From Bumper Cars to 'Snow Rooms': 17 Over-the-Top Cruise Amenities
In the world of cruising, there’s a perpetual arms race between who has the biggest, baddest, most luxurious ship on the water. This one-upmanship goes for amenities, too. Here, we highlight some of the most over-the-top perks to hit the high seas, from a skydiving simulator to a three-story ropes course.
'North Star' on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas
Think of the North Star as a cruise-ship version of the London Eye. The glass capsule transports guests 300 feet above the water. The pay off? Mind-blowing 360-degree views of the ocean seemingly going on forever.
Zipline on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Sea
Suspended nine decks above the Boardwalk, the first-ever cruise ship zipline carries guests 82 feet across the center of the ship. It’s not quite as exciting as zipping from Spain to Portugal, but if definitely makes for a good photo op.
Skydiving Simulator on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas
Another cruise ship first, the RipCord by iFly simulator evokes the feeling of flying without actually jumping out of an airplane. Inside a 23-foot glass flight chamber, you’ll take flight for two one-minute long sessions.
Bumper Cars on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas
Roller-skating, Xbox, ping pong, basketball: there’s nothing the bi-level SeaPlex activity area doesn’t have—and that includes a bumper car arena, with sleek, colorful rides big enough for two passengers. It’s the perfect place for a little friendly family competition.
The Open Bridge on Windstar
Ever wonder how a cruise ship stays on course or what all those navigational instruments are used for? Just head to the open bridge, where you can put those questions directly to the captain and officers—24/7. Come nighttime, ask them to point out the constellations.
Ropes Course on Norwegian Escape
When the 4,200-passenger ship sets sail for the first time in November, it will be with the largest ropes course at sea. Three stories high, it has 99 different obstacles, including two six-inch-wide beams that extend eight feet from the side of the ship.
Ice Bar on Norwegian Breakaway (variations on Getaway and Epic)
Kept at a frigid 17 degrees F, the Svedka Ice Bar is the coolest place to hang out (yes, we went there). The New York City-inspired spot comes complete with ice sculptures of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, and Chrysler Building. A $20 fee includes two cocktails, a parka, and gloves.
4D Cinema on MSC Divina, Fantasia, Splendida, Magnifica, Preziosa from MSC Cruises
Part movie theater, part rollercoaster, the 10-seat 4-D cinema is a full-body experience: during animated 3-D screenings, the seats tilt, shake, and move. You’ll feel the wind, fog, and rain in your face—and even smell different scents.
SkyWalk on Royal Princess and Regal Princess
The 60-foot-long, glass-floored walkway showcases not only the view out to sea, but of the white-capped water 128 feet below. We recommend heading to the SkyWalk as the day turns to night for an epic sunset view.
Living Wall on Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony
It takes a team of onboard florists to care for the Symphony’s plant-covered wall, which measures 35 feet high and almost 8 feet wide and is designed in the shape of a world map. The Symphony’s Lido Deck has multiple living walls, where you may spot one of the chefs picking fresh herbs.
Water Coaster on Disney Dream
Created by the world-famous Disney Imagineers, the AquaDuck—the first-ever shipboard water coaster—spans four decks and carries those brave enough to ride it over the side of the ship and back. The grand finale? A splash into the lazy river.
Planetarium on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2
Set inside the ship’s Illuminations theater is the only planetarium at sea. Celestial programs of the night sky or outer space—developed with New York’s Hayden Planetarium—are projected on a large overhead dome. Seats are designed to lean back for optimal viewing.
Lawn Club on Celebrity’s Solstice
There’s plenty to do on this half-acre of grass, set on the top deck: listen to live music, play some bocce or croquet, practice your swing on the putting green, take a snooze in a hammock, or enjoy a picnic in one of the cabanas.
Butler Service on Silversea Cruises
On most ships, you have to book a top-tier cabin for the luxury of a personal butler—not so on Silversea. Every guest can call on a butler to deliver 24-hour room service, unpack suitcases, make dinner reservations, book excursions (to avoid waiting in line), and anything else you desire.
Remotely Operated Vehicle on National Geographic Explorer, Orion, and Endeavor
Better known as an ROV, this underwater device reaches depths of up to 1,000 feet, capturing video far beyond the reach of a scuba diver. It’s usually employed beneath ice in Antarctica and seamounts in the mid-Atlantic—and guests can see footage back in the lounge (but not in real time).
Infinity Pool on Viking Star
The first-ever ocean-going ship from Viking Cruises pulls out all the stops. Case in point: this stunner of a salt-water pool, which is cantilevered off the stern and backed by glass paneling. You’ll want to claim your chaise lounge early.
Snow Room on Viking Star
This room in the onboard spa is the last step of a circuit based on Scandinavian tradition: relax in a sauna to open pores, soak in a cold pool, go back to the sauna, and finally sit under the snow. Prefer a light flurry? Snowfall is controlled with the touch of a button.