You know you can waterslide, bowl, and wine taste on a cruise—but this year, new ships are offering never-before-seen features that go way beyond the norm. Read on for seven unique onboard activities coming soon to a cruise ship near you.
Play laser tag
Not one but two major ships are offering laser tag starting this spring, and both feature space-themed courses. Norwegian Bliss, which launches in May as the first mega ship to spend her inaugural season in Alaska, will offer an open-air course with an abandoned space station theme; Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, launching in April, will offer an indoor course set in a far-off galaxy, with glow-in-the-dark elements.
Hang out in an underwater lounge
When French line Ponant’s new expedition ships, Le Lapérouse and Le Champlain, launch in August, each will have an underwater lounge called Blue Eye with a wall of windows that look out under the surface of the sea. They’ll also have speakers that let you hear the sounds of ocean life and a couch that—get this—vibrates with the rhythm of the sea as you cruise to the Arctic, Antarctica, and Seychelles.
Fly away in a helicopter
The first luxury expedition ship (and first ocean ship, at that) from Scenic Cruises, Scenic Eclipse, launches in August with a seven-seat helicopter and its onboard helipad. After cruising through the Norwegian fjords or along the coast of South America and seeing life at sea level, you can board a helicopter for an aerial view of the landscape. Heading to Antarctica? Scenic Eclipse will have two helicopters onboard instead of the usual one.
Explore the sea in a seven-seat submarine
This year, Scenic Eclipse will launch with a marina that has not only a fleet of kayaks and Zodiacs but also two seven-seat submarines onboard, allowing you to travel along the ocean floor and watch everything from schools of fish to rays and turtles.
Norwegian first launched this feature last year on its China-based Norwegian Joy, but Norwegian Bliss will be the first ship serving the U.S. market to have an electric go-kart race track. The two-level, 1,000-square-foot electric track will have four different speed settings so that everyone from beginners to experienced drivers will be able to get a thrill.
Dance in a silent disco and sleep under the stars
Designed to serve younger cruisers such as millennials and Gen X passengers, U by Uniworld is a truly new concept in river cruising, which was once a pastime associated with retirees and the occasional empty-nester. When the line launches next month with the new ship, The B, it will have hammocks on deck, overnight stays in ports so that cruisers can experience the nightlife, an onboard ice bar, the chance to sleep on deck under the stars, and a silent disco where a DJ will spin tunes passengers can listen to on headphones.
See underwater with drones
Norwegian expedition line Hurtigruten will launch the MS Roald Amundsen this year with the much-touted hybrid electric sailing capacity, but the coolest new toy for cruisers will be a 15-pound underwater robotic drone that will stream real-time video of life under the sea, from orcas to penguins. You can watch the scene on screens onboard the ship or with virtual reality goggles to simulate diving underwater.