No one wants to admit it, but sometimes a vacation doesn't get off to a good start. But when you're on a cruise, you're stuck for its duration, so it's up to you to turn your trip around. Here are some tips for making the best of a variety of issues that could trouble your cruise vacation.-- Andrea M. Rotondo
"DINNER LAST NIGHT IN THE MAIN DINING ROOM DIDN'T WOW ME."
You're a foodie and dinner last night was just, "Meh." Instead of going back the next night, head to one of the ship's specialty restaurants. These restaurants, which often require a small per person cover charge, tend to present more eclectic menus and use better ingredients like organic produce, artisanal cheeses, or prime beef.
"THIS CABIN IS WAY TOO NOISY! I CAN'T SLEEP!"
When you booked your stateroom, maybe you didn't check the deck plan and notice that the nightclub is right above your cabin. What to do? Contact guest relations at the reception desk. Explain your problem and ask if there are any comparable cabins available in a quieter location on the ship. If a stateroom that is better suited to your needs is available, most guest-relations managers will approve an immediate move.
"THIS CRUISE IS BORING."
Seek out the cruise director or one of his/her assistants and explain your predicament. The cruise director will ask you some targeted questions about the types of activities you enjoy and will suggest some options that sound appropriate for your interests. Maybe you'd enjoy an early-morning yoga class, a cooking demonstration, a tour of the ship's bridge or engine room, the afternoon wine-tasting course, a spirited game of trivia or bridge, the pre-dinner pub crawl, or a show in the theater. The cruise director will be happy to find something that piques your interest.
"I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE PORTS OF CALL."
If you didn't have a chance to research the itinerary before embarkation, have no fear. The shore excursion manager gives a lecture--often accompanied by slides or a video--each evening before dinner about the next day's port of call. He or she will give you an idea of the ethos of the port, what sort of tours are popular in the area, and what you can do on your own. The shore excursion manager also keeps desk hours, so you can seek out his or her advice at your convenience.
"UGH, I FEEL SEASICK."
Even the savviest sailors feel seasick from time to time. The good news is that you can take steps to avoid it altogether--or at least reduce your symptoms. First and foremost, take an over-the-counter antihistamine medication like Bonine (meclizine). These non-drowsy pills do an excellent job of keeping motion sickness at bay. If you start to feel a bit off, eat some bread, crackers, or pretzels and wash it down with ginger ale. Stand on deck--preferably midship where you'll feel the least amount of movement--and get some fresh air while keeping the horizon in view. Chew on candied ginger or peppermint gum. You'll feel better before you know it.
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS
If none of the above have rescued your cruise vacation, we have a few last suggestions:
• Get out there and meet people; cruises are always more fun when you make a friend or two. Spend some time at the bar, lounge, or nightclub, and you're sure to make a few new acquaintances.
• Head to the gym for an exercise class or try the state-of-the-art fitness equipment.
• Spend the day by the pool and don't forget to order some fruity frozen drinks festooned with tiny umbrellas.
• Book an appointment at the spa. If a massage treatment isn't your thing, try the hydrotherapy pool or steam room, which can be a real treat, especially if the weather is a bit chilly or rainy.
• Spend a few dollars in the ship's casino, where you'll usually find slots, roulette, blackjack, and poker.
• If your cruise ship offers course-by-course in-room dining (most luxury cruise lines do), stage a romantic dinner with your travel companion.
Andrea M. Rotondo is a freelance writer based in New York City. She covers cruise news and luxury travel trends for Fodors.com, Condé Nast Traveler, Cruise Critic, and other websites and magazines. Follow her on Twitter: @luxtravelmavens.