These Are the Newest, Most Cutting-Edge Things You Can do on Cruise Ships

Cruising is one of the best vacation values for your money, with so many aspects of your travel covered in the cost of your cruise fare. But competition for passengers is tough, and cruise companies need to be constantly innovating, both in terms of itineraries and shore excursions, and with new ships and an adventurous array of on-board activities.

Use to be that a basketball court or a putting green was exciting. That's nothing. On cruise ships, now you can skydive, ride a zipline, walk the plank, order from your favorite robot bartender, drive a race car, and swing on a trapeze.

Besides the swimming pools, surfing simulators, mini golf, musical theater, art auctions and duty-free shopping that are staples of most cruises, here are some fun things you can do on cruise ships, without ever leaving the boat.

Skydiving
Skydiving

Skydiving

Well, not exactly. Royal Caribbean's (RCL) ship, Quantum of the Seas, has a skydiving simulator, an air machine that keeps you afloat as if you were falling from an airplane. It's got a view of the surfing simulator, too.

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Virtual Reality Bungee Trampoline
Virtual Reality Bungee Trampoline

Virtual Reality Bungee Trampoline

The refurbished Mariner of the Seas will offer the opportunity to strap in and don a VR headset to bounce over moon craters or compete in intergalactic games.

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Enjoy a Balcony View at an Economical Price
Enjoy a Balcony View at an Economical Price

Enjoy a Balcony View at an Economical Price

Royal Caribbean has several ships that offer virtual balconies in some interior rooms (which have no windows). They feature large display screens that picture an ocean view, complete with ocean sounds. The rooms cost more than the plain interior rooms, but less than actual balconies. 

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Open-Air Laser Tag Course
Open-Air Laser Tag Course

Open-Air Laser Tag Course

Themed as an abandoned space station, Norwegian Cruise Lines' (NCLH) laser-tag course lets you compete against family and friends day and night with state-of-the art lasers.

Photo:Norwegian Cruise Lines

Climbing Wall
Climbing Wall

Climbing Wall

Practice your agility and challenge your fear of heights on a climbing wall high above the ocean. When you get hot and tired you can...

Photo: Royal Caribbean

...Have a Drink In A Frozen Bar
...Have a Drink In A Frozen Bar

...Have a Drink In A Frozen Bar

Cool off (17 degrees F.) with a drink in an ice bar aboard the Norwegian Epic. Inspired by the original ice hotels in Scandinavia, the arctic chamber features walls, seats and glasses all made from ice. They loan you a furry parka and offer some innovative cold beverages.

Photo: Norwegian Cruise Lines

Ropes Course
Ropes Course

Ropes Course

Norwegian brags the largest multi-level ropes course at sea on their Breakaway and Breakaway Plus class ships.

Photo: Norwegian Cruise Lines

Robo Screens
Robo Screens

Robo Screens

These robotic screens are over seven feet high and are controlled by robotic arms and 18 video projectors. They stage surprise performances throughout every cruise, creating scenes while soaring and twisting solo, or uniting as one.

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Bumper Cars
Bumper Cars

Bumper Cars

On Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas you can drop your kids off at the bumper cars course while you go....

Photo: Royal Caribbean

...Have a Drink Made by a Robot
...Have a Drink Made by a Robot

...Have a Drink Made by a Robot

Several of Royal Caribbean's ships now feature "bionic bars" where your cocktail is mixed by a robot. They can produce two drinks a minute and can make up to 1,000 a day. 

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Ride in a Pod That Swings You Out Over the Ocean
Ride in a Pod That Swings You Out Over the Ocean

Ride in a Pod That Swings You Out Over the Ocean

Get suspended 300 feet above sea level in the North Star, available on two of Royal Caribbean's ships.

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Workshops with America's Test Kitchen
Workshops with America's Test Kitchen

Workshops with America's Test Kitchen

Holland America Line offers onboard cooking shows and hands-on workshops with the popular PBS cooking show.

Photo: America'sTest Kitchen

Roller Skating
Roller Skating

Roller Skating

It may initially seem unwise to roller skate on a cruise ship, but these rinks, onboard Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, are indoors. Hovering above the action is a floating DJ booth.

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Water Slides
Water Slides

Water Slides

Royal Caribbean's newest ship, Symphony of the Seas, holds the 10-story "Ultimate Abyss," which includes three water slides. The Symphony of the Seas will be the world's largest cruise ship and takes its maiden voyage April 21, 2018.

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Water Slides
Water Slides

Water Slides

Another waterslide, the Vertigo, aboard the MSC Preziosa.

Photo: MSC

Aqua Park
Aqua Park

Aqua Park

Kids onboard Liberty of the Seas have their own adult-free zone at Splashaway Bay, an aqua park featuring an interactive kid's play area with water cannons, geysers and other ways to get soaked. And while they are busy with that, you can go...

Photo: Royal Caribbean

... Have a Drink in an Elevator Bar
... Have a Drink in an Elevator Bar

... Have a Drink in an Elevator Bar

The Rising Tide Bar, on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, transports guests up and down three decks, over the space of half an hour, from the ship's promenade to its Central Park.

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Visit Central Park
Visit Central Park

Visit Central Park

To be precise, Royal Caribbean features a "Central Park neighborhood" with more than 12,000 live plants and trees.

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Look at the Starry Sky
Look at the Starry Sky

Look at the Starry Sky

Instead of actually looking at it, that is. The entire ceiling of the inside promenade of MSC's Merviglia is covered by a giant 5,200 sq.ft. LED screen transmitting images all day and night: an "atmospheric digital sky" that animates the whole area from above with whatever imagery suits the situation, including sunrises, sunsets, and starry night skies. So you won't have to go outside to see the actual sunset.

Photo: MSC

Race on a Race Track
Race on a Race Track

Race on a Race Track

On the Norwegian Joy, guests can compete on this two-level, 1,000-foot-long electric-car race track. The cars reach up to 30 mph and run silent so everyone else can drink their mai tais in peace. But, because it would be kind of a letdown to race in utter silence, drivers still hear the sounds of a race car engine piped in through speakers located in the car's headrest.

Photo: Norwegian Cruise Lines

Pedal in a Sky Ride
Pedal in a Sky Ride

Pedal in a Sky Ride

Carnival's (CCL) SkyRide lets you pedal in a bike-like thing around the ship, high above the deck and ocean. The two-lane suspended course offers great views and will give you a chance to burn off some of the breakfast buffet.

Photo: Carnival Cruises

Take Pictures Underwater With Your Face
Take Pictures Underwater With Your Face

Take Pictures Underwater With Your Face

This mask was adapted by Royal Caribbean for use with Snapchat Spectacles (glasses that take pictures). It allows the wearer to take pictures underwater using the custom-designed scuba mask.

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Circus School
Circus School

Circus School

Run away to join the circus and learn trapeze in Royal Caribbean's SeaPlex.

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Take a Stroll on a Glass Walkway
Take a Stroll on a Glass Walkway

Take a Stroll on a Glass Walkway

This over-the-ocean glass pathway is 60 feet long, cantilevered 128 feet above the sea and extends 28 feet beyond the edge of the Regal Princess. On your way, stop and have a drink in the glass-bottomed bar.

Photo: Princess Cruises

Walk the Plank
Walk the Plank

Walk the Plank

Get a dose of pirate folklore, when scurvy dogs were forced to "walk the plank" into the ocean by pirates. Norwegian lets thrill-seeking passengers (safely harnessed) walk out an 8-foot plank extended over the side of the ship, way above the ocean. No need to break the Pirate's Code (They're more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules) to enjoy this amenity.

Photo: Norwegian

Eat From a Food Truck
Eat From a Food Truck

Eat From a Food Truck

The SeaPlex Dog House on the Allure of the Seas taps into the food truck trend. Yes, that's right. But it just has a truck facade. They didn't really put a food truck on the ship.

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Formula One Race Car Simulator
Formula One Race Car Simulator

Formula One Race Car Simulator

MSC has a Formula One race car simulator in the kids' entertainment center. And while your kids are enjoying that, you can...

Photo: MSC

...Have a Drink on a Floating Bar
...Have a Drink on a Floating Bar

...Have a Drink on a Floating Bar

On the Celebrity Edge, this cantilevered, floating platform reaches heights of 13 stories above sea level. It's dubbed the Magic Carpet, and changes mood, function, and location, has a full bar and space for live music performances.

Photo: Celebrity Cruises

Zipline
Zipline

Zipline

Lots of cruises offer zipline excursions, but on the Allure of the Seas, you can do it right there on the boat. Or watch Santa give a try.

Photo: Royal Caribbean

Aqua cycling
Aqua cycling

Aqua cycling

Spinning and aqua cycling classes are offered on some MSC cruises.

Photo: Shutterstock

Harness the Power of the Force
Harness the Power of the Force

Harness the Power of the Force

On the Disney Fantasy, kids can go far, far away in the Star Wars: Command Post. Disney calls it an "immersive youth space."

Photo: LucasFilm

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