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Friday, August 5, 2016

Sweet Solitude: Finding a Spot Where the Crowd is Not

To those new to cruising, it may seem implausible that you can find solitude on a ship. After all, you are sharing a pretty limited space with 2,000, 4,000—or even 6,000—other folks. 

Yet, those of us veteran cruisers know how to find a spot where the crowds are not. And now we’re going to let you in on some of our secrets:

Stay onboard when everyone gets off. When we first started cruising, this seemed a shocking concept. Isn’t cruising all about the ports? Sort of. But there’s something very appealing about having the ship (more or less) to yourself.

Decked out at night. As long as you don’t get spooked by the sight of dark nothingness, the outside decks are great places to hear yourself think because hardly anyone steps out there at night. You might even get rewarded by an unbroken sky of stars, its equal hard to find on land.
Dark, colorful and quiet--the outside decks at night on Celebrity's Constellation
Check out the library without checking out a book. The library is perhaps the ship’s most unappreciated area (second only, perhaps, to the gym). Except for an occasional card game or a few who choose to invest a chunk of change on an Internet connection, it’s mostly empty.

Head up the ship. Ships often turn an upper deck space into a disco or entertainment venue at night, leaving it alone during the day. Which makes it a cushy, comfy and abandoned place for you to find your space. Some examples: Viking Crown Lounge on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas on deck 14, Celebrity Constellation’s Reflections Lounge on deck 11 and Holland America’s Zuiderdam’s Crow’s Nest Lounge on deck 10.

Java it up in the ship buffet. I’ve often extolled the virtues of Windjamming it (Royal Caribbean), Horizon Courting it (Princess) or Oceanviewing it (Celebrity) at dinner. The ship’s buffets are mostly ghostly at dinner time, so if you want a place to read, write or game your smartphone, with a mug of coffee by your side, they’re a great place to hide. And who knows, there may just be a dessert there, too, with your name written all over it.

The Central Park that’s safe at night. Our all-time favorite space is Central Park. This Royal
Central Park after hours on Allure of the Seas
Caribbean Oasis class “neighborhood” can be all abuzz by day—especially when the lunchtime crowds converge at Park CafĂ©—but it’s a lovely site at night. It’s empty and serene, small lights twinkle among the greenery and cushioned chairs tucked here and there make it a really calming way to end your day.

Then, there are always nooks and crannies on every ship, but you need to round a corner, venture a hallway or do a different deck sometimes to find them. You’ll be glad you did.