You may notice sea days listed on your cruise itinerary as "cruising" or "at sea." While they may appear differently on paper, they all mean the same thing: you're cruising on the open water the entire day.
Sea days are frequently included in itineraries where the ship must travel long distances between ports of call. These days are also especially common on the schedules of mega-ships, which have a limited number of ports they may enter due to their enormous size. Not only that, but they have enough -- and often more than enough -- activities to keep cruisers entertained onboard.
Days at sea are more frequent on Caribbean sailings than on Mediterranean or European routes, where destination ports are generally closer together.
Multiple sea days are always part of the schedule for repositioning cruises like those that cross the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. Alaskan cruises often include a day of scenic cruising in the Inside Passage. Antarctic cruises include numerous sea days, many with four in a row.
It is also common for a ship to replace a port of call with a day at sea in the event of weather or sea conditions that make docking the ship or operating tender boats hazardous.
River cruises, as you might imagine from their very name, don't experience sea days. This is due to them not being on the sea in the first place but also because they make ports of call every day.
Cruises in the Mediterranean and Europe generally experience no sea days whatsoever due to the proximity of their ports.
Sea days are usually loaded with scheduled activities throughout the ship. Events like cooking demonstrations, educational lectures, poolside games, dance classes and movies make sea days anything but boring.
Often, formal nights are held on a sea day, so passengers have plenty of time to primp or go to the ship's salon before dressing up for dinner.
Make sure to check your itinerary closely on sea days so you don't accidentally miss any potentially exciting activities or wear less-than-formal clothes on formal night.
Take a look at our article on the 10 best things to do on a sea day for more inspiration.
Remember your seasickness medication or other favorite seasickness remedies. Considering the waves and weather may be a bit rougher on the open water, it's best to be prepared for it. As they say, better safe than sorry.
Use your sea day to your advantage and explore your ship. Meet new people, experience fun activities onboard, visit restaurants and bars, lay out on the sun deck -- the world (or, rather, the ship) is your oyster.
Updated May 19, 2023