers dancing in the evenings, and some ships have several. On sea days you can also often find a live band by the pool with a dance floor too!
Play basketball, or mini golf, or shuffleboard
It’s really incredible the number of sports you can find on cruise ships nowadays. In addition to the running track, there are often basketball course, shuffleboard, batting cages, mini golf, and driving ranges.
And if you like to do these things in solitary, there’s plenty of time to do so, but there’s also often sports competitions on sea days!
Hit the Arcade
Indulge your inner kid and hit up the arcade. Not all ships have them anymore, but many do and you can bet you’ll find my husband there!
Pacman is my personal favorite, but those ghosts get me every time!
See a performance
Cruise ships are known for their incredible on-board entertainment. Make sure to read the daily schedules closely because sea days are known for having great shows.
We’ve watched plays, musicals, singing competitions, even comedians!
Swim in the pool
Getting back to basics! You’re on a cruise! In the Caribbean! Put on your swimsuit and take a dunk. The water is kept warm, and there’s usually entertainment (and always cocktails) by the pool.
It’s a surreal feeling to be in a pool in the middle of the ocean, and there are several pools to choose from!
Sample the cocktails
Speaking of cocktails – why not spend the afternoon taste testing all those fun tropical drinks on the menu? If you bought the drink package (p.s. 100% worth it), you can sip all day long without worrying about your bank account.
And pro-tip, if you’re really good at knocking those fancy glasses over (don’t worry they’re plastic, just a little top heavy) – go ahead and ask for it in a regular cup.
That way you can set it down next to your lounge chair without worrying whether the wind will take it for a ride.
Soak in the hot tub
If swimming isn’t your style, how about a warm dip in the hot tub? It’s a great place to decompress and maybe meet a few like minded fellow cruisers.
I also find that the hot tubs are usually kid-free, which is a major plus for me. I love my kids, but sometimes mama needs quiet.
Another thing I would personally never, ever do. But if you’re looking for things to do on a cruise and you happen to love exercise (I’m looking at you, husband) – make sure to check out the gym!
Not only do cruise ships have fully equipped gyms, but they also schedule a variety of exercise classes through out the day on sea days. Okay, okay, I’ve been spotted at yoga. But never PX90.
Do a wine tasting
Some ships offer an official tasting class, but even if they don’t, not to worry! Saddle up to your favorite bar, and order the ones you want to try. I hope you bought the Premier Beverage Package, because this is one of the perks!
Many of the wine bars will also give you tasty treats to go along with your wine, like sushi or tapas.
Watch a show by the pool
There is almost always something playing on the big screen over the pool. During the day it’s often a concert series or sports game and in the evenings a movie.
We like to grab a drink at the bar and snuggle up with a blanket on the pool loungers to enjoy the feature presentation. As an avid movie lover, it’s one of my top things to do on a cruise, for sure!
Play a game
The game room on your cruise ship will offer a huge selection of classic games and cards. You can play them there, or bring them to another area of the ship. Wesley and I like to bring a Scrabble board or Quirkle tiles to the lounge for some old fashioned competition.
I feel like one of the nice things about cruising is that it limits your use of technology and makes you connect on a personal level. And what’s more connecting than sitting across the table from one another playing a game!
Catch up on emails
See what I did there? I told you cruising was about disconnecting and then suggested checking your emails. But let’s be real – sometimes you want to make sure everything is going smoothly back in the real world.
Well the good news is, there are options for folks like us who can’t completely remove themselves from the web. There are internet packages available with day rates, as well as an internet cafe with computers on each ship.
Order room service
Sometimes I just don’t want to be around people. And one of the things you can do on a cruise ship – maybe surprisingly – is avoid people. There are plenty of quiet places to duck away from the crowd, but your ultimate oasis is your room.
On most ships room service is available twenty four hours a day, and on Princess, it’s free. That’s right folks. You can order a sandwich, turn on a movie, and get crumbs in the bed. No one’s judging you. Especially not me.
When all is said and done, it doesn’t matter what you choose to do on your cruise sea day, so long as you find it relaxing.
Whether that’s taking a spin class (gag), or napping poolside (yasssss), the point of going on a cruise is to unwind and do what you like.
I hope this list has provided some great ideas for what to do on a cruise sea day, and rest assured, this is by no means everything.
I’d love to hear in the comments what your favorite cruise ship activities are!
Where we’ve cruised
Caribbean, Central, and South America
Alaska and Canada
Must-read cruising tips
- Dramamine ginger pills – These are a life saver! Just the right amount of ginger to quell seasickness, and they don’t make you drowsy. I swear by these when the ocean gets a little rough.
- Floppy straw hat – This won’t be much use on the deck, it’s windy up there! But a big floppy hat is perfect for protecting your skin during beach days at shore.
- Waterproof cell phone bag – We love these cellphone bags! Wear them around your neck and you can use them to carry your phone, cruise card, and cash too!
- Anti-chafing balm – In a pinch, a stick of deodorant will work, but if you’ve got power thighs like me, this anti-chafing stick will keep you from starting a friction fire. I never wear shorts without it!
- Lightweight backpack – This backpack is awesome! It’s super lightweight, and folds into itself so it doesn’t take almost any room in your luggage. We use it to take on excursions, so convenient!
Check out these yummy tropics inspired recipes!
- Mango Pineapple Salsa – You’ll want to put this mango salsa on everything from fish tacos, to pork burgers, and of course chips!
- Whole Fruit Popsicles – Also inspired by those life changing pineapples, these delicious whole fruit popsicles are light, refreshing, and have no added sugar!
- Vanilla Mango Tropical Smoothie – This is such a treat after a hot afternoon bike ride or if you want a quick breakfast substitute. Mango and orange with the smoothness of vanilla is the perfect combo.
- Cilantro Garlic Sauce – Ohhhhh, cilantro garlic sauce is about to be your new obsession. We started by putting it on tacos, but now I like it on everything from fries to salads!
- Easy Pickled Red Onions – Last week in Cozumel I was reminded how much I love pickled red onions on pork, so of course I came home and made some right away.
- Pico de Gallo – Fresh tomatoes, onion, lime, ahhhhhhh. I could just eat this with a spoon!