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My longtime prediction that a cruise line will install a roller coaster on its upper decks has finally come true: Next year, Carnival Cruise Line’s future Mardi Gras vessel will debut Bolt: Ultimate Sea Coaster.
When I began cruising more than three decades ago, I was lucky if there were any kid-friendly attractions onboard. Back then, children’s facilities consisted of small (if at all) playrooms with programs operated by the theatrical entertainment staff pulling double duty. Now, the list of upcoming rides and programs is enough to entice any first-time cruiser to hop onboard a new ship.
Bolt will take passengers on a nearly 800-foot ride in a motorcycle-style vehicle perched 187 feet above sea level. Thrill-seekers will race around the ship’s iconic smokestack, approaching speeds of 40 miles per hour. The attraction will be unveiled onboard Mardi Gras in 2020 from Port Canaveral, Fla.
This December, Carnival will also launch Carnival Panorama year-round from Long Beach, Calif., with a brand-new attraction. Collaborating with Sky Zone, the vessel will differentiate itself from sister ships Carnival Vista and Carnival Horizon by sporting an indoor trampoline park in place of an IMAX Theatre.
Parents planning a family vacation at Walt Disney World should consider Disney Cruise Line as either a supplement to the land portion or a full alternative. The company has another three ships launching in 2021, 2022 and 2023. Specific features have not yet been announced, but they are sure to impress.
Until then, Adventures by Disney is upping its river cruising game. In partnership with AmaWaterways, the brand will offer new family-friendly itineraries in 2020 that encompass the Rhone River, as well as extensions in Paris, Amsterdam and Budapest, Hungary.
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean International continues to enhance its existing fleet. For a line that once mostly eschewed waterslides, the recently relaunched Navigator of the Seas now has two: The Blaster is a water coaster, and Riptide is a head-first mat racer. Royal Caribbean is also elevating private islands with Perfect Day at CocoCay, showcasing 13 slides starting in May.
MSC Cruises is similarly anticipating the opening of its Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. The exclusive destination in the Caribbean will pride itself on staying more natural, and it will include a family lagoon and Family Explorer Club. MSC ships will begin sailing to the port Nov. 9.
Additionally, Princess Cruises will update its Caribbean Princess with The Reef Family Splash Zone in June. Although it does not have waterslides, the aqua park will include a splash pool, water sprays, showers and an interactive whale feature.
Norwegian Cruise Line has its own waterparks, and this fall, its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, will feature a more elaborate Atlantis-themed outdoor laser-tag arena, a larger open-air go-kart race track and a Galaxy Pavilion virtual reality center.