How Do I Avoid Crowds On A Cruise Ship?

In this article, you will learn some tips and tricks on how to avoid crowds when you’re on a cruise ship. Whether you’re someone who enjoys a quieter environment or just wants to have some personal space, these strategies will help you maximize your cruise experience and make it more enjoyable.

Firstly, one way to avoid crowds is to choose a cruise ship with a smaller capacity. The larger the ship, the more people there will be onboard, and consequently, the more crowded it can get. Opting for a smaller ship will not only provide a more intimate and less crowded setting, but it will also give you the opportunity to explore lesser-known ports that may not be accessible to larger vessels. Additionally, booking a cruise during off-peak seasons can significantly reduce the number of passengers, allowing you to enjoy more space and fewer crowds on the ship and during excursions.

Finding the Right Cruise

Cruising can be a fantastic way to explore different destinations and enjoy a variety of activities, but sometimes the crowds can detract from the overall experience. If you’re looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of a crowded cruise ship, here are some tips to help you find the right cruise and make the most of your vacation.

Research Cruise Lines and Ships

Before booking your cruise, it’s essential to research different cruise lines and ships to find one that suits your preferences. Some cruise lines are known for their smaller ships, which can provide a more intimate and less crowded experience. Look for cruise lines that have a reputation for a high crew-to-passenger ratio, as this can indicate better service and fewer crowds on board.

Choose Off-Peak Travel Times

Another way to avoid crowds on a cruise ship is to consider traveling during off-peak times. Peak travel seasons typically include school holidays, major holidays, and summer months. By choosing to cruise during less popular times, you’ll have a better chance of enjoying a more relaxed and less crowded atmosphere on board.

Consider Smaller Ships

While larger cruise ships offer a wide range of amenities and activities, they are also more likely to be crowded. If you prefer a quieter and more peaceful experience, consider opting for a smaller ship. Smaller ships often have fewer passengers, leading to shorter lines and fewer crowds in common areas. Additionally, smaller ships can often access more remote and less crowded ports, providing a unique and secluded experience.

Booking Your Cruise

Once you’ve found the right cruise to avoid crowds, there are several strategies you can employ during the booking process to enhance your experience further.

Book Early

Booking your cruise early can help you secure the best cabin options and take advantage of any discounts or promotions. By booking early, you’ll have a better chance of selecting a cabin away from common areas, helping to minimize noise and foot traffic near your accommodations.

Select a Cabin Away from Common Areas

Choosing a cabin away from common areas such as elevators, staircases, and entertainment venues can help you avoid the noise and commotion often associated with crowded areas. Additionally, cabins located towards the middle or rear of the ship tend to be quieter compared to those near the bow or near high-traffic areas.

Look for Ships with Private Areas

Some cruise ships offer private or exclusive areas for certain cabin categories or loyalty program members. These areas often have limited access, making them less crowded and providing a more relaxing experience. Look for ships that offer private lounges, sun decks, or dining venues exclusively for select passengers to enjoy a quieter and more secluded experience.

Planning Your Daily Activities

Once you’re on board, strategic planning can help you make the most of your cruise experience while avoiding the crowds.

Check the Daily Schedule

Each day, the cruise ship will provide a schedule of activities and events. Take the time to review this schedule and plan your day accordingly. Look for activities that are less popular or offered in smaller venues, as these are more likely to have fewer people in attendance.

Opt for Less Popular Activities

While popular activities and shows may be enticing, they also tend to draw larger crowds. Consider exploring some of the lesser-known activities and events on board. These activities often provide a more intimate experience and can be just as enjoyable as the more popular ones.

Utilize the Ship’s Facilities During Port Days

On port days, when a significant portion of passengers will be exploring the destination, take advantage of the ship’s facilities. This is a great time to enjoy the pool, spa, or other amenities without the usual crowds. You may even have these areas to yourself, creating a more relaxing and serene experience.

Navigating Mealtimes

Mealtimes on a cruise ship can sometimes be chaotic, with long lines and crowded dining venues. Here are some strategies to help you enjoy your meals in a more peaceful atmosphere.

Choose Specialty Dining Options

Many cruise ships offer specialty dining options, such as fine dining restaurants or themed eateries. These venues often require reservations and have limited seating, resulting in a more intimate and less crowded dining experience. Consider booking a meal at one of these specialty restaurants to enjoy a quieter meal.

Dine at Non-Peak Hours

If you prefer to dine in the ship’s main dining room or buffet, try to schedule your meals during non-peak hours. This includes dining earlier or later than the usual mealtime rush. By avoiding peak dining hours, you’ll have a better chance of finding a table quickly and enjoying a more relaxed dining experience.

Consider Room Service or In-Cabin Dining

If you’re looking for complete privacy and seclusion during mealtimes, take advantage of room service or in-cabin dining options offered by the cruise line. You can enjoy a meal in the comfort of your own cabin, away from the crowds and distractions of the ship’s public dining areas.

Avoiding Crowded Areas

While it’s impossible to have the entire ship to yourself, there are ways to find less crowded areas on board.

Explore Lesser-Known Spaces

In addition to the ship’s main attractions and common areas, explore lesser-known spaces to discover hidden gems with fewer people. These areas may include quieter lounges, libraries, or smaller entertainment venues. Take the time to wander and discover places away from the main thoroughfares to find peaceful spots to relax and unwind.

Use Alternative Pool Areas

Many cruise ships have multiple pool areas, including quieter adult-only pools or secluded areas tucked away from the main pool deck. If you prefer a peaceful swim or lounging experience, consider utilizing these alternative pool areas. They tend to have fewer people and offer a more tranquil environment.

Visit Attractions During Non-Peak Times

If there are specific attractions or amenities on the ship that you’re excited to experience, try visiting them during non-peak times. This could include early mornings or late evenings when fewer people are likely to be using these facilities. By timing your visits strategically, you can maximize your enjoyment while minimizing the crowds.

Taking Advantage of Pre-Booking Options

To enhance your cruise experience and avoid crowds, take advantage of the pre-booking options offered by the cruise line.

Reserve Excursions, Shows, and Dining in Advance

By pre-booking excursions, shows, and dining reservations, you can ensure that you’ll have a spot without having to wait in long lines or risk missing out. Pre-booking popular activities allows you to better plan your day and enjoy these experiences without the stress of crowds.

Utilize Priority Boarding and Disembarkation

Many cruise lines offer priority boarding and disembarkation to certain passengers, such as suite guests or loyalty program members. By taking advantage of these perks, you can minimize wait times and avoid crowded areas during the embarkation and disembarkation processes.

Consider VIP or Exclusive Access Packages

If you’re looking for an even more exclusive experience, consider purchasing VIP or exclusive access packages offered by some cruise lines. These packages may include perks such as private lounges, dedicated staff, and access to restricted areas. While these packages come at an additional cost, they can provide you with a more personalized and crowd-free experience.

Engaging with Cruise Staff

The crew members on a cruise ship are there to ensure you have a memorable and enjoyable experience. By engaging with them, you can gain insider tips on avoiding crowds and finding lesser-known areas.

Ask for Insider Tips and Recommendations

Don’t hesitate to ask the cruise staff for their insider tips and recommendations. They often have valuable knowledge about quiet spaces or less crowded times to enjoy various amenities on board. Whether it’s finding a hidden deck with stunning views or suggesting a less well-known activity, the staff can help you make the most of your cruise while avoiding the crowds.

Seek Advice on Less Busy Areas

Cruise staff members are familiar with the ship’s layout and can guide you to less busy areas. From hidden nooks for reading to less crowded bars or lounges, they can help you find spaces away from the main crowds. Take advantage of their expertise and ask for their recommendations.

Participate in Exclusive Events or Meetups

Some cruise lines offer exclusive events or meetups for select passengers. These gatherings provide an opportunity to mingle with other like-minded travelers and enjoy activities or entertainment in a more private setting. By participating in these events, you can meet new people and experience the ship’s offerings away from the larger crowds.

Utilizing Technology

Cruise lines have embraced technology to enhance the onboard experience and help passengers navigate the ship more efficiently.

Download Cruise Line Apps

Many cruise lines offer mobile apps that provide passengers with information about onboard activities, dining options, and port excursions. These apps can also notify you about changes in the schedule or any special promotions. By downloading the cruise line’s app, you can stay informed and make the most of your time on board.

Utilize Virtual Queues or Reservation Systems

Some cruise ships have implemented virtual queues or reservation systems for popular activities or attractions. These systems allow you to reserve a specific time slot for activities such as shows, water slides, or other entertainment options. By utilizing these systems, you can avoid waiting in long lines and enjoy these experiences without the crowds.

Stay Connected with Ship Updates

Cruise ships often provide regular announcements and updates about onboard activities and events. It’s essential to stay informed by checking the ship’s daily newsletter or accessing announcements through the ship’s communication system. By staying connected with ship updates, you can plan your day accordingly and avoid crowded areas during peak times.

Participating in Private Shore Excursions

While on a cruise, the ports of call are an essential part of the experience. To avoid crowds during shore excursions, consider these strategies:

Join Small Group Tours or Private Excursions

When booking shore excursions, look for options that offer smaller group sizes or private tours. These tours tend to provide a more personalized experience and allow you to explore the destination at your own pace. By opting for smaller group tours, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding the crowds typically associated with larger group excursions.

Explore Lesser-Known Destinations

While popular ports of call can be exciting, they are also likely to be crowded with other cruise ship passengers. Consider exploring lesser-known destinations that may not be as busy. These off-the-beaten-path locations can provide a unique and more secluded experience, allowing you to avoid the crowds and discover hidden gems.

Customize Your Itinerary to Avoid Crowds

If the option is available, consider customizing your itinerary to avoid crowded ports or peak times. By selecting less busy ports or arriving early in the morning or late in the afternoon, you can enjoy a more peaceful and less crowded experience at each destination.


Cruising is a fantastic way to travel and explore new destinations, but it’s essential to strategize and plan to avoid crowds on a cruise ship. By researching cruise lines and ships, booking early, planning your daily activities, and utilizing technology, you can enhance your cruise experience and enjoy a more peaceful and tranquil vacation. Remember to engage with the cruise staff, explore lesser-known areas, and take advantage of pre-booking options to make the most of your time on board. With these strategies in mind, you can enjoy a relaxing and crowd-free cruising experience.