17 Craziest Features You’ll Find On Cruise Ships in 2024

We are long past the days where your entertainment on a cruise ship was limited to lounging by the pool during the day, and a show with dinner at night.

Modern cruise ships are packed with some amazing features, some of which you’ll struggle to believe actually fit on a cruise ship!

But they do – and here are some of the craziest features you can find on cruise ships sailing in 2024.

1. Virtual Reality Arcades

2 guests playing a virtual reality game on Norwegian Encore

Ships: MSC Cruises (MSC Bellissima, MSC Euribia, MSC Grandiosa, MSC Seascape, MSC Seashore, MSC Virtuosa, MSC World Europa), Norwegian Cruise Line (Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Encore)

Cruise ships are breaking the boundaries of onboard entertainment with cutting-edge virtual reality experiences.

Forget simply watching a video – now you can step inside other worlds! Strap on a VR headset and find yourself racing futuristic vehicles, exploring ancient ruins, or even soaring through the sky on a fantastical dragon.

These futuristic games aren’t just for kids, the whole family will enjoy exploring new worlds together. Extra charges apply though, with costs ranging from $29 for 90 minutes of play.

2. Skydiving Simulators

A guest trying out the RipCord by iFLY

Ships: Royal Caribbean (Anthem of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas)

If you’ve ever wanted to experience what it’s like to jump out of a plane, but you don’t really want to freefall thousands of feet, then don’t worry – Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class ships have you covered.

Ripcord by iFly is a skydiving simulator situated on the deck of the ship. A huge fan inside a cylinder keeps you floating, giving you amazing views as the air rushes past you.

Definitely exhilarating, especially if you’re brave enough to head up in the tube – and it offers one of the most unique views from the ship. Prices vary from $30 to $50 and for that you’ll usually get a couple of turns lasting a few minutes.

3. Robot Bartenders

A robot bartender, featuring a friendly digital face and white mechanical arms, stands ready to mix drinks at a bar fully stocked with a variety of liquors and spirits on an MSC cruise ship, showcasing modern automation at sea.

Ships: MSC Cruises (MSC Virtuosa, MSC Euribia), Royal Caribbean (Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas)

What’s better than enjoying a refreshing cocktail when you’re on a cruise? Enjoying one made by a robotic bartender, of course!

Not that there’s anything wrong with the human bartenders, but it’s a lot of fun to have a robot mixing your drink for you.

On Royal Caribbean’s ships the Bionic Bar features robotic arms, but MSC’s version is a more human-like android instead. Drinks cost a little more here than at regular bars – around £18 for an alcoholic drink.

4. 4D Movie Theatres

Excited passengers with raised hands enjoy a dynamic experience in the 4D Cinema on MSC Meraviglia, seated in yellow motion chairs that match the action on the large screen, depicting a lively street scene for an immersive entertainment activity.

Ships: MSC Cruises (MSC Bellissima, MSC Euribia, MSC Grandiosa, MSC Meraviglida, MSC Seascape, MSC Seashore, MSC Seaside, MSC Seaview, MSC Virtuosa, MSC World Europa)

A lot of cruise ships offer outdoor cinemas, so you can relax by the pool and enjoy a film on the big screen. It’s wonderfully tranquil. But if you want the complete opposite experience, then head to the 4D cinema on certain MSC cruise ships.

A cross between a rollercoaster and a movie theatre, this will have you feeling every movement in the movie you’re watching as your seats shake and move, while you’re also getting blasted with air and water to simulate wind and rain effects.

It’s a lot of fun, and good value too – expect to pay around $5 per go, though it’s not full-length movies.

5. Real Parks & Lawns

Central Park on Icon of the Seas features a serene, garden-like setting with lush greenery, winding pathways, and seating areas flanked by living walls and vibrant, shuttered balconies, offering a peaceful retreat amidst the liveliness of a cruise ship.

Ships: Celebrity Cruises (Celebrity Eclipse, Celebrity Equinox, Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity Silhouette, Celebrity Solstice), Royal Caribbean (Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Icon of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Utopia of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas)

One of the least ‘thrilling’ entries on this list, it’s still crazy that these features have been added to cruise ships. Celebrity Cruises has the Lawn Club, which is a picnic area on the top deck of its ships with a real grass lawn, carefully cultivated to make it the ideal space to relax and unwind.

Meanwhile, on larger Royal Caribbean ships you have Central Park, a real living park space with thousands of live plants. It’s beautiful and tranquil, and a great spot to grab a coffee or a glass of wine and spend a couple of hours with a book.

These areas of the ship are free for guests to use at no extra cost.

6. Ice Bars

The Ice Bar on NCL Epic envelops guests in a frosty blue ambiance, with an ice-sculpted bar, seating, and figures, complete with glasses made of ice, providing a unique and chilly drinking experience aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship.

Ships: Norwegian Cruise Line (Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway)

One of the more unusual bars on a cruise ship is the Ice Bar, where almost everything is made of ice – the chairs, the tables, the glasses you’ll be drinking from… It’s not the warmest spot to relax, that’s for sure!

There’s an entry fee, which can vary between $15 and $20, and for that you’ll get a parka to borrow to help you stay warm, along with a drink or two (non-alcoholic drinks are available for kids).

You may only want to stay in there for a few minutes, but it’s a great photo opportunity.

7. Surfing Simulators

Flow Rider on Navigator of the Seas

Ships: Royal Caribbean (Adventure of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas, Freedom of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Icon of the Seas, Independence of the Seas, Liberty of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Odyssey Of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Spectrum Of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Utopia of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas, Wonder Of the Seas)

Never mind just watching the waves when you’re on a cruise ship – why not try riding them?

Obviously not in the ocean, but a lot of Royal Caribbean ships now have the FlowRider surfing simulator, which lets you try surfing and bodyboarding as hundreds of litres of water rush past you.

The FlowRider is free to use as well, though it does tend to get busy on sea days, so you may be waiting in line for a while for your turn (once you fall off, you’re done!). You can also pay for lessons if you want more time – you’ll pay $69 and be in a group of 6-8 for an hour.

8. Moving Bars

The Magic Carpet on a Celebrity Cruise ship, an innovative cantilevered floating platform with orange accents, offers guests a unique vantage point as it extends out from the ship, overlooking the tranquil blue ocean waters.

Ships: Celebrity Cruises (Celebrity Ascent, Celebrity Apex, Celebrity Beyond, Celebrity Edge), Royal Caribbean (Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Utopia of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas)

Ever had too many drinks at a bar, and felt like the floor was moving? What if it actually was?

The good news is that with Celebrity Cruises’ Magic Carpet, or Royal Caribbean’s Rising Tide bar, you don’t need to get too drunk to experience something cool. These bars move, rising up and down the ship as you’re sat there enjoying your favourite beverage.

The Rising Tide bar is inside the ship, but it does reach Central Park, which is a nice place to stop. Celebrity’s Magic Carpet is even cooler as it hangs over the side of the ship, so you get some wonderful views. No cost to enjoy these experiences, beyond paying for your drinks.

9. Rollercoasters

The Mardi Gras cruise ship's top deck is bustling with excitement, featuring the first roller coaster at sea, 'BOLT.' Passengers are enjoying a thrilling ride in a red car on the blue track, with the expansive blue ocean in the background. The deck also hosts a colorful water park area, with guests enjoying the sun and fun activities.

Ships: Carnival Cruise Line (Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration, Carnival Jubilee)

This feels like some people were sat around a table trying to decide what the next big innovation on a cruise ship would be, when someone said “how about a rollercoaster?” as a joke, and then they realised it was actually possible.

Bolt, featured on the Excel Class for Carnival, doesn’t have all the inversions and super-high inclines you’d find on a rollercoaster on land, but it is a very exciting thrill ride all the same, and because it loops around the ship you get some amazing views while riding – if you keep your eyes open.

For $15, you’ll get two laps of the track.

10. Observation Rides

The North Star observation capsule on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas offers panoramic views from its glass-walled structure, poised high above the ship's upper deck with pools and lounges, set against the open sea horizon.

Ships: Carnival Cruises (Carnival Horizon, Carnival Panorama, Carnival Vista), Princess Cruises (Sun Princess), Royal Caribbean (Anthem of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas)

I’ve grouped together all of these observation rides, because ultimately they offer a similar kind of experience – they’re all about getting high above the top deck of the cruise ship and soaking up the incredible views out to sea.

However, they are slightly different. Royal Caribbean has the North Star, which is a pod at the end of an extendable arm – so you’ll get much higher, and remain in considerable comfort (unless you don’t like heights!).

Meanwhile, Carnival has the SkyRide and Princess’ latest ship has the Rollglider. These attractions take you on a track around the top deck, so you get more of a moving view. A little more thrilling even if you aren’t quite as high up.

The SkyRide and North Star are free – it’s not clear yet whether the brand-new Rollglider has a charge.

11. Planetariums

Inside the elegant planetarium on a Cunard cruise ship, with rows of comfortable seating under a dome featuring images of outer space, providing an educational and entertaining stargazing experience to guests at sea.

Ships: Cunard Line (Queen Mary 2), Viking Cruises (Viking Jupiter and Viking Orion)

If you love learning about space and the stars, then the planetariums featured on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and on some Viking ships are absolutely worthy of a visit.

These are real technological marvels – it’s so much more than a theatre screen. Inside the interactive domes, you’ll see incredible projections and hear awesome sound, all while a resident astronomer talks you through all the constellations you can see.

If you want your thrills to include an educatory slant, then definitely check these out.

12. Breweries

Guests engage in a beer tasting session at the RedFrog Pub and Brewery on Carnival Vista, surrounded by shiny brewing tanks, as an expert brewmaster in a patterned shirt explains the brewing process, enhancing the cruise experience with craft beer education.

Ships: Carnival Cruise Lines (Carnival Celebration, Carnival Horizon, Carnival Jubilee, Carnival Panorama, Carnival Vista, Mardi Gras)

Love a beer? If you’re someone who appreciates a true craft beer pint, then you’ll love to visit the breweries hosted on these ships.

Not only can you taste delicious beers onboard, including smaller batch beers with a seasonal twist, but you can even take a tour of the brewery onboard to learn more about the process (and the unique challenges of brewing beer at sea).

13. Ziplines

A thrill-seeking guest ziplines across the upper deck of the Harmony of the Seas cruise ship, with a backdrop of serene skies, the ship's white architecture, and the deep blue sea below, adding an element of adventure to the maritime experience.

Ships: MSC Cruises (MSC Seaside, MSC Seaview), Royal Caribbean (Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Utopia of the Seas, Wonder of the Seas)

Yes – it is actually possible to try a zipline experience while you’re on a cruise ship. And not a simulated one either – this is a proper zipline across the ship, for the ultimate thrill.

The zipline on Royal Caribbean’s ships takes you across the Boardwalk, and it’s completely free – so as long as you can build up the courage, you can try it as many times as you like. MSC’s zipline does have an additional cost of $10 per ride, so you’ll likely only want to try it once.

14. Go Karting

Passengers in go-karts race on the NCL Racing track atop the NCL Bliss cruise ship, with a stunning mountainous backdrop and lush greenery surrounding them, offering an exhilarating and scenic on-board activity.

Ships: Norwegian Cruise Line (Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Prima, Norwegian Viva)

Who ever thought that we’d see full-blown go-karting tracks on cruise ships? 

And these aren’t tiny little loops either – the latest ships in the fleet (Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva) have three-storey high tracks that intertwine and make for a really thrilling ride experience, giving you plenty of opportunities to try your skills out around tight corners, setting the fastest time possible and trying not to get distracted by the views of the sea. 

Even the ‘smaller’ courses on the other ships are two-storey racetracks packed with excitement.

Drivers must be 48 inches tall to drive, so teens and some younger children will be fine to take part. It costs around $15 for 10 laps, though you can also buy unlimited passes.

15. Submarines 

Scenic Eclipse Submarine.

Ships: Scenic Cruises (Scenic Eclipse I, Scenic Eclipse II), Seabourn (Seabourn Pursuit, Seabourn Venture), Viking Cruises (Viking Octantis, Viking Polaris)

While you’re cruising on the ocean, you’re almost completely oblivious to the wildlife below the surface. You might get lucky and see a dolphin or even a whale surface, but otherwise you typically won’t see much as your ship zooms by.

However, these expedition cruise ships offer something special – they have their own submarines onboard, which you can board for a special dive underwater to explore what hides in the depths.

Inside the Seabourn Venture, a sleek white and black submarine is stationed, ready for underwater exploration. This modern submersible features a prominent, clear spherical cabin for viewing, aimed to offer guests an immersive ocean experience. Also visible are safety gear and another submarine in the background, emphasizing the ship's focus on unique guest adventures.

These tours are very limited in availability – after all, not many people can fit onboard, and you need an expert at the helm. Expect to pay between $500 and $900 for a tour typically lasting 45 minutes to one hour.

16. Snow Grottos

A tranquil Snow Grotto on a Viking Cruise ship, with textured icy walls and soft snow underfoot, illuminated by a cool blue light, offering a unique and refreshing spa experience at sea.

Ships: Viking Cruises (all ships)

Most cruise ships have a thermal suite in the spa, which offers rooms of different temperatures to help you exfoliate your skin. Saunas and steam rooms are common, but how about a snow grotto, with actual (manmade) snow?

You’ll only find it on Viking Cruises’ ships, but it really is an experience. You’re told to head to the steam sauna first, and then hit the snow grotto while still in your bathing suit, just for five minutes.

It’s exhilarating, awakening, and very unique. It’s also free to all guests, so you’ve no excuse not to try it.

17. Dog Kennels

On the deck of Cunard's Queen Mary 2, dogs are taking a leisurely stroll, one prominently in the foreground, with a bright red fire hydrant adding a touch of whimsy to the scene. A crew member in a red uniform and pillbox hat walks further back, creating a snapshot of life aboard a luxury liner that caters to canine companions and their owners.

Ships: Cunard (Queen Mary 2)

Queen Mary 2 is a unique cruise ship, as the last true ocean liner. Because she offers a slightly different experience, it may not be too surprising that she’s appeared on this list twice, although you may be a little confused by the fact she has dog kennels onboard.

However, she is the only ocean-faring cruise ship that allows guests to bring their pets onboard. It’s not just dogs either, but cats and even ferrets too.

It’s not free – you’ll need to pay a cruise fare. And the animals are kept in the kennels too, so they can’t stay with you in your stateroom. They’ll be exercised and well looked after, so if you wanted to visit New York with your animal companion, this is the ship to choose.

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Final Word

From thrill-seeking rides to unique educational experiences, and even a home for your best furry friends, there really are some crazy features you can find on modern cruise ships.

There are more lined up for the future already too, such as hybrid water slide/rollercoasters.

It does make you wonder what else could be announced in the future – any guesses?

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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1 thought on “17 Craziest Features You’ll Find On Cruise Ships in 2024”

  1. I notice Princess doesn’t feature anywhere.

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