The term “scenic cruising” frequently pops up both online and within brochures if you’re investigating a cruise in some of the world’s most naturally picturesque parts of the world, such as Alaska, the Norwegian Fjords or New England.

The concept – which sees the ship take on a greater role as an enormous tour boat – is progressively becoming a staple on many itineraries around the world. Destinations closer to home such as New Zealand’s Milford Sound and Alaska’s Inside Passage are now just as integral to the cruise experience as major marquee cities such as Auckland and Vancouver. Further afield, Norway’s Fjords and the foliage of New England are both among these scenic parts of the world enticing guests to get out on deck and soak up the views.

If your cruise includes some “scenic” time, there are a few things you can do to maximise your enjoyment and also maximise what you see while cruising closer to the shore.

First off, look at the weather for your destination and pack accordingly as the scenery you will be trying to see will be best viewed from the outside decks. This is particularly important on voyages in South America, where you may have shorts and T-shirt weather one day and require a ski jacket to be outside during your Antarctica scenic cruising. Of course, if you have booked a balcony, you’ve got your own private viewing area for these scenic vistas.

While packing for your holiday, consider taking binoculars as chances are you will still be quite a distance from what you want to see. Yes your ship may be venturing along a fjord or be cruising right next to a glacier, but the sheer size of modern-day ships & the enforcement of stringent environmental protection laws sees most vessels remain a considerable distance back from land. In this instance, having binoculars close to hand will ensure that you can see the small details in addition to the overall picture.

Consider packing a light poncho for your time both onboard and ashore – this will ensure your hands are free to steady a camera and capture the best shots without having to juggle an umbrella at the same time. Remember also your wet weather gear that enables you to still get that one amazing photo without struggling with a bulky and dangerous umbrella on the wind swept decks.

Should the rain become too much to handle, having a indoor back-up location is also handy to have as fjords and sounds in particular can develop their own isolated weather patterns which can see the weather change with a snap of the fingers.

Scouting out prime viewing locations on your ship prior to the day will also provide you with knowledge of dry areas should you get caught under freshly opened heavens while enjoying the view. Keep an eye out for any areas that might be opened only for scenic cruising. Areas such as the ship’s bow (that’s the pointy end) may be accessible or even have seating areas for you enjoy during this part of your voyage. Normally, these may be marked “crew only” but can actually be opened for passenger use at these times.

The ship’s daily newsletter will provide you with information on what areas on your ship are open during the scheduled scenic cruising. These will also shed light on anything special your cruise line might do during the experience, such as photo opportunities with professional photographers or the chance to have an on deck hot chocolate as you watch the world go by.

If you are tech savvy, download a map app to your smartphone and keep a track of where you are by using the GPS functionality. Some apps provide information on any townships or points of interest you may be passing – a handy tool if your ship doesn’t provide commentary from a guide regarding what you are seeing or if you simply can’t hear it.

Most importantly, remember to look up from your phone while cruising and take in the great sights and sounds! Be adequately prepared & you’ll be rewarded with world-class memories.