5 tips to get the most out of cruising at sea and avoid burn out

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Ocean cruising is absolutely brilliant. There is so much to see and do, and in many ways, the ship is as much the destination as the ports you are stopping in to see. However, this can give rise to FOMO, the fear of missing out. When that happens, before you know it you’ve gained 5kg’s, you are dog-tired, you have to spend a day sleeping, and you possibly have even caught a cold because you are run down and burnt out. I find this is especially true if you have three or four consecutive port days and are up late for shows too.

On a ship with two or three thousand people it’s easy to blame a cold on one of them, but for myself, I’d say most of the time it is actually self-inflicted. When we run ourselves down, don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables and don’t get enough sleep, we make ourselves susceptible to illness.

It took us four cruises of varying lengths and port to sea day ratios to figure this out, including getting sick on two of them: remember, you are on a cruise ship, at least in part, because it’s a relaxing way to travel, so actually relax and have a holiday. Yes, there are things on all the time, but you don’t have to do all of them. So, here’s our method for getting the most from our sojourn at sea.

1. Get over your FOMO.

One of the hardest things for us was getting over the fear of missing out on something, FOMO. Let’s be honest though, we are always missing out on something. It doesn’t matter whether we are on a cruise ship or not. It’s just a matter of understanding that and prioritising your own wellbeing and enjoyment above seeing or doing everything. After all, you won’t enjoy that fancy dinner anywhere near as much if you are blocked up with a cold. You also won’t enjoy yourself as much in the hot tub watching the evening poolside movie if you are stuffed full of everything you can possibly eat and drink. You don’t have to see everything, do everything, eat everything or drink everything. Moderation is so important.

2. Set yourself a routine.

Maintaining a routine can be hard, but we try to stay as close to one as possible so that we can be flexible. Usually getting to bed by 10 or 11 and up by 7 or 8 gives us leeway on either side to be up a little later or get out of bed a little earlier while still getting at least 8 hours of sleep. We then aim to eat at the same times each day. This helps contribute to getting enough sleep, not overeating and not getting sick. You also want to ensure your routine includes washing your hands regularly, and especially after toilet visits and before meals. It should also include using the hand sanitizer available throughout the ship every time you walk past a dispenser, even if you’ve just washed your hands anyway.

3. Be flexible.

I know this sounds a little counter-intuitive to following a routine, but it works. Every night when our cruise compass is delivered, we go through the next day’s events and highlight the things that we are most interested in doing. Sometimes things will overlap or be at the exact same time, and that’s ok, we play it by ear and see what we feel like doing when the time comes. Sometimes we are going to be in port early and might have to eat at a slightly different time to usual. It’s all ok. Just remember, you don’t have to do everything, and being flexible ensures you can stick to your routine while doing the things that matter most to you without wearing yourself out.

4. Get plenty of sleep.

We try to get enough sleep by going to bed when we are ready, keeping in mind that if there is something we want to do first thing in the morning (such as watch the sunrise over Tahiti), we need to get to sleep earlier. We also go to bed early if we are feeling unusually tired. It doesn’t matter if there is a show or something else highlighted that we wanted to do. Getting enough sleep is more important. Besides, the shows are often filmed and run on the stateroom TV the next day anyway so we can always catch up in the morning.

5. Relax, you’re on holidays.

This is the crucial point and sums up everything else. Take the time to relax. Practically everything is taken care of for you on the ship, so all you have to do is make sure you chill out and don’t burn out. Do more by doing less. This also means don’t let other people or problems get under your skin. There is at least one person on every cruise that you will find to be rude, obnoxious or just plain irritating. There’s also a good chance you’ll experience some kind of issue with the cruise ship or its staff. As hard as they try to make sure everything is flawless, things happen. Don’t dwell on the negative people and problems or they will ruin your cruise. A leak resulting in a wet stateroom floor or an uncomfortable bed doesn’t have to ruin your cruise unless you let it. Instead, relax and enjoy yourself, focus on the amazing things about the cruise and all you get to see and do as a result. It isn’t worth expending mental energy dwelling on the bad, that will just ruin the good things too.

That’s it!

I could give you lots more little things you can do to make things easier or improve your cruise experience, but that is for another article. These five things will set you up for a great time and help you avoid burning out or getting sick. Got any of your own tips? I’d love to hear them! Let me know in the comments below how you get the most from cruising at sea.

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Flights: We check a few sites for different prices. Travelling from Australia, I always check Qantas directly for reward flights, but otherwise, I check and compare the cost of flights with SkyScanner. It’s always worth checking alternative routes and days, especially where there are multiple stopover options or nearby alternative airports.

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Tours & Activities: We generally try to book activities through one of these third-party sites ViatorGet Your Guide & Klook due to their flexible cancellation policies (saved us a lot of money trying to travel post-COVID) and price guarantees (often better prices than booking direct). We also book through Red Balloon on occasion for more unique Aussie and NZ activities.

2 thoughts on “5 tips to get the most out of cruising at sea and avoid burn out”

  1. Spot on Matt. We have done 18 cruises, most on RCI, and we are there to relax and enjoy, and we certainly don’t sweat the small things. As you wrote, there is always a number of guests who do little else than complain about the current or previous cruises, but they normally don’t have an answer for my question, “So why do you continue to cruise”? As strange as it may seem to most, we prefer sea days to those in Port, particularly when the port days are consecutive.

    Congratulations on a well written article from which new cruisers can learn a lot.

    • Thanks for your comment and feedback Larry. I don’t think it’s strange you prefer sea days. We tend to prefer them as well and the ports we like the best are usually the ones with a sea day on either side. As much as we love seeing new places or experiencing new things about ports we’ve been to before, sea days are more relaxing and less rushed, allowing you to really lay back and just enjoy the ship and everything about the cruise. We’ve found too many consecutive port days can become quite tiresome, particularly if you have activities lined up for most of the day on land starting first thing in the morning.


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Who Am I?

Matt in Noumea

Matt works sort-of full time running his digital marketing business, TerraMedia. In his spare time though, he loves to travel with his wife, so they usually end up doing a lot of it.
Home is Australia, and while they don’t spend all their time travelling the world, Matt and his wife like to take the time to really explore and get to know a place, even if that means spending a lot longer there than normal tourists might.

You can read more about Matt and his story HERE.

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