The 13 Coolest Things to Do on a Cruise

by Kayla Becker

The 13 Coolest Things to Do on a Cruise

by Kayla Becker

Worried you'll be bored on a cruise ship, out at sea with nothing to do but watch the horizon line and bide your time to the next port? Think again. Long gone are the days when shuffleboard and bridge were the most exciting things to do on your cruise itinerary — those have gone the way of baked Alaska. Sure, you can do wine tastings, take a cooking class, have afternoon tea, work out, tour the galley, and hit the spa on just about every ship at sea.

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Crystal Esprit's Submersible / Crystal Cruises
The Voice of the Ocean
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1. Compete in The Voice (of the Ocean)

Budding pop stars, rejoice. NBC’s hit TV singing competition “The Voice” is now at sea on some Princess ships, and is rolling out to the rest of the fleet this year. Just how closely does it mirror the real deal? Three team coaches (who might include a guest entertainer or the ship’s captain) sit in “I Want You” chairs, back turned to auditioning performers belting out their favorite tunes, and select team members at the beginning of the cruise. After mentoring sessions and rehearsals, the finalists will perform in a live finale on the last night of the cruise, when fellow passengers decide the winner. Now, if we could just convince celebrity coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Christina Aguilera to get on board…

Fee: No additional charge.

Budding pop stars, rejoice. NBC’s hit TV singing competition “The Voice” is now at sea on some Princess ships, and is rolling out to the rest of the fleet this year. Just how closely does it mirror the real deal? Three team coaches (who might include a guest entertainer or the ship’s captain) sit in “I Want You” chairs, back turned to auditioning performers belting out their favorite tunes, and select team members at the beginning of the cruise. After mentoring sessions and rehearsals, the finalists will perform in a live finale on the last night of the cruise, when fellow passengers decide the winner. Now, if we could just convince celebrity coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, and Christina Aguilera to get on board…

Fee: No additional charge.

Rendering of Scenic Eclipse's 7-person submarine
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2. Explore the Ocean in a Submarine

What did you do on vacation? Oh, just plunged 300 feet into the ocean in a three-seat submarine. The once-in-a-lifetime experience on luxury yacht Crystal Esprit doesn’t come cheap, but spotting tropical fish swimming among the reefs in faraway lands like the Seychelles is totally worth it. Scenic Cruises is also planning a seven-seat submarine (not to mention two helicopters) for discovery yacht Scenic Eclipse, set to launch in August 2018 with itineraries including Antarctica and the Norwegian fjords.

Fee: Trips in Crystal Esprit’s submarine cost $595 per person.

What did you do on vacation? Oh, just plunged 300 feet into the ocean in a three-seat submarine. The once-in-a-lifetime experience on luxury yacht Crystal Esprit doesn’t come cheap, but spotting tropical fish swimming among the reefs in faraway lands like the Seychelles is totally worth it. Scenic Cruises is also planning a seven-seat submarine (not to mention two helicopters) for discovery yacht Scenic Eclipse, set to launch in August 2018 with itineraries including Antarctica and the Norwegian fjords.

Fee: Trips in Crystal Esprit’s submarine cost $595 per person.

RipCord by iFly on Anthem of the Seas
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3. Skydive

Daredevils can cross this one off the bucket list on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas on RipCord by iFly, a skydiving simulator that propels wind at speeds over 100 mph. And, since it’s located on the aft end of the ship, you can look out at the ocean (and the surfers at the simulator below) as you gear up for free-fall in the 23-foot glass wind tunnel. Ages 3 years and older can fly.

Fee: No additional charge.

Daredevils can cross this one off the bucket list on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas on RipCord by iFly, a skydiving simulator that propels wind at speeds over 100 mph. And, since it’s located on the aft end of the ship, you can look out at the ocean (and the surfers at the simulator below) as you gear up for free-fall in the 23-foot glass wind tunnel. Ages 3 years and older can fly.

Fee: No additional charge.

Jedi training
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4. Train to be a Jedi

The Force will be with young Padawans during a “Star Wars Day at Sea” on select Caribbean sailings on Disney Fantasy from January to April 2017. Jedi in training, ages 4 to 12, learn to wield lightsabers with the movie’s heroes and villains, complete “Padawan Mind Challenge” trivia games, and join in a deck party with Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and company. Unforgettable it is.

Fee: No additional charge.

The Force will be with young Padawans during a “Star Wars Day at Sea” on select Caribbean sailings on Disney Fantasy from January to April 2017. Jedi in training, ages 4 to 12, learn to wield lightsabers with the movie’s heroes and villains, complete “Padawan Mind Challenge” trivia games, and join in a deck party with Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and company. Unforgettable it is.

Fee: No additional charge.

Game Reserve on Serenade of the Seas
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5. Play Pool … on a Trippy, Self-Leveling Table

Shooting pool requires a steady hand — and a steady table. So how can you play pool at sea? Royal Caribbean’s Radiance-class ships have seriously cool gyroscopic pool tables that automatically balance with the movement of the waves, without disrupting the balls on the table. It looks like an optical illusion of sorts, as the table dips from side to side while the balls stay put. Even with all of the movement, you’ll still be able to sink the 8 ball in the corner pocket — and it will look even more impressive.

Fee: No additional charge.

Shooting pool requires a steady hand — and a steady table. So how can you play pool at sea? Royal Caribbean’s Radiance-class ships have seriously cool gyroscopic pool tables that automatically balance with the movement of the waves, without disrupting the balls on the table. It looks like an optical illusion of sorts, as the table dips from side to side while the balls stay put. Even with all of the movement, you’ll still be able to sink the 8 ball in the corner pocket — and it will look even more impressive.

Fee: No additional charge.

Styx playing Carnival Live
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6. See Big Name Bands and Comedians

Stars you want to see on land that you can actually see at sea? Who knew? Case in point: country music queen Carrie Underwood will perform on Carnival Vista this November and is scheduled for a Carnival Live cruise (select sailings that bring top artists to sea) in early 2017, too. Past guests have included Journey, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, and Styx. Plus, shows by funny guys Jim Gaffigan and Chris Tucker will be the main event on Carnival Live sailings this fall.

Fee: Tickets to events cost between $40 and $75 per person.

Stars you want to see on land that you can actually see at sea? Who knew? Case in point: country music queen Carrie Underwood will perform on Carnival Vista this November and is scheduled for a Carnival Live cruise (select sailings that bring top artists to sea) in early 2017, too. Past guests have included Journey, Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, and Styx. Plus, shows by funny guys Jim Gaffigan and Chris Tucker will be the main event on Carnival Live sailings this fall.

Fee: Tickets to events cost between $40 and $75 per person.

Ice skating on Royal Caribbean
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7.  Ice-skate

Who cares if you’re in the sunny Caribbean — you can still channel Michelle Kwan at the ice-skating rink onboard Royal Caribbean Oasis-, Freedom-, and Voyager-class ships. There are open skating hours for novices. If you’re already a pro, head to an advanced session so you can throw out that double axel you’ve been dying to show off, without taking out a slow-paced skater. 

Fee: There is no additional charge for skate time or skate rental.

Who cares if you’re in the sunny Caribbean — you can still channel Michelle Kwan at the ice-skating rink onboard Royal Caribbean Oasis-, Freedom-, and Voyager-class ships. There are open skating hours for novices. If you’re already a pro, head to an advanced session so you can throw out that double axel you’ve been dying to show off, without taking out a slow-paced skater. 

Fee: There is no additional charge for skate time or skate rental.

MSC Magnifica's bowling alley
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8. Go Bowling

If this favorite pastime strikes your fancy, head to the lanes on Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian EpicNorwegian EscapeNorwegian Getaway, and Norwegian Pearl. You can also knock down pins on MSC ships including MSC Divina, MSC Magnifica, MSC Preziosa, and MSC Splendida. We can’t guarantee it’ll improve your skills — another gutter ball, sigh — but it is just as fun as on land.

Fee: Bowling is $5 per person, per game, on Norwegian ships and $7 per person, per game, on MSC ships.

If this favorite pastime strikes your fancy, head to the lanes on Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian EpicNorwegian EscapeNorwegian Getaway, and Norwegian Pearl. You can also knock down pins on MSC ships including MSC Divina, MSC Magnifica, MSC Preziosa, and MSC Splendida. We can’t guarantee it’ll improve your skills — another gutter ball, sigh — but it is just as fun as on land.

Fee: Bowling is $5 per person, per game, on Norwegian ships and $7 per person, per game, on MSC ships.

FlowRider on Liberty of the Seas
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9. Surf

As long as you’re at least 52 inches tall, you can hang ten (or wipe out) on FlowRider, the 40-foot-long surfing simulator on 12 Royal Caribbean ships. A crew member will guide you until you’re able to surf the waves on your own, on either traditional surfboard or boogie board, while other passengers cheer you on. Those looking to perfect their skills can schedule a private, hour-long lesson.

Fee: There is no additional charge for using the FlowRider, but private lessons cost $60 per person for an hour-long session.

As long as you’re at least 52 inches tall, you can hang ten (or wipe out) on FlowRider, the 40-foot-long surfing simulator on 12 Royal Caribbean ships. A crew member will guide you until you’re able to surf the waves on your own, on either traditional surfboard or boogie board, while other passengers cheer you on. Those looking to perfect their skills can schedule a private, hour-long lesson.

Fee: There is no additional charge for using the FlowRider, but private lessons cost $60 per person for an hour-long session.

Carnival’s Superstar Live Karaoke
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10. Perform in Live Band Karaoke

It’s a little easier to conquer your fear of singing on stage when you’ve got backup. And with Carnival’s Superstar Live Karaoke, you get the full treatment — guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, and even backup singers — for your live performance. So basically, you’re a rock star. Go ahead, choose from hundreds of songs and have your 15 minutes of fame. Karaoke is open to all ages, so you can make your performance a family affair.

Fee: No additional charge. 

It’s a little easier to conquer your fear of singing on stage when you’ve got backup. And with Carnival’s Superstar Live Karaoke, you get the full treatment — guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, and even backup singers — for your live performance. So basically, you’re a rock star. Go ahead, choose from hundreds of songs and have your 15 minutes of fame. Karaoke is open to all ages, so you can make your performance a family affair.

Fee: No additional charge. 

Oasis of the Seas Zip Line
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11. Zip line

Zoom across a nine-story-high deck? Don’t mind if we do. You can partake in the thrill on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, where an 82-foot-long line takes you right over the bustling Boardwalk. Or, get the same thrill at the Sports Complex on Norwegian’s Breakaway Class ships, where there are also 40 other activities including a ropes course and “walking the plank.”

Fee: Zip lining is complimentary on both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian ships.

Zoom across a nine-story-high deck? Don’t mind if we do. You can partake in the thrill on Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, where an 82-foot-long line takes you right over the bustling Boardwalk. Or, get the same thrill at the Sports Complex on Norwegian’s Breakaway Class ships, where there are also 40 other activities including a ropes course and “walking the plank.”

Fee: Zip lining is complimentary on both Royal Caribbean and Norwegian ships.

Aqua cycling on MSC
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12. Take an Aqua Cycling Class

Spin class is so 2015. On MSC Divina, you can partake in a more refreshing version of the much-loved exercise class. You’ll pedal away to the beat of energizing music on bikes submerged in the outdoor pool (which we have to say is a pretty fun way to get your exercise in) while you look out into the blue of your next destination.

Fee: Aqua cycling classes cost $15 per person.

Spin class is so 2015. On MSC Divina, you can partake in a more refreshing version of the much-loved exercise class. You’ll pedal away to the beat of energizing music on bikes submerged in the outdoor pool (which we have to say is a pretty fun way to get your exercise in) while you look out into the blue of your next destination.

Fee: Aqua cycling classes cost $15 per person.

Animator's Studio on Disney Dream
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13. Take Animation Classes

Your signature stick figure doodles are cute, sure. But on each of Disney’s cruise ships, kids and adults alike can learn to sketch classic characters like Mickey and Donald Duck in a step-by-step 20-minute class. Once you know the secret to bringing your favorite cartoons to life, we doubt you’ll be able to stop the creativity.

Fee: No additional charge.

Your signature stick figure doodles are cute, sure. But on each of Disney’s cruise ships, kids and adults alike can learn to sketch classic characters like Mickey and Donald Duck in a step-by-step 20-minute class. Once you know the secret to bringing your favorite cartoons to life, we doubt you’ll be able to stop the creativity.

Fee: No additional charge.

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