cruise selfie

You came, you saw, you conquered, and everyone knows it thanks to the plethora of selfies you posted along the way. But not all selfies are created equal, and vacation is a prime time to capture just the right combination of yourself against a droolworthy backdrop. If you truly want to humblebrag (or just flat-out brag) about your latest cruise adventure, you need to make each digital self-portrait as memorable as possible. So grab this checklist, practice your one-armed angling, order yourself a selfie stick or switch, and make sure you have just the right light because we're going to help you take some of the best selfies at sea.

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1. Sailaway

Sailaway has it all: the ship, the port receding into the background, the experience. A sailaway selfie captures that moment of embarking on a new adventure. Whether you're on an upper deck waving goodbye, outside on your balcony or sipping cocktails by a window, the excitement of sailaway never gets old. Many ships host sailaway parties; get there early for a good spot.

2. Character Breakfast

You're never too old for a photo with your favorite character. (Just don't cut the line of little kids.) Whether it's Mickey and Minnie in their latest cruise couture or princesses at tea onboard Disney, Dreamworks characters like Shrek on Royal Caribbean, or Cat in the Hat onboard Carnival, not much beats a selfie with a childhood idol.

3. Your Balcony

A balcony is your very own secluded spot to take a romantic -- or goofy -- selfie on vacation. No balcony? No problem. Meet-ups, such as Cruise Critic Meet 'n' Mingles, often organize a cabin crawl. Parade from cabin to cabin as members and merrymakers play host to the group for drinks, snacks and a little conversation. If you're lucky, someone will have a suite and you can slyly pretend that the wraparound verandah is your own.

4. Dining Room on Formal Night

You've made the extra effort, and you should have something to show for it. Formal night photos are so popular that cruise lines pull in big bucks as couples and families elect to capture the moment against elaborate backdrops. But you don't need a professional -- or to be a professional -- to snap a photo of yourself with your cell (and maybe even your tablemates) looking fancy and fresh. Dressed to the nines but have five plates of food in front of you? Even better.

pool selfie

5. Poolside

This is the classic shot. You're away from work, away from worry, in the sun and feeling fine. A poolside selfie is the ultimate 21st-century declaration of a carefree vacation. Newly manicured nails holding your favorite fruity drink, lounging in the pool in your best swimwear -- whichever way you frame it, this is the selfie most likely to elicit some wistful comments (especially if you're in a cabana).

6. Captain's Cocktails

It's formal night; you're dressed up, clasping a flute of Champagne and hobnobbing with the ship's officers in their finest dress uniforms. The Captain's Cocktail Party is the perfect opportunity to snag a selfie with your favorite member of the ship's crew -- or even the captain himself.

7. Lobby, After a Show

You don't need a solid reason to want a selfie with an onboard performer. Maybe it's because you love their costumes or that one dancer is really hot, but a picture with the cast of a show is a fun shot to have. (They're onboard celebrities, after the captain, of course.) Maybe they'll even ham it up for some extra drama. Most ships host meet-and-greets with cast members directly after their performances, but check your daily program in case there are other dates and times.

silly selfie

8. Theme Parties

Whether it's neon paint, white ensembles under a black light, or teased hair and lace gloves on the dance floor, themed glow parties can add a little flare to your nighttime selfies. These parties are a signature part of a big ship's evening entertainment. Check with your cruise line ahead of time to see what theme parties are on offer to make sure you bring the right accessories, then throw your glow sticks in the air like you just don't care.

9. North Star

It may be the only ship-specific spot of the bunch, but we have to hand it to the selfie-loving folks at Royal Caribbean for their innovation in creating North Star. A pod that is lifted off the side of Quantum of the Seas, North Star offers spectacular aerial and panoramic views of the ship and the sea. If you can't manage to take an epic selfie while hanging out at the top of this thing, then there's probably no hope for you or your Instagram account.

10. Aft With the Wake

Nothing says "I'm in the middle of the ocean" quite like a picture of you surrounded by the ocean. Hanging out at the aft -- or back -- of the ship is a must to watch the wake of the sea in swirling blues and foaming froth kicked up by the ship's propellers. Stare a while into the depths and be mesmerized. Angle your camera up towards the horizon line and get yourself, the sky, the sea and the tail end of the ship, in perfect selfie harmony.

11. In Front of the Ship's Funnel

Some are more iconic than others, but a ship's funnel -- that chimney-looking thing on top -- is a pretty good indicator of cruise line. Head to an upper deck (many funnels can be viewed from a sports court or side deck off of the pool), and find the best place to get a shot of yourself with this cruise ship cake-topper.

12. With Wacky Ship Art

You don't need to wait around for the art auction. Many cruise ships pride themselves on their onboard art installations. Some are lovely, while others are downright strange. Either way, take a selfie while you ponder a painting, pose with a statue or interact with some other modern take on curated cruise art (giant pink bear, anyone?). It's not a museum, so you won't get yelled at for using a flash, although with a selfie, you'd just be blinding yourself anyway.

13. The Bridge

If the captain is the ultimate selfie partner, then the bridge is the ultimate selfie spot. Not accessible to passengers without a tour (even then, not all ships offer a tours), the bridge is a truly fascinating place. It's where the action happens, it's where the ship is run, and it's filled with endless amusements in the form of blinking buttons, GPS screens, floor-to-ceiling windows that give a dizzying view straight down to the ocean and other important-looking gizmos and gadgets. Just use common sense, and respect the areas that you're not supposed to photograph.

14. Anyplace With Your Towel Animal

While they may magically arrive in your cabin, that's not the only place to get a precious selfie of you and your favorite towel animal. Be creative: Bring them to the pool, to the bar or to dinner. If you're not embarrassed to commemorate this time with that frog, elephant or orangutan, they most certainly don't mind the attention. Bonus points if you made your own towel animal.

cruise selfie

15. Cruise-specific Selfies

Cruises are a fantastic place to snap things that you wouldn't normally see or experience on land. At-sea phenomena like stellar sunsets or distant islands make memorable backgrounds for a selfies. (Even better if a pod of dolphins or some other wildlife photobombs your shot.) Destination experiences -- such as glaciers in Alaska, fjords in Norway and the Panama Canal -- are what make cruising truly special and unique, apart from land vacations.

16. Ship in the Background

Sure, there are near-infinite places to take selfies onboard the ship, but what better encapsulates your temporary home than a shot of you with your ship in the background? Many ports make spectacular scenery as you maneuver to find just the right angle between you, the dock and the hull art on your cruise ship