I’ve been living the life these days, having completed the Grand Slam of voyages on all four Disney ships in a 12 month period, including a recent 11-night trip on the Disney Magic with stops in Norway, Iceland, and the UK. While port stops can be amazing, I can honestly say that I’m just as happy, if not more happy, on the days at sea. I’m shocked when I hear new cruisers worried that they’ll be bored on sea days.
In these days of hyper-connectivity, sea days are those rare unicorns of time in which you can completely unplug and relax. But if you’re at a loss to imagine what you can do without dry land under your feet, here’s a list of just some of the things you can do to fill your time on a sea day.
1. Sleep. I am not a good sleeper at home, but there’s something about the plush bedding on the Disney ships, combined with the gentle rocking of the waves, that put me out like a light. During particularly strong bouts of insomnia, I’ve actually considered booking a cruise just to get some delicious at-sea shut eye.
2. Watch old Disney films. The in-room televisions (particularly on the Dream and Fantasy) are a treasure trove of old Disney movies. Escape to Witch Mountain? Don’t mind if I do.
3. Go for a run. Each of the Disney ships has a measured outdoor running track, with scenery that’s bound to be a lot different than what you’ll find at home. If your training requires that you add some hills to your routine, head inside for a run on one of the many state-of-the-art treadmills.
4. Read a novel. I’m pretty good at keeping up with newspapers and nonfiction at home, but my fiction reading has sadly reached an all-time low. A sea day the perfect time to catch up with the latest bestseller.
5. Play Bingo. Bingo calling on the Disney ships can be so entertaining that I’ve actually known people to come and watch even if they’re not playing.
6. Get a mani-pedi. There’s no need to add nail care to you pre-cruise to-do list when you can easily tend to this task on board.
7. Meet characters. Disney Cruise line really steps up its character greeting game at sea. Sure, you can meet Cinderella at sea, just like on land. But the ships are also filled with classic characters in special voyage-themed or holiday-themed outfits (Minnie in a fur-lined parka for Alaska; Goofy in a Viking hat in Norway), as well as Disney-owned Marvel characters that can only be currently found at sea.
8. Get in a game of pick-up basketball. The sports deck has open hours.
9. Take a spin class. Sign up at the spa.
10. Play a round of mini-golf. On the Dream and the Fantasy.
11. Challenge your family to a game of Monopoly. You know how those games never end … well, it doesn’t matter when you’ve got a full sea day with hours ahead of you. The ships have many classic board games stocked in the lounges.
12. Shop for souvenirs. The on board shops are typically not open when the ships are in port. This makes at-sea day a prime opportunity for shopping. Look for Disney Cruise Line themed items, as well as items related to your voyage’s port of call.
13. Play shuffleboard. The best part is that no one really understands what the rules are, so you can make it up as you go along.
14. Learn how to mix drinks. Most sailings offer several variations of mixology class or lessons on understanding a particular type of wine or spirits.
15. Take a dance class. Longer cruises often offer classes in ballroom dance.
16. Color. Adult coloring books are now all the rage. Bring a coloring book and some colored pencils on your voyage and the stress just melts away.
17. Figure out your camera. Sure, you can take fine pictures on “auto,” but bring a how-to photography book with you and finally figure out how to take some really great photos.
18. Enjoy some fine dining. The adults-only restaurants on board offer special brunch menus on sea days. Um, yum.
19. Get a massage. Alone, in a parent/child group, or as a romantic couple. There are many versions to choose from.
20. Binge watch a new show, or a classic. Before your trip, download a season or four of that show you’ve been meaning to watch onto your tablet or laptop. Watch on your verandah with a room service BLT and a Mickey bar. Oh yeah!
21. Try a new food. There’s really no downside to ordering something you’re unfamiliar with on a Disney cruise. Want to try escargot, but not sure you’ll like it? Go ahead and order it, along with something else. There’s no extra charge and no one will care if you don’t finish it.
22. Learn about history or nature. Many longer cruises have guest lecturers on topics related to the ship’s destination. On my Alaskan cruise, I went to a lecture on regional wildlife. On our recent European cruise, my husband attended several lectures about the history and economics of the region.
23. Watch a first run film. New Disney and Pixar releases debut on the ships at the same time they debut on land. I intentionally held off seeing Inside Out in a theater at home because I knew that I could see it at no additional charge on the ship.
24. Play cards. With little kids, engage them in Go Fish, or an epic Uno battle. This is perfect time to teach older kids the finer points of Hearts, Bridge, or Poker.
25. Write the great American novel. Well, maybe not a whole novel, but you could certainly write a short story.
26. Learn to draw Mickey. Most sea days have at least one animation drawing class on board.
27. Take a cooking class. Disney chefs will teach guests how to make some classic cruise fare on many sailings.
28. Soak up the sun. Lay out on deck and work on your tan.
29. Try some trivia competitions. A typical sailing will have friendly competitions quizzing guests on Disney trivia, 80’s music trivia, pirate trivia, or the like. Win prizes!
30. Watch a Broadway-style show. There are Disney-themed Broadway-style shows on nearly all sailings.
31. Hunt for Hidden Mickeys. The Steven Barrett book Hidden Mickeys Go To Sea can point you in the right direction.
32. Learn the fine art of towel-folding. Don’t you love those towel animals you find on your bed each night?! Look for classes on how to make them yourself.
33. Make a new friend. Chat with other guests at the bar; you never know what you’ll have in common.
34. Look for wildlife. Guests often spot whales and dolphins while on board the ship. If you’re in Alaska or the fjords, you may see bears, goats, or other larger animals on the shore.
35. Go for a swim. Well, the ship’s pools aren’t really large enough for laps, but you can have a nice soak.
36. Sing your heart out. There are family and adult versions of karaoke almost every night.
37. Play some pinball. There’s an arcade on every Disney ship.
38. Watch the big game. If there’s a major sporting event happening, Disney will more than likely be playing it in the lounges on the ships. It’s a sports bar atmosphere, in the middle of the ocean.
39. Make some fabric art. I’ve seen knitters and needlepointers on most of my sailings.
40. Take a tour of the ship. There are crew-led talks about various aspects of the workings of a cruise ship.
41. Get hypnotized. Most sailings have outside entertainers on board including musicians, magicians, ventriloquists, jugglers, and yes, hypnotists.
42. Attend a religious service. There are formal services on major holidays. On shorter cruises, sabbath-day rooms are set aside for guest prayer and reflection.
43. Learn about the Disney Vacation Club. Well, OK, this is really where DVC tries to sell you a membership, but you will get free tropical drinks, a bunch of random DVC swag, and a chance to win a $200 on board credit.
44. Get some shopping tips. Most sailings will have a session or two in which shopping experts discuss the goods available in your ports of call.
45. Get crafty. Look for lessons in origami, mask-making, or seasonal crafts.
46. Participate in a scavenger hunt. Create your own hunt for your family, or do one created by the ship staff. On longer sailings, there may be several kinds of hunts available.
47. Take a yoga or pilates class. Biiiiig stretch.
48. Trade pins. Most longer sailings have at least one formal pin-trading event.
49. Learn the fine art of napkin folding. Take a class on board and the guests at your next dinner party will be very impressed.
50. Meet the ship’s officers. Look for times posted where guests can have an opportunity to chat with the officers and have a photo taken with the ship’s captain.
51. Be on a game show. Longer sailings have audience-participation versions of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Family Feud, Dating Game, and Wheel of Fortune.
52. Make a puzzle. A ocean crossing is a great time to work on that 1,000 piece puzzle your grandma gave you for Christmas.
53. Slip and slide. The AquaDuck and AquaDunk are almost as good as a theme park coaster.
54. Bet on your baby, or someone else’s. Most sailings include the “Diaper Dash,” a
foot knee race between the crawling-age babies on the ship. This is a consistently hilarious event.
55. Have a teeth-whitening treatment. In the spa.
56. Meet a celebrity. If there’s a celebrity guest on board, there will often be an opportunity for autographs and photos.
57. Showcase your talent. Sailings of seven nights or longer typically feature guest talent shows. Sing, dance, do magic trips, tell jokes, or do your stupid human tricks. As long as it’s family-friendly, anything goes. Sign up in advance at guest services.
58. Invent some food hacks. Challenge your family to come up with creative ways to hack the top-deck food. For example, take your soda to the soft-serve ice cream pumps to make a float. Or, slice a donut to use as the bread in a bacon and egg sandwich.
59. Catch up on the news. Grab a printed daily news summary at Guest Services. On pop up to the adult coffee bar, where some form of news programming is usually on screen.
60. Meet with a personal trainer. Get some targeted tips on perfecting your workout routine.
61. Get your portrait taken. The ships offer several opportunities during each sailing to have formal portraits taken of individuals or groups. Get in line as often as you like, all the shots are included in the price of your CD.
62. Get a haircut or professional shave.
63. Relax in the Rainforest Room. Enjoy a series of heated lounge chairs, steam and sauna rooms, and variable pressure showers. Ahhhh.
64. Build your dream Lego project. Just don’t ask me how to get it home.
65. Work on your golf swing. In the simulators on the Dream and Fantasy.
66. Shake your booty. Get your wiggles out at dance parties for kids, adults, and families.
67. Tackle the Sunday crossword. Finally have time to work on the entire crossword without being interrupted by the phone or emails.
68. Spread some Pixie Dust. Do this by participating in a “Fish Extender” group, which is sort of like an on board Secret Santa exchange. Find a group online prior to sailing.
69. Have an acupuncture treatment. Leave the cruise pain free.
70. Get up a game of Scrabble.
71. Have your hair braided. Get the island style by the pool on warm-weather sails.
72. Make a photo book. Visit the Shutters photo center to have arrange for an book of r your vacation snaps.
73. Buy some art. Disney-themed art is available for sale on all the ships.
74. Get married. Call Disney Cruise Line to arrange this in advance.
75. Play ping-pong or foosball. Tables are on the sports deck.
76. Talk with your kids, or your spouse. Share your hopes and dreams, or swap knock-knock jokes.
77. Cheer at a deck party. Depending on your sailing you may find deck parties related to pirates, Frozen, Star Wars, or a particular holiday.
78. Book your next cruise. Book your next cruise while on board your current cruise and get a 10% discount and other perks.
And don’t forget that most of these items are things for adults or families to do on sea days. There’s an entirely different list of activities for kids and teens to do on their days at sea.
What are your favorite sea day activities? Do you prefer to chill out and do nothing? Or be active and do a bit of everything? Let us know in the comments below.