For many cruise ship passengers, there is no better way to spend a day at sea than sprawled on a lounge chair by the pool, cocktail in hand. Even when sailing through colder climates, guests gravitate toward pool areas, which has prompted many cruise lines to offer heated options and place swimming areas under retractable roofs.
Since pools are the hubs of many cruise ships, it’s no surprise that some of the best lines continue to amaze with their new offerings. Royal Caribbean offers surf simulators called FlowRiders on many of its ships, allowing guests to hang ten or boogie board at sea. MSC has carved a resort-like infinity pool into the sterns of both the MSC Preziosa and Divina, while Viking has installed their own sleek, glass-backed version on its new ocean vessels. Thanks to Princess, which pioneered the movies-under-the-stars trend, giant poolside screens are now commonplace on many large vessels. Also increasingly ubiquitous: multi-level waterslides, from the translucent Aqua Duck “water coaster” on the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream to the four-waterslide Aqua Park on the new Norwegian Escape, home to the fastest slide at sea.
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Even on river cruise ships, where pools are still a relative novelty, some lines are adding Instagram-worthy bells and whistles. The plunge pool on Sanctuary’s Sun Boat III, which cruises the Nile, was designed to look like a desert oasis. Emerald Waterway’s Europe-based ships feature swimming areas that can convert, Transformer-like, from a small pool into a mini-cinema. Many of AmaWaterways’ European vessels have pools with swim-up bars. And on Uniworld’s S.S. Catherine, you can find a pool inside a bar.
Whether you’re hoping for serenity in the Mediterranean Sea, a quick plunge on the Rhone, or adrenaline spikes in the Caribbean, these incredible cruise ship pools make a real splash.