The average cruiser spends about $212 per day, including a $161.26 ticket price and about $62.16 worth of onboard daily spending, according to CruiseMarketWatch. What the average cruiser doesn’t do, however, is skydive while at sea. Or have a drink at a cocktail bar that glides around the ship. Or watch a Cirque du Soleil show over dinner.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be an average cruiser. These days, top cruise companies are showcasing innovative entertainment and technologies to ensure their guests have incredible experiences.
Click through to discover which activities will provide you with a life-changing trip worth every penny.
Extreme Water Slides
It’s easy to waste money on cruises. Some experiences, though, are worth the cost. Take Disney’s 765-foot water coaster, the AquaDuck, for example. Or there’s the Ultimate Abyss on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, the tallest slide at sea. It boasts a 10-story drop and corkscrew turns.
Guests can stay three nights on the Disney ship for about $1,504 and up, or book seven nights on Harmony starting at $698.
Speaking of Harmony of the Seas, guests would be remiss not to check out this famous zip line. Hovering above the boardwalk, the zip line stretches an impressive 82 feet — a distance riders will travel in mere seconds. And like the best cruise activities, access to the zip line is free with your ticket — as long as you sign a safety waiver and pass height and weight requirements.
Rock Climbing Walls
If you’re ready for some adventure during your cruise, you can climb while you float, as several Royal Caribbean ships are now outfitted with full-sized rock climbing walls. Royal Caribbean was the first company to offer rock climbing walls on their ships, and the options vary in size and challenge level. What doesn’t vary, though, is the price, as all the walls are free to climb. The cruise line even provides the equipment you need. Just bring your own socks — that’s where the company draws the line.
Skycourse Ropes Challenge
Starting at just under $300 per person, Carnival guests can cruise from Miami to the Bahamas. And there’s no chance of getting bored, thanks to free activities like the SkyRide, live Lip Sync Battle and Hasbro, The Game Show. Additionally, guests can have fun and save their pennies by taking a complimentary ride on The SkyCourse. This mega-sized rope course lets you cross rope bridges and climb swinging steps 150 feet above the sea.
At-Sea Ice Skating
Royal Caribbean says it best on its website: “Being in the middle of the Caribbean or Mediterranean does not mean you can’t put on a pair of skates and go ice skating like it’s December in Minnesota.”
And that’s exactly what passengers on Oasis, Freedom, Voyager and many other ships get to do no matter what time of year they enjoy their cruise. The skating and skate rentals are free once you’re on board, and you can nab Voyager tickets starting at about $245 per night.
FlowRider Surfing Simulation
Ships like Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas — which you can ride for four nights for $443 — and Anthem of the Seas — around $571 for five nights — aren’t just surrounded by waves; these vessels let the waves come on deck, too.
The self-contained FlowRider works for both surfing and boogie boarding, and you can ride it as many times as you want for free with no reservation. If you want to pony up for private lessons before you hit the real waves, that’ll cost you about $60 extra.
RipCord by iFLY Skydiving Simulation
FlowRider isn’t the only simulation you can enjoy on the Quantum. The ship is also host to RipCord by iFLY, a skydiving simulation that just happens to be ocean-bound. With the help of an instructor, you’ll don a flight suit and hop into a tube-like wind tunnel, which lets you float in the air for minutes at a time. This uplifting experience is free to anyone traveling on the ship, with some fees applying to China sailings.
Hitting Land? 7 Bargain Shore Excursions to Do on Your Next Cruise
Go-Karting on Deck
Norwegian Cruise Line called its ship Joy the “most innovative and luxurious ship ever” when it debuted. Guests can assess the truth of that statement for themselves, but Joy’s dual-level go-kart track is certainly the first of its kind.
On average, cruises on Norwegian’s fleet cost as little as $45 per night for regular interior rooms, with activities included. Just make sure you cruise at the right time of year to maximize your budget.
Formula One Simulator
If you’d rather stick to the safety of a simulator, MSC Cruises offer a complete F1 simulation aboard its ship Divina. Though the ride is completely stationary, an array of wraparound screens helps replicate the experience of tearing down internationally famous tracks, right up to the flag swishing by at the end. The simulator should keep you busy on the longer cruises MSC specializes in. Prices start at $749 per person for 10-night trips.
Live shows on cruise ships are nothing new — in fact, musicals, dinner theater, magic and comedy are all standard programming for cruisers these days. However, Royal Caribbean ups the ante by importing actual Broadway shows and putting them on at sea. Recent productions include “Cats,” “Mama Mia” and “Grease.”
Admission is included in the cost of your ticket, which isn’t a bad deal considering how pricey Broadway tickets can get back on the ground in New York. Think of it as off, off, off Broadway.
Disney Magic Play Floor
Disney’s cruise line is no joke — its massive floating parks cost the company about $900 million to build. So, it’s no surprise that tickets to ride these massive ships come at a pretty penny.
You’ll pay $2,400 to $3,900 for three nights on the Disney Fantasy, which includes an Imagineer-designed Magic Play Floor with 32 HD screens, 48 sensors and 14 million pixels worth of touch-compatible arcade games projected across a floor. The action is controlled by the hands and feet of up to 32 kids or 16 adults — grown-ups can get in on the fun, too.
Combine a bike, ski lift and zip line, and you’ll end up with something like Carnival’s SkyRide, an all-ages attraction available on its Vista ship. Included in your ticket price — which starts at $169 per day — the SkyRide takes you on an airborne, two-lane course in a pedal-powered pod. As you zip over the deck and across the ocean, opt to compete for the best time or just take it easy and enjoy the view.
Cirque Dreams and Dinner
For a VIP experience on your travels, try Norwegian’s Epic and Breakaway ships. Pricing starts at a little under $1,000 per person for a week-long vacation but includes Cirque du Soleil shows.
Norwegian has imported Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy straight from Broadway, and it has crafted ship-exclusive projects like Cirque Dreams Epicurean. The latter features all the avant-garde costumes, visual spectacle, variety acts and art-infused acrobatics you’d expect to see back on land.
Aboard the Queen Mary 2 from Cunard, you’ll enjoy cultural activities like classical music performances, wine programs and jewelry shopping. Additionally, you can drop by Illuminations, a movie theater and auditorium that hosts the world’s only planetarium at sea.
Seating almost 150 guests and showing both astronomy-oriented features and virtual reality movies four times per day, the theater offers free entry for cruisers. You can expect to spend at least $1,000 per person for a week-long transatlantic crossing.
Enjoy Better Eats: 15 Cruises With the Most Luxurious Dining Options
The Rising Tide Bar
Sure, you expect your cruise ship to have a few bars. But you probably don’t expect to find one that carries 35 passengers on a smooth ride through the ship. Like all the best cruise activities, Royal Caribbean’s Rising Tide Bar defies expectation.
A fixture on the Oasis Class ships — starting at around $548 for a seven-night Caribbean cruise — this floating venue is now available on Harmony of the Seas, as well. Though drinks like tea, coffee, water and juice won’t cost you anything on an RC cruise, cocktails are extra — floating around while drinking them, however, is free.
Click through to find out more tips that only cruise insiders know.
Prices are accurate as of March 22, 2018 and are subject to change.