The 10 Sea Day Mistakes You’re Still Making

These cruise tips will ensure your next cruise is smooth sailing by helping you avoid the 10 sea day mistakes many cruisers still make!

The Cruise Sea Day Mistakes You're Still Making

For many cruisers, sea days are the best part of cruising. These are the days when there are no stops or ports of call. Instead, there is ample time to enjoy all that your cruise ship offers. Sadly, we see too many first timers, and even some seasoned cruisers, go about sea days all wrong. Of course, we want you to stay one step ahead of everyone else onboard. So, we put together this list of the common sea day mistakes most cruisers still make. Plus, we share what to do instead, so your cruise sea days are smooth sailing.

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The Sea Day Mistakes You’re Still Making

Sleeping In

For many, a cruise vacation is a time to relax and unwind. Most seven night cruises contain about 2 to 3 sea days, depending on the itinerary. Those 3 to 4 ports of call days often include early stops, usually between 7 am or 9 am. This might mean that you are waking up earlier than you go to work to catch the first tour buses of the day.

Naturally, many take sea days to catch up on some sleep. With nowhere to go, cruisers opt to pass on the alarm while the ship is out to sea.

Norwegian Viva cruise ship

Sadly, sleeping is one of the biggest sea day mistakes. As the saying goes, the early bird gets…the lounge chair.

If you sleep too late, you will most likely not get a prime seat on the pool deck. Those chair hogs will be out and about claiming all the coveted loungers. These are individuals who reserve lounge chairs and leave them unoccupied for hours while others roam the pool deck looking for a spot.

Also, sleeping late means you could miss out on other activities later in the day. Most modern cruise ships offer a variety of things to do on a cruise. On a sea day, it is tough to fit everything in if you opt to sleep until noon. So, we suggest getting up early to beat the crowds.

The best part is that getting up early means you can take a nice afternoon nap. Whether on your balcony or the outdoor decks, there is nothing better than a little midday snooze in the Caribbean.

Not Applying Sunscreen

It might seem like common sense that when spending an entire day outside, cruisers should apply sunscreen. Yet, all too often we see many of our fellow passengers spotting an unique shade of red by day 3 or 4.

We have been guilty of these sea day mistakes ourselves on occasion. But, we do our best to pack several bottles of sunscreen and to apply it regularly, especially when sailing between ports of call.

Pool Deck of Norwegian Encore

There are several forms of sunscreen from sprays, lotions, or even the roll on variety. Whatever version it takes to make sure you and the rest of the family apply, it is worth packing.

You should also apply the sunscreen more than once per day. If you use the pools or any of the outdoor water attractions on the cruise ship, it is probably best to reapply afterwards.

Also, don’t think because you are doing a cold water cruise that you don’t need sunscreen. For many, it is obvious that cruises in the Mediterranean and Caribbean require some SPF. But, we have also gotten a bit red sailing in Northern Europe, Alaska, and there is even the potential for some sunburn when in Antarctica.

So, regardless of the region, you should lather up when spending an extended period of time outside.

Neglecting the Crew

It is true that on sea days venues will be busier than when in a port of call. Still, even if the bars are busy or the dining room crowded, there is still always time to interact with the crew. One sea day mistake many make is to forget to engage with crew members.

While they will be hustling, it is fine for you to take a few minutes to say hi and ask them how they are doing. They are usually more than happy to talk for a few minutes about the trip and their time onboard the ship.

Sea Day Mistakes include not thanking the crew

Some crew members are more talkative than others, so don’t feel like you have to force a conversation. But, we have certainly spent time learning more about those working onboard during these talks on sea days.

You may run into your MDR server at lunch or your stateroom attendant in the hallway. Your favorite bartender will recognize you and ask about your tour the other day. If someone from the crew says hi, even if you don’t remember them, say hi and ask how they are doing. These conversations can help to make their days more enjoyable. Remember, many of them are thousands of miles away from their families and friends.

With so much going on during a sea day, it is easy to forget the hardworking crew that are making it all happen. So, make sure to let them know how much you appreciate them.

This also goes for the cruise director and the activities staff. It can’t hurt to go up to them after a trivia session or game show to say thanks and let them know you are having a fantastic cruise!

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Heading to the Spa or Thermal Suite

Most cruise ships offer a spa with various treatments like massages. It is also possible that your particular cruise ship has a thermal suite with experiences like a sauna, heated stone loungers, steam rooms, and more. So, it might be tempting to want to indulge in one of the experiences on a sea day.

But, odds are you and hundreds of other cruisers are thinking the same thing. So, the spa and thermal suite will be extremely busy. While it might be possible to get an appointment on a sea day if you book early on cruise boarding day, the total experience may feel rushed. The spa or onboard salon will be trying to squeeze in as many cruisers as possible.

Going to the Spa or Thermal Suite is one of the sea day mistakes

This can lead to long waits and delays. That doesn’t sound all that rejuvenating to us.

Instead, pick one of the port days and stay on the ship. This is the ideal time to grab a massage or hit up the thermal suite. It will be less crowded, and you can have a better selection of appointment times. Plus, it will most likely be cheaper. Many cruise lines run port day deals for these services. Less crowds and less money is a win-win in our book.

Skipping Breakfast

While there are several dining options on most cruise ships, each venue is only open for set hours. For breakfast, many cruise ships have the main dining room open on sea days, but only for a few hours. While the ship’s buffet tends to be open longer, the options are reduced later in the morning as well.

That said, many cruisers who sleep in on sea days end up skipping breakfast. While you don’t need to have a sit-down feast for breakfast, we suggest that you have something in the morning to fuel you up for a fun-filled day on the ship. Even if your plan is to take it easy, odds are you will be in the sun or planning to have a few adult beverages. So, having something in your stomach first is probably a good idea.

Not to mention, depending on the weather and sea conditions, the ship might feel a bit rocky on sea days. Having some food in your stomach is a good way to ward off any potential seasickness in case the seas get a bit rough.

If you want to lounge in your cabin, consider room service. Many cruise lines still offer a free continental breakfast option for room service. Honestly, sometimes it is even worth paying the modest upcharge to get room service breakfast on a sea day.

Spending the Entire Day in One Spot

Yes, sea days are a great way to recharge the batteries. This is especially true if you are travelers like us who want to do and see everything during a trip.

So, it is tempting to relax outside with the ocean breeze and some live music in the background. With poolside competitions like the belly flop contest or movies on the jumbo screen, you don’t feel like you’re missing anything.

Yes, we have plenty of friends and family members that plant themselves in a seat for the entire day, but we would argue that a little change of scenery is good.

Cruise Sea Day Mistake is Staying in One Spot

Odds are your ship has much more to offer than a pool and lounge chairs. There are typically several outdoor amenities like adults-only areas, mini-golf, and sports deck attractions. There’s probably plenty of indoor activities that are worth checking out as well.

Gamblers can head to the casino for some gaming. There are also trivia contests, dance classes, karaoke sessions, and other demonstrations that might interest you. Depending on the region, there could be enrichment talks or lectures too, and we aren’t talking about those port shopping presentations.

If nothing else, spend some time roaming around the ship. If you didn’t already explore on cruise embarkation day, this is the time to discover a hidden gem or check out those public venues that you haven’t seen yet. Think of it this way, taking a walk is a great way to burn some extra calories too.

Not Taking Advantage of Your Drink Package

If you decide to purchase a drink package, a sea day is the perfect time to make full use of this upgrade. Now, we are not encouraging irresponsible consumption of beverages. We would never promote cruisers trying to purposely over consume to “get your money’s worth”. Because you’ll just end up regretting that tomorrow.

Still, a sea day is the perfect time to enjoy a Bloody Mary or mimosa at breakfast. Afterall, you did take our advice to wake up early, right? It is also the ideal time to sip a few frozen drinks poolside. Not to mention, why not have a few glasses of wine at dinner or grab a few cocktails after the show.

Now is the time to try a new drink. If you don’t like it, you can get another one for no added cost.

Adventure of the Seas Cruise Review

But, also don’t forget about all of the other beverages that are part of the package as well. Depending on the cruise line, these can include smoothies, specialty coffees and lattes, freshly squeezed juices, sports drinks, bottles of water, or soda.

So, grab that double espresso for your afternoon pick-me-up, or get a few bottles of Powerade to store in your cabin. We always grab extra bottles of water to store in our room as well. This way, we have them for the morning or if we are rushing off to an early shore excursion.

Eating Lunch in the Buffet

Regardless of the size of the ship, there is bound to be one place that is busy on a sea day. That is the cruise ship buffet. In particular, the buffet is sure to be crowded around lunch time. So, instead of battling the lines with everyone else, we suggest you head elsewhere for lunch. This is one of the easiest cruise sea day mistakes you can avoid.

On many larger cruise ships, there will be a variety of other dining options. There might be a pizza parlor, burger joint, a cafe with sandwiches, or snacks available at other dining venues.

Avoid Getting Sick on a Cruise

Almost all cruise ships will have the main dining room open for lunch on a sea day as well. So, you can enjoy a three course sit-down lunch with the same level of service you have for dinner. Just note that while casual clothes are allowed, you can’t show up in swimwear.

Or, if you are looking to upgrade your lunch experience, consider a specialty restaurant. Some of the ship’s specialty restaurants will most likely be open for limited lunch time hours. These specialty restaurants usually feature a paired down lunch menu when compared to the dinner menu.

But, the price will almost certainly be cheaper as well. So, trying out one of these venues at a lower rate might be an excellent option.

With so many other options available for lunch, there really is no excuse to join the rest of the herd at the buffet…at least in our opinion.

Passing on the Gym

We know it is a cruise vacation. With so much going on during the trip, it can be easy to pass on routine things like the gym. But, a sea day is actually the perfect time to get in a workout. Odds are, the onboard fitness center will be the quietest early in the morning or late in the afternoon before dinner.

Cruisers can take their workouts outside as well. Many cruise ships offer running tracks for a daytime way to burn some calories. Or, if the cruise ship has a sports deck, you could work up a sweat in a friendly competition of basketball or pickleball.

While the pool will often be too busy for some laps, there are plenty of ways to workout on modern cruise ships. So, even if you don’t want to head inside for the gym, you can still get your heart rate up and burn off those extra cruise calories. That way, you won’t feel bad about eating dessert at dinner.

Missing the Show

Your sea day doesn’t end when the sun goes down. In fact, there is still plenty of fun to be had at night. It is possible that the sea day might feature a themed night like formal night. Or, it might feature a special event like the White Party or a silent disco. These are some of the most popular activities on the ship.

Not to mention, one of the signature productions might be playing in the theater. There might be the adult game show happening or a standup comedian offering a late night set.

We know it is tempting to remain in your bathing suit for the duration of the day. But, there is really much more to a sea day than the daytime events. So, make sure to pace yourself appropriately and leave enough energy for a lineup of nighttime fun to round out the entire day.


What other sea day mistakes have you made on a cruise? Do you enjoy a sea day more than a port day? Drop us an anchor below with your sea day favorites.

Don Bucolo, or “DB”, loves everything about cruising- the ocean, the food, and the atmosphere. While he may be obsessed with doing extensive amounts of research on ships and all elements of a cruise, Don enjoys sharing his new found knowledge with fellow cruisers. When he is not sailing the high seas, he does whatever his wife tells him to do-it only took 10 years to realize this.
Don Bucolo
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The 10 Sea Day Mistakes You’re Still Making

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