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How To cruise like you've done it your whole life

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By design, cruises are surpremely convenient. The ultimate antidote to our over-worked, stressed-out, uber-scheduled lives, a cruise is just plain easy. Unpack once. Ports come to you. Meals, entertainment and activities for all ages at your fingertips. What else do you need to know?

Just a few things, really.

1) Bridesmaid dresses. Formal night is the perfect time to squeeze into that sequin-y number you thought you'd never wear again.

2) Elastic. Build your entire cruise wardrobe around it, 'cause you won't be able to part with your fork for a minute.

3) Fun. Though it may feel odd, be prepared for a rush of endorphins to keep you on a perma-high. Leave your prozac at home.

And here, while we're at it, some even more useful tips.

Ditch the dressy duds . . . if you want to. Who really dresses up any more anyway? Limo drivers? Undertakers? I know I just told you to bring your old bridesmaid dresses -- which I still stand by -- but if you're morally against formalwear, you can opt out. Over the past few years, cruise lines have been adding lots of flexible dining options to their repertoires. So, while there still are formal nights on most ships, they're no longer your only choice. You can also opt to skip the whole charade and hit one of the ship's casual dining venues. Typically, dinner is offered nightly in a casual buffet restaurant, plus many have additional alternative dining outlets that don't require suits and sequins -- and that's not even counting room service and snack bars. Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, offers casual dress codes and flexible meals times in all of its ships' restaurants. Small-ship lines like Windstar, SeaDream Yacht Club, Star Clippers and Windjammer Barefoot Cruises also follow a no-jackets-required policy throughout the cruise.

First in line.

Save a seat.

Wrinkle schminkle.

Going solo.

Gotta have 'em.

Pack a bag.

Getting your fix.

Staying in touch.

Just say no . . . or not.

Source: Heidi Sarna, Frommers Travel Guide

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