Royal Caribbean has been redefining cruising by adding more and more exciting onboard adventures to keep passengers entertained at sea. Its marquee activity is the FlowRider, a surfing simulator that has come to define the line. On a recent sailing of the Anthem of the Seas, we joined cruisers in line to hang 10 — or, more accurately, to wipe out.
In the FlowRider, around 30,000 gallons of water per minute flow up a 40-foot (cushioned!) platform to mimic waves at sea. Surfers have two options: traditional stand-up surfing or boogie boarding, which is a lot easier since it doesn't require the balance that standing does. You have to be be at least 52 inches tall to use the bodyboard and at least 58 inches tall to use the stand-up board.
When it’s your turn, an instructor sets you up on the board before easing you out into the waves — only letting go when you’re confident enough to try it on your own. The trick of stand-up surfing is to put the most pressure on your back foot, keep your arms out, and relax. At first the position goes against your instincts, but you get used to it the more you practice.
Most people only last a few seconds after they stand up on their own, so if you’re an amateur, wiping out is almost inevitable. The good news? Falling doesn’t hurt. You get swept up by the waves on a padded surface.
But try, try again. You can repeat the FlowRider for free as many times as you like on the cruise — you just have to wait in line. Since a turn begins when the surfer before you falls, it can take awhile to get on a board if there’s a pro ahead of you. We recommend going as early as possible to beat the crowds.
It might be nerve-wracking to some that there’s a seating area for other guests to watch. But while everyone in line may be secretly hoping you’ll screw up quickly so it can be their turn, people in the audience are your biggest fans. The RipCord by iFLY skydiving simulator also stands directly in the background, which means your friends can snap a photo of you surfing while someone else is skydiving behind you.
Because there is such an audience, it’s also recommended that you cover up. The pressure of the water makes it easy to lose clothing, so this is not the time to sport a tiny bikini. Instead, wear a practical one-piece or shorts and a shirt to avoid wardrobe malfunctions.