Cruises are attractive vacation options because they offer a broad range of features that appeal to all kinds of travelers. We all know about the exotic destinations that you reach via your cruise ship, as well as all the entertainment, dancing, food and activities available onboard. Plus, a cruise is worth the price alone just for the chances to sit back and relax under the sunshine by the pool or in the quiet calm of your balcony at sunrise or sunset while sipping a coffee or cocktail.
These are all traditional staples of the cruise experience. But cruises also offer several unique amenities and services that you might not know about. When you want to take a little break from all the food and sunshine, you might be interested in some of these lesser-known things available on a cruise.
Portrait Photo Sessions
Most major cruise lines have professional photographers and photo services available on their ships. Roaming photographers get shots of your group at the dinner table and set up backdrops in the atrium and other areas throughout the ship to get snaps to document you when you look your best on formal nights or as you exit into a new port. (You know, that smiling pic of you with a menacing pirate?)
These pros also can set up studio sessions (for a fee) to get you a package of intimate couples or family portraits. Many cruise ships also have dedicated studio spaces with special lighting and backgrounds that end up providing fantastic photos.
Your cruise ship spa is much more than the place for a massage. These days, there is a huge range of unique treatments available aimed at making you look and feel your best. You can try some of these offerings at the cruise ship spa: teeth whitening, Botox, facials, shaving, acupuncture, cellulite reduction treatments, reflexology, scrubs and wraps. Beware that the therapists will be fairly persistent in trying to sell you spa products to take home, stressing how you “need” them for your continued maintenance and care. Just politely decline if you aren’t interested and enjoy your new glow.
Cruise ships come outfitted with fitness centers, some as large and as well-equipped as those you would find on land. This means that you can get in a good workout while on your cruise. The larger cruise lines also offer one-on-one training sessions with the expert staffers working in the gyms onboard.
You can purchase one session or a package of sessions aimed to keep you on track with your training regimen or as an incentive to get started with a new program that you can continue when you get back home.
Royal Caribbean has more than two dozen ships in its fleet, and these cruises are geared toward adventure. Royal Caribbean is the only cruise line to offer an onboard certified PADI scuba diving program. Instructors can teach newbies how to dive and also provide refresher courses. Dive excursions are offered in the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda and Australia.
Several Royal Caribbean ships also feature the Ripcord by iFly skydiving simulators (a 23-foot-high glass flight chamber) and the FlowRider surfing and wakeboarding simulator. You can even book private sessions for the FlowRider to help you master a new sport.
Stylists can give your hair that just-right look for formal night or any special occasion at the To Dry For blow-dry bar on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas. Your styling and blow-dry session becomes a social event as you are served glasses of bubbly while a stylist get you glammed up for the night.
The hair blowouts and styling might be just what you are looking for after a day in the sun, wind and salty sea. Look for the venue to appear on more Royal Caribbean as part of the line’s “Royal Amplified” refurbishment program.
Cruisers who love to sip, savor and pair fine wines with their meals can try their hands at blending their own with innovative wine blending classes. Holland America Line features Blend, a purpose-built wine-blending venue in partnership with Chateau Ste. Michelle, the oldest and highly acclaimed vineyard in Washington state. Blend is available on Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam, and the facility has a tasting table that accommodates 10 cruisers who create mixes from a selection of five barrels of single-vineyard red wine. During the blending process, you also get pro tips from the ship’s wine expert.
Lifelong Learning and Enrichment
You can find enrichment programming available on a number of cruise lines. Princess Cruises’ “Scholarship@Sea” program offers edu-tainment, such as guest lecturers, computer skills classes and photography. The program offers several classes per cruise covering four key areas: culinary, computers, visual arts and photography.
Crystal Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line and Azamara all offer computer skills classes. Crystal also offers classes to help you become more proficient in social media. Other lines offer programs to teach you things such as ballroom and other dance disciplines, foreign languages and golf instruction.
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