The Best Free Things Onboard 2018’s Newest, Biggest Ships

by  Donna Heiderstadt | Jul 3, 2018

In the first half of 2018, Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean all gave cruisers new reasons to book a sailing: their just-launched ships, Carnival Horizon, Norwegian Bliss, and Symphony of the Seas. The best part? All three offer a whole bunch of cool stuff onboard for free. Try them as many times as you want: These 14 activities, shows, and dining experiences won’t cost you a nickel or dime extra (though some do require reservations).

Lido Deck Dining Outlets on Carnival Horizon

On the Lido Deck of its newest ship, Carnival is serving the three things most likely to make you cheat on your diet: perfectly crispy personal pizzas cooked to order at Pizzeria del Capitano (and yes, there’s always a line), juicy flame-broiled burgers with spicy thick-cut fries at Guy’s Burger Joint, and terrific tacos and burritos at BlueIguana Cantina.

Jersey Boys on Norwegian Bliss

This story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons was a hit on Broadway, and it’s packing in the passengers during performances onboard Norwegian Bliss. From “Walk Like a Man” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” to the show-stopping “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” the music will have you lip-synching in your seat.

Laser Tag: Battle for Planet Z on Symphony of the Seas

Gear-up and go intergalactic in Symphony of the Seas’ Studio B, as you battle aliens vs. robots through a glow-in-the-dark meganova. Are you prepared to fight for control of the solar system’s last planet? Find out over light years of fun.

Dr. Seuss WaterWorks on Carnival Horizon

This Seuss-i-fication of Carnival’s WaterWorks waterpark adds a touch of whimsy to the family-friendly fun. The 213-foot twisting polka dot slide, Fun Things, is named for Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat; while the longer (450-foot) but tamer red-and-white-striped slide is simply called the Cat’s Hat. And watch out for the giant, hat-shaped tipping bucket that unexpectedly cools-off anyone playing in the splash pool below.

The Local on Norwegian Bliss

Bar Food 24/7? Yep, you can chow down for free on a burger and fries, fish n’ chips, chicken pot pie, and other comfort foods whenever the craving strikes at this lively pub-style eatery located on Deck 7 with views of the big screen.

Boardwalk Dog House on Symphony of the Seas

The concept for this hotdog-stand-meets-bratwurst-hut may have debuted on Allure of the Seas in 2010, but the crunch of that first bite of hotdog or sausage—be it a Coney Island Dog, a German, a Warsaw, or a Sicilian—is just as good today.

“Soulbound” and “Celestial Strings” on Carnival Horizon

Grab a seat in the Liquid Lounge and prepare to be mesmerized by these two production shows: one, a dark Gothic-inspired tale of voodoo on the bayou set to moody R&B music; and the other, a dreamy, uplifting ode to contemporary pop and rock with classical and ballet influences. The Playlist Productions cast, choreography, and special effects are all superb.

Ultimate Abyss on Symphony of the Seas

This 10-story slide (just a slide, no water involved) is the tallest at sea and takes the concept of a magic carpet ride to a dizzying, kaleidoscopic new level as you hold on to your mat and plunge down a steep corkscrew of flashing lights from Deck 16 to the Boardwalk.

Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse | Alehouse Lunch Menu on Carnival Horizon

Eat dinner at Guy Fieri’s barbecue joint and you’ll pay a cover charge; but head over for the self-serve al fresco lunch, and it’s all on the house. Go for seconds of the Championship Pork Butt pulled pork, Blue Ribbon Chicken, and Mac Daddy mac ‘n cheese.

Aqua Racer and Ocean Loops on Norwegian Bliss

Aqua Racer may sound scarier (it’s a tandem slide utilizing rafts), but it’s Ocean Loops that starts with a scream, as riders drop through a trap door into a tube fitted with clear-plastic panels. Some riders are too light, too heavy, or too fidgety to make it up the inclines in this topsy-turvy ride, and they slide backwards in full view of onlookers below. Don’t worry: An escape hatch means riders aren’t really stuck—just embarrassed.

AquaTheater Shows on Symphony of the Seas

It’s Olympic-diving-meets-Cirque-du-Soleil at this 137,000-gallon pool outfitted with two 30-foot diving platforms, from which a team of acrobatic performers complete daredevil stunts and dives, both during the daytime and after dark.

SkyRide on Carnival Horizon

Do a little sightseeing as you pull out of port or gaze out at the deep blue sea as you enjoy a bit of exercise on this suspended, pedal-powered bike that travels beneath a rail above the top decks of Carnival Horizon.

The Cavern Night Club on Norwegian Bliss

If you love the Beatles, you’ll be smitten by a rotating selection of their top hits performed by a terrific cover band in this cozy nightspot, named for the Liverpool club where the Fab Four got their start.

Hairspray on Symphony of the Seas

Join teen rebel Tracy Turnblad and her dancing friends and foes as they pile their hair high and groove in their bobby socks in this updated, feel-good production of the Tony-ward-winning Broadway musical.

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