What To Do When You Have Nothing To Do?

Making cocktails poolside.
Making cocktails poolside.

The most commonly asked question, by far, when friends heard we would be embarking on a transatlantic cruise was “Won’t you be bored with nine straight days at sea? You’ll have nothing to do!” I did not think for a second that we would be bored as we are perfectly happy sitting by the pool reading a book, champagne in hand. Now that the cruise is over, I can tell you that I almost had too much to do. Don’t believe me? Read on.

I had high hopes of going to the gym every sea day. FKGuy did go to the gym most mornings while I decided I was better off getting my beauty sleep, as invariably I had been up too late the night before. Then we would head up to The Colonnade for breakfast, as I generally slept past the opening times for The Restaurant. I’ll devote a whole post to the food aboard next week, but as someone who can’t eat eggs, breakfast was usually a bagel, cream cheese, and lox, or a croissant, or pancakes. There was no shortage, really. When we finished breakfast around 10:30 AM, most days we sat poolside and read our books for a while.

Trivia without mimosas would just be wrong.

Around 11:30 AM the mimosas started and led us right into trivia at noon. Here’s the thing about cruise ship trivia, and it holds true for most lines: It is overly competitive for no good reason. People take it very seriously. Don’t believe me? On our cruise, there were about 130 people participating every day. That is nearly one-third of all passengers. And all for bragging rights, because at the end of the day none of us really need another logo pen, checkbook cover or coffee mug, right? Our team, named Don’t Know, Don’t Care, turned out to be full of fun and interesting people. No, we didn’t win, but we had fun along the way. Plus, there were mimosas.

After trivia, the next order of business was deciding where to have lunch. The Restaurant, with wonderful table service, and a quiet ambiance? The Colonnade, the semi-buffet with some made to order items and back-of-ship seating? Or the Patio Grill poolside dining featuring burgers and pizza? Over the course of the cruise, we enjoyed them all.

There were something like 60,000 breadsticks consumed on our 16 day cruise. Well, they ARE addicting!
There were something like 60,000 breadsticks consumed on our 16-day cruise. Well, they ARE addicting!

Most days we relaxed poolside in the afternoons, reading a book (or falling asleep in a lounger), or chatting with fellow passengers, some days venturing into the pool or hot tub. There were several other activities: Baggo and golf, in the mornings and afternoons (I tried the golf one day. It was not pretty.)  The chef and pastry chef each did a cooking demonstration, both informative and tasty. The card room always seemed busy with people playing bridge. There were tours of the ship: the bridge and the galley tours both brought out curious passengers.

The boat building team with our handiwork.

There was a boat building competition, where teams built boats from found objects (mostly water bottles) and created a floatable masterpiece that would take a tin of caviar across the pool. While we were on a team, we really contributed very little to the efforts. The boat turned out beautifully, complete with a pool, hot tub and bar with champagne in buckets. (Yes, those were shampoo bottle tops turned into wine chillers.) The fix was in and we lost to some folks who had been aboard three weeks longer than we were.

It didn’t sink!

Another afternoon by the pool brought out the entire bar team for a passenger cocktail making competition. Men and women went head to head making the same cocktails in five different rounds. I got roped into participating – first by judging and then by mixing an apple martini, which of course, won my round and got a nod from the food and beverage manager saying “I see you spend a lot of time making cocktails.” Everyone has to be good at something.

This is all before 4 PM.

There was afternoon tea each day, pre-dinner cocktails starting around 6, a fabulous dinner followed by a show, piano playing/sing-alongs in the Observation Bar and dancing in The Club. (Yes, the and was intentional. It was usually a combination of two or three of those. There is a reason I could never get up to go to the gym.)

I will note that there were also guest lectures twice a day, by two different guests. I didn’t make it to any of them but have heard they were good. Entertainment aboard was very good, from cast shows to guest entertainers featuring a comedian, piano player, magician and one night, local Flamenco dancers.

While you could certainly opt out of any or all activities, there was no time to be bored. Frankly, I didn’t have time to read nearly as many books as I had hoped. At the beginning of the cruise, my friend Kathy said to me “on our last transatlantic cruise we were so busy. I have no idea what we did all that time.” Now I get it. She was right. Where did the time go?