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9 reasons to stay up late instead of waking up early on a cruise ship

20 Jan 2024
Elizabeth Wright

At night, any given cruise ship's atmosphere will drastically change. While activities are going on throughout the day, such as belly flop competitions on the pool deck or general trivia in one of the lounges, the ship truly comes alive at night. 


Everyone has different vacation preferences. Perhaps you are someone who enjoys peaceful mornings onboard before the majority of passengers have awoken from their slumbers. On the other hand, maybe you're the kind of person who would rather stay up late and make your way to the Windjammer for breakfast's last call. 

Here are 9 reasons you should consider staying up late instead of waking up early on your next cruise. 

You can see the many shows onboard

Royal Caribbean is known for its entertainment, especially on newer ships. 

From jaw-dropping high-diving spectaculars to Broadway-style musicals and even original production shows, you might find yourself struggling to fit everything in, especially on a shorter cruise! 

Shows aren’t offered during the day, so you will have to plan them around dinner. You’ll either have to attend the early show and have a later dinner or vice versa. Either way, you won't be in bed by 9:30 or 10:00pm if you hope to catch one of the onboard shows. 

Theme parties typically happen later at night

Longer cruises have theme nights, such as White Night, 80s Night, etc. These themes are accompanied by fun events, including parties!

Whether they’re on the top deck or within the ship’s Centrum or Royal Promenade, you surely won’t want to miss all the fun that happens during them.

To figure out your cruise's theme nights, you will want to refer to a past Cruise Compass. Not only will this help you figure out the themes, but it will also give you a look at everything that was offered, from the onboard shows to live music, dining times, Adventure Ocean operating hours, and more. 

You can try your luck for a late-night win at the casino

Casino bar

Casino Royale comes alive at night. What better time to try your luck than after a post-dinner cocktail (or two) from the Schooner Bar? 

You don't have to be an experienced gambler to put $20 into a random slot machine and hope for the best! In fact, this is one of my favorite evening activities while on a cruise. Gambling during the day just isn't the same!

Even if you just walk away with just $100, that's money that you didn't have when you started! Perhaps it'll convince you to splurge on a last-minute shore excursion or place a deposit for a future cruise

Read more: I gambled enough in Royal Caribbean's casino to get free drinks and a cruise

The following day is a sea day

There's no harm in staying up a little bit later than usual when you don't have a schedule the next day. Even though you should check out the Cruise Compass to see what activities are being offered, you should not feel pressured to do any. 

Sea days are meant to be relaxing. After a few long days ashore, there's nothing wrong with spending your day sleeping in and/or napping by the pool, especially if you attended some late-night programming the night before. 

Even if sleeping in isn't the most exciting activity, there's no better feeling than waking up well-rested. 

Read more: 10 mistakes to avoid making on a cruise ship sea day

You should stay up later if you took an afternoon nap

Pool deck and slides on Harmony

Early mornings on cruise ships are rather peaceful. 

Whether you're seeking a quiet coffee break or simply want to walk around before the majority of passengers have rolled out of bed, there are lots of pros to being one of the first awake. This, however, can make it rather difficult to stay awake later. 

When I cruised onboard Freedom of the Seas, my partner and I ended up almost sleeping through dinner after we woke up early to make the most out of our time at Perfect Day at CocoCay


If you're someone who wants to enjoy both peaceful mornings and late nights, consider taking an afternoon nap. 

This will give you the energy to catch that late comedy show or fully enjoy an AquaTheater spectacular without having to fight to keep your eyes open. 

Hot tubs aren't as busy at night

When dinnertime rolls around, the majority of passengers will begin to flock from the pool deck back to their staterooms to freshen up. If you're someone who loves avoiding crowds, then this is the ideal time to hang out on the top decks. 

Of course, staying out later isn't an option if you have an early dining time, especially if you are excited about that night's menu offerings. 

Even after dinner when the pools are closed, there's usually a hot tub or two still open, making it a great time for a late-night dip! 

You can dance the night away at the ship's nightclub

Unlike on land, cruise ship nightclubs don't have a cover. This means that you can dance to your heart's extent every night of the cruise without racking up some hefty entrance fees, as is the case in some cities like Las Vegas or New York. 

Even if nightclubs aren't your usual scene, you should check your ship's out at least once! I have found the vibe to be pretty different than those on land. In fact, I think they're more fun and welcoming than high-profile clubs. 

Sometimes, there will be 18+ events in these spaces, too, such as a silent disco. When I cruised onboard Allure of the Seas with friends, this was one of our favorite aspects of the 8-night cruise! 

Some nightlife venues aren't centered around dancing, either, such as Icon of the Seas' Dueling Pianos bar. 

If you haven't had time to catch up with friends and family yet, there's no better time than an after-dinner cocktail at one of the ship's many bars and lounges

Schooner Bar on Odyssey of the Seas

Perhaps you're traveling with a large group and people broke off into groups to spend their day ashore in different ways. Some, for instance, might want to relax on the beach, whereas others will want to do something a little bit more exciting, such as an ATV tour or zip lining through the tree's canopies. 

On the other hand, it's easy to spend an entire day onboard and not see anyone in your travel party, as everyone has different interests. 

Regardless of the reason you haven't seen your crew as much as you would have liked throughout the day, there's no reason you cannot catch up over some after-dinner drinks while listening to live music. 

You'll have to stay up later to cram in as much fun as you can on shorter sailings

Some cruises are as short as 3 or 4 nights. If you want to make the most of your time onboard, you'll have to be willing to sacrifice sleep to a certain extent. 

If, for instance, your cruise is only 3 nights, likely, you will not have a day at sea. Instead, you will have two days in port, followed by evenings onboard. 

On ships like Allure of the Seas or Utopia of the Seas, this can make it difficult to cross everything off of your list. In fact, you will have to be strategic with your time and utilize embarkation day for some activities, such as the Flowrider, rock climbing wall, zip line, or mini-golf. 

Doing those things right off the bat will free your evenings for other events like shows and pre-planned programming (i.e., game shows, trivia, karaoke, etc.). 

Elizabeth graduated from New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute with her M.A. in Journalism in May 2023. Growing up, she had the privilege of traveling frequently with her family and fell in love with cruising after sailing on the Oasis of the Seas her freshman year of high school. She wanted to pursue a career that highlighted her passion for travel and strengths as a writer. 

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