Think large ship cruises are a snooze? You haven’t sailed lately on the world’s most exciting mega-ships. Each one is virtually a floating city with a world of attractions, activities, Broadway-style shows, luxury spas, shopping, specialty restaurants, and even on-ship breweries. The biggest ships are now raising the bar to one-up one another to offer unique experiences to make cruisers forget all about boring pastimes like on-deck shuffleboard. Here are four of the most exhilarating thrills at sea.
Crystal Cruises sails the Crystal Esprit, a 62-guest yacht that travels with its own mini-submarine. Lucky guests can take 30-minute underwater excursions in the submersible vehicle on the Adriatic Coast in spring and summer, and near the Seychelles islands in winter. The petite glass capsule holds two guests and a captain.
Disney Cruise Line wins accolades for offering the first elaborate water slide on a cruise ship. Designed by Walt Disney Imagineers and built on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy ships, AquaDuck is a one-of-a-kind water coaster where riders slide through a translucent tube, careening over the side of the ship then taking fast dips, turns and uphill swoops, all while taking in a fun story of Donald Duck and his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.
Norwegian Cruise Line hits the gas with the world’s largest go-kart speedways at sea on its three newest mega-ships, the enormously entertaining Norwegian Joy, Encore, and Bliss. Pursuitist buckled up for the ultimate wild ride on the Bliss, covering 1,000 feet of bi-level, indoor-outdoor track in a tricked out electric kart with a headrest blasting Formula 1 racing sounds. Each track has 10 cars with a boost button that can be used once per lap for extra zip. The eight hairpin turns make the competitive, 10-lap race feel much faster than its 30 MPH max speed. No driver’s license required.
Royal Caribbean takes cruisers for a thrill ride on 100-foot-high, 10-story tubular slide. Billed as the world’s “tallest slide at sea,” the Ultimate Abyss takes thrillseekers on a 13-second, LED-lit ride with a 420-degree corkscrew and 360-degree turns. Free aboard Harmony of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, and Oasis of the Seas.
Based in Los Angeles, Vicki Arkoff is Editor at Large for Pursuitist and a founding editor for Holiday Goddess, the online destination for chic women travelers from the editors of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, Conde Nast Traveler, and BBC. Her travel and lifestyle reports can also be been seen in Atlas Obscura, The Awesomer, DaySpa, The Chicago Tribune, CNN Travel, JustLuxe, Lonely Planet, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, Toronto Star, WellSpa 360, WestJet Magazine, Where Traveler, Where Guestbook, Yahoo News, and dozens more. She's co-author of the bestselling Holiday Goddess books (HarperCollins and iTunes) including 'The Holiday Goddess Guide to Paris, London, New York, Rome,' a travel Top 10 staple. As editor, Vicki's other books include 'Sinatra' (DK), 'Inside Mad' (Time-Life) and 'Virgin Los Angeles' (Virgin Books). She is one of the Usual Gang of Idiots for MAD Magazine, an entertainment reporter (Daily Variety, Entertainment Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine, CREEM), and authorized biographer for pop culture icons from the Beach Boys to Beastie Boys, Paul McCartney to MC Hammer.