May 16, 2021   7:04pm

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Cruising: Life on Board

You’ve picked your cruise so now you can relax. Wrong! Here are some things to be savvy about (like how many seat mates do you want at dinner), according to our travel adviser Susan …

Now that you’ve picked your cruise you are probably thinking of what life will be like on board. Most likely you will feel well taken care of and surprise yourself by how at ease you feel (something about the soothing quality of being on the sea combined with good service and little stress?). Following are some tips and also some answers to common questions:

Upon Embarkation: Old timers know that anything they could not pre-book, should be reserved upon embarkation. So, once you have gone to your cabin head out and take care of business. Then you can relax the rest of the time.

Dining/Open Seating: We all dread the idea of fixed dining times with seat mates who are strangers to us. On Small and Mid-Size ships seating is generally “open” meaning that you can dine when you want, without reservations. (Caveat: on ships with two or more dining rooms, the smaller ones sometimes require reservations.) Note that this is not true for many Large Ships, so check out the situation in advance.

Dining/Tables for Two: Importantly, on Small and Mid-Size ships there usually is ample seating for two, meaning that couples do not have to eat with strangers unless they want to meet fellow passengers (if this is your wish, let it be known and you will be seated accordingly). Again, this is a good thing to ask about in advance.

Dress Codes: Many ships – including in the Small and Mid-Size category still have “Formal” nights (although many dress in actual Formal wear, a dark jacket for the man and even dressy pants and a top for the woman will suffice). However, an alternate dining experience is offered for all who do not wish to go Formal – usually in the smaller of the two dining rooms on the ship. So, you DO NOT have to go Formal, and there always is 24 hour in-room dining service AS WELL. Note that SeaDream has NO Formal nights – it is always casual — and Regent is moving more and more to sailings without Formal nights (both cruise lines attracting a younger clientele).

What will fellow guests be like: The more expensive the cruise, the likelihood that the clientele will be older (more disposable income, etc.). An exception is SeaDream that markets to a younger crowd (by this I do not mean partying singles, but established professionals) and Regent, which is more in the middle in terms of price and attitude. This may also be true of Crystal with which I do not have experience. That being said I have been on Silversea cruises with a fairly young guest profile (and met some new good friends that way) and other Silversea sailings where the guests were generally older. So sometimes it is the luck of the draw (and that’s why going with other friends is a good idea). The type of cruise also determines the type of guest in terms of amount of activity, etc. Royal Clipper/Star Clipper and Windstar will attract those who like the idea of sailing, Regent’s Paul Gauguin in Tahiti attracts many who want to dive, and so on.

Happy sailing – share your cruise experiences with us at

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