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5 things I would never do on land but would do on a cruise ship

17 Jul 2023
Matt Hochberg

Any cruise line marketing department would probably tell you that a cruise vacation is unlike anything else, and that statement is true of many aspects of the vacation, including some onboard experiences.

Things I would only do on a cruise, but not at a land hotel

In fact, I think taking a cruise vacation drew me back time and time again because it's different from land vacations. I enjoy taking a cruise more because it differs so much.

When it comes time to take a cruise with someone who has never cruised before, I then realize there are a few things I do on a cruise that seem perfectly normal there, but would be out of place on a land trip.

These are activities or choices we make as cruise ship passengers that I would not think twice about on a cruise ship, but would scoff at if available on a land trip.

Eat with strangers

If you eat in the Main Dining Room on a cruise ship, there's a chance you'll be seated with other cruise ship passengers that you've never met before.

It's not a guarantee, but it does still happen that you could be seated with other guests and that has been a norm of cruising as far back as I can recall.

Main Dining Room

If I was lead to my dining room table to eat with strangers on a cruise ship, I wouldn't think twice of it.  But if the same thing happened at a land restaurant, I probably would leave the restaurant.

Outside of teppanyaki or biergarten restaurants on land where sharing a table is common, it's pretty rare on land for that to occur. But on a cruise ship, it's just another day.

Decorate my hotel room door

Cabin door decorations

Something else I've only ever seen happen on cruise ships is to decorate your cabin door.

A cruise vacation is big deal because it's a trip that will take you to various ports of call, and it's a big trip for many people.  To celebrate this, it's become a tradition among many cruisers to decorate their cabin doors.

Guests will bring printed materials, whiteboards, signs, and anything else they can attach to their cabin door via magnets to let anyone walking by their room they are truly excited for this trip.

Some cabin decorations are just a few items to celebrate being on vacation, while other guests will wrap their entire door and cover it with all sorts of knick-knacks.

I really cannot recall ever seeing anyone decorating their Holiday Inn Express hotel room door.  Nor would I ever consider that to be something to do in a hotel.

Participate in pool events

Bellyflop compeition

Cruise ships are filled with activities. Every day you'll find a list of things to do in the Royal Caribbean app, including a lot of pool deck activities.

Hotel pools are usually relaxing spaces to enjoy time in and around the water. Cruise ship pools offer that too, but they also mix in bellyflop, best looking men, volleyball, and aerobics competitions.

To be fair, I've seen land resorts offer pool events from time to time, but participation is usually low and it always seems like an afterthought in terms of execution.

Bellyflop competition

On a cruise ship, these pool-based events are major draws and lots of people want to participate. 

I'm always amazed the huge crowds a bellyflop competition will draw, along with how many people actively want to try to win.

Book a suite

Royal Suite on Liberty of the Seas

I know you're thinking, "plenty of people book suites at a land hotel", and you're right, but I think there's a lot more good reason to book a cruise ship suite over any land suite.

On land, a suite is going to be simply a larger room. Maybe it has more living space, extra bedrooms, or even access to a concierge lounge.  

Cruise ship suites are also larger than other cruise cabin categories, but they include a heck of a lot more amenities than a hotel suite.

Coastal Kitchen on Harmony of the Seas

A suite on a cruise ship could include access to a special restaurant, lounge access, priority seating, and special boarding privileges.

To be fair, there's a lot more blurred lines between what you get with a suite on land or sea, but on land, I've always seen a hotel suite as simply something to book because you can afford it. On a cruise, a suite comes with a lot more benefits that enhance the vacation experience. 

Book a trip more than a year in advance

Utopia of the Seas overhead render

One of the most difficult concepts new cruisers have to grasp is booking cruises years in advance.

If you want to get the best possible price, secure a rare cruise ship cabin, or lock in a spot on a new ship, you're going to have to book many months in advance.  Booking more than a year before the cruise sets sail is commonplace, but booking a land trip that far out is very rare.

You can't even book airfare more than a year in advance, but I can book a cruise for up to two years from now.

Aerial of Freedom of the Seas

The best prices for a Royal Caribbean cruise tend to be found right after Royal Caribbean releases new itineraries, which are usually for cruises departing two years from the release date.

Booking a cruise early brings far more stateroom options than booking a cruise close to the sail date. The further in advance you book, the more flexibility you have to book the exact stateroom you want.

That isn't to say no one books a cruise at the last-minute, but it's far more commonplace to book a cruise more than a year out compared to land vacations.

Read morePros and Cons of booking a cruise early vs last-minute

Matt started Royal Caribbean Blog in 2010 as a place to share his passion for all things Royal Caribbean with readers. He oversees all the writers at Royal Caribbean Blog, and writes a great deal of content on a daily basis.  He has become one of the foremost expert on a Royal Caribbean cruise.

Over the years, he has reached Pinnacle Club status with Royal Caribbean's customer loyalty program.

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