Cruises aren’t for active, adventurous travellers, right? Cruises, you believe, are for people who loll around the lido deck pool, sipping cocktails and waiting for the buffet to open. Wrong. Oh, so wrong. Whether you’re keen to zip line over the treetops, scuba dive into the depths of a cenote, explore an ancient ruin, kayak through a mangrove thicket or scare yourself silly on a multi-storey waterslide, there’s a cruise line waiting to host your wildest adventure cruises.
The Best Adventure Cruises
Wet, Wild and Wonderful
If you’re a thrill-seeking water park lover, the choices are endless but you can start with Carnival, the cruise line that boasts the largest lineup. Carnival’s Fantasy, Ecstasy, Sensation, Fascination, Imagination and Inspiration all offer Waterworks, onboard collections of soul-searing 300 ft. slides and side-by-side racing slides. The Carnival Sunshine Waterworks park takes things a few feet higher still with a 334 ft. Twister slide, and twin 235 ft. racer slides, all part of a total of 40 onboard water features, while the recently launched Carnival Vista gives guests the opportunity to cling to rubber rafts and spin like tops on the Kaleid-O-Slide, a twisting, turning 455 ft. slide that features kaleidoscopic lights and other dizzying visual effects. Definitely not for the weak of stomach.
Carnival isn’t the only line ready to scare the wits out of its water park-loving guests. We recommend a ride on the Disney Magic’s Aquadunk, a slide that starts with a trap door opening under you, then sends you careening through a clear tube extending 20 feet over the edge of the ship. Scream all you like – no one will hear you inside all that plastic.
Free Fall, a slide featured on Norwegian Breakaway, Getaway and Escape is another great way to send your stomach flying toward your skull. Listen to the countdown, squeeze your eyes shut, then drop 250 feet straight down (and don’t forget to hang onto your bathing suit.) If that still sounds too tame, try the four-storey, 200 foot Epic Plunge on Norwegian Epic. After shooting down a steep, enclosed tube, you’ll fly into a giant bowl to swirl wildly for a moment or two before being sucked into a spectacular splashy ending in a pool far below.
Water parks are only the beginning of adventure cruises. Guests aboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class, Freedom Class, and Voyager Class ships can channel their inner beach bums and learn to surf or boogie board on the Flow Rider surf simulator, right on deck. With water rushing at up to 40 miles per hour and 30,000 gallons per minute, you’ll be hanging ten, or losing your board shorts – in no time.
Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class ships also offer RipCord by iFly a 23-foot tall indoor vertical wind tunnel with four powerful fans that create the feeling of free fall as guests float in the air in a simulated skydiving experience. It’s huge fun without any worries about a nasty landing.
While Royal Caribbean’s onboard adventure offerings are outstanding, excitement’s also abundant on shore. Shore excursion choices include everything from challenging the world’s largest overwater zip-line run in Royal Caribbean’s private port in Labadee, Haiti, to swimming with dolphins, horseback riding, parasailing, diving, and biking throughout the Western Caribbean, to bobsledding in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
And that’s just the beginning.
Carnival guests can experience canopy adventures, sport fishing and even helmet diving excursions in Mexico, the Bahamas and more, while guests of the Seadream Yacht Club ships Seadream I and II can hop on Waverunner personal watercraft or glide away on paddleboards, Laser sailboats or glass-bottomed kayaks, all from the water sports platform at the stern of each ship.
Even small ships, like Un-Cruise Adventure’s luxurious 22-and-36-guest ships Safari Quest and Safari Explorer feature swim steps so guests can take a dip off the stern, while the Wilderness Adventurer, Wilderness Explorer and Wilderness Discoverer, all adventure-specific ships, offer a kayak launching platform.
All About The Wind and the Waves
While we love all the water parks, the surf and skydiving simulations and the exciting shore excursions, our favourite adventure cruises of all is perhaps the simplest, a throwback to the earliest days of sailing. Onboard sailing ships such at the Star Clipper and Royal Clipper, the moment when the massive sails are unfurled and suddenly filled sends a shiver of excitement down the spine of every adventure lover. Where else but on a ship under full sail can we experience the true majesty and power of the wind and the waves?
So…when you’re planning your next great experience, forget every misconception you’ve ever had about cruises. Pick your ship and pack your bags. The big adventure is about to set sail.
Cover photo credit: Royal Caribbean