Family Vacation Tips

70 Unexpected Things To Do on a Cruise

[fa icon="calendar"] Aug 22, 2017 10:30:00 AM / by Sally Black

Sally Black



unexpected things to do on a Cruise

Cruises are NOT about old folks playing bingo!- Far from it!  Grandma now has a whole casino full of slots to keep her happy.  


Cruse guests and the cruise ships have seen radical changes in recent years.  Each new ship is more innovative with plenty more activities than it's competition. Today you'll probably see Grandma and Grandpa tied up at the rock climbing wall. If you missed them there, then they are probably taking Salsa Classes in the ballroom.

If you've never been on a cruise or it's been a while since you've been onboard - you simply don't know what you're missing.

If it's been a while since you've been out to'll be amazed at all the latest innovations!

Fast and Furious fans hold onto your helmets! The Norwegian Bliss debuts in 2018 with a 1000 foot long two level races track on it's top deck with go-karts speeding up to 30 miles per hour and turbo boost options so you can channel your favorite NASCAR drivers. These karts run on electric and are silent as not to disturb other guests. Although we can speak for to the sideline cheers and howls of victory. If you have the need for even more speed, MCS cruise lines offer Formula One racing simulators on many of their ships.

Not that good of a Driver? - Then perhaps the bumper cars on Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the seas is more your speed?

Prefer pedal power? - Then you'll enjoy the Carnival Vista with it's SkyRide.  It's a suspended reclining bike that circles the top deck. Now there's a morning work out with a real view!

Tag! You're it -  The Norwegian Bliss also comes tricked out with with their galactic laser tag course which will surely be a hit with families of all ages.  The Bliss will debut in Alaska for summer 2018 and then move to Miami for Caribbean itineraries.

See some Penguins - You'll need to go a bit farther than Alaska for this. Consider taking the family to explore Antarctica for a photo safari of the 6 species that live there Adélies, Chinstraps, Emperors, Gentoos, Macaronis, and Rockhoppers.  Don't like the cold?...then head to the equator and take a swim with a Galapagos Penguin. These are the only penguins that live in the northern hemisphere.

See the Stars -  An evening deck stroll under the stars at sea can be very romantic. If you're in love with a science geek then look a bit farther and sail on the Queen Mary 2. It offers the only planetarium at sea. Guests can learn about the cosmos with programs created by the Royal Astronomical Society and New York's American Museum of Natural history Hayden Planetarium.  Visiting astronomers also hold stargazing sessons at night from the ship's top deck.

Perhaps Hollywood stars & Rock Stars are more your thing - Maybe you prefer the company of Zombies?...Never fear, there is a cruise made just for you.

Go Overboard - Well, figuratively at least!  Most cruise lines offer unique ways for their guests to get that overboard feeling

  • The Royal Princess offers it's "Sea Walk" which is a glass bottom walkway 17 decks high that  bows out 28 feet off the side of the ship.
  • Sailing in 2017 the new MSC Seaside will feature three unique outdoor Catwalks that extend beyond the edge of the ship, with all glass railings and a glass floor, giving guests the feeling that they are walking on water.
  • If you're the type that really enjoys a bird's eye view then you'll love Northstar on board Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the of the seas. This jewel shaped pod takes groups of passengers jewel-shaped capsule and gently ascend over 300 feet above sea level for 360 degree sea views. It's the perfect place for a marriage proposal.  Looking for a venue for an unexpected Destination wedding? A champagne toast in Northstar is just one of the MANY unique "I DO" venues cruise ships offer brides, grooms and their guests.
  • Disney Dream and Fantasy ships have their Aquaduck water coasterRiders are set sailing in a 2 person raft. The Aquaduck is a four-deck-high ride that includes a clear tube part that swings 13 feet off the side of the ship, 150 feet above the ocean.  The Disney Magic has the AquaDunk which is a true water slide (no raft) that also swings over the side of the ship before depositing riders several decks below.
  •  On the Norwegian Escape you can go old-school pirate and actually "walk the plank" as part of their rope course at sea.  

Speaking of Escapes - Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas will offer a new Escape Room adventure in 2018 along with the first Trampoline park at sea.

Enjoy solving mysteries and puzzles - Then Disney Cruise line is the place for you!  Disney fans LOVE hunting for Hidden Mickeys...a circle with two circular ears.  Disney imagineers hide this subliminal graphic shape in everything from fabrics, to architectural shapes and lighting fixtures. Armed with your trusty guide book see how many "Hidden Mickeys" you can find. Warning...this type of hunting can become highly addictive!  Need something a bit less obsessive?..Try a scavenger hunt or simply enjoy all the Enchanted art work along the way.

If you are an art lover - Most major cruise lines offer art appreciation tours and  auctions.  If you're the type that would rather get your hands dirty, take an art class.  This could be something as simply as a craft class to make jewelry or learning to paint at Oceania's Artist loft.

Become an animator -  On Disney Cruise Lines, dinner at the Animator's Palate turns into a magical event.  While you're waiting for a scrumptious dinner to be served, draw your very own cartoon character on a magical place mat and voila!....Mickey will magically bring your artwork to life right before you very eyes!

Besides art, cruise lines offer all sorts of enrichment classes. There are expert programs offered where you can learn about history and culture of the ports you'll be visiting. Photography and film making classes also come in handy when visiting exotic ports of call.  Dance, Fitness and drama classes are available on some ships. You can even take language classes.

There's a lot "cooking" out at sea!  Most cruisers expect lavish buffets and incredible food at sea but it's possible to cook your own dinner.  Every major cruise line has award winning culinary partners. Chefs are ready on board with Specialized cooking classes and recipe demonstrations.  The best part of these classes are the tastings that follow. Master baker Buddy Valastro, star of the popular TLC television series Cake Boss has two bakeries on board Norwegian ships. Royal Caribbean has their cupcake cupboard on board. Both offer Cake Decorating Classes.  Want to learn how to muddle the perfect mojito or perhaps learn more about fine wines?  Most cruise lines offer mixology classes.  MSC cruises take wine tasting to a new level. They offer their wine making at sea classes on custom wine blending.  If beer is more your thing, the Carnival Vista has their own craft beer brewery at sea

Get Served by a Robot - On four Royal Caribbean ships Harmony of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, and Ovation of the Seas,  you'll find Bionic bars. Guests order their drinks from table iPad. Then two Robot bartenders muddle, stir, shake and strain delightful cocktail concoctions from 30 spirits and 21 mixers. And yes, you are suppose to tip..."Shaken" & "Stirred". WD40 doesn't come free you know. Besides, what else are you suppose to call robot bartenders?..."Mix & Mingle?".

Don't want to take a guilt trip? Cunard's Queen Mary 2 is the only cruise ship that allows you to cruise with your dog....actually cats and ferrets are welcome on board too. Pets are not allowed in guest cabins or public areas but you can visit for an on board game of fetch. No worries...while you're gone they will be sitting in the "lap" of luxury enjoying loving staff with fresh-baked biscuits at turn-down, a choice of beds and blankets, and even a coat with a QM2 logo. As part of the enhanced program, traveling dogs and cats also receive a complimentary gift pack featuring a frisbee, name tag, food dish and scoop, a complimentary portrait with pet owners, a crossing certificate and personalized cruise card.

Get your skate on - Some Royal Caribbean ships offer fantastic family ice skating shows like the themed "How to Train your Dragon" complete with amazing puppetry. Did you know that guests can also Ice Skating at sea. it's free but all skaters must wear long pants. Loner skates are available but if you bring your own skates on board, you qualify for advanced skating sessions.  Royal Caribbean guests on Quantum class can enjoy free style roller skating in the SeaPlex along with Basketball and Circus school. Guests can also enjoy Inline skating out on deck complete with padded barriers.

Guests expect great entertainment at sea. What may be unexpected might be the 5D movie theater on board the Carnival Breeze - a 3D movie theater complete with additional tactile and tangible experiences for the audience. How about aerial acrobats flying between decks? How about an unbelievable Diving show in an aquatheater?

If you prefer thrills to spills....

  • you will love Ripcord by IFly skydiving at sea.  Yes, you can skydive on a cruise ship without having to jump out of a plane.
  • Many Royal Caribbean Ships have Flowrider surf simulator (this guy is just showing off!).
  • Royal Caribbean also lets you zipline 18 decks above their Merry Go Rounds.
  • Are you brave enough for the Ultimate Abyss?  10 stories high - the worlds tallest slide at sea.

If you prefer chill to thrills then you belong at the Spa. Get your chi realigned with an Acupuncture Treatment or get your teeth whitened so you're ready for tonight's family portrait session

....and believe it or not you can still play bingo on board and just simply RELAX if that's what you're into!

If I counted correctly that's 70 fun things you can do on a cruise that you might not have expected!

Today's cruise vacations are as exciting as the exotic ports of call these ships visit.  The most important part of enjoying a cruise vacation is perfect matchmaking.  It's about choosing the right ship, with the right activities and fit your personality, travel needs and style.  In addition, it's about making the most out of your port visits and selecting the perfect cabin accommodations too.

This is why it's so very important to work with a travel agent that has the right experience and knows all the different cruises lines, ships and the activities offered by each.  Remember, sharing is caring! if you know someone else in desperate need of a fun vacation then share this post with them. Better yet, invited them to cruise with you.  The most unexpected fun that comes out of any cruise is sharing vacation memories with those you love.

OK...I lied 71 unexpected things! I like going "overboard" for my clients!


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Topics: Family Cruises

Sally Black

Written by Sally Black

Sally is the Founder of Travel Agency and author of the book "Fearless Family Vacations". She is also the Director of Travel Agent Initiatives and Training at The Family Travel Association.

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