17 Crazy Things You Can Do on a Cruise Ship

Have you ever considered going skydiving or surfing? You can do these on a cruise ship. Or maybe you want to pretend you’ve joined the circus and learn how to maneuver on a flying trapeze? You can learn the ropes out at sea. Want to lace up some ice skates and take to the rink? Yes, you can even do that onboard a ship.

If you can dream it up, it’s probably an available option on at least one cruise ship and that means—from skydiving to surfing and sleeping on the deck under the stars to trying a Formula One racecar simulator—you’ll never let out a yawn during your voyage.

Here’s a look at some of the more jaw-dropping activities you can do on your next journey at sea.


Defy Your Fear of Heights

Whether it’s time to kick your fear of heights or relish this natural “high,” these shipboard activities can’t be beat…


1. Learn to Skydive  


Royal Caribbean ushered in the age of skydiving on a cruise ship when it brought the first ever skydiving simulator at sea (RipCord by iFLY®) onto its Quantum-class vessels. A 23-foot-tall glass wind tunnel acts as the flight chamber. If you’ve got the guts, an instructor will set you up with a flight suit, goggles and helmet before showing you a training video and reviewing correct “flight” positions and hand signals. You’ll then be treated to two one-minute flights where you’ll enjoy gorgeous ocean views.


2. Zip Line Across the Ship


Adrenaline junkies take note: Zip line adventures are ready and waiting for you aboard a number of ships, including Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. The line will take you 82 feet through the air nine decks high. Aboard Norwegian’s Breakaway-class ships you’ll find a heart thumping three-story ropes course where you’ll glide down “Sky-Rails” and walk The Plank, which puts you above the water and eight feet over the side of the ship! (Don’t worry: You’ll wear a safety harness.)


3. Climb the Mast


If you’re even a little leery of heights, this activity may not be for you. Star Clippers is known for its intimate sailing ships and if you’ve got what it takes, you can climb the mast—68 feet in the air—to the crow’s nest. It’s exhilarating once you get to the top, but remember that you’ll have to climb back down too!


4. Fly High on a Trapeze


Maybe you never wanted to run away and join the circus but taking a whirl on a flying trapeze is a lot of fun. Learn how to fly through the air with ease on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas.


Work Up a Sweat

Here are a few activities that will get your heart pounding…


5. Hang Ten


You don’t have to head to Hawaii to learn how to surf. Just book a cruise aboard any of Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-, Oasis-, Freedom-, and Voyager-class ships and try out the FlowRider, a 40-foot-long surf simulator. You can try the simulator for free or book a private surf lesson for a fee.


6. Kayak or Paddleboard Off the Onboard Marina


One of the nice things about some of the smaller luxury cruise lines is the fact that their ships have onboard aft marinas. During specified “marina” days, you can often swim, kayak, snorkel, or paddleboard directly from the ship. Just put on your lifejacket and jump into the water! You can experience shipboard marinas on Paul Gauguin Cruises, Seabourn, Windstar Cruises, SeaDream Yacht Club, and Un-Cruise Adventures.


7. Take a Jet Ski Out For a Spin


While several ships boast aft marinas, only SeaDream Yacht Club offers jet ski adventures to its guests. Jet skis are complimentary and can be used—weather permitting—in certain destinations around the globe.


Stay Cool (or Downright Cold)

Even if you’re cruising the tropics, today’s cruise ships still offer the opportunity to chill out—literally…


8. SVEDKA and Inniskillin Ice Bar


Norwegian Breakaway, Epic and Getaway feature the unique SVEDKA and Inniskillin Ice Bar in which the bar, seating, glasses, and decorative sculptures are all made entirely from ice. The bar is so cold—17 degrees Fahrenheit—that you’ll wear a parka and gloves (provided by the cruise line) while you sip on your carefully crafted ice-cold cocktails.


9. Ice-Skating Rink


People won’t believe you when you tell them that you went ice-skating on a cruise ship, but you can twirl around the rink on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis-, Freedom-, and Voyager-class ships. Figure skating and hockey-style skates—in adult and childrens’ sizes—are available to borrow at no charge.


10. Norwegian Escape’s Snow Room


New to the Mandara Spa on Norwegian Escape is the Snow Room. The ice-cold arctic environment is part of the Thermal Suite. Powdery snow blows all day long and helps to stimulate circulation throughout your entire body. (There is a fee to access the spa and Snow Room.)


11. Go Snorkeling with a Wet Suit


Move over Caribbean! It might seem counterintuitive but the snorkeling in the colder waters of Alaska and coastal Washington can be pretty fabulous. You will need a wet suit, which can be provided for a small fee aboard the Wilderness ships of Un-Cruise Adventures.


High-Tech Adventures

Believe it or not, some cruise lines are actually ahead of the techy-curve and these lines are fine examples…


12. Race to the Finish Line


MSC Cruises was one of the first lines to incorporate virtual reality into one of its activities: a Formula One racecar simulator. You’ll strap yourself into an actual racecar and then take the wheel as you “race” down the track—compliments of the movie screen in front of you.


13. Look to the Stars


Cunard’s three ocean liners are the grand dames of the industry and offer somewhat more “mature” activities. One of the most engaging extras aboard Queen Mary 2 is the planetarium, the only one at sea. Located in the Illuminations Theater, a large dome in the center of the room lowers so images of the night sky or outer space can be projected onto it for a crowd of up to 150 people.


Enjoy an Old-Fashioned Pastime

Sometimes you need to kick it old school. Here are a few old-fashion games you can play on your next voyage…


14. Croquet


Some cruise lines have ships that offer lawn games like croquet. You can play the game on Cunard’s fleet of ships—Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2, or Queen Victoria—or any of Celebrity’s Solstice-class ships.


15. Bowling


On larger cruise ships you can even find a bowling alley. Norwegian Epic, Pearl, and Gem have several lanes, as do ships from MSC Cruises. Norwegian Getaway and Breakaway also have bowling lanes but only two.


16. Bumper Cars


Quantum-class ships from Royal Caribbean each have something called SeaPlex, a large indoor recreation area that’s chock full of fun activities like roller skating, basketball, circus school, and even bumper cars. Don’t miss it!


When the Sun Goes Down

Interesting pastimes aren’t just available during daylight hours. Here’s what you can do once the sun sets…


17. Sleep on Deck Under the Stars


Dreamy Balinese beds dot the upper decks of SeaDream Yacht Club’s two mega-yachts. Most travelers stake these out for sunbathing but there’s another option. When you embark, head to Reception and reserve a special “Sleep Under the Stars” experience. The crew will make up a Balinese bed for you with comfy linens, a fluffy duvet, and tons of pillows. Just head to the appointed spot when the sun goes down and you’ll enjoy sleeping under the stars. It’s magical!


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