12 Cruise Ship Amenities Which You Really Need to Experience

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Classic cruise ships had restaurants, a ballroom, and a lot of deck chairs but today’s incredible ships are more like floating towns than floating hotels. The cruise ship amenities are now so amazing that you could spend a month on board and never have a dull moment. 

The current largest cruise ship in the world is around 300 ft (92m) longer than the Titanic and over twice the width. With a maximum capacity of almost 7,000 passengers, the Symphony of the Seas from Royal Caribbean International is an extraordinary ship. 

Many cruises ships have amenities that you would never believe were on a boat and this exciting variation of activities and experiences makes them seriously great vacation options. Wake up to breakfast with an ocean view and sunbathe on deck before going rock climbing, flume riding or even cycling!

Everyone from couples to families will be amazed by all the things you can do on cruise ships these days. Read on to discover the 12 coolest cruise ship amenities.

1. Rollercoaster

Yup, you read that right. From 2020, Carnival’s Mardi Gras will feature the BOLT™, an ocean-going rollercoaster where you control your own speed. You won’t just get on and sit passively though, instead, you’ll be riding a motorcycle-like vehicle around the very top of the cruise ship. 

Completely open-air, this ride will give the best views on the ship as you whizz around its sweeping curves. Carnival isn’t the only cruise line to plan this amazing amenity on their ships. Dream Cruises are also building one.

With the same motorcycle-style cart where guests get to control their own speed, Dream’s rollercoaster will be the icing on the cake of their theme park amenity aboard Global Dream. Get up to 37mph (60kph) and fly over the rest of the ship on this 985 ft (300m) track. 

2. Planetarium

The Viking Orion from Viking Ocean Cruise Ships has a phenomenal high-tech planetarium on board giving guests stellar shows (pardon the pun). With a high-definition 7K screen, there are few times you’ll ever get to experience such a sight. 

The Queen Mary 2 also has an impressive planetarium offering different shows about the cosmos and even has guest speakers. This soothing experience isn’t something you’d expect to find on a cruise ship so take full advantage!

3. Water Flumes

Modern cruise ships are adventure playgrounds for children, especially those with water slides. The MSC Preziosa and MSC Seaside both have big water parks on deck with flumes that combine fun with fantastic views.

MSC Seaside Waterslide
MSC Seaside (Photo: MSC Cruises)

Disney’s cruise ships also have water rides and, although the selection depends on the ship, you could find geysers, raft slides, and even flumes that go over the edge the ship (and come back on board again!).

Norwegian and Royal Caribbean also offer water parks on board their cruise ships, the perfect place for excitable kids to spend an hour or two. 

4. 4D Cinema

You’ve probably heard of 3D cinemas with their funny glasses and characters leaping out of the screen at you but what exactly is a 4D cinema? Well, on eight of MSC’s cruise ships, you’ll find a 4D cinema that takes you on the ride of your life. 

Guests are strapped into their chairs and the experience begins. Chairs vibrate, twist, and rock with the movie that’s specially designed for a 4D experience and you’ll feel like you’re right in amongst the action. You might even experience wind and rain as part of the ride and when you leave you won’t believe that you’ve never left your chair!

You can pick from a range of shows and enjoy a cinema experience like never before. If you suffer from motion sickness, you might want to keep your distance from this cruise ship amenity.

5. Bumper Cars

Can you imagine driving bumper cars at sea? Thanks to Royal Caribbean’s amazing dedication to the best amenities, you can now experience this. The SeaPlex onboard Anthem of the Seas is a huge indoor activity area where you can enjoy lots of exciting games including bumper cars.

Royal Caribbean SeaPlex
Seaplex – Deck 15 Aft Center Spectrum of the Seas – Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean’s massive ships are always packed with amenities and Harmony of the Seas is one of the largest. Check out this article for the coolest things to do on this massive ship. 

The bumper cars are part of the SeaPlex® activity space so when you’re done driving around there are plenty more things to do. From roller skating and basketball to Xbox games and even a circus school, families will never get bored trying out everything on offer. 

6. Ice Bar

Norwegian Cruise Line has taken things a whole step further with an ice bar onboard their Getaway, Epic, and Breakaway ships. Kept at 17F (-8C), you’ll definitely want to layer up as you get yourself an ice-cold vodka in one of these bars. 

The ice bars serve incredible cocktails where you’ll watch the ice inside them smoking. The cocktails are unique to the bar and feature spirits like Svedka vodka and Inniskillin wine. Delicious and expertly made, you probably won’t be able to handle more than one before the chill starts creeping into your bones! 

You’ll get a 45-minute slot and the ice bars are popular so book your space quickly to avoid disappointment. Not many people can handle a full 45 minutes here so if you want to last the length, put on many more layers than you think you’ll need!

7. Outdoor Cycle Track

Carnival Cruise Line has something completely unexpected onboard Vista. If you’re a keen cyclist or just want to try something unheard of, them book a time to try out their 800 ft cycle track that travels around the deck, suspended over the sea.

Carnival Horizon SkyRide
Carnival Horizon SkyRide

Did we mention that the tracks are open-air with the bicycles suspended below them? Peddling the SkyRide takes more than just a desire to go cycling, you’ll also need a bit of bravery to peddle your way around the top deck while hanging over the ship. 

These recumbent bikes give you a nice workout with probably the best views from a bike you could ever imagine. You can also find them on Horizon and the new Panorama.  

8. Real Lawns

The one thing cruise ships tend to lack is green spaces. For anyone who loves to see plants and relax on the grass, Celebrity Cruises have made a space just for you. The Lawn Club on Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships has a real grass lawn where you can lie back with a drink and even play bocce ball. 

This is the perfect location on the ship to get away from the hectic activity and sunbathe in more natural surroundings. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a country club oasis and it’s surely one of the least expected amenities to have on a cruise ship. 

Find the Lawn Club on Solstice, Silhouette, Equinox, Eclipse, and Reflection. Why not get yourself a cruise deal and while away your vacation at a floating country club?

9. Cooking Classes

The Bon Appétit Culinary Center is the place to perfect your cooking skills and learn impressive new recipes to take home with you. Onboard Oceania’s Marina and Riviera ships you can book onto classes that teach a whole range of cuisines. 

Fancy learning how to cook recipes from Patagonia? How about the best Tex-Mex imaginable? Or perhaps Mediterranean cuisine appeals? Asian cookery is also on the menu and by the end of your cruise, you’ll be a master chef just like your talented instructors. 

For each class, guests get their own high-end workstation and guidance from expert chefs. Celebrity Cruises also offer a range of cooking classes and Holland America Line provides children’s cooking lessons, teaching kids essential kitchen skills. 

On the boardwalk of Oasis of the Seas from Royal Caribbean, you’ll find a beautifully hand-carved carousel that will delight children. The retro carousel is covered in incredible paintings from a bygone era and kids can ride hand-painted animals like zebra, giraffes, lions, and elephants.

Symphony of the Seas Carousel
Symphony of the Seas Carousel (Photo: Royal Caribbean)

Also aboard Allure of the Seas and the other Oasis-class ships, you can ride the carousel day or night. At night, it’s lit up and provides a magical experience for children of all ages. Don’t forget to take your camera because the kids will be grinning the whole way around. 

11. Snow Room

Aboard Norwegian’s Escape, the spa has an amenity that’s a little different from what you might expect. Sure there’s a sauna, steam rooms, and treatments on offer. But there’s also a snow room. 

Kept at around 21F (-6C) with snow falling from the ceiling, the idea is to switch between this snow room to the warmer sauna and steam rooms just like they do in Scandinavia. With supposed health benefits and increased circulation, you’ll soon get used to going from snow to heat and back again. 

This snow room might not be what you’d typically expect on a cruise ship but given that Norway and Sweden both rank in the top 10 healthiest countries in the world, perhaps they’re onto something. 

12. Ropes Course and Ziplines

Guests are well rested after an hour in the spa so it’s time for some serious activity. In the sports complex of Norwegian’s Breakaway and Getaway, you’ll find zip lines and a ropes course that will get your heart pumping. 

On Norwegian’s newest ship Escape, they’ve taken the ropes course one step further to make it the largest ever at sea so far. Spanning the entire width of the ship and set up over three stories, this is an exhilarating challenge for adults and children alike.

Norwegian Breakaway Zip-line
Norwegian Breakaway Zip-line (Photo: NCL)

If you’re feeling exceptionally brave, try walking one of the two planks which extend over the edge of the ship. Don’t worry, you are tied on but that doesn’t make it any less scary!

The whole ropes course is open to children and adults over 48″ (122cm) but there’s a smaller ropes course for younger children so they don’t miss out on the fun. 

Experience the Most Amazing Cruise Ship Amenities 

Every year sees cruise ships getting bigger and packed with even more amenities. With activities that you’d only expect to find on land, cruise ship vacations are now adventure-filled and so much fun for guests of every age. Some other impressive amenities worth mentioning are a race track at sea featured on the new NCL ships, the 10-story high Ultimate Abyss slide on the newer Oasis-class vessel from Royal Caribbean and even the first trampoline park at sea on the Carnival Panorama.

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With cruise ship amenities ranging from luxury spas and exciting flumes to huge ropes courses and 4D cinemas, these giant cruise ships really are like floating towns. You can eat at a different restaurant every night and take advantage of unique experiences like cooking classes and rock climbing at sea. 

If you’re looking for a vacation that has activities, relaxation, and shore excursions, there’s no better way to travel than by cruise ship. 

Cruise Ship Amenities FAQ:

Are Cruise Ship Amenities Good for Families?

Gone are the days of cruises being boring for children. With water rides, sports complexes, kid zones, classes, and cinemas, modern cruise ships are perfect vacation spaces for children of all ages. 

Are Amenities Included in the Cruise Price?

Many amenities onboard cruise ships are included in the price and during booking, you’ll normally be able to see any add-on options. Some amenities such as Norwegian’s ice bars as well as spa treatments cost extra.
All-inclusive cruise deals are the best way to keep extra costs down when you book a cruise and each package will outline the amenities available to you.

Are There Child-Care Amenities Onboard?

With plenty of adult-only spas where you can relax and pamper yourself, you’re probably wondering what to do with the children when you need some alone time. All the biggest cruise lines have kids clubs where children can be left while adults go elsewhere.
With cinemas, gaming areas, and even nurseries, you can drop your children off and be reassured that they’ll be well looked after in your absence.

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