Whether you’re a frequent cruiser or brand new to cruise vacations, there’s nothing quite like a vacation at sea. For some families, days at sea are a time to unwind and enjoy the sun. Others use sea days to visit the largest and best onboard attractions that their cruise ship has to offer.
And, in recent years, onboard attractions have progressed far beyond simple cruise ship water parks and splash zones (though most cruise lines still offer those as well). These days, the onboard entertainment trend is towards extravagant rides and attractions, particularly on family-friendly cruise lines looking to entice kids and parents to set sail.
Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Disney Cruise Line, and Carnival are the kid-friendly cruise lines with the most exciting new attractions. If onboard entertainment and attractions are important factors in deciding between cruises for your family vacation, here’s what you need to know about each cruise line’s latest offerings.
- Royal Caribbean International
The Hideaway, located on Icon of the Seas, combines the good vibes of beach club scenes around the world with uninterrupted ocean views. The first suspended infinity pool at sea is at the centre of it all, surrounded by a multilevel terrace, whirlpools, a variety of seating, and a dedicated bar.
Royal Caribbean, a cruise line with some of the world’s largest cruise ships, dazzles passengers with the sheer variety of onboard activities available, many of which are baked into the price of your cruise with no additional fees.
Zip lining across the middle of the ship, plummeting through a darkened tunnel on a 10-story dry slide known as Ultimate Abyss, engaging in an epic laser tag battle, and racing friends down the twin water slides Typhoon and Cyclone are among the complementary activities available on Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Wonder of the Seas.
Norwegian Cruise Lines, Inc.
The go-kart track on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ships (Norwegian Prima, Norwegian Joy, and Norwegian Encore) is a favourite among most families, particularly those with competitive children (or parents) who are always up for a race to see who can come in first. A virtual reality arcade area called The Galaxy Pavilion is also available on Norwegian’s newest kid-friendly cruise ships, where teens can spend time with new friends while dancing, racing, or flying in augmented reality.
What makes Norwegian less affordable than other family cruise lines is that most of the enticing onboard activities are charged in addition to the cruise’s base price. For example, on Norwegian Prima, the speedway costs $15 per person per session (or $199 per person for an unlimited ride package). Similarly, The Galaxy Pavilion charges $199 per person for an unlimited play package, while a single-day unlimited play package costs $49 per person.
Disney Cruise Line is a third option.
The arrival of the Walt Disney Company’s first “attraction at sea,” a water coaster called AquaMouse, heralded the arrival of Disney Cruise Line’s fifth ship, Disney Wish, in 2022. What distinguishes this water slide experience from the water slides on Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy? AquaMouse begins with an animated Mickey Mouse short cartoon that includes show lighting and water effects in the lift tunnel before you ride a water coaster around the top deck of the Disney Wish.
The initial cost of a Disney cruise is typically higher than that of other cruise lines, but many costs are included in the base price. That is true of the AquaMouse as well as another new onboard experience called Disney Uncharted Adventure, which is an augmented reality game that you can play in various areas around the Disney Wish.
Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc.
Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ships, Carnival Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration, both have an actual roller coaster onboard. This “ultimate sea coaster,” known as BOLT, can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour over an 800-foot track. And that’s not the only thing you’ll find onboard Carnival’s newest ships. There are also water slides and a ropes course with panoramic views of the ocean. The ropes course is filled with obstacles, but don’t worry if you fall off because you’re strapped into a harness the entire time.