Birthdays On Cruise Ships

Birthdays while working on cruise ships can sometimes feel unimportant due to being far away from family and friends, but they can actually be super fun and memorable. The first time I had my birthday on a ship, I played a drinking game with some friends the night before and went out for dinner with my cast the following day. This year I got to spend another birthday of mine on a cruise ship and it was so much fun! At first I didn’t know what I wanted to do and drafted a list of ideas, which I’d like to share below:


  • Movie night: Movie nights can potentially be arranged in the theatre or screening room on the cruise ship. If this is not possible, you can ask to rent a TV, as well as a space for a group of people to celebrate inside. I encourage you not to celebrate in a cabin, as there is no room and it will most likely end with a noise complaint. Create a game from your chosen movie; the more fun the movie, the better! Additionally, try to include snacks or a theme, making the party more exciting and memorable when you look back at photos from the event.


  • Dining out: If you like to dress up and also like to eat food, then this is a great birthday party idea. There are many restaurants on cruise ships, but I recommend going to a restaurant that will allow you to make a reservation as an employee. If you want to invite a large number of guests, try picking a restaurant that isn’t as popular as well as a dinning time that is not as common. If partying isn’t your thing, this option is much better because your party would be more intimate and wouldn’t have to involve a large consumption of alcohol.


  • Karaoke night: Love to sing? Then karaoke night is a great option to choose. Grab some snacks and tell your friends it’s a BYOB event. Make sure there are no noise complaints, by hosting the party in an area that has no guests or any crew members who have early working shifts. When renting the karaoke machine, make sure the music variety is suitable; you don’t want to sing to unpopular music or songs that are in a language unfamiliar to you.


  • Board game night: I would consider this idea not only for a birthday party, but for any night you bond with some friends. Ask friends to bring games and ask to borrow some board games that may be in crew areas or in the cruise ship library. Add some snacks and a speaker for background music, and your set to have a fun night! I recommend a board game that doesn’t take the whole night to play because you want to make sure all of your friends are participating and don’t want the night to revolve around one game (or maybe you do if you have a smaller group of friends). If you want to up your game night, you can rent a TV and play a board game that involves video like Scene It or Jeopardy. There are also games that you can play on your mobile device such as Heads Up and Werewolf (an adaptation of Mafia). Another way to step up your game with this kind of party is by renting a TV and hosting a video game night rather than a board game night (must know someone who has a game console on board).


  • Party on land: Having a birthday party on shore is always super fun for crew members who have been living on a cruise ship for many months. Depending on the itinerary of the cruise ship, you could be spending your birthday in a really neat place you’ve never been before. You may not have as much control of your event due to weather as well as any other unknown information. Additionally, not all your friends may be able to join you due to having to stay on the cruise ship for IPM (a procedure where a certain number of crew must stay on board in case of an emergency on the ship). This type of party is the hardest to plan, but is recommended for those who don’t like to plan but like to go with the flow. If you want to just grab a bite to eat with some friends or celebrate your birthday at a resort then that is totally cool! I have been invited to a few birthday parties in ports with friends and I had a blast. One of my cast members celebrated their birthday in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas. We all got to enjoy the beach and have Pina Coladas instead of birthday cake.


  • The midnight toast: This is the most common type of get together on a cruise ship. Essentially you invite some friends to join you at the crew bar or your favourite bar on the cruise ship and toast to your birthday at midnight. I’ve seen this take place with a crew member who didn’t want to make a big deal of their birthday, rather they celebrated quietly with a small group of friends. If you don’t want to make a big deal of your birthday this is always a recommended option, as not everyone wants to live it up on their birthday.


  • Bar hop: This is a party that will leave memories and potentially break drinking records for some. Get all dressed up and hop from one bar on the cruise ship to the next, enjoying a plethora of drinks. One way to really spice this party up is to have a theme included in the party such as everyone wearing black and the birthday boy/girl/they can wear white. A friend of mine told me she was a part of a bar hop where the birthday girl was dressed like a queen and was carried from one bar to the next. I have no idea how that group of individuals didn’t get in trouble for causing so much attention as crew, but assume that she probably had an amazing birthday!


Note to my readers: These ideas are for someone who already works on a cruise ship and is not sailing as a guest.


These seven ideas above are a great way to start brainstorming for future birthday parties on board. Remember that you only have a birthday once a year and that it should be celebrated, regardless of your age. Depending on your personality, you may naturally be more drawn to certain party ideas over others and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.


This year I ended up choosing the midnight toast party idea and be sharing how it went in next blog. If you’ve enjoyed reading so far, stay tuned for my 24th Grease Lightning party on board. Thanks for reading!