Some first-time cruisers wonder if they'll feel trapped and be bored on a cruise ship in the evening. Take it from a veteran cruiser: Most days you'll be spending the day in port and, after you return, there will be plenty of options waiting for you.
As the ship departs for her next destination, she comes alive, offering myriad activities and events to keep you occupied throughout the night if you want — including plenty of "me time" for you, your companion or family.
Here's a rundown of some of the things to do at night on a cruise ship. (And don't forget Carrie's roundup of What is there to do on a cruise ship (during the day)?)
First of all, don't rush your dining experience. The evening meal consists of multiple-course gourmet meals that are included in the fare in the main dining rooms. These are leisurely affairs served by attentive waiters and provide a chance for you to share your day’s experiences with your table companions.
There will also be the option to have a more informal meal in the buffet, to go to one of the specialty restaurants (if your ship has one) or order in-room service. Midnight buffets or gourmet events like late-night chocolate buffets are also usually available. Tip: If you want to hit a specialty restaurant, make reservations before you board, and if you don't have a reservation, you can often sneak in on the first night.
Every night, there will be at least one headline show or production show to attend. While many lines have their own theater companies that stage themed song and dance shows, others offer well-known Broadway and Las Vegas shows like “Rock of Ages” and “Mamma Mia.” These are supplemented with specialty acts such as singers, comedians or magic acts.
Live music & karaoke
There will be bands, pianists or string quartets playing in many of the bars and lounges around the ship. There is also likely to be karaoke in one of the bars or a piano bar where you can watch or take part in showing off your singing skills.
Theme-night parties, dances & nightclubs
If you enjoy dancing, there will be many opportunities through your cruise, including theme-night parties, more formal ballroom dancing in one of the lounges and a night club that will keep going until the last guest leaves. They often run nights themed around different music genres or eras.
You will be able to watch movies on the television in your cabin, and if you are in a premium suite, you can borrow DVDs to play on the in-room player. Most cruise lines also run recent release films either on an open-air screen up on the main deck on warm itineraries or in a dedicated cinema or theater. Some even serve free popcorn while you're watching movies under the stars.
Activities & games
Depending on the ship you are cruising on there may also be facilities including bowling lanes, ice rinks, crazy golf courses and other sports facilities to use.
Once the ship is in international waters, the casino will open, and you can play the slot machines or tables.
Hit the pool or whirlpool
At night, if the weather isn't too chilly, you can usually have the pool to yourself, or share it with a small number of people. A better bet may be to hit that whirlpool you'd been wanting to get to all day long. If your ship has a Solarium, even better!
Of course, don't forget that you also need to find time to sleep!
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