Editor's note: This is the second part of a three-part article describing a typical day at sea on an ocean cruise.
In part one of this series of columns, I spoke about what happens and what you can do on a typical morning at sea on an ocean cruise ship.
It's time to talk about lunch and beyond.
If you're anything like the "normal" cruiser, you can't miss this important event aboard a cruise liner. So, you go scouting for chow.
As I wrote previously, you have options: The buffet restaurant, topside and poolside. You've got room service, which doesn't have a full lunch menu and is limited to a couple of sandwiches and snacks, and the main dining room with open seating, which I prefer.
I should mention that some cruisers prefer to patronize the many bars. On a sea day, the poolside bars, as well as elsewhere on the ship, are kept very busy, as are the many bars' wait staff. All bar beverages cost extra, including bottled water, and a 15 percent gratuity is added to your bill.
By the way, any purchases you make aboard ship are paid with a "sea" card, which you are given at check-in time. At any time, you can verify your expenditures (onboard account) by asking at the ship's reception desk or using the in-room TV facility for checking the account. The on-board account usually closes at around midnight the last night of the cruise. Very early the morning you dock at the home port, your receipt is slid under the door of your cabin. If the charges are correct you have nothing to do. They'll be credited to the credit card that you provided at check-in time. Paying for your on-board account with cash depends on the cruise line and ship on which you are traveling.
For afternoon activities, I again I refer to the daily program sheet, which I always try to carry with me so I know what's going on, where and when.
In general, afternoon activities are much like those in the morning, with one notable change. Afternoon tea and desserts are served in the buffet restaurant around 4:30 p.m.
Self -service ice cream is available almost 24-hours a day. Specialty coffees and desserts are available, at an extra charge, from early morning until late in the evening. The café area is usually indoors in a nice, comfortable part of a main deck. Often, there's a piano player or some other musical entertainment available at certain times.
Even if you don't buy any coffee or cake it's a nice place to sit back, relax and people watch, if you are so inclined. I'm sure that many of you would be attracted to the Ben & Jerry's kiosk where you can enjoy a portion of their delectable ice cream (at an additional cost).
Often, I resort to a nap in the late afternoon in order to fortify myself for the evenings' activities. If you haven't already found this out in the morning, you'll find the shower a bit on the cozy side. Some folks use the technique of soaping down the walls and then rotating their bodies to soap down efficiently (said with tongue in cheek). I'm small, so I have no problem in the shower.
Many folks get "dressed up" for dinner, while others dress casually. I'm in the latter group and feel more comfortable in a collared shirt, slacks and on formal nights, a sports coat. I usually take no ties with me.
I'll be talking about a typical evening at sea on an ocean cruise, in the third and last part of three narratives describing one typical day on an ocean cruise.
Look for part three in about three weeks.
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.