This ain’t your parents’ Love Boat

by James Hills, for Club LT

When I talk to those who have never experienced the joy of taking a cruise vacation, often times people have a lot of misconceptions about it. “I don’t want to be stuck on a boat!” they say, or, “That’s just for old people!” The reality is that cruising has come a LONG way from the Titanic or even The Love Boat. Today’s cruise ships are ENORMOUS and packed with activities for all ages and interests. Cruising is still great for families and couples … but today’s ships offer tons of options for guys to have a great time, too.

Pick The Right Ship and Itinerary

With a land-based resort you generally say, “I want to go to Cabo for golf and fishing” or “I want to stay in a Four Seasons!” With a cruise ship though, it goes both ways. Some people will want to first select a specific ship based on its unique features. For instance, some guys may prefer the go kart track on Norwegian Joy vs wave rider experience on Freedom of the Seas, and some just like the late night “adult comedy” shows on pretty much all of the Carnival ships. For others, though, it is more important that they visit certain ports.

Blogger James Hills shares his experience aboard the Norwegian Joy and provides tips for guys who might be looking for a different kind of getaway experience only a cruise ship can provide.

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There’s no right way to pick the right cruise experience. It’s up to you and what matters most to your group of friends.

What Guys Will Love About Cruising

While there are different itineraries and vastly different ships available, the core cruise experience is very similar across various companies, ships, and itineraries. Luckily, that means almost any ship you pick can be great for guys to enjoy:

  • Steak Is An Option Almost Every Night!
    While the menu rotates each night there are almost always multiple entrée options available the whole time. Generally, this includes a steak, a fish, and a comfort food option.
  • Casino Action!
    With the exception of Disney cruises, the casino is a major part of the cruise ship and a huge money maker for the cruise line. Slots are generally pretty tight but table games and poker are here, too, and can be a fun way to spend an evening with your friends.
  • Craft Beer, Cocktails, and Spirits!
    When I first started cruising the options were extremely limited when it came to getting a drink on a ship. It wasn’t that they didn’t have alcohol … but it was cliched “tropical drinks” and mass-market beer options. Today though, some ships even have breweries located right on the ship and others offer craft beer bars on board. Nobody does it better than Norwegian Cruise Line though. They have my favorite cocktail menu at sea and virtually everything at all of their bars is amazing. However, Haven guests (premium accommodations) get something extra special. Norwegian’s Bespoke Cocktail Program provides bartenders trained to  create cocktails specifically tailored to your individual tastes and preference!
  • Live Music!
    Each ship will have different venues but generally there’s a lot of live music available during different cruises. This ranges from country music to rock favorites. Some such as Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Bliss offer tribute band experiences (Beatles show in the Cavern Club) while others have versions of Broadway shows such as Mama Mia and Rock of Ages.

Tips for Food and Drinks on Cruise Ships

Most cruise lines operate in a similar way. There are complimentary restaurants included in your cruise fare and then there are premium restaurants available for an extra fee. Drinks on the other hand are not included on most ships. However, there are some things that experienced cruisers get that new ones might miss …

  • Can’t decide what to eat? Get both! In the main dining room and also at some premium restaurants you get a second entrée, extra sides, or even three desserts if that’s what you want. While your buddies might mock you for your gluttony, the crew won’t second guess your preferences. They are quite literally there to serve.
  • Look for drink packages as included perks! All of the major cruise lines offer drink packages. However, certain ones like Norwegian Cruise Line often offers it as a promotional “perk”. Others such as Viking offer complimentary wine and beer at meals but it is extra at bars.
  • Different food venues have different hours! Almost every ship will have at least one 24-hour food venue. However, there will also be others that might be open only at lunch or only open certain hours during the day. Typically you can check the daily newsletter that your stateroom attendant leaves in the room each night. Along with other cruise info it will have details on what restaurants are open and what times.

Your Stateroom and Attendant

One thing I LOVE about cruising is that the stateroom attendant takes such good care of you and the room. Step outside the room for more than a few moments and when you get back it’s likely that your bed will be made, towels freshened and maybe even a treat or two left on your table.

While he or she is not a butler or concierge, your stateroom attendant is way more than just a maid. To maximize your relationship, make sure to get to know the person on your first day. If you have any specific requests, make sure to let them know and give specific instructions. For example, I like cold water and so I typically request that they bring a champagne bucket full of ice for me to keep my bottles in and request that it be kept full of ice throughout the voyage. Requests like this are generally easy to accomplish and your stateroom attendant will provide the service without question. Remember to tip them well at the end of the trip … or upfront as well to show your are serious about the request.

Cruising can be surprisingly fun for guy trips. Spread your nautical wings and give it a try!

About James Hills
James writes the ManTripping blog and lives in southern California. For more than a decade, ManTripping has been a leading male lifestyle blog covering food, fashion, travel, toys, action and adventure – you know, man-things. James shares his wisdom regularly on Club LT and is often featured in the Club LT podcast.

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