From bumper cars to surfing, there’s no shortage of adrenaline-pumping activities on Royal Caribbean’s newest and biggest ship, Anthem of the Seas. But the New York-based ship’s skydiving simulator, RipCord by iFLY, just might top the list of daredevil moments.
The experience is much like conventional skydiving — same goggles, same jumpsuit, same feeling of free fall — minus the terrifying prospect of jumping out of a plane 12,500 feet above the ground. Instead, you're in a 23-foot-tall glass tunnel, where winds surge more than 100 mph. Anyone 3 years and up can fly. You just have to meet a few requirements, including no recent back injuries, and the weight limit is 250 pounds.
Before suiting up, your group of eight to 10 skydivers goes through a 15-minute safety class on skydiving, where you learn how to hold the proper positions and what hand signals to look for from your instructor. Then it’s go time!
The anticipation is palpable in the simulator’s waiting seats — it smells a little like nervous people in there. Each guest gets a full minute in the simulator, about the same amount of time you free fall during real skydiving. When it’s your turn, you might just forget all your training the second the wind hits you, but don’t worry, because your instructor constantly corrects your movements.
So what does it feel like? If you’ve ever stuck your head out of the window of a moving car, you’ve likely experienced a milder version of what it’s like to be in the simulator. It is slightly hard to breathe, and if you open your mouth, be prepared to get a little spit on your face. And be forewarned: You're on display, as the simulator is on the aft end of the ship, overlooking the surfing simulator, and there’s ample space for spectators.
If you nail your flying form, your instructor might take you higher in the chamber while spinning you in circles, making for an even more thrilling ride.
A few things to remember:
1. Don’t expect to do any flips your first time around — that’s only allowed for seasoned veterans.
2. Relax. Try not to flail or make any sudden movements; that just makes it harder to balance out again.
3. Watch for hand signals from your instructor. You won’t be able to hear anything when you’re in there, since the wind is very loud.
4. There’s no additional charge, but you should book in advance or head over early in the morning to avoid waiting in line. It’s certainly a great way to wake up.
5. Smile! It’s hard to look pretty in gusts of wind up to 100 mph, but you might as well look like you’re having fun. There are photographers outside who will capture the moment for you — and you’re going to want to remember it.