10 Amazing Cruise Ship Amenities

Innovative amenities, from surf simulators to planetariums to a trendy ice bar, are making a splash.

U.S. News & World Report

10 Amazing Cruise Ship Amenities

Harbor of cruise ships, Virgin Islands
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(Getty Images)

Discover the most engaging and inventive amenities on the high seas.

Taking a cruise isn't what it used to be. With increasingly innovative and enriching activities both onboard and ashore, cruise lines are reinventing the cruise experience and breaking away from buffets and miniature golf. Whether you want to cruise to absorb exciting new destinations or enjoy superlative amenities on the high seas, with whiz-bang features such as skydiving and surf simulators, a planetarium and even a frosty ice bar, there are plenty of perks to pique your interest. Here are some of the latest ship amenities that are making a splash.
Credit

(Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

Skydiving simulators and an observational pod

Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas have quite a few fun and noteworthy amenities for adventurous cruisers. Daredevils can get their adrenaline pumping on the RipCord by iFLY skydiving simulator, an exclusive experience that gives cruisers the sensation and rush of skydiving at sea in a safe and controlled air tunnel. And for intrepid types who would prefer to master the art of surfing, the onboard surf simulator, Flowrider, makes learning to catch the waves a breeze. By pushing water in a confined area and at an intense, supercharged speed that mimics the intensity of surfing in the ocean, the simulator enables cruisers to ride waves like the pros.

When you're ready to reach new heights, you can hop in the North Star, an observation pod that gives you unparalleled 360-degree views of the ship, the ocean and everything around you. The North Star, inspired by the London Eye, sits 300 feet above sea level and accommodates up to 13 guests, giving you plenty of space to move around and relish several vantage points. Best of all, these high-tech onboard features are included in the price of your cruise.
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Discover the most engaging and inventive amenities on the high seas.

Taking a cruise isn't what it used to be. With increasingly innovative and enriching activities both onboard and ashore, cruise lines are reinventing the cruise experience and breaking away from buffets and miniature golf. Whether you want to cruise to absorb exciting new destinations or enjoy superlative amenities on the high seas, with whiz-bang features such as skydiving and surf simulators, a planetarium and even a frosty ice bar, there are plenty of perks to pique your interest. Here are some of the latest ship amenities that are making a splash.

Skydiving simulators and an observational pod

Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas have quite a few fun and noteworthy amenities for adventurous cruisers. Daredevils can get their adrenaline pumping on the RipCord by iFLY skydiving simulator, an exclusive experience that gives cruisers the sensation and rush of skydiving at sea in a safe and controlled air tunnel. And for intrepid types who would prefer to master the art of surfing, the onboard surf simulator, Flowrider, makes learning to catch the waves a breeze. By pushing water in a confined area and at an intense, supercharged speed that mimics the intensity of surfing in the ocean, the simulator enables cruisers to ride waves like the pros.

When you're ready to reach new heights, you can hop in the North Star, an observation pod that gives you unparalleled 360-degree views of the ship, the ocean and everything around you. The North Star, inspired by the London Eye, sits 300 feet above sea level and accommodates up to 13 guests, giving you plenty of space to move around and relish several vantage points. Best of all, these high-tech onboard features are included in the price of your cruise.

A Svedka and Inniskillin Ice Bar

The Svedka and Inniskillin Ice Bar on the Norwegian Epic ups the cool factor. The trendy bar is so cool, in fact, that the room's temperature does not rise above 17 degrees Fahrenheit. As you take in your icy surroundings, you can leisurely sip on cocktails at subzero temperatures in a frozen ice pod. Make sure to check out the decorative ice sculptures, the frozen stools that line the bar and the lighting scheme, which mimics that of the northern lights. Complementary gear is available to help you stay warm as you enjoy your icy experience.

A planetarium at sea

Cunard's Queen Mary 2 features its own full-scale planetarium. As you go on a voyage across the ocean, you can navigate the cosmos in outer space with engaging visual rides and other cutting-edge features. The 150-seat theater features short programs curated by the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Similar to the American Museum of Natural History, the planetarium on the Queen Mary 2 is narrated by renowned celebrities like Harrison Ford and Tom Hanks.

Onboard zip lining and rock climbing

Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and other vessels within the fleet feature a thrilling zip lining adventure. One of the best aspects of the zip line is the chance to be suspended nine decks above the ship's boardwalk as you enjoy an exhilarating 82-foot journey across the ship and loved ones snap photos from below.

If zip lining isn't your thing, many of Royal Caribbean's action-packed ships also boast 30-foot rock climbing walls built for a variety of skill levels. With different tracks for diverse rock climbing experiences, no climb is the same. The wall is open for most of the day, with access and safety equipment such as helmets, harnesses and shoes included in your package. Perfect for getting your heart racing after a day lounging by the pool and indulging at the ship buffet, the rock climbing wall is well-suited for climbers ages 6 and up.

A "snow room"

Inside Viking's first oceangoing ship, the Viking Star, guests can retreat to an icy, snow-covered room inside the wellness-oriented LivNordic Spa. Billed as an onboard area designed to help guests boost their circulatory systems, the so-called Snow Grotto is continually blanketed in snow throughout the day. Outside the frosty area, guests can enjoy replenishing massages and spa treatments or warm up at the sauna.

A 4-D interactive theater

When it comes to standard ocean liners, movie theaters are nothing new. However, MSC Cruises' Preziosa, Divina, Splendida, Fantasia and Magnifica ships bring watching a movie to a whole other level with their 4-D interactive theater experience, with an invigorating motion ride that stimulates all of the senses. Their 10-seat cinema is equipped with motion seats that rattle, lean and gyrate in sync with animated 4-D movies. And expect high-tech effects like wind, strobes, fog, rain and even scents to add to the thrilling experience.

A vertigo water slide

When it comes to superlative cruise ship amenities, it's hard to top the longest single-rider water slide at sea. The MSC Preziosa features the perfect slide for thrill-seekers. Starting from deck 18, the Vertigo slide takes you on a journey through 390 feet of twists, turns, splashes and bona fide fun. As you prepare to zip down the slide, pay attention to the breathtaking views of the sea below. And if you dare to keep your eyes open as you zip through the tube, you'll spot bands of color that create a hypnotizing strobe effect.

The largest ropes course at sea

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Breakaway is designed to whisk guests away to the tropics. However, for vacationers looking for some excitement on board, the ship offers an aqua park and three levels of action-packed activities at its Sports Complex. In addition to rock climbing, you will find a nine-hole miniature golf course, a plank that extends 8 feet over the side of the ship and the largest ropes course at sea that challenges you to conquer more than 40 elements as you maneuver through an impressive multilayered complex.

A thrilling water coaster

Disney Cruise Line's Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy ships feature the first-ever onboard water coaster dubbed AquaDuck. The high-speed water slide boasts water blasters that propel you 765 feet through twists and turns around the perimeter of the ship's top deck. Plus, transparent sections of the slide will yield unique ocean and ship views. The two-person raft takes you on a one-of-a-kind thrill ride through a windy tube that ends with a splash into a lazy river.

Unlimited in-suite spa treatments

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has long held a reputation for being a superior all-inclusive luxury cruise line. And in Regent's pursuit to be recognized as a leader in the luxury cruising sector, its Seven Seas Explorer features an upscale Regent Suite that will include an in-room spa treatment area with unlimited spa treatments for guests. If you splurge for this room, you can expect unlimited massages, facials and specialty spa services. Even better, the suite will also boast a sauna, a glass-enclosed hot tub and 270-degree views of the sea.
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