Cruise ship adventures you never knew existed

Cruises have a bad reputation among avid travelers. It’s believed that cruises are for people who don’t want to plan trips—those who would rather sit by the pool or sample the buffet rather than step out of their comfort zone. If you haven’t boarded a ship or checked on the industry in a while that might have been true then, but it certainly isn’t the case anymore.

Today cruise ships have the ability to sail people to their destinations more quickly, allowing more time for exploring beyond the confines of the ship. They are also expanding the number and diversity of destinations, affording travelers more options than ever before. But the most dramatic change of all has taken place on the ship itself.

Cruise ships were once a series of dining options pared with sunning spots, a pool or two and cramped galley rooms have now transformed into the ultimate vacation hot spots, bundling anything and everything a traveler could imagine wanting—all within walking distance. Luxury shopping, top-notch entertainment and on board adventure are now part of the package on major ships.

Long gone are the old days of cruising—you won’t believe the new adventures you’ll find on board.

1. Skydiving

 (Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

You might think skydiving requires a plane, parachute and a nice patch of earth to land on—but the crew at Royal Caribbean has made those extras obsolete. The new Quantum of the Seas ship, which has recently taken its first voyage, features a simulated skydiving experience that will blow you away. RipCord by iFly brings the sensation of skydiving out to sea for the first time ever using a giant wind tunnel and a professional instructor. Take your turn in the wind tunnel overlooking the ocean at the back of the ship and see what it feels like to fly.

2. Fencing

 (Courtesy of Cunard Cruise Line)

En garde! There’s no better time to learn the basics of fencing than at sea—take lessons on board Cunard’s Queen Victoria. Whether you’re an expert looking to improve or completely new to the sport, the Cunard crew is there to teach. Join the class, become a pro and never again worry about pirate attacks.

3. Get a birdseye view of the ship

 (Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

The North Star gives Quantum guests a truly one-of-a-kind look at the ship and the seas far beyond. The pod offers 360-degree views while rising more than 300 feet in the air—first over the boat and then outstretching above the sea far below. The breathtaking aerial tour is sturdy in the lift operated pod, but those afraid of heights might want to skip this attraction.

4. Ice skating

 (Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

Double axels and layback spins galore on the open ocean. Royal Caribbean has ice skating rinks on the Freedom Class and Voyager Class ships. The rinks are open for passengers to play or practice their skills—they have instructors on standby—and they also host shows on the ice with professional skaters.

5. Zip lining

 (Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

Typically associated with jungles or adventure courses, Royal Caribbean was the first to take the zip line to the ship in 2009. The Oasis Class ships feature a zip line nine decks above the boardwalk. The views are one-of-a-kind on this quick thrill ride so take it all in.

6. Ride epic waterslides

 (Courtesy of MSC Cruises)

In a brilliant fusion of water park and open ocean, MSC Cruises brings the most epic waterslide to deck 18 of their MSC Preziosa. The 390-foot Vertigo Waterslide dips and plunges through an array of colors, before shooting riders out over the side of the ship into a clear section, offering views of the ocean below that you won’t see on any other slide.

Check out one of these adventures on your next cruise vacation.

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