(BPT) - Cruise liners are no longer just giant ships heading to enviable destinations. They are small, floating cities, destinations unto themselves, packed with unexpected entertainment from on-board planetariums to skydiving experiences.
“As cruise ships add more exciting features to their decks, they can offer a well-rounded vacation experience for the whole family,” says Jeanenne Tornatore, senior editor for the travel booking website Orbitz.com.
Here are five of the coolest cruise features around.
Royal Caribbean wants you to pull the ripcord by taking a sky dive at sea. Available on Quantum of the Seas, the RipCord skydiving experience is more floating on air than leaping from a plane. Adventurous passengers step into a wind tunnel that propels them vertically. RipCorders get the benefits of flying high with the sea on both sides without any of the drawbacks of having to pull their chutes.
Home to the only on-board planetarium in the world, the Queen Mary 2 offers multiple space shows daily and courses on celestial navigation for those lucky enough to be on board. If scoping the stars isn’t your thing, the ship also offers a rich array of on-board speakers, wine tastings, golf simulations and a casino to keep you busy.
Sports rule on the Royal Princess from Princess Cruises. In addition to the standard workout center-jogging track-fitness class trifecta available on many ships, the Royal Princess also features a full indoor driving range and a laser shooting range so you can blast your travel companions away. Cool off at night by getting a gander at The SeaWalk, a glass-bottomed walkway that hovers above the ocean and offers stunning views of the outside world.
Just because your kids are on vacation doesn’t mean their brains have to be. Boasting an on-board science lab for children, Royal Caribbean‘s Oasis of the Seas is as educational as it is relaxing. Winter and summer converge on this pleasure vessel since passengers can choose between fun in the sun in the ship’s pools or cool it off at night by either hitting the on-board ice rink or taking in a chilly skate show.
Make a splash
Most ships have on-board pools. Yawn. Some even come with private pools for the ritziest passengers. But only one has a full-scale water coaster. The 765-foot AquaDuck slide available on Disney Dream cruise ships sends guests plunging down four deck lengths and into a lazy river. But don’t worry, there’s something for passengers who want a more relaxing vacation. Disney Dream also offers an adults-only Quiet Cove Pool that’s scream-free.
Modern cruising now incorporates all the luxury you expect from a cruise experience and spices things up with one-of-a-kind ship attractions that bring the adventure back on board.