When you imagine yourself on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, you probably have a vivid image of lying poolside on a sun lounger with a margarita in one hand and a big floppy hat protecting your eyes from the sun's blinding rays. Or, maybe you're picturing the whole family plunging down waterslides and participating in crazy contests by the pool. Or, perhaps you want to open a bottle of wine on your stateroom balcony and watch as the sun sets into the horizon. While all of these scenarios are excellent ways to enjoy a tropical cruise, they do require one key unreliable ingredient: the sun. Luckily, inclement weather in the Caribbean is usually temporary, so it's likely just a matter of passing the time by doing something fun indoors before it's warm enough to get back to the pool. Read on for our tips on how to have a great time while you ride out the rainy skies.
1. HIT THE SPA
A rainy forecast is all the excuse you need for an afternoon (or full day) of pampering. Even mid-range cruise ships usually have spa facilities, and we really like the Mandara Spas on most Norwegian ships. Guests can choose from over 50 luxe relaxation and pampering treatments, like a scalp massage and deep conditioning treatment with Frangipani Monoi Oil. Botox and acupuncture are also offered. Access to the glorious Thermal Suite is included for those who book treatments. Day passes are also available for anyone who wants to experience the heated ceramic lounge chairs, indoor pool, hot tubs, steam room, sauna and tropical rain showers. Note that thermal suites are not part of Sky, Spirit, Sun and Pride of America ships. A salt room is available on Breakaway, Getaway and Escape ships.
2. LEARN A NEW SKILL
Cruise ships are basically enormous floating hotels with a seemingly endless array of features and activities. While most of the action takes place outdoors on Caribbean cruises, there's also a huge range of fun options inside the ship. If the weather is really bad, staff brings live music from the outdoor pool deck to inside the boat. Check the daily schedule for everything from cooking demonstrations and dance classes to bowling and bingo. Some Royal Caribbean ships have a free skating rink (skates included). For a quieter activity, check out onboard library spaces stocked with books, cards and board games.
3. CATCH A SHOW
While most cruisers think of shows and live performances as strictly evening entertainment, a rain storm can provide the perfect excuse to get in the theater and enjoy a matinee. The Norwegian Breakaway hosts an afternoon performance of "Wine Lovers The Musical," which includes wine flights and some cute laughs about falling in love over wine. Movie theaters (or at least a small projection screen) are a common sight on cruise ships, but Carnival Vista blows the competition out of the water. It has an indoor IMAX screen that's three-decks high and seats a total of 187 passengers, plus it shows first-run movies and has a proper concession stand.
4. DIG IN TO A FOOD OR DRINK PACKAGE
When all else fails, eat. Most Caribbean cruise ships have significantly stepped up their restaurant and bar games to include diverse culinary offerings both in terms of self-serve buffets and specialty a la carte restaurants. Norwegian, for example, offers free-style dining at several restaurants and guests can buy packages for better deals at a la carte restaurants. Much like all-inclusive resorts, there are no rules about how much you can eat or when. A thunderstorm might just be the best excuse to order every dessert on the menu and rate your favorite.
5. SWIM IN THE RAIN
Unless you're dealing with thunder and lighting, there's no reason why you can't still enjoy the outdoor pools and whirlpools (check with staff for safety reasons). After all, what difference does a little rain make when you're getting drenched anyway? Plus, a rain storm might be the perfect time to have the water facilities to yourself and avoid all the crowds.
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