The 13 Coolest Things to Do on a Cruiseby Kayla Becker | July 27, 2016
Worried you'll be bored on a cruise ship, out at sea with nothing to do but watch the horizon line and bide your time to the next port? Think again. Long gone are the days when shuffleboard and bridge were the most exciting things to do on your cruise itinerary — those have gone the way of baked Alaska. Sure, you can do wine tastings, take a cooking class, have afternoon tea, work out, tour the galley, and hit the spa on just about every ship at sea. There are also a wide variety of things to do on a cruise for kids, too, from movies on giant deck-top screens to water parks with racing slides and giant buckets of water you can dump on your head on hot days, of which there are many on cruises to the Caribbean and Mediterranean.
But, now, some cruise ships are also packed with amazing never-been-seen-before-at-sea experiences that go beyond your imagination for what a cruise ship can "do." From soaring in a skydiving simulator to gliding across the ice to winning your favorite TV singing competition, there are "pinch-me-am-I-really-cruising?" things you can try your hand at on your next cruise, many of which are more commonly associated with amusement parks and resorts.
Of course, not all cruise ships have these types of activities. You're more likely to find the coolest experiences on the sleekest new ships by lines that build big, busy mainstream vessels designed for families of all ages (such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruises, MSC Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line) rather than, say, river cruise ships, intimate small ships, expedition ships, or luxury vessels. So, if a wacky experience at sea is what you're looking for, you'll want to pick your line — and your ship — very carefully.
The most exciting part of all? While cruisers may be known to balk at some nickle-and-diming on cruise ships, most of these truly exciting experiences come at no extra cost and, when they do, they're once-in-a-lifetime experiences you'll probably never forget. Of course, that also means they're popular, so be sure to check them out as soon as you board to make sure you don't miss out on the top things to do, especially on sailings when the ship is at full capacity, such as on holiday weeks or during school breaks when the numbers of kids and teens swell with families on summer vacation cruises. Also, consider going at off hours to avoid the worst of the crowding, as lines get longer and longer during the most popular times especially during the mid-morning and mid-afternoon hours on sea days.
Whether you indulge in one of these on your next day at sea or — gasp! — decide to skip a crowded port you've been to before in order to beat the lines, these are the kind of moments you'll want to share on Instagram or make your screensaver when you get back home, and the experiences that are sure to make the top of your cruise ship bucket list for years to come.
Kayla Becker is a New York City-based contributor to ShermansCruise and the assistant editor for the site.