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BEACON Senior News

Family fun on the high seas

Mar 15, 2024 02:01PM ● By Victor Block

The entire family was busy enjoying their multi-generational vacation getaway. The grandparents were playing their favorite sport of pickleball, while their son and daughter-in-law were steering electric race cars along a winding two-level track. The grandchildren were getting wet and wild at the water park, which included a Twister Waterslide and drenching by a mammoth bucket that rained a torrent of water down on them from above.

It was unusual for family members spanning such a wide range of ages to experience such varied activities all in one place. Adding to the appeal was that the pickleball game, race car ride and soaking were available to passengers aboard some Carnival Cruise Line vessels.  

In recent years, the amenities and activities aboard giant cruise ships have extended well beyond those of the past to include some you would expect to find only on land. With more staterooms to fill, companies are adding more fun-filled features as they compete to attract passengers.

The imaginative offerings by Carnival Cruise Line are typical of the trend. Besides the previously mentioned activities, they include a bicycle track suspended over water, a miniature golf course and various sports like volleyball and basketball. 

Royal Caribbean passengers can enjoy ice skating, rock climbing and bumper cars, in addition to the first skydiving experience at sea. For those who have ever dreamed of becoming a circus performer, a trapeze school teaches the highs and lows of the craft.

Young travelers are drawn to a hand-carved carousel and an AquaTheater featuring a cast of skateboarders, divers and robots. Parents can experience robot bartenders at the Bionic Bar and dine in eight distinct “neighborhoods” offering everything from a suspended infinity pool and swim-up bar to adults-only retreats. 

Adults can find appealing options on other cruise ships as well. 

The upscale French expedition company Ponant offers an underwater lounge on some of its ships. Located below the waterline, this lounge provides a multisensory experience with large glass windows for underwater views, digital screens displaying images from exterior cameras and streaming subaquatic sounds.

Astronomy enthusiasts might appreciate the high-definition planetarium aboard Viking cruise ships. It presents astronomical shows that rival the quality of land-based observatories.

On some Viking vessels, the focus shifts from stars to snow in their thermal areas. These “snow grottoes” pay tribute to the line’s Nordic heritage with cold air piping into rooms as snowflakes fall from the ceiling. After chilling out, many people opt to warm up in the adjacent steam room and sauna.

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is renowned for housing the only full-sized planetarium at sea. The Illuminations Theater, with its giant dome, can accommodate up to 150 star-gazers. 

Narrated star shows, lectures and other programs are presented in partnership with the Royal Astronomical Society.

On Lindblad Expeditions ships, experts associated with the National Geographic Society provide informative and educational content. These immersive programs cater to photographers, undersea enthusiasts and other explorers. Lindblad vessels are specially designed to navigate some of the world’s most challenging environments, including the Amazon River basin, the Arctic and Antarctica.

Even Disney Cruise Line caters to parents with a variety of attractions and activities while their kids are careening down water slides and meeting Disney characters. Adults can indulge in exclusive dining and drinking experiences, including a romantic French-inspired restaurant. There are spas, private pools and secluded sun decks for relaxation, and virtual sport simulators are a popular choice among the wide range of leisure activities.

Other unique features on cruise ships add to the enjoyment. Princess Cruises offers a glass-bottom SeaWalk that extends over the sides of the ship, providing a bird’s-eye view of the ocean below. Norwegian Cruise Line offers a Formula One race car simulator, similar to those used by professional drivers, with custom software projecting images of real tracks and surround sound speakers. 


Cruise lines to consider for your next family getaway:

Carnival | 1-800-764-7419

Royal Caribbean | 1-866-562-7625

Ponant Cruises | (Request a quote online)

Viking Cruises | 1-855-338-4546

Cunard | 1-800-728-6273

Expeditions | 1-877-318-1858

Disney Cruise | 1-800-951-3532

Princess | 1-800-774-6237