Cruises these days are jam-packed with social activities and things to do, but where do you go when you want a little down time?
Wiz-bang theatrical performances, educational talks on everything from international politics to show business, Tai Chi classes, wave simulators, ice-skating rinks, cooking demonstrations, water slides, live bands…cruise ships these days are bigger, better, cheaper and seemingly cater to every need.
Or do they?
While we all like to be entertained and have fun, sometimes we just want a little downtime and, depending on your choice of cruise, finding a place on board for this is not always as easy as it might seem at first glance.
But with a little ship knowledge, pre-planning and strategising, you’ll be able to find that special place to take a deep breath and just be.
Know your ship
These days, with the industry trending towards large ships, cruising with thousands of other passengers is common, so where can big cruise ship passengers go when they want a little peace and quiet?
Ask the experts
The best place to start is with someone in the know. Catch the attention of a crew member and ask for some inside tips. With a wink and a nudge and mysterious talk of cruise ship architecture and passenger flow anomalies, they may very well reveal the existence of some rarely found jewel – an aesthetically pleasing space where book reading, sea gazing and quiet games of chess can be enjoyed around the clock with very little distraction.
Should they not, study the ship plan carefully and/or do your own exploration to see if you can locate one yourself. Otherwise, the promenade is usually a good option. These outside strolling areas are usually far from any significant action and some of them wrap around the whole ship. And, while strolling the promenade is good way to relax, many come with deck chairs for lounging.
Head to the spa
But if you really want to relax in peace and quiet, head to the ship’s spa. With massage and acupuncture treatments, Jacuzzis, saunas, aromatic steam rooms, hydro baths, plunge baths, facials, manicures and pretty much every well-being therapy you can think of, you’ll get peace and quite and some serious mind and body calm to boot. On top of this, most cruise ship spas feature pre- and post- therapy relaxation zones, from Japanese tea gardens to tropical rainforest retreats, where you can lounge about in tranquility and take in the ocean views.
If daily stresses have been such that peace and quiet are likely to be a necessity, book your cruise and accommodation accordingly. Be sure to book outside of school holidays and avoid theme and world cruises; these tend to attract a crowd and activity schedule that makes time alone near impossible.
Book your cabin carefully. Make sure to book a cabin away from any potentially loud areas: like public facilities, laundries and elevators – including those on decks above and below you.
A small windowless cabin is also going to force you out onto the ship, so spend a little extra on a suite with more space and a balcony. That way, should finding a place on board free of the crowds seem near impossible, you can easily retreat to your own little world. It is quite possible to spend your sea days relaxing in your own luxurious suite, lounging on your balcony, taking in the ocean view and enjoying room service, while port days are spent exploring solo or with one or two chosen companions.
Finding peace in luxury
But, if you’re willing to spend even more, many cruise ships offer the kind of accommodation that is so luxurious that the prospect of joining the throngs seems downright ridiculous. With your own beautifully appointed suite and sundeck and access to exclusive pool, gym, dining and nightclub facilities, why would you? Norwegian Cruise Line and Cunard Line ships have some particularly attractive offerings in this regard.
And if such extravagance is not possible, it pays to strategise. Take time to gauge the general movements of passengers. You will usually find that activities on board affect the general whereabouts of passengers at different times.
For example, you might try staggering your eating habits to avoid the crowds. Take your breakfast, lunch and dinner a little earlier or later than the rest. That way, while you’re eating the dining rooms will be emptier and while everyone else eats, you can sit back and enjoy your favourite location in peace.
That said, each ships layout, activities, itinerary and crowd is different, so do some good research before you book and you’ll never get caught out. Again, for the best information on passenger flows in and out of attractive ship locations turn to a friendly crewmember on board.