Cruising is an experience like no other, but perhaps can be topped by celebrating a special occasion at the same time. If you’re sufficiently prepared, the different cruise lines are all well equipped to help you prepare for and pull off your exclusive party.

So how can you make your already very special cruise even better and more memorable? Here, we look at some of the most exciting and creative ways you can celebrate your next big milestone aboard your favourite ship.

Ask your travel agent or cruise line to make note of your occasion

Your date of birth is required to make your booking but generally speaking, the reservations systems used by cruise lines aren’t intelligent enough to work out you will be celebrating your birthday mid-voyage.

Having your agent mark your booking with your birthday, retirement or other celebration will see the cruise line also join in on the fun and help you celebrate the occasion.

Cruise lines will literally help you celebrate any occasion from the seemingly insignificant all the way up to the grand milestones, from Bar Mitzvah’s to graduations, anniversaries and so much more. There are a range of options that can be selected by your agent. All you have to do is simply mention it and most agents will ensure you get the special treatment on your special day.

Make dinner plans in advance

If you’re planning on celebrating at one of the specialty restaurants onboard and wanting a particular date to celebrate your special occasion, it’s of critical importance to pre-book your dinner at your preferred venue.

Most cruise lines allow you to arrange for different onboard experiences through their online check-in systems, however one notable standout here is Carnival, which requires guests to email the restaurant manager aboard Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend well in advance of their voyage to secure a reservation at famed shipboard steakhouse Nouveau.

Pre-book a VIP spa experience

From mother/daughter mani pedi’s to booking out the entire spa deck aboard Azamara Club Cruises, the onboard day spa will generally have a range of options to make the special person in your life feel amazing on their special day.

We particularly like the couples massage cabanas found in “The Sanctuary” area of local Princess ships Emerald Princess and Diamond Princess. The tranquil kid-free outdoor space is great for couples celebrating a special event onboard, even if the kids tag along as well.

Purchase a special occasions package

Imagine having your room specially decorated and filled with balloons while you’re at dinner one night or being awoken by a champagne breakfast waiting for you on your balcony?

Purchasing a special occasions package delivers just that, with a range of price points and inclusions. These packages are capable of delivering everything from rose petals scattered across your bed and room (trust us when we say it was pretty but totally not worth the mess) to having your proposal displayed on the poolside movie screen. Anything is possible.

If you’re planning on taking advantage of dinner in one of the speciality restaurants, keep an eye on the special occasions packages, as many include dinner in one of your ship’s extra charge venues. Many VIP inclusions such as premium bottles of champagne can also be added for a price not much more than the normal specialty restaurant charges.

Ask the cruise director to help you celebrate your milestone

Many cruise directors thrive on the opportunity to get involved in helping you celebrate your occasion. If you’re celebrating a major milestone such as a 50th wedding anniversary or 90th birthday, many cruise directors will ensure the appropriate level of public fuss is made.

We have seen couples celebrating a 60th wedding anniversary brought up on stage and publicly presented with letters from the Queen.

Book a professional photo shoot

It seems all the rage right now among cruise lines is for onboard photo studios, but what many don’t realise is that the ship’s professional photographers can also be hired for the day to take photos of you in one of the ports of call.

From stunning shots on the beach in the South Pacific to moments captured in the Mexican rainforest, once hired, guests can take their photographers with them anywhere they want.

Don’t worry too if you’re not sure where the best locations are in each port, your snapper for the day will generally know some of the hidden gems which work well as the best backdrops in each port.