Common Cruise Ship Amenities: Basic Services and Facilities
There is a common sea world precept that cruise ships are sailing cities. While this is true, first time cruisers who have just booked their trips obviously have a million questions about what they can or cannot access while traveling on a cruise ship. Generally, all cruise ship amenities have dining, entertainment, shopping or sporting facilities. There are bars and lounges as well, with some ships providing casinos and other adult-themed entertainment facilities.
One of the common cruise ship amenities is the dining area. Many of the ships will serve you international cuisine, especially if you are sailing in Europe or North America. A typical dinner features appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, and desserts. You can ask that the portions be made bigger if you wish. You can get water, iced tea, coffee, or juice at no extra cost in addition to your order. Alcoholic drinks and sodas, on the other hand, will cost you more.
Large cruise ships in particular have a wide range of dining facilities because they realize that fine dining constitutes a big chunk of an excellent travel and leisure experience. You can indulge in Italian cuisine or dig in on tapas like you are in some Spanish resort all courtesy of the specialty restaurants, upscale dining facilities, and the onboard eateries. Enjoying a meal in the upscale and elegant dining places might mean you make very early bookings as they are very popular with cruisers.
Main Dining Room
Most cruise ships have more than one dining room onboard. These dining rooms might be divided into smaller dining rooms with a name. Hence, making sitting at a meal easier for you. If you are new to cruising, there are certain things you might need to know before you board the ship.
When it comes to dining room etiquette, you need to note the dress code when sitting down to have a meal. While cruise ships will allow you to dress casually, the upscale cruise lines are stricter on their dress code. There have been cases where diners are requested to change before they could sit down for a meal. For cruise ships with less stringent rules, you may still not be allowed to eat while in your swimsuit, even if you throw on a cover-up. Being barefoot is also not permitted in the dining area.
Many cruise ships have a buffet station separate from the main dining room. The rules here are a bit relaxed on clothing and sitting arrangements. Most buffets will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and maybe a mid-morning snack. The food served at these stations is subject to change, but you will find a pizza station, a sandwich station, themed stations like international pasta and pastries. You can get drinks from the dispensers they put at the stations, and these are charged just like the main dining area. The stations will either be self-service or have staff behind them to help you with what you need. The buffet areas also come with sitting areas. In case you are unable to line up, you can ask one of the staff to help you out.
One of the less common cruise ship amenities is specialty restaurants that guests can dine in. You get to experience different cuisines at times made by Michelin chefs. While they may not be strict on clothing, you will not be allowed with flip-flops or swimwear. You can reserve a table ahead of time, so you do not share with strangers. The price for a meal at these restaurants varies, but it ranges from $30 – $50. In some ships, you can only dine at a specialty restaurant either once or twice. These rules will be communicated to you when you board.
Many people wonder if they can get room service while at sea. 24/7 room service are usually offered for free, while others might charge you a fee for pizza delivery or nighttime room service. In case you want to take your food to your cabin, you can ask a waiter to plate it for you.
Foods are prepared almost all around the clock, or rather, you can get food 24/7. Should you need a snack, you can ask at the restaurants or the buffet area. There will be an array of snacks like cheese and crackers from which you can select your preference. However, this is one of the most sought-after cruise ship amenities.
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For cruise guests, the possibility of live entertainment is a welcome thing. Since you will be at sea for some time, it helps if you get on a cruise that offers such entertainment. Onboard entertainment has evolved over the year. From live music shows, we now have full-on theatrical performances and musicals put up by Julliard performers.
Disney Cruise Line entertains kids with characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Goofy or Donald Duck and enchants the whole family with shows like The Beauty and the Beast or the Frozen. Such themes have brought great success in the cruise industry; hence, cruise lines advertise the performances and use them as a selling point.
Other than Disney, there are many other performances that cruise ships have used to market themselves. They create show-stopping performances that cruisers can look forward to attending. Live shows have gained a lot of attention over the years on cruise ships.
Nightlife at Sea
Aside from the bars and lounges, ships also have discotheques, casinos, and other adult-themed entertainment facilities just like you have on land. Casinos and gambling in particular are big pastimes at sea. If you take a sea trip to enjoy these then you might want to dig deep to find out what exactly is on offer. Discotheques, lounges, and casinos more often than not have age restrictions; the junior members of your family who accompany you on a cruise won’t be let in.
You are in luck though if you bring children along because the ship has all sorts of activities that will keep them busy while you sneak a few hours for yourself. These children’s activities are monitored so you can sit back and have fun knowing they are in good hands.
Vacations at the sea may be a good change from the usual daily routines. There however are aspects that you can’t do without even at such times. Training and fitness are daily routines to stay in shape and many people hold very dear. For this reason, many vessels have elaborate fitness centers and equipped gyms so you do not miss a day of practice. Many, especially the large ships, have jogging tracks as well.
There are other inclusions like onboard shops and luxury stores where you can get very decent gifts for you and your loved ones. You might want to take advantage of these as well.
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Out of the Ordinary: Some Uncommon Amenities on Cruise Ships
While there are services and attractions that you can find on almost all cruise ships, some of them have taken this a notch higher. There are various cruise ship amenities and features that can only be found on certain vessels. The following amenities and facilities are some of the rare ones:
If you love go-kart racing, then you should try Norwegian Cruise Line. The 1150-foot-long racetrack can be found on Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Joy. Passengers can race on this track at 30mph. It is incomparable with any other recreational activity that you may enjoy at sea
If you are an adrenaline junky, then you should try Sky Diving. It is offered by RipCord by iFLY on Royal Caribbean Quantum Class ships. The experience itself lasts 60 seconds and is worth your time. The good thing about this is it is catered for in your ticket.
For the lovers of stargazing, planetariums are the place to be. While looking up to the sky on a clear night can give you a great view of the stars in the cloud, nothing does it like looking at the constellations close-up. Vessels like Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and Viking Cruises’ Viking Orion have planetariums for guests who love to stargaze. You get 3D glasses, which will enhance the feeling of being in space.
Nothing spells fun like sliding into a swimming pool on a hot day while at sea. It is the delight of every child and most adults. Cruise lines have realized this and built water parks in their vessels. Several major cruise lines have these amazing features include Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Cruise Line. They have detailed waterparks that travelers can enjoy while onboard.
Related: From Water Parks to Spa Treatments: Carnival Cruise Amenities Have It All
If you are a tech lover and love your cocktails or mocktails, then the bionic bar is the place to be. The drinks are ordered through a tablet and then put together by a pair of robotic arms. The entire site is fascinating to watch. These bionic bars are on Royal Caribbean ships like Anthem of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, among many others.
If you love watching the sea, then this is something you should do when you go on a sea holiday. Princess Cruises offers a sea walk experience, a glass corridor that lets you see the sea at a closer range. If you are afraid, you should steer clear of this corridor, but the experience is an interesting one for many.
The Celebrity Cruises’ Edge Class vessels have a magic carpet that can be lifted and hosted to give an Aladdin feel to the guests. If you have acrophobia, fear not; the carpet does not have a transparent floor. It is often used for high teas but serves other purposes as well.
Rock Climbing Wall
Rock climbing wall is one of the peculiarities among the uncommon cruise ship amenities that can be found on Royal Caribbean vessels. It is open all through, and you can get safety harnesses for the staff. Children and adults are all welcome to try it out as it has different difficulty levels. The children need to be older than six and need to sign a waiver before trying it out.
For lovers of the Ferris wheel, this is a must go to ride. The North Star can be found on the Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class, this air pod ride can hold up to 14 people, including one person in a wheelchair. It will make you sweat, especially if you are afraid of height but give it a try.