Surviving a Long Cruise: Tips for the Boomer Traveler

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Updated 10.01.2018:  Surviving a long cruise. Say what? The words “survive” and “cruise” don’t go together. But you’d be surprised at how frequently Alan and I are asked about how we survive long cruises.

Our tips for surviving a long cruise

After our first long cruise, a 52-day cruise from Vancouver to Singapore, many baby boomer travel friends were curious about spending that much time on the sea, away from home. So to answer your questions, I’ve interviewed myself in the first of my new “Survivor” series.

Tips for surviving a long cruise. Click through to see if long cruising is for you. #traveltips #cruising
Setting off on the Safari Quest Alaska cruise

Why do you take such long cruises?

Long cruises are an excellent way to visit far-flung, exotic places. It gives us a small taste of a destination, setting the stage for future land trips. We prefer to either begin or end in the U.S., which means only one long flight, either on the way to the cruise or on the return home.

We also like unpacking once and being done with it. And a lengthy cruise gives us time to enjoy the ship. On seven-day, port intensive cruises, it’s hard to fit in day-long tours, nightly entertainment, plus rest and relaxation.

Are long cruises boring?

Heavens no. Long cruises are so jam-packed with activities that it can become overwhelming. And friendships develop with other cruise passengers, giving us the chance to meet interesting people. We’ve made life-long friends on long cruises.

What do you do on sea days?

Read our tips for surviving a long cruise before planning your next boomer travel adventure. #boomertravel #cruising
Toasting to a fun day onboard ship

Attend lectures, read a book, play bridge, check email, take an exercise class, attend a wine tasting, organize photos, walk on the outdoor track, play paddle tennis, learn about the next port, watch flying fish from the balcony, wash clothes, sit by the pool or simply gaze at the sea and do nothing. Oh, I almost forgot— take a nap, especially after a late night of dancing.

Do you get tired of being on the ship?

Occasionally, one of us will become tired of the ship. That usually occurs from trying to do too much and not pacing our activities. And it doesn’t last long.

On our Vancouver to Singapore cruise, Mariner offered several overnight trips that gave us a chance to get off the ship for a night or two. Alan and I spent two nights in Beijing plus one night in Bangkok. It was just the break we needed.

Do you miss friends and family?

Of course we miss our friends and family. We stay in touch through email and phone calls but it’s a challenge when there’s a huge time difference. Because of our many days sailing on Regent, we qualify for free Internet and several hours of free phone time, which helps. Many cruisers keep travel blogs, another good way to stay in touch.

Do you get tired of living in such a small space?

No, not at all. On Regent, and most other small luxury ships, all cabins come in a roomy, suite arrangement that includes a balcony. There’s plenty of storage.

As long as we stay organized to eliminate clutter, we’re fine. Alan and I spend most of our time out and about doing things, although we do love our time on the balcony.

How do you and Alan stand all of that togetherness?

One way of surviving a long cruise is to develop a daily rhythm that works for you. On sea days, Alan and I enjoy breakfast together, then go our separate ways.

Alan might attend a lecture while I head to the Observation Lounge to write. We meet back for lunch, then each do our own thing again. By late afternoon, we’re ready to reconnect as we share a glass of wine on the balcony before heading to dinner followed by a show or dancing.

Do you get seasick?

Yes, I do if the seas are rough. Most cruise ships have stabilizers, so the ride is usually smooth. We try to book a cabin that’s low and in the middle of the ship.

I wear sea bands when I first board the ship, until my body has adjusted to the movement. I put them on again if seas become rough. If I’m still having issues, I rely on ginger capsules, ginger ale or candied ginger from the ship’s restaurant to settle my stomach.

If those strategies don’t work, I take meclizine that I purchase from the pharmacist before leaving home—but ask your doctor, first. Some cruisers have success wearing seasickness patches but I don’t care for the side effects that they give me. And if all else fails, visit the ship’s doctor for even strong medication.

What happens if you become ill?

For minor illnesses, Alan and I rest, eat light and consult our stash of over-the-counter medicines that we’ve packed. If a doctor’s opinion is required, we visit the ship’s infirmary, (the fee is charged to our shipboard account). It’s important to remember to bring copies of any prescriptions that you take.

We also join a medical evacuation program, in case there’s a major problem and we need to be medivaced back home. And, we wash our hands—often.

Here’s our special tip: Yes, we’re that couple who brings a small bottle of hand sanitizer to dinner. We use it after handling the menus. Do you know how many germs are on menus? Think about it.

Check out our tips for surviving a long cruise before talking to your travel agent. #cruise #traveltips
We’re ready for an active Alaskan cruise excursion!

Do you find the food boring? Are there healthy choices?

With several dining venues, the food never gets boring. Although, we sometimes long for a simple meal. That’s when we order a room service pizza or hamburger.

On Regent, the main restaurant, Compass Rose, includes a healthy choice selection on the menu. Now that they’ve associated with Canyon Ranch Spa, I’m anxious to see if a spa menu develops. Of course the challenge of surviving a long cruise comes with having enough self-discipline to skip the rich gourmet meal in favor of the the healthy one.

How do you keep fit?

With a fully equipped gym plus numerous exercise classes, staying fit is not the problem. Finding the time to stay fit is the issue, and one I haven’t conquered yet.

Many cruisers walk the track on deck or make it a point to use the stairs rather than the elevator. Picking active cruise excursions also keeps the activity level high.

Are you planning another long cruise?

We almost always have one in the works, in fact we usually won’t take a cruise that’s shorter than 21 days. To keep up with the long cruises that we’ve survived, check out our Luxury Cruise Reviews page.

What do you like most about long cruises?

The small surprises that we don’t anticipate are the most fun for us. It might be the cultural entertainment that greets us on the dock as we step down the gangway.

On one cruise, the captain arranged a rendezvous with a container ship. The crews hooted and hollered at each other as both ships blasted music across the small expanse of ocean that separated us.

But mostly, Alan and I appreciate the connection we make with the crew, who become like family to us.

Thinking about a luxury cruise? Start your planning at our luxury cruise travel resources page.

Do you have any tips for surviving a long cruise? Or would you like to ask a question about long cruises? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email.

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