I'm a big fan of cruising as well. It's just so relaxing and is my ideal vacation. You can do NOTHING at all or you can do a lot. Cruises have a ton of activities.
For me, I'd get up often before the sun rise or during it and enjoy breakfast on the deck and just stare at the ocean. Come 10AM or so, get a memosa or two... and just walk around. Nap in a chair or a hammock. If the boat is docking that day you get to walk around some place you've never been before for 4 - 10 hours depending on where and what cruise. Can go shopping, go tour old ruins, go to the local bars, go lay on the beach... whatever. Then you get back on the boat, eat a good dinner, and do whatever you want. Night life, gamble, relax, watch a movie... It's great.
Went on an 8 day cruise a few years ago and was honestly the last time I went more than 48 hours with no internet access. I wasn't going to pay the outrageous price for slow on-board internet. I had a couple books with me and would read when bored, but mostly enjoyed the time to relax and be alone.
My favorite place on the ship was sort of a hidden gem. It was on the lowest deck and it was off limits I think but the doors were always unlocked so I'd always go down there to smoke and relax. I never once saw anyone else down there so it was a good quiet getaway.
I'd go down there at night, bring a full Long Island Iced Tea with me and just relax. Was nice to get away from people and be alone without being couped up in the room. Standing by the railings you could get splashed by the water since it was the lowest deck to the surface.
Thanks to your detailed post, I couldn't help but see vivid images of my last cruise vacation. I joined a 10-day (more or less, I forget) Scandinavian cruise last May and it was awesome. The pool area is my personal favorite; can't beat drinks + pretty cool chill spot.
Ya know I've never been on a cruise. Totally something I want to do though.
I want to go back to Europe. I want to just backpack across Europe instead of my selective stays for work. Starting in the UK, go to Portugal and Spain while staying in hostels. Move East from there. Visit Czech Republic again and definitely hit up Budapest since every traveller I've met while I was in Europe said that was the best. Probably make my way over to the Scandinavian countries and hit Sweden and Norway. Probably end up in Germany and the Netherlands again and enjoy the beach there (The Hague's live jazz bar was absolutely lovely).
Every time I was in Europe, it was for work, so I was kinda restricted to only the weekends. Even then jet lag and work tired me out that I couldn't fully enjoy my visit there. However I will say, I had the best beer in the Monastery in Prague, I took a day trip to Bratislava when I was in Vienna just to say I was in Slovakia, I visited the Porsche and Mercedes Benz Museums in Stuttgart, Germany, and I had the time of my life in the Netherlands. Europe is definitely one of the best places I've ever had the pleasure of visiting, and I want to actually backpack around it this time instead of being all "businessman-y". Fill a backpack with clothes and a laptop, take the train around. Say in hostels and enjoy the hostel nightlife (which is so much fun).