Visit our travel agent friends at MEI Travel

How to de-stress on a Royal Caribbean cruise (without alcohol)

22 Mar 2024

So, you’ve finally managed to set up your cruise.

You finalized the logistics, wrangled your travel buddies, and made it all the way to your ship’s port.

And you get on board, ready to enjoy your vacation—but you can’t seem to settle down.

You still feel the stress of preparing, packing, and traveling, to the point where you can’t seem to enjoy your vacation.

No matter what you do, you can’t seem to unwind. 

Whether it’s from anxiety, guilt, troubles at home, or stress caused by travel, sometimes we struggle to truly relax on our vacations.

I used to experience this struggle.

Especially as a new cruiser, I felt like my head was on a swivel, trying to take in all the information and sights around me. 

It was hard to sit down and rest when everything was so new to me.

After six cruises, I’ve finally developed a routine to de-stress on my cruises.

Whether it’s your first time and you’re trying to keep the nerves at bay, or you’re a seasoned cruiser just trying to enjoy an overdue vacation, here are my tips for relaxing on your cruise.

Read more: Extra tips to prepare for a cruise if you have anxiety

1. Stay away from alcohol 

Grabbing an alcoholic drink is an easy and tempting way to de-stress.

As soon as you start sipping on your wine or classic marg, you feel the anxiety leaving your body and being replaced with a warm, happy feeling.

But this can be a mistake in the long run.

Heavy drinking puts the body in a state of stress. 

Your body is trying to balance itself, and as the alcohol wears off, you’ll feel even more anxious than before you started drinking.

Whether or not you drink enough to actually feel hungover, alcohol can increase your feelings of stress in the long run.

Not only that, but drinks can get expensive on a cruise ship! Royal Caribbean’s cocktails range from $14 to $17 each.


If you’re not splurging on a drink package, ordering a drink could increase your stress as soon as you see that price tag.

Especially if you’re on a longer cruise, spare yourself the "hanganxiety" and go easy on the alcohol. 

There are plenty of other (cheaper) ways to relax!

2. Start by unpacking


Clutter in your physical space can cause clutter in your mental space.

Because it’s a new environment where you have limited space and not all of your items from home, being in a cruise ship stateroom can feel stressful.

I like to calm myself down by unpacking my luggage as soon as I get to my stateroom.

Whether the cruise lasts 3 nights or 7 nights, it’s worth it for me. 


I start by dividing my clothes into drawers and hanging up long items in the closet. Then, I unpack my toiletries and lay them out on the bathroom shelves. 

Any other items I’ve brought along—such as books, electronics, or makeup—I leave inside cabin drawers.

This is a great way to organize all your items, make sure you have everything you need, and reduce clutter.

It always helps you start to clear your mind and feel more comfortable in this new environment.

3. Go offline

Sitting in Central Park with laptop

Yes, WiFi may be available on your cruise ship.

But I recommend giving your mind a break by staying offline, or even opting out of the Internet package entirely.

We’re all familiar with the negative effects social media has on the brain, from jealous comparisons to addictive scrolling.

Usually, the problem is getting yourself to reduce your time online.

But a cruise is the perfect time to start that social media break you’ve been putting off!

It’s a vacation, so this is your time to rest from work. Stop checking your email! 

Getting news when you’re on a cruise ship, unable to take action, will only increase your stress.

Leave your phone in the room, and go out and explore the ship.


A cruise ship has many activities that you can enjoy without thinking of the Internet. 

In addition to live music and shows, movies usually play at night, so you can enjoy the ship’s amenities without ever using your own media.

And, you’ll be more secure and private by sharing photos after the trip is over.

4. Take advantage of the ship’s spa

Royal Caribbean ships are home to Vitality Spa and Salon, an elegant venue dedicated to health and beauty services.

There, you can find luxurious treatments such as seaweed massages, salt scrubs, and aroma stone therapy.

The salon also has beauty services for every part of the body, from hair to nails to teeth.

It’s the perfect spot to start to truly unwind, putting your self-care first.

Relaxation starts with calming down your body, after all.

If you find yourself hesitant to spend on the spa’s massage or salon packages, there are still options for discounts.

Members of the Crown and Anchor Society receive a discount on spa services, starting at 10% off for Gold status, and extending to 20% plus a complimentary add-on for Pinnacle members.

Another savvy way to get a lower price is by waiting until the last day of the cruise or slower port days.

If spa staff see that the ship is not booking enough spa appointments, they may offer more discounts onboard.

Spa facial

And if you want something completely free, keep an eye out on your Cruise compass.

Complimentary tasters, consultations, and lessons are offered daily.

For example, I attended a free facial sampler on my last cruise. The staff let us each try their facial products and gave us tips on how to treat our faces and prevent aging.

5. Prioritize rest

Inside cabin bed

One thing I love about cruising is the freedom to nap whenever and wherever you like.

It’s a vacation! The only rule is that it’s time to relax.

I usually like to take a nap between lunch and dinner, so I wake up refreshed for an evening of activities.

solarium on odyssey of the seas

But there are no limitations to when you can rest. On the pool deck, in your stateroom, in the hot tub—they’re all on the table.

I’m a true advocate of allowing yourself to catch up on sleep and just lie down when you feel like it.

Read more: Chill spots to get away from the crowd on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship

6. View nature on the open deck

Time in nature is another proven way to relax the body and mind.

On a cruise ship, you’ll have an endless amount of opportunities to see gorgeous landscapes and seascapes.

During the day, you can watch the open sea surrounding you and watch the movement of the waves.

When it’s sunny, sit down and relax, letting your body soak up some vitamin D. 

Read more: Why Cruises are Great for People with Anxiety

Ocean waves from balcony

Relaxing in the sun is an amazing way to boost your mood.

And at night, be sure to look up at the sky. The clearest view of the stars is often available when you’re out on a ship, away from the lights of land.

Star-gazing on a cruise ship is an incredible experience that reminds us just how small we are. 

7. Savor your meals

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to relax on a cruise is by enjoying each meal I try.

Once I get onboard and taste that first bite of Windjammer chicken, it’s an immediate sign to my body that I can relax—I’ve made it onto the cruise!

Dining is one of the most enjoyable experiences on a Royal Caribbean cruise. So many venues come free of charge, included in your cruise fare.

You can eat knowing that you don’t have to cook or clean it up yourself. 

There’s no rush to eat quickly, no limited lunch break or restricted schedule.

Enjoy each bite slowly, and savor all the different flavors.

This is also the perfect time to try a new kind of food, whether you want to taste specialty dining or explore everything the buffet has to offer.

Eat a lot. You’ve earned it!

8. Exercise for the fun of it

We all know that exercise is better for us. Working out strengthens your body and improves your mood. Exercise is also a great way to increase your confidence in your willpower and body!

It’s easy to put off when you’re busy at home, but your cruise is a great time to stop convincing yourself you have more important things to do.

If you’ve been procrastinating on exercise because you don’t have a gym membership or you can’t find the time, your cruise eliminates both of those excuses.

Royal Caribbean ships have a spectacular gym area, with upgraded machines and often a beautiful view of the ocean. They are free to access, and a true joy to use.

Also, a cruise gym will probably be one of the most judgment-free gyms you’ve ever visited. People of all ages go there for a simple workout on their cruise vacation. 

No one is expecting you to be a skilled bodybuilder.

If you’re really having trouble getting started, there are even exercise classes and Personal Trainers onboard to assist you.

9. Make new friends

Friends in a pub

Cruisers are some of the most welcoming travelers I’ve met.

Whether you’re in elevators, chilling in the hot tub, or enjoying a Main Dining Room dinner, you’ll likely find someone willing to strike up a conversation.

I love how open and fun-loving cruisers are. And during your time onboard, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make friends and see them again!

New friends can help ease your anxiety and make your cruise an even more exciting experience.

Crew members are also extremely welcoming and friendly, always able to help.

If all else fails, and you’re still feeling panicked and stressed, I recommend sitting down at a quiet bar. Order a mocktail or a juice, and start chatting with the bartender. 

How to de-stress on a Royal Caribbean cruise without alcohol

How to avoid post cruise depression

01 Nov 2021

Walking onto a cruise ship for your first day of vacation is one of the best feelings. There’s so much excitement that comes with exploring a new ship and getting settled in your cabin. The first dinner at sea always feels extra special as the servers go above and beyond to take care of you. Finally, you don’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning for a few days!

Why did the CDC extend the No Sail order? | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you’re like me, you love looking forward to your next cruise. This is a time for me to disconnect from reality and reconnect with my family. I greatly value the opportunity to relax and reset, all while enjoying delicious food and visiting amazing destinations. 

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. If only vacation could last forever! 

You might find yourself feeling depressed after a highly anticipated cruise. As a kid, I would cry as we left the ship because I was so sad for our cruises to end. My mom used to remind me that the anticipation was sometimes just as exciting as the cruise itself. It’s so hard to not feel sadness after your cruise ends, especially if it was a once in a lifetime vacation for you. 

Luckily, there are few ways to avoid post-cruise depression while still having a great time at sea!

Planning another cruise

Navigator of the Seas first sailing canceled due to upgrade delays | Royal Caribbean Blog

Maybe this is too obvious, but planning another cruise is probably the quickest way to avoid the post vacation blues. I am a firm believer that mundane, daily life is better when you have something exciting to look forward to. 

Royal Caribbean makes it super easy to book a future cruise onboard any of their ships. Next Cruise is typically located near the promenade or central atrium. You can meet with one of the travel planners to book your next cruise. These specialists will answer all of your questions and help you book the best cabin with the best rate.

If you decide to book your cruise with Next Cruise, you’ll also receive some pretty sweet benefits. You can reserve an itinerary with reduced deposits and increased onboard credit. This makes it very convenient and affordable to plan your next cruise - and immediately gives you something to look forward to when your cruise concludes!


Odyssey of the Seas Live Blog - Day 3 - Sea Day | Royal Caribbean Blog

Our lives are deeply intertwined with technology, making it harder to truly disconnect from our everyday stress. One of the reasons I love cruising is having the rare opportunity to put my phone down and enjoy the present. Internet packages and international cell-service can be pricey anyway, which gives me a great excuse to disconnect as much as possible. 

I spent 105 days at sea in college during my study abroad with no internet. Can you imagine a ship full of college students in the 21st century with only access to email?! While you might imagine we were miserable, almost everyone agreed that being forced to disconnect was one of the best aspects of life at sea. We learned to live in the moment and soak up every experience. We journaled about our travels and read plenty of books. I took more naps in 4 months than I had my entire life! We all realized very quickly how easily technology distracts us from seizing the day. 

Balcony room on a Royal Caribbean cruise: Is it worth the price? | Royal Caribbean Blog

By leaving my phone and computer behind, I am able to be present and live in the moment while cruising. I try to avoid emails, texts and phone calls from home as much as possible. 

This is especially important with work emails and messages! Unless there’s an absolute emergency, I always set the expectation that I will be unreachable on my cruise. I also refrain from reading news articles and checking social media to help myself live in the moment.

The more present you are for your vacation, the less likely you’ll leave your cruise feeling desperate for another vacation. 

Prioritize Your Needs

Royal Caribbean eliminates complimentary perks for Oasis Class neighborhood balcony staterooms | Royal Caribbean Blog

I always recommend cruising for people looking to take a vacation with a large group of friends or family. There’s something for everyone to enjoy because there’s so much to do! 

However, sometimes traveling in a group can be stressful. Having too many excursions planned or packing your itinerary full might leave you feeling exhausted on the last day of your cruise. No one wants to feel like they spent time and money just for vacation to be stressful and exhausting. 

Cruising should be all about relaxation. Prioritizing your needs is vitally important to fully relax and rejuvenate. 

Celebrity Cruises announces changes to Captain's Club customer loyalty program | Royal Caribbean Blog

Book a massage or schedule some alone time to take advantage of self-care opportunities. My mom always takes one port day to stay onboard for alone time - she typically reads a book, takes a nap and enjoys the quiet ship. Similarly, if you want to see a certain landmark but no one else does, take that opportunity to do what you want! 

That 7am excursion you booked months ago? Don’t feel bad if you need to cancel and sleep in that morning instead. Your 7am wakeup call will be at home when you return from your cruise anyway.

8 Secret spots on Royal Caribbean cruise ships | Royal Caribbean Blog

Prioritizing and catering your vacation to fit your needs ensures you’ll leave the ship feeling refreshed and rested. We’ve cruised with no plans or obligations because we just wanted to relax and prioritize rest. Other cruises, we’ve been exploring nonstop in each port and walking 7+ miles a day. 

Evaluate what you want out of your cruise and try your best to honor those needs, even if you’re traveling with a group. There’s nothing worse than needing a vacation after your vacation!

Help your future self

Top 5 things to do on Royal Caribbean for adults | Royal Caribbean Blog

After being pampered for days on end, it can be a rude awakening returning to life back on land. No one is making your bed everyday or cooking you delicious food to your heart’s content. The view from your window is just your backyard now rather than the beautiful blue ocean. It can be depressing that your long-awaited cruise is over and you’re back to the normal stress and routine of daily life.

Make a few arrangements to ease your future self back to reality after you return. I found that giving myself a day to get reacclimated before returning to work helps tremendously. Too many times have I flown back from a cruise on Sunday night and dragged myself to work the next morning. I was never productive and always felt depressed that I wasn’t cruising anymore. 

I also schedule a grocery pickup for the first day back so I don’t have to worry about what to cook for dinner. If you have time before your cruise, you can also prepare a freezer meal to easily heat up when you return.

Royal Caribbean announces test cruise ship volunteers sweepstakes begins on Friday | Royal Caribbean Blog

We enjoy meal-delivery services (like HelloFresh or HomeChef) to reduce the stress around cooking and meal-planning. After returning from our last cruise, I scheduled our weekly delivery for the following day with low-effort meals. This helped me feel less overwhelmed about getting back into a routine or needing to go grocery shopping right away.

We also try to leave the house clean and organized before leaving for our cruises. Coming home to a messy house with dirty laundry or chores only makes the post-cruise depression worse. 

In this way, a little preparation can help ease you back into your normal routine again - hopefully with a new cruise to look forward to!

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast Episode - Best quiet places to relax

02 Jul 2014

Listen to the Show

One of the major reasons to take a Royal Caribbean cruise is to relax and aboard all the ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, there are plenty of places to do just that. This week, I will share my favorite spots for a little peace and quiet if you’re looking for good places to take a break.

Share with me your thoughts, questions and comments via...

On this episode:
Running time:
Subscribe to Relaxation