This is the first part of a three-part article describing one typical day at sea on an ocean cruise.
Throughout all three parts of the article I'll be providing lots of tips and information about cruise life that will, hopefully, help you out on your next cruise.
Clip it out and save it along with the next two columns for your future travel tips file.
Now, let's start by talking about a typical morning on a cruise.
Normally, you'd awaken pretty early in the morning, just so you can get a good start on your day. After going through your morning ritual, you're ready for that first cup of eye-opening java. There are several ways to get it.
You could have filled out the room service card the night before, specifying the time you want it delivered - voila, there's the knock on your stateroom door with your order. This is my favorite option.
You could, of course, have gone to the buffet area to have a full breakfast, picking and choosing whatever among the many foods available. This is not my favorite because I would usually overfill my plate and suffer that bloated feeling all morning long.
Instead, after coffee, I usually take a brisk walk round the promenade deck, several times, until breakfast service starts in one of the main dining rooms. This is my favorite; I like to enjoy a leisurely quiet meal while being served by the waiters and busboys, and chatting sociably with new table mates each morning. Breakfast is open seating so you can sit wherever you choose. I prefer this instead of "schlepping" my own food and fighting the crowd at the buffet restaurant.
I'm done with breakfast anywhere between 8:30-10:30 am.
If you happen to return to your stateroom after breakfast, you'll find your cabin steward has been there and cleaned up. The cabin is ready for you to mess up all over again.
I should mention that your cabin steward is a most valuable resource of information and service. He or she will be able to answer most, if not all, your questions on the cabin, the ship and shipboard life. The steward will be happy to satisfy many of your needs and wants aboard ship. So, do use his or her services, and do remember them when it comes to gratuity time.
Now, I'm ready to do whatever I want to.
The daily program sheet, which had been placed on my bed the night before, lists all of the activities, their times and locations on the ship.
You can choose to:
. Lounge by a pool (there are more than just one).
. Join an exercise group.
. Go to the gym.
. Stroll the decks, watching the wide open ocean.
. Participate in some of the pool-side games.
. Pick a comfy lounge chair and curls up with that good book you brought along.
. Play cards.
. Go to the theater to hear about shopping and ports of call.
. Play bingo, shuffle board, ping pong or basketball.
. Shop in the ship's arcade.
. Relax at the spa. Try one of their many services, such as massage, saunas, whirlpools, hair styling, manicures and pedicures.
By the way, all spa services and activities cost extra.
Also, when you're at sea, the casino is open and a very popular location. It's not one of my favorite places because it's smoky and the chances of losing your shirt are quite high. Besides, after that filling breakfast, I'm all for a nap before lunch, which should be starting shortly.
I'll write about a typical afternoon on an ocean cruise in the second part of this series describing one typical day on an ocean cruise.
Look for part two Oct. 5.
Eric Mascarenhas is a travel consultant with Gadabout Travel in Sebastian. Call him at (772) 589-0633. Gadabout also has an office in Melbourne, (321) 253-3674.