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Long gone are the days of shuffleboard and bingo as the most exciting things to do at sea. With the emergence of a new generation of mega ships and their innovative deck attractions, the activity quotient has escalated substantially. Here are six of our favorites.
AquaDuck and AquaDunk, Disney Cruise LineOther cruise lines may offer waterslides, but only Disney Cruise Line features an aqua coaster onboard its Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy ships in the form of AquaDuck. Adding an extra layer of fun is the narrative quality of Donald Duck’s mischievous nephews — Huey, Dewey and Louie — testing their creation on their unsuspecting uncle. Naturally, passengers also get to try it out, riding two-person rafts up and down and around the ship on a delightfully lengthy route.
When it came time to install a new waterslide on Disney Magic, the nephews were at it again with a free-fall variant dubbed AquaDunk.For this one, Donald and guests are singularly subjected to a breathtaking plummet into a body tube that cantilevers over the side of the vessel for a helix turn before finishing with a refreshing splash.
Race Track, Norwegian Cruise Line Can you believe that Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) newest ship — which launched this month — features go-karts on its upper deck? I had the opportunity to sample the experience ahead of time on its sister ship Norwegian Joy, and it was a blast to try the first such circuit at sea. Now, imagine swiftly turning corners and ramping up and down to jockey for a position in, say, Alaska. The electric vehicles used here make it possible (with zero environmental impact).
RipCord by iFly, Royal Caribbean International Royal Caribbean International is known for its FlowRider surf simulators, but when the line introduced Quantum of the Seas, it added a skydiving simulator into the mix. Sister ships Anthem of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas have since followed with their own RipCord by iFly perched on the top deck over the stern. Using high-velocity recirculated air streams, passengers can actually float in a translucent tube.
SkyRide, Carnival Cruise LineNo ship has yet to attempt a full-blown roller coaster, but you could argue that SkyRide onboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Horizon and Carnival Vista ships — and soon to be onboard Carnival Panorama — is the closest there is. The suspended cycling attraction is self-propelled by riders, but once momentum is achieved, the vehicles follow the dips and turns in the track just like a shoreside coaster. The family-friendly attraction also provides a workout. The wait is longest on sea days, so consider lining up when it first opens on a port day to maximize the experience.
Ultimate Abyss, Royal Caribbean International Clients less inclined to don a swimsuit should try out the Ultimate Abyss from Royal Caribbean International. The dry slide — the tallest at sea — is offered onboard Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas. Riders step into frictionless bags to speedily spiral down 10 decks in 13.14 seconds. The 27-degree incline is further accented by flashing LED lights, which up the thrill ante. It’s also a quick way to get from the sports court to Johnny Rockets, should you fancy a hamburger after your plunge.
Zipline, MSC CruisesNew to the seven seas is MSC Seaside, which features the longest zipline on a passenger ship. Stretching above the pool deck from the midship smokestack and running back to the stern are two parallel lines that guests can strap into. Queues can be long considering the attraction’s relatively short duration, but the alfresco descent and view are worth it. The ride isn’t overly intimidating, making it ideal for many.