Helicopters, Scenic
Courtesy of scenic.com.au
Helicopters, Scenic
Courtesy of scenic.com.au


Sure, cruises are one of the most polarizing vacations out there, but the cruise lines are working overtime to win more of us over with amenities it's hard to believe have found a home at sea. On some of the biggest ships, you'll find everything from surfing simulators to bowling alleys, proving that a vacation at sea really can rival even the most activity-packed holiday on land. Still skeptical? Here are 25 of the most head-turning things you can find on today's cruise ships.

Roller Coaster, Carnival
Courtesy of carnival.com


Set to be unveiled in 2020, the Carnival Mardi Gras will boast the first roller coaster at sea. Called Bolt, the all-electric coaster will feature motorcycle-like cars that allow the rider full control of their speed and views from 187 feet above sea level. The under-18 set is sure to be interested.

Submarine, Crystal
Courtesy of Crystal Cruises


Passengers on the Crystal Esprit have a marina platform at their disposal, meaning they can snorkel, kayak, swim and enjoy any other number of ocean activities by diving in right from their ship — well, make that "expedition yacht." But the coolest opportunity? Taking a dive in a $3 million C-Explorer 3 submersible, able to explore depths of close to 1,000 feet.

Cirque du Soleil, MSC


In the past, cruise-ship entertainment has gotten a bad rap, but passengers on the MSC Meraviglia and Bellissima are unlikely to have any complaints. They'll get to see four exclusive Cirque du Soleil shows (two per ship) in a multi-million venue where they can enjoy dinner and drinks before the spectacle begins.

Surf Simulator, Royal Caribbean


Royal Caribbean
Surf's up, and no one means the waves below the ships. More than a dozen of Royal Caribbean's ships feature the FlowRider, a 40-foot surf simulator that blasts adventurous riders with 30,000 gallons of water. Boogie-board riders are welcome, too.

Sky Bike, Carnival
Courtesy of carnival.com


Called SkyRide, Carnival's sky bike is on two of its ships, the Vista and the Horizon. It lets riders strap in and pedal — or race, if you're in a competitive mood — around a two-lane course that's suspended high above the deck.

Escape Room, Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of royalcaribbean.com


Royal Caribbean
Cruise ships are working overtime to shake their old-fashioned reputation and this amenity makes that clear. This trendy activity recently made the leap to a handful of cruise ships. One of the most deluxe escape rooms, aboard Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas, is called "Escape the Rubicon." Passengers work together to escape the S.S. Rubicon, packed with clues and special effects, before time runs out.

Ropes Course, Norwegian
Courtesy of ncl.com


One of the most impressive ropes courses at sea is on the Norwegian Escape. It's three stories tall and packs in a whopping 99 challenges, including zip tracks and two heart-stopping "planks" that let the bravest participants walk out over the ocean.

Water Coaster, Disney
Courtesy of disneycruise.disney.go.com


Finally booked a Disney cruise? Buckle up for this amenity. Though many cruise ships have a water slide or two, Disney ups the ante with a water coaster. The family-friendly AquaDuck, on the Disney Dream and Fantasy, whizzes rafts up, down and around through transparent tubes for 765 feet, and even includes a four-deck drop.

Go-Karts, Norwegian
Courtesy of ncl.com


Rev up the fun on the Norwegian Bliss, which has the longest go-kart track of any cruise ship. The two-level course features hairpin turns and, of course, the most pristine sea views you're likely to ever enjoy while racing.

Planetarium, Cunard
Courtesy of cunard.com


If speed isn't your thing, perhaps a relaxing star-gazing session is in order? The Cunard Queen Mary 2 has the only on-board planetarium, called Illuminations. With the dome retracted, the venue also hosts concerts and recitals, as well as impressive 3D movies.

Skydiving Simulator, Royal Caribbean


Royal Caribbean
Available on Anthem of the Seas and other Royal Caribbean Quantum Class ships, the RipCord by iFly gives you a taste of skydiving without truly leaving the ground — er, deck. Adventurous passengers get to "fly" for about a minute, always under the eye of a watchful instructor.

Snow Grotto, Viking


The intimate Viking Sea hosts a sophisticated Nordic-inspired spa with a special feature indeed: a (supposedly) invigorating snow grotto. Watch snowflakes spiral down from the ceiling in this icy, glass-enclosed room, then head to the steam sauna to warm up.

Rock Climbing, Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of royalcaribbeanblog.com


Royal Caribbean
Climbing walls have become a standard feature on many Royal Caribbean ships, some of which even feature two walls for double the fun. Passengers can climb up to 40 feet and choose from different routes according to their experience level.

Virtual Balconies, Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of royalcaribbean.com


Royal Caribbean
Interior cruise-ship cabins can feel a little claustrophobic, so several Royal Caribbean ships have a creative solution: virtual balconies. They are actually 80-inch LED screens that show live, high-definition views from the stem and stern of the ship, and since they even have sounds and a computer-generated balcony overlay, it might be difficult to tell the difference.

Personal Butlers, Silversea
Courtesy of silversea.com


Silversea bills itself as the ultimate in luxury cruising. One over-the-top amenity? Your cabin — ahem, your suite — comes with a dedicated white-gloved butler. Whether you need a stiff drink or want your shoes shined, they're ready to indulge your every whim with this luxurious cruise amenity.

Craft Brewery, Carnival
Courtesy of carnival.com


Just about every cruise ship gives you the chance to kick back with a beer, but on the Carnival Vista, you can indulge in beers that are actually made on board. The ship's Redfrog Pub and Brewery has a three-barrel glass brewery that actually uses seawater for the beer, thanks to desalination and reverse osmosis technology.

Ice Bar, Norwegian
Courtesy of ncl.com


Several Norwegian ships feature a Scandinavian-inspired ice bar, where guests can indulge in specialty vodka cocktails. Kept at a brisk 17 degrees, they require passengers to suit up in blanket-like parkas to enjoy the solid-ice bar, seats and glasses.

Moving Bar, Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of royalcaribbean.com


Royal Caribbean
No, you haven't had too much to drink — the floor really is moving. The oval, glassed-in Rising Tide Bar, found on several Royal Caribbean ships, slowly rises four decks, stops for a while, then descends back to its starting point. Not offbeat enough for you? Some ships also have robotic bartenders.

Laser Tag, Norwegian
Courtesy of ncl.com


Want to play like a kid on your cruise, whether or not you have them with you? Step aboard the Norwegian Bliss or Joy and you'll have a full-on laser tag arena at your disposal. Made to look like an abandoned space station, the arena has blasters that players can put in shield mode to thwart their opponents, or on a super-powerful setting to eliminate an opponent with just one shot.

Seawalk, Princess
Courtesy of princess.com


Afraid of heights? The SeaWalk on the Regal Princess and Royal Princess might not be for you. Otherwise, this glass walkway is a show stopper. Jutting out 128 feet above the water and 28 feet from the edge of the ship, it offers unobstructed views of the churning waves below.

Bumper Cars, Royal Caribbean


Royal Caribbean
Everyone's favorite amusement-park staple comes to life on Royal Caribbean's Quantum class ships. Bumper cars are just one of the fun diversions you can find at the SeaPlex, a venue that also hosts a roller rink, basketball court, and even a circus school where you can swing from a trapeze.

Grass Lawn, Celebrity
Courtesy of celebritycruises.co.uk


Love the way it feels when your toes sink into the grass? It's a sensation you won't have to give up if you sail with Celebrity, which features a lush lawn on the top deck of its Solstice Class ships. Picnic, listen to some jazz, play a little croquet — the choice is yours.

Bowling, Norwegian
Courtesy of ncl.com


Gutter balls may not hurt quite as much if you sink them during a voyage on the Norwegian Epic, which has six full-size bowling lanes: three in a family-friendly bar and grill, and three more in a swanky lounge that comes alive with neon lights at night.

IMAX Movies, Carnival
Courtesy of carnival.com


Movies theaters are a staple of cruise-ship entertainment, but Carnival has upped the ante with the first IMAX theater at sea. On the Vista, passengers can take in a range of IMAX movies in a special 187-seat theater with a screen that's a whopping three decks high.

Helicopters, Scenic
Courtesy of scenic.com.au


The super-sleek Eclipse fleet from Australian luxury cruise line Scenic has what might be the most eye-popping amenity of all: Two Airbus H130 helicopters that seat up to six passengers at a time, providing bird's eye views of some of the planet's most gorgeous, remote terrain.