If you’ve ever been put off going on a cruise because you’re worried you’ll have nothing to do, think again. Activities are one of the best things about cruising with many included in the price and with cruise companies falling over themselves to come up with ever more ingenious things to do on their signature ships, there’s never a dull moment at sea. Here we look at nine of the more unusual and inventive activities available on board that are guaranteed to keep you entertained for the duration of your cruise.
1) Chill in the Ice Bar
The Art Deco-styled Ice Bar on Norwegian Getaway is a pretty cool place to hang out – quite literally. Maintained at a very chilly 17 degrees Fahrenheit (around -8 Celsius), the bar itself along with the seating and glassware is made entirely out of ice – as is the life-size alligator throne. There are five speciality drinks to sample, which all feature SVEDKA Vodka and Inniskillin ice wine, and the $20-per-person admission fee includes two signature cocktails served in an ice glass. You’ll also be pleased to know that hooded coats and gloves are provided to help keep you warm and ensure that your visit is a pleasant one. The bar has room for around 25 guests so you’ll need to make a reservation but it’s certainly worth it for the quirky experience.
2) Go Skydive
If you’ve always wanted to give skydiving a go but the idea of being dropped out of a plane at 13,000 feet makes you feel nervous, then skydiving on board your cruise ship might just be the perfect activity for you. On Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas ships, you’ll find Ripcord by iFly, an attraction that lets you experience all the thrills and spills of skydiving without any of the danger. Placed inside an indoor 23-foot high vertical wind tunnel, you’ll get the same feeling of freefall as you hover over the four powerful fans and you’ll even learn different hand signals and flight positions.
3) Appreciate Fine Art
Although you might expect the décor on your cruise ship to be something special, you might not have banked on running into the genius of Andy Warhol or stumbling across the world-class art of Roy Lichtenstein on your travels. Aboard Holland America’s ships, that’s exactly what you can expect. Each ship has its own art collection with a value of around two to three million dollars, and the best way to appreciate these incredible works is to take the self-guided walking tour. This can be downloaded onto your phone or MP3 player, or accessed via the iPods available on board. You’ll be directed around the ship on an enjoyable tour of the art whilst you listen to background music and interviews with artists.
4) Tour the Kitchen
With so many guests on board, you may have wondered how exactly cruise ship kitchens cope with such high demand. On Holland America’s ships, you can find out first hand. You’ll be given the opportunity to visit the kitchens and see how exactly the ships deal with catering for as many as 2,000 cruisers each day. Your tour of the galley is led by one of the senior chefs who will take you around each food station and explain how everything works. This is a fascinating and unique experience that you’ll find highly enjoyable whether you love cooking or being cooked for.
5) Ride Bumper Cars
There’s something odd and exciting about the idea of riding around on a bumper car whilst on board a moving ship – but that’s exactly what you can do within the Royal Caribbean SeaPlex complex on its Quantum Class ships. In fact, not only can you experience all the thrills of the fairground at sea, but SeaPlex has roller skating, basketball and a circus school where you can learn the trapeze too. Everything is kept upbeat by the DJ who hovers above in a floating booth.
6) Walk the Plank
If you’ve ever watched a pirate movie and thought that walking the plank doesn’t look like such a big deal, here’s your chance to give it a go. The Plank on board the Norwegian Getaway is suspended 180 feet above the sea and protrudes 8 feet from the ship, making it a scary prospect up close and personal. If you’re brave enough to rise to the challenge, the camera at the end is ready to capture your horrified expression as you take the leap. You’ll also find ropes, balance beams and wobbly bridges to negotiate your way around for a thrilling experience that’s not just for the kids.
7) Zip around in a Race Car
Although there’s not quite enough space for a racing track on board, you can experience the excitement of riding a Formula 1 racing car on board the MSC Divina. This is not just an arcade ride – the race car simulator is a highly realistic simulator which recreates driving conditions with vehicle movement and wrap around video screens. It’s actually pretty tough since the car handles exactly like the real thing. To add to the experience, you’ll be sat in a genuine single-seat Formula One car with an open cockpit and substantial front and rear wings. Over the course of seven minutes, you’ll feel just like you’re driving around the track at high speeds with the goal of reaching the end safely and being the first to win. Lots of drivers wipe out – will you have what it takes?
8) Visit Outer Space
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is host to the only planetarium at sea and is equipped with an impressive SkyVision video and DigitalSky system. With seats for up to 150 guests and no fee to pay, you’ll want to catch one of the three shows that run each day and enjoy one of the special guest commentaries as you gaze at the stars overhead. Choose from Harrison Ford who narrates ‘Search for Life’, Robert Redford who narrates ‘Cosmic Collisions’ or Tom Hanks who provides the voice for ‘Passport to the Universe’. Following presentations in the evening, guests also have the opportunity to view the real sky from a top deck on the ship.
9) Play Croquet
On the top decks of Celebrity’ Solstice Class ships, you’ll find a strange sight to behold – half an acre of beautifully cut real grass reserved for guests to play croquet or bocce ball. Since the 1870s croquet has been a minority sport with most croquet lawns replaced by tennis courts – but it’s actually highly entertaining and something to try your hand at if you’ve never played before. You’ll also love the cheese and wine parties that Celebrity hosts on the lawns from time to time.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons, Cunard Cruises Media Center, NCL Media Center and Royal Caribbean Press Center. Credits: Cunard Cruises, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Nan Palmero, Diana Robinson.