The face of cruising is changing, with surf simulators, virtual car races and waterslides taking over the mass-market scene.
Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess kicked off the trend last year when it launched with the SeaWalk. Giving the impression of walking on water, the glass-bottomed walkway arches around the ship at 8.5 metres above the water.
This year, Norwegian Cruise Lines introduced the first ice bar at sea aboard Norwegian Getaway, while Evergreen Tours took technology aboard its
‘Star Ships’ to the next level with a pool area that converts into a cinema at night.
But over the next few years cruisers can expect to see things get wilder and more adventurous on board.
Here’s our pick of the most innovated features to watch out for:
Thrills on board
Tired of rock climbing and golf, then why not take hover above the cruise ship?
Coming this November aboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas is the first aerial attraction at sea – the North Star.
Attached to a mechanical arm, the pod takes passengers up 900 metres for 360-degree views of the ship. The 15-minute ride can be taken at sea or at port and is completely free.
For something a little closer to the ground, passengers can try the RipCord by iFly – a skydiving simulator that keeps passengers floating above a wind tunnel; or the surf simulator, where guests can learn or practice their surfing skills.
Meanwhile, Carnival Legend will bring the steepest and fastest waterslide at sea to Sydney when she arrives in September.
Commencing with a close-to vertical drop of 10 metres, the Green Thunder waterslide takes guests spiraling down three decks at 65 kilometres per hour before spitting out in a small pool.
The ride is already available on Carnival Spirit, which sails from Australia year-round.
Royal Princess’ SeaWalk [mentioned above] is also now available on the ship’s sister-ship Regal Princess, which launched in May this year.
It’s show time!
Who needs props and cardboard sets when you have dancing robots?
Royal Caribbean has paired advanced technology with performers on Quantum of the Seas to present highly visual productions never before seen on land or at sea.
It all takes place in Two70° – a room made up of floor-to-ceiling windows, which convert into any scene using 18 projectors over 30 metres wide and six metre tall surfaces.
The room also has six two-metres high moving Roboscreens that move to music and unite to create unique shows.
Carnival may not have dancing robots, but it does have Jennifer Hudson, Foreigner, Jewel and Lady Antebellum.
The line’s LIVE concert series launched this year with 13 bands and musicians performing on select cruises to The Bahamas, Cozumel and Catalina Island.
As well as watching them perform live, VIP guests have the opportunity to meet bands for a photo!
Next year, Evergreen’s two new ‘Star Ships’ – Emerald Sun and Emerald Dawn – will sail with a convertible pool area.
Introduced on Emerald Star and Emerald Sky earlier this year, the outdoor space is a heated pool covered by a retractable roof during the day, and transforms into a cinema at night.
Oh, and don’t forget Norwegian Getaway’s ice bar at sea! The SVEDKA and Inniskillin Ice Bar is a frozen chamber inspired by the ship’s home city such as South Beach’s iconic Ocean Drive skyline. It also has “Welcome to Miami Beach” and serves guests six Florida-inspired specialty drinks made from SVEDKA vodka and Inniskillin ice wine.
Getaway also has the first Grammy Experience at sea featuring live jazz and R&B performances by past Grammy winners and nominees.
Imagine a head-to-toe oil massage followed by a dip in the outdoor ‘quiet zone’ pool.
P&O International had extreme relaxation in mind when designing its 3,600-passenger Britannia.
When the ship launches in March it will have two spas on board – the Retreat, an alfresco spa terrace where guests can lounge around in shaded cabanas or indulge in a treatment; and the Oasis Spa, which features a serenity pool and bar, a meditation room and several treatment and aroma therapy areas.
For a completely private and relaxing getaway, then look no further than Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Escape.
Guests who book the ship’s Haven by Norwegian suites will have exclusive access to a private restaurant with an outdoor terrace, a lounge, a courtyard area with retractable roofs, a sauna, a sundeck, a pool and whirlpool.
During Diamond Princess’ recent $30 million renovation, she was fitted with an 817 square-metre bath and garden complex. It includes indoor and outdoor areas, containing classic Japanese bath experiences.
It’s like you’re at the beach
MSC’s two new revolutionary mega ships may be three years out from launching, but they’re already receiving a lot of buzz.
The 5,300-passenger vessels will be the very first to be fitted with The Seaside – a sea-level promenade that circumnavigates the ship and contains outdoor spaces such as restaurants, shops, a theatre and panoramic lifts with sea views.
The line’s UK and Ireland managing director Giles Hawke described it as “very South Beach.”
“The idea is to bring passengers closer to sea level so that they feel as if they are at the beach,” he added.