The modern day cruise ship is kitted out with heaps of gadgets, rides, activities and specialty dining venues – all of which comes at a cost.

But as the cruise bill starts to add up, we’ve found some ways for you to keep entertained on the ship for free.


Lots of cruise lines have karaoke lounges and they are free. Cruise lines like Carnival Cruise Lines Australia and Royal Caribbean have dedicated karaoke bars where you can sing along to pre-recorded music. Carnival has live band karaoke where you can pretend like you’re a rockstar.

Dine on gourmet cuisine

While some cruise lines charge extra for their specialty venues, try Carnival, Crystal, Oceania and Seabourn include gourmet fare in the price of your cruise. Onboard Carnival, you can try burgers from the American master of meat, Guy Fieri. On Crystal, sample Japanese cuisine from Nobu Matsuhisa. Oceania’s Marina and Riviera has food from French chef Jacques Pepin and The Grill on Seabourn’s Encore is curated by Thomas Keller.

Conquer the ropes course

Carnival Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines have ropes courses which will challenge your fear of heights and your agility. The 16-piece SkyCourse on the Vista, Magic and Breeze is free and on Norwegian’s Breakaway, Escape and Getaway, there is the 40-elements rope course. It’ll get your heart pumping!

Try the sports quarter

Cruise ships have lots of sports facilities to keep you fit and active on your holiday. Most cruise ships have basketball courts, ping pong tables, shuffleboard, indoor soccer and more. Ovation of the Seas has the SeaPlex where you can ride around on the bumper cars or play some air hockey.

Play trivia

Testing your knowledge is a great way to keep the entire group entertained on your cruise holiday. P&O Cruises Australia hold wonderful trivia sessions throughout sea days. The cruise hosts will test everything from pop culture, geography, politics and general knowledge. You can even pick up some prizes if you’re knowledge is up to snuff.

Watch some Broadway shows

The entertainment onboard cruise ships keep getting better and better. Lines like Princess Cruises and Seabourn have partnered with Tony and Oscar award-winning producers and directors to create specially made shows for the sea. P&O’s Pacific Explorer has the new show Rock which has been one of the most popular shows onboard.

Put your putt-putt skills to use

From mid-range to even some luxury lines, putt-putt greens are on many different ships. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian as well as Disney cruise ships have these greens. Most are around nine-holes but you can keep on perfecting your putting.

Go swimming or frolic at the waterslides

The newer cruise ships have up to three swimming pools and some extras for the kids. Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, P&O and Norwegian Cruise Lines have some of the most epic waterslides. The Green Thunder on the Carnival Legend is one of the fastest and the steepest at sea.

Surfs up dude and the sky’s the limit

Most Royal Caribbean ships have the awesome surf simulator FlowRider which is free. You can test out your surfing skills but try and get the FlowRider early or on port days because the queues can be long. If you want to try your hand at some skydiving (without the plummet to earth) the iFly on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum and Oasis class ships are also free.

Watch movies

One of the best spots to watch free movies on your cruise is the pool deck. Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Solstice has a new lawn where you can watch movies under the stars. Cruise lines also air some movies in their theatres during sea days so it’s a lovely way to kill some time for free.

Listen to live music

Lots of cruise ships have lovely bars and lounges where you can listen to rock, pop, classic hits as well as jazz and blues. Request your favourite tune from the band and sing-a-long or enjoy a martini by the piano bar on your favourite luxury cruise line.