Once upon a time, having a cool amenity on a cruise ship meant you got your towel folded like an elephant and an extra deck of cards. But the cruise line amenity bar has been raised alarmingly high in the past decade. Like, 300-feet-over-the-ocean-in-a-glass-orb high. Read on to see the 12 craziest amenities offered on cruise ships today.
The Ultimate Abyss
Royal CaribbeanHarmony of the Seas
This 45-meter, 10-story slide hurls you down the mouth of an angler fish at nine feet per second, screaming the whole way down as you slide on a burlap sack.
Cirque du Soleil
Didn’t get tickets when the Grand Chapiteau was in town? Hop on MSC’s newest ship for two specially produced shows, performed in a high-tech, $20 million Carousel Lounge designed specifically for Cirque performances.
Butlers for Every Cabin
Got a hankering for a rum and coke at 4 a.m.? Wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat because you forgot to reserve a spot on the shore excursion you told your kids you already booked? No problem! Every single passenger on Silversea gets a personal butler who’ll get you whatever they need, whenever they need it.
VikingStar, Sea, and Sky
Much like going from the sauna to the plunge pool in the spa to increase circulation, inside each Viking Cruises ship’s thermal suite, you can step from the steam sauna into a small enclosed room filled with artificial snow.
Royal CaribbeanQuantum, Anthem, and Ovation of the Seas
The giant glass orb stretches 300 feet over the ocean and gives an unprecedented 360-degree view out over the side of the ship. It also holds the world record for the highest viewing deck on a cruise ship.
NorwegianGetaway and Breakaway
Ladders, beams, and climbing nets stand above a mini-golf course that’s also part of the ship’s sports complex. The course finishes off with a big zipline across the complex, but not before you walk “the plank,” a board stretching 8 feet out from the ship over the ocean.
The Bionic Bar
Royal CaribbeanHarmony of the Seas
No more surly bartender judging you for ordering well vodka. Just type your order into one of the bar’s convenient tablets, then watch the robotic arms select the liquors from the bottles above, shake them vigorously, pour it all in a glass, and push it to the front of the bar.
Svedka and Inniskilllin Ice Bar
Somewhere there’s a guy in Siberia saying, “Let me get this straight… People on tropical cruises put on fur coats and go in a room made completely of ice to drink out of frozen glasses? What a country!”
Lawn Club Grill
CelebritySolstice, Reflection, Silhouette, Eclipse, and Equinox
It’s like someone took your backyard and put it on the top deck of a cruise ship. The real grass gives way to an outdoor kitchen where one member of your group gets to grill up the meat for everyone. No word if a second member gets to stand next to them and give unsolicited grilling advice.
Royal CaribbeanNavigator of the Seas and Harmony of the Seas; DisneyMagic
Interior cabins can be claustrophobic tombs where you sleep until 2 p.m. But Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise Lines want interior passengers to enjoy the same sights as their porthole-having neighbors, playing real-time, high-definition video feeds from the outside of the ship on screens over the “windows.”
Planetarium at Sea
CunardQueen Mary 2
Who says cruise ship education is limited to trivia? In this 150-seat planetarium, you can gaze at the stars and watch short features selected by the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. Only downside: No Pink Floyd laser shows on Saturday nights.
Formula 1 Simulator
Climb in an actual Formula 1 Ferrari and feel the same tight handling and exhilarating speeds drivers do as you navigate some of the toughest turns in the world. Just remember: brake, apex, accelerate.
Conde Nast Traveler | July 2017