Top Ten Most Helpful Cruise Tips… for Introverts Only!

A Sea-Worthy Graduation Gift

(Please note: At no time were I or my family provided any compensation for our trip.  We paid full fares.)

Our elder child, Sean, graduated from high school last May, and grandma flew in from 2000 miles away to attend the ceremony.  Her visit to us obviated the need to spend our budgeted summer vacation dollars traveling to her, so it seemed like a great idea to cross off a longstanding item, cruising, from our bucket list.

The Carnival Fantasy in port, Cruise Tips for Introverts
The Carnival Fantasy in port, Costa Maya, Mexico

(Longtime readers will know I covered cruiseship travel for college students, the famous Semester at Sea, in an earlier post!)

As cruise “n00bs,” my family and I had only a minimal idea of what to expect.  Speaking with seafaring friends/bloggers and thoroughly perusing cruise-related Pinterest pins helped assuage our fears tremendously!

At this point I may as well admit I’m a huge introvert.  So, um… hi, my name is Maggie, and I’m an introvert (INTP, to be exact).  Nice to meet you!

Yours truly, with Julius C himself on board the Fantasy
Yours truly, with Julius C himself on board the Fantasy

It should be noted that, at least in my case, introversion does NOT mean that I don’t like spending time with people!  I do, very much!  But this is not how I get my energy; to the contrary, too much socializing, while great fun, is draining for me.  After several hours of it you’ll probably find me curled up in a cozy, quiet corner reading something.

Re-charge me, please

Alone time is how I re-charge my batteries, every bit as necessary for me as an iPhone charger is to read that pure white battery symbol in the upper right corner of your screen.  I’m not alone, at least, in my introversion.  There are 25-40% of us, or more, in the general population!  Are you one, too?

Having brought up my least sociable personality quirk, I think it’s probably obvious that INTROVERSION and FUN SHIPS don’t seem like terms that belong together in the same sentence.  What prompted me to book my family on a FUN SHIP?  What could I possibly have been thinking, given that they probably had a strict YOU. WILL. HAVE. FUN. policy that I would surely rebel against at every heave of the powerful engines?

FUN on board the Fantasy, Cruising Tips for Introverts
No one does not enjoy hanging by the pool.

Cruisin’ Fun for Everyone

Luckily, not long after boarding the crowded, vivacious Fantasy, I developed some great tips for folks like me who just need some reasonable space of their own from time to time.  I think these ideas dovetail quite nicely with ways to overcome any awkwardness at meeting strangers on board.

Now there is no excuse to languish on shore, waving a tearful bon voyage to those outgoing cruise-happy friends of yours.  Join ‘em!  I hope these tips will help you fellow introverts and reluctant wallflowers have a wonderful time on your cruise!


  • Download music and podcasts, and bring, at a minimum, 2 forms of non electronic entertainment (books, puzzles, etc)

You’re not leaving your fully-charged iPhone at home, are you?  Accessing the Internet is sketchy, at best, on board, but you’ll want to stay connected to your electronic minder just the same.  Enjoy the double whammy: Listening to what YOU want to listen to… and not appearing to want to converse with others!

 

  • Find and watch a YouTube video of a tour of your ship. This will help familiarize yourself with what is where (dining & entertainment options) before you board

 No one likes that awkward feeling when they don’t know where they’re going, even on terra firma.  Acquaint yourself beforehand for an extra boost of confidence on the ship!

On Deck. Cruise Tips for Introverts
One of the many shipboard decks from which to admire the scenery.
  • Find and study a sample cruise ship schedule posted online.

Discuss with friends and family what type of activities appeal most to you, both on board and at port.  Trivia?  Hairy Chest Contest?  Mini Golf?

But be forewarned, available activities and events on your actual sailing may vary from what you find online.  That’s okay; you’ll at least have a springboard for discussion.  Be willing to compromise!

 

  • Do an activity on board or in port that you wouldn’t do at home.

On all but the most sedate of cruise ships, you should have the opportunity to expand your horizons and do things you can’t do at home.  You’ll get the chance to belt your heart out at the karaoke bar, cartwheel around the sunbaked jogging track, play 3-D games… and so much more.  Psychologists have suggested several reasons why stepping out of your comfort zone improves your quality of life immeasurably.  Your cruise is the perfect chance to stretch your wings and find new enjoyment in life!

Costa Maya Cruise Tips for Introverts
Lovely Costa Maya sunset
  • Think ahead of time about things you can converse about with your fellow passengers

 Ask folks where they’re from, whether they’ve cruised before, favorite area on the ship, what to do at the ports, what the best food has been so far.

Fantasy Atrium Cruise Tips for Introverts
Fantasy Atrium, a site of frequent entertainment and gatherings
  • Ask your room steward for suggestions on where to relax onboard that’s secluded and quiet

 Your room steward is eager to please – you plan to tip him or her well, right? – and is a terrific source of information literally at your fingertips.

 

  • Traveling with others? Choose “Your Time Dining” and share a table with only them.  Traveling solo?  Sit at the Captain’s table at least once for a terrific opportunity to get to know fellow cruisers.

 

  • Wear apparel with a motto/special meaning/verbiage to you.

 Outgoing folks will chat you up, using your Psychotic State University t-shirt as an icebreaker to get to know you better.

On board the Fantasy, Cruise Tips for Introverts
Or, brag about how many medals you’ve won playing 1980s Trivia!
  • If you can stand smoke, frequent the smoking areas often.

Usually the same people come thru often, they love kindred spirits, and you can get to know people very easily that way.

 

  • Splurge on a balcony room!

There is really no substitute for having your own space to relax, sip a cup of coffee and read your favorite book in peace and quiet, with only the sun and sea to keep you company!

Porthole Room on the Fantasy. Cruise Tips for Introverts
No balcony, sadly. But we loved our porthole view!

Fun means different things to different people, after all, so enjoy your mandatory fun however you want!  What tips would you add?  Let me know in the comments, below!

 

Additional resources:

Do You (Child) Care? Why Not Au Pair?! Part One

Enticed by the idea of living abroad for a little while, but studying abroad isn’t for you?  You may be close to high school graduation and now are considering something to do on a gap year.  Perhaps you need income while traveling independently overseas, or wish to give your resume a bit of a kick in the pants.  Have you considered serving as an Au Pair?

 

What is an Au Pair?

 

The simplest way to describe this arrangement is that you serve as a glorified nanny overseas.  The term “Au Pair” is from the French, roughly meaning “the same.”  The upshot is that you are to be treated as one of the family, not as an employee.   You are paid to work with your host parents’ children, but the income should be considered as something akin to an allowance, not a paycheck.

You live with the family in their home, and they feed you at no cost to you.  This kind of living situation where rent and food is covered is known as “room and board.”   There are Au Pair arrangements where young men and women from other countries become an Au Pair in America.  Similarly, you, as an American, can apply to various countries abroad to become an Au Pair.  Many nations, unfortunately, do not participate in Au Pair programs.  Of those that do, each has its own particular requirements of both the host family and the Au Pair.

Continue reading “Do You (Child) Care? Why Not Au Pair?! Part One”

Is being a Foreign Exchange Student right for me?

Ever considered becoming a FES – a Foreign Exchange Student (FES, for viewers of “That 70’s Show”)?  You may have had one or a few at your school, but what is it like when you are the student abroad?

First, why even do it?  Well, each FES has his or her own reasons.  For me, I had dreamed of traveling to Europe ever since my mom read me bedtime fairy tales of castles, bridges, trolls, and princesses.  As much as I enjoyed the stories and wished to adventure abroad, it was never in the family budget.  When I happened upon a Rotary International brochure on my French teacher’s desk one day at high school, my journey literally and figuratively began.  My application was soon approved by the local Rotary club, and the school principal okayed my appeal to spend my senior year abroad!

Continue reading “Is being a Foreign Exchange Student right for me?”

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