Gone are the days when the height of cruise entertainment was limited to poolside lounging and fancy evening soirees. Sure, you can still do both of those things, but today's cruise ships are more like mini-cities equipped with all the fixings for a day at a theme park or a night on Broadway. Even though travelers have come to expect the works from cruise liners, there are still a few things about a vacation at sea that may come as a surprise. Here are a few of the more unexpected (and in one case, undesirable) ways to pass your time on the open ocean.

In Pictures: 7 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do on a Cruise

Cruisers looking to add a shot of adrenaline to their voyage need only look to the Quantum of the Seas, which embarks on its inaugural sailing in November. Royal Caribbean's newest ship boasts amenities never before seen aboard the line's fleet — including the RipCord by iFly. This 23-foot-tall snazzy glass chamber simulates a skydiving experience (without the parachute) by creating a wind tunnel that suspends participants in the air. The currents created by four powerful fans provide travelers with the free-fall feeling without all the dangers associated with actual skydiving. Other unique features of the Quantum of the Seas include the North Star (an enclosed pod that suspends passengers 300 feet in the air for 360-degree views of the sea and the ship) and the Seaplex, an indoor gaming center with bumper cars, roller skating and a circus school complete with a flying trapeze.

Strapping on a set of blades may not sound that strange for those cruising to Alaska, Canada or Antarctica, but if you're sailing to the Caribbean, the last thing you would expect to find (or even want to find) is ice. But aboard several Royal Caribbean ships — including the Allure of the Seas, the Freedom of the Seas and the Voyager of the Seas — you can lace up and do your best impression of Scott Hamilton or Kristi Yamaguchi at the indoor arena. Skate rentals and lessons are free for all passengers, as is participation in special ice events like family and rock 'n' roll skating sessions. Royal Caribbean's ice rinks sometimes host ice shows and performances by professional skaters, which are also free to attend.  

See: The Best Cruise for You

"The Love Boat soon will be making another run; The Love Boat promises something for everyone." OK, maybe not everyone, but certainly single ladies ages 50 and older traveling on adult-oriented cruise lines like Azamara, Crystal, Oceania and Silversea. Aboard all four of these cruise lines, Gentlemen Hosts are ready to sweep women cruising solo off their feet during an elegant evening of drinks, dining and dancing. The Gentleman Host program pairs independent female travelers with dashing companions who can take the lead on the Foxtrot and carry on witty, charming conversation. Though chances are slim that an evening with a Gentleman Host will turn into a lasting partnership, women who request the presence of one of these classy companions are guaranteed a memorable evening, and the company comes free of charge. The Gentlemen Host program also partners with Cunard, Regent Seven Seas, SeaDream Yacht Club and Windstar. 

Most cruises feature some sort of evening entertainment, be it Broadway-style musicals, movie screenings or fancy balls. But cruisers looking to live large will find their expectations met aboard a music-themed voyage. Cruise lines partner with a number of famous musicians to offer rocking itineraries: In 2014, Carnival will be bringing rock bands Styx, Kansas, Gavin DeGraw and REO Speedwagon on board to perform. Meanwhile, Kid Rock entertains travelers with concerts aboard Norwegian ships. Several cruise lines also take it to the next level, hosting entire music festivals. In April, the MSC Divina will host "The Moody Blues Cruise: Return to the Isle of Wight" with featured acts including The Moody Blues, Roger Daltrey, The Zombies and Little River Band. And Holland America's ms Eurodam will lay down some nostalgic tracks in November, during the Malt Shop Memories Cruise, which will feature such favorites as The Temptations, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas and Brenda Lee.

See: The Best Cruises of 2014

When it comes to souvenir shopping, you have a couple of options: You can amass trinkets from the many merchants who flock to your cruise's different ports of call, or you can spend your money on something more refined, like artwork. Princess Cruises is just one of the several cruise lines to offer onboard art auctions, but what sets Princess apart from other auction-toting fleets — such as Carnival, Celebrity or Disney — is that the line features its own in-house auction division. The members of Princess' auction team curate a collection specific to each cruise; cruisers do not need to register to participate in the onboard auctions, and all pieces are insured and mailed to your home by Princess staff. Should you prefer browsing to buying, you are welcome to visit the auction area (which doubles as a gallery space) throughout your voyage. 

Not all cruisers are content lying by the pool — for those looking to absorb more than rays on vacation, Crystal Cruises' Creative Learning Institute will keep your brainwaves rolling at sea. Through the Creative Learning Institute, cruisers are welcome to try their hand (or tongue) at Spanish, Russian, Portuguese or French — among other languages — depending on the region you're visiting. Crystal Cruises' language instruction is offered through Berlitz, a company that specializes in fast-pace language learning using vocabulary and pronunciation training. Like all of the enrichment programs at Crystal's Creative Learning Institute — which include tai chi, art history and computer classes — the Berlitz language instruction is covered in your cruise fare. This means you can worry less about your budget and focus more on your verb conjugations.  

Believe it or not, "cruise jail" really does exist. Cruises, like cities, boast a wide array of things to do and places to eat, but they also feature rules to which passengers must adhere. The consequences for breaking those rules vary depending on the severity: Should a cruiser's actions pose a threat to other passengers, the offender will likely be placed in "cruise jail" more formally known as the brig — a small holding cell with little to no furnishings. Depending on captain's orders, a trip to the brig will either result in lockdown for the remainder of the cruise followed by a fine or arrest upon return; or, the captain may decide to simply leave the unruly passenger with local authorities at the next port of call. Neither option sounds like as much fun as ice skating or skydiving, so be sure to hold on to some of your inhibitions while sailing the high seas.

In Pictures: 7 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do on a Cruise

Recommended Articles

15 Scenic Train Rides

March 26, 2019

Climb aboard these locomotives for jaw-dropping views.

13 Top Places to Visit in Tuscany, Italy

March 25, 2019

Ditch the crowded streets of Rome or Milan and head to Italy's picturesque countryside.

10 Excellent Educational Vacations for Families

March 14, 2019

Make sure your next getaway is both enjoyable and informative.

15 Adventures to Enjoy Across America

March 12, 2019

Plan an unforgettable trip in your own backyard or on the opposite coast.

The 30 Most Famous Landmarks in the World

March 11, 2019

Explore the globe in search of these intriguing historic sights.

30 Hot New Hotels to Check Out in 2019

Feb. 5, 2019

See which new properties offer surprising and fun features.

The 50 Best Hotels in the USA 2019

Feb. 5, 2019

U.S. News ranked 3,877 top properties for 2019. Check out the 50 best.

17 Amazing Kid-Friendly Hotels

Feb. 5, 2019

Discover which properties offer ample amenities for children.

New & Revamped Caribbean Hotels to Visit

Feb. 5, 2019

These island properties are sure to impress travelers.

10 Top All-Inclusive Resorts in the USA

Feb. 5, 2019

Go all-in for these luxe resorts flush with amenities.