15 Wildest Cruise Ship Activities (Would You Try a Sky Ride?)

Cruise lines want you to be entertained and will stop at nothing to make it happen.

Carnival cruise line celebration ship
Updated May 28, 2024
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If you’re not hip to cruising or thought it was all about the buffet, let us steer you straight. For one, you can ride a rollercoaster on a cruise ship — yes, really! Thank you, Carnival.

What other wild things can you do on these oceanlining juggernauts to step up your travel game with more amenities and activities every year? Let’s take a look.

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Attempt a surf simulator

Matthew Latham/Wirestock/Adobe man-riding-the-wave-machine

Curious about surfing but don’t want to try it in the open ocean? Hop on the FlowRider, Royal Caribbean’s surf simulator.

At 40 feet in length and gushing with 30,000 gallons of water, you can surf in front of an audience — who (hopefully) won’t tease you too much if you wipe out!

Do a ropes course

Jon/Adobe rope course on cruise ship

Norwegian Cruise Lines has the biggest onboard ropes course out there; with multiple levels and 40 different elements, you’re bound to have a blast with your pals.

You’ll also find ropes courses high up on some Carnival cruises, so if you love heights, go for it.

Drive a go-kart

sherryvsmith/Adobe the speedway on board

Who doesn’t love go-kart racing, especially when you have sprawling ocean views from your vehicle? Norwegian has the first and largest race track at sea, available on two of its ships.

You can go up to 30 mph on these tracks, so your adrenaline will really get pumping.

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Enjoy Central Park

Phuong/Adobe spectrum of the sea cruise

On Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships, there’s a miniature Central Park filled with restaurants and shops serving the same energy you’ll find in the Big Apple. Don’t miss the levitating bar!

There’s abundant greenery in the park, too — to the tune of 10,000 kinds of flowers and plants.

Go ice skating

NAN/Adobe luxury cruise ship sailing

Only on a cruise ship can you enjoy a port in the Caribbean by day, then return to your ship to go ice skating. Royal Caribbean makes it possible for adults and kids alike.

If you’d prefer to watch, you can also take in one of the ice shows with professional skaters.

Go ziplining

PixieMe/Adobe vacation on cruise ship

Adrenaline junkies, this one’s for you: Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas and Allure of the Seas both have a zipline for a prime flying adventure.

The 82-foot zipline zooms over nine decks below the sports deck where it’s located — not for the faint of heart! FYI, they give you a helmet.

Race a car

Mariusz Blach/Adobe luxury cruise ship leaving port

OK, it’s a simulator, but it sure feels like the real thing! On nine MSC Cruises ships, there’s an F1 simulator with all of the bells and whistles.

The racetrack is projected onto your windshield once you’re seated behind the wheel. Actual driver’s licenses are not required.

Ride a magic carpet

Silverpics/Adobe celebrity edge cruise ship anchored

The Magic Carpet is a floating platform on Celebrity Edge that sits away from the ship and over the sea. It has a full bar, restaurant, and space for performers on the top deck.

As it moves down, it adapts to become part of the experience on each deck, such as a pool area.

Play laser tag

Debbie Ann Powell/Adobe laser tag interactive game onboard

There’s a full-on laser tag arena on some ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet; Battle for Planet Z allows participants to join forces with robots or an alien scouting party. It’s all glow-in-the-dark, too.

Norwegian Cruise Lines also has augmented reality laser tag as an activity.

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See a movie in 4D

radko68/Adobe gigantic cruise ship leaving venice

We’ve heard of 3D and IMAX, but several cruise lines have 4D movie theater experiences. Strap yourself in and put on your 3D glasses because it’s an adventure.

Your seat moves, visuals come right at you, and yes, even smells are wafted into the space.

Stargaze in a planetarium

Yellow Boat/Adobe aerial view above luxury cruise

That’s right — there’s a luxury 3D planetarium on a cruise ship — Cunard’s Queen Mary II. Up to four showings daily of science and astronomy programming are available at sea.

When the dome is down, the planetarium doubles as a classical music space where live musicians perform.

Take a sky ride

Masyanya/Adobe cruise liner

Fancy peddling a suspended bicycle 150 feet over the ocean below? You can do just that on the Sky Ride on some Carnival cruise ships.

You’ll peddle around the top of the ship while taking in gorgeous views of the ship, sea, and port of call below.

Try skydiving simulators

Delphotostock/Adobe free fall simulator

Feel like you've leaped out of a plane on Royal Caribbean's Quantum-class ships in its skydiving simulator. An instructor will guide you as you fly high in a glass-encased tunnel.

Once you're in place, the air will whoosh up around you, sending you into a float. And yes, kids can try it, too!

Visit an ice bar

Kirk Fisher/Adobe colorful drink with pineapple

Leave it to Norwegian Cruise Lines to have an actual ice bar on its ship, the Breakaway. In true Scandinavian fashion, the seats, bar, and even the glasses are all made of ice.

Temps are a chilly 17 degrees Fahrenheit, so you may want to bundle up before stopping in for a cocktail.

Zoom down a 10-deck slide

Debbie Ann Powell/Adobe joy cruise ship

Most people know cruise ships have crazy waterslides, but Royal Caribbean has a dry slide that drops a whopping 10 decks and 100 feet: the Ultimate Abyss.

The tallest slide on any cruise ship takes you down into the darkness at up to 9 mph. What a ride!

Bottom line

Solarisys/Adobe the carnival cruise ship

There’s nothing wrong with taking a cruise and spending your time relaxing, dining, drinking, and exploring ports of call. However, some folks want onboard adventures, and these activities deliver.

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Cat Lafuente

Cat Lafuente is a Florida-based writer and editor with extensive experience in digital and print content spaces. Her own personal finance journey — particularly consolidating debt and paying it off, in turn boosting her credit score and becoming a homeowner — inspired her to join the FinanceBuzz team; she hopes she can help others do the same.