Think cruising is all about sitting poolside with a drink in hand while you soak up some sun?
To be sure that’s still a very popular activity, but today’s cruise ships offer so much more than just a pool and a buffet. From waterslides that hang out over the edge of the ship to go-karts at sea, there is no shortage of things to do on a modern cruise ship.
In fact, Norwegian Cruise Lines has been at the forefront of the “arms race” among cruise ships to create vessels that are bigger, better, and have more things to do to entertain passengers. While that means the cruise line has spent billions on building and updating ships, it also means that passengers have no shortage of things to do and experience.
If you’re wondering just exactly what you can do on a Norwegian cruise, we have you covered. Below we’ve described dozens of things you can do across the cruise line’s fleet. Keep in mind that not every activity or feature may be available on each ship. If you want the most things to do, we suggest sailing on the line’s newest and largest ships such as the Norwegian Joy or the Norwegian Bliss. No matter what, however, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained while on your cruise.
Take in the View From the Observation Lounge
If there is a hallmark of the newest Norwegian ships, it has to be the Observation Lounge. Sitting high at the front of the ship, these lounges feature multi-story windows that let you take in a 180-degree view while still being in the comfort of the indoors. The lounge wraps around the entire front of the ship featuring a ton of spots to sit and watch the ocean and scenery go by. There is also a nearby Starbucks and bar so you don’t have to leave the view to grab something to drink. It’s a fantastic place to sit and talk with friends or family, or just sit on your own and take it all in.
Eat Somewhere Different Every Night
All ships in the Norwegian Cruise Lines fleet have a number of spots to eat, but the newer ships take it to another level. The Norwegian Joy, for instance, has more than 15 spots to dine. From the main dining room to sushi at Food Republic to BBQ at Q Texas Smokehouse and lots more, you can eat somewhere different every night and still not be able to try all the restaurants on the ship.
Smoke a Cigar While Watching the Water
You don’t have to be a regular cigar smoker to still enjoy a stogie. Many ships have a cigar lounge where you can buy and smoke one to relax in style. And if your ship has a Waterfront area, then they will also have a seating area where you can sit out and enjoy your smoke while watching the waves.
Race on the Only Go-Kart Tracks at Sea
If Norwegian has a claim to fame in entertainment aboard its ships, then is has to be their go-kart tracks at sea. Aboard the Norwegian Bliss and the Norwegian Joy there is a track that offers live racing. Sit down, strap in and take off around tight corners on the winding track — even in the middle of the ocean. It costs $15 to take your turn, so it’s pricey, but it’s also a one-of-a-kind thing to do on a cruise ship.
Save the Planet with Laser Tag
Battle another team in a space-themed fight to save the planet. Of course you can do that on a cruise ship! Sitting at the top of the Bliss and the Joy are laser tag arenas that rival anything you might find on land. The cost to play is $10 and you’ll need to wear closed-toe shoes. The good news is there are no age or height requirements. You only have to be able to hold the gun to play.
Check Out the Production Shows in the Evening
On every cruise you sail, no matter the ship, there will be production shows put on by the entertainment staff. For instance, Norwegian recently made headlines with their introduction of Footloose aboard the Norwegian Joy and the upcoming Kinky Boots on Norwegian Encore. In other words, these aren’t some low-level productions with a few singers and dancers. They are adaptations of major Broadway shows. It’s something you don’t want to miss.
Try Your Luck in the Casino
What’s a cruise ship without a casino? Every Norwegian ship offers a gaming area, complete with everything you’d expect from a land-based casino. You can play slot machines, roll the dice, double-down on blackjack, and even bet roulette. What might surprise you are the machines that are a little different from a Vegas casino. This includes coin-pusher games and skill-crane style games to win money. One thing to know is that payouts on any cruise ship are usually worse than what you’ll find at home.
Grab Some Texas-Style BBQ
We’ll admit, it’s a little funny seeing some of the waitstaff dressed up in cowboy hats and checked shirts, but hey, it’s a cruise. If you’re wanting to try some Texas-style BBQ while you are in the middle of the ocean, check out Q Texas Smokehouse, available on some ships. It features not just some good eats but also nightly country music showcases. You’ll have to pay a little extra as this is a specialty restaurant.
Have Some Adults-Only Time in the Vibe Beach Club
If you want to get away from the crowds — and any kids on the ship — check out the Vibe Beach Club. It’s an adult-only area with hot tubs, loungers, and even cabanas that you can rent. You can pick up a day pass at the Guest Services desk and enjoy your relaxing time from practically sunup until nearly midnight. The number of passes available is capped for exclusivity, so grab one early.
Check Out the Social Comedy & Night Club
A cozy spot that’s large enough to have a good time without being too big, the Social Comedy & Night Club is where you can hang out and laugh it up with the comedian on the ship or have a little late-night fun when it turns into a DJ-led dance party. Either way, you’re going to feel it in the morning from the belly laughs or the non-stop dancing.
Take a Stroll on The Waterfront
While cruise ships continue to get larger and offer more amenities that take you away from the ocean, The Waterfront on Norwegian does the opposite. A wraparound promenade that’s near the water, it features a wide walkway along with outdoor seating for restaurants. The result is a relaxing spot where you can walk and enjoy yourself while reconnecting with why people fell in love with cruising in the first place — the ocean.
Hear The Beatles at the Cavern Club
Considered where The Beatles got their start, the Cavern Club in Liverpool is one of the most famous live music spots in the world. Norwegian has recreated the spot on several of its ships. The Cavern Club is a brick-lined venue with a small stage (recreating the original). On the ship there is a Beatles cover band that will play some of your favorite songs. Other acts also perform.
Do Some Shopping for Luxury Items
In the market for a new watch, jewelry, or a nice bottle of liquor? Norwegian’s ships can sell items tax and duty-free while at sea and there are a number of spots where you can get your fix. The shopping area is always in the main walkways of the ship near the center so that you won’t miss it during your cruise.
Grab a Coffee From Starbucks Just Like Back Home
Sure you’re on vacation and you’re supposed to try new things… but sometimes your morning routine is too perfect to change. Good thing that Norwegian offers up Starbucks on its ships. That includes full-sized shops on some ships that look just like the restaurants you’d find anywhere on land. In other words, if you need to have your morning Starbucks, you’re in luck.
Explore Virtual Reality in the Galaxy Pavilion
For a long time people have talked about virtual reality becoming the next big thing. Now it’s finally starting to take root. Norwegian has put in the Galaxy Pavilion on some ships, which is an oasis of VR technology. Here you can put on headsets and ride roller coasters, walk a plank high above the ground, and even go off-road in a 4×4. It costs extra ($29 for 90 minutes) but it’s something that kids will love.
Hit the Arcade
If you have teenagers, they will likely want to hit the arcade. You’ll find one across the fleet, no matter which ship you sail. It’s a great way for the kids to spend an hour or two on their own having a fun time. During our trips games have been fairly new, but be warned that they can be expensive. And since all it takes to play is a swipe of your keycard, it’s easy to overspend.
Test Your Driving Skills with an F1 Simulator
The Galaxy Pavilion all about virtual reality, but perhaps the coolest feature is a traditional racing game that’s gone immersive. On some ships you’ll find a full-size F1 simulator. The experience consists of a replica car that you climb into, complete with foot pedals and a detachable steering wheel, similar to what real drivers use. Then you’ll feel like you are really driving the track thanks to three wraparound monitors that put you in the middle of the action. You’ll have to pay to drive the simulator, but in our opinion it’s worth it.
Catch the Sunset at Spice H20
On the back of some Norwegian ships is an adults-only spot known as Spice H20. At night it turns into a spot for dancing but during the day there is a large area to lay out, a bar, and a hot tub. Given the location and that only those 18+ can enter, it’s a quieter spot, making it perfect to take in a romantic sunset with someone you love.
Have a Beer (or 30+) at The District Brewhouse
No, don’t have thirty beers at one time. But if you are a beer lover, then you’re in luck. Some Norwegian ships have The District Brewhouse, which is craft brew paradise. With dozens of beers on tap and even more bottled, you don’t have to stick to Bud Light. No matter how picky a beer drink you might be, you’ll find something to sip and savor here.
Bathe in Front of a Picture Window Looking Over the Ocean
Only a select few cabins located in the exclusive “The Haven” of NCL ships have the perk, but what a perk it is. Spend the dough and you could have a cabin bathroom so large that it has a tub. It’s not just any tub, however. It sits right at the base of a large window with your own personal view of the ocean. While the cabins with this feature are pricey, it’s definitely a million-dollar view.
Embrace Your Inner Wine Snob at The Cellars
On a Norwegian cruise, it’s ok to be a little picky about wine. In fact, there is an entire wine bar called The Cellars with rack after rack of bottles for you to try. If you’re a beginner, learn what to taste for from the highly trained staff. If you already know your way around a bottle, then you can have a field day exploring the different options.
Have Some “Me” Time at the Spa
Get a massage. Get a facial. Get your hair or your nails done. There is no shortage of spa treatments you can get on cruise ships. It’s a great way to truly relax on your vacation and have some personal time during your trip. Just be prepared that the prices you find on a cruise are higher than what you’ll find back home in most cases.
Get a Workout With the Best View Ever
You might think a cruise ship’s gym would be small or poorly equipped like a hotel. That’s not the case at all. Not only are cruise ship gyms fully stocked, but they also have great views — imagine treadmills against floor-to-ceiling windows giving you a one-of-a-kind view not available anywhere else. If you like working out, it’s hard to find a better spot to break a sweat.
Watch Everyone On the Ship Go By in the Atrium
What’s the appeal of hanging out in the ship’s atrium? As the heartbeat at the center of the ship, it’s a focal point. Sit here long enough and you can watch every single person on the ship walk by. That makes the atrium of the ship one of the best spots on the ship to people watch. It also helps that there is a nearby bar to let you have a drink or two while you relax.
Ride a Waterslide… Over the Edge of the Ship
These days most cruise ships — including those on Norwegian — have waterslides on board. That means to stand out, a slide really needs to do something special. What about hanging over the edge of the ship over open water… with clear sections so you can see exactly how high you are? That’s what you’ll find on Norwegian’s Ocean Loops. The unique slide is built for daredevils and sure to be a favorite if you’re traveling with teens (or teens at heart).
Visit the Waterpark on the Ship
Maybe not everyone is ready for the Ocean Loops waterslide. But what about just some fun in the waterpark? Smaller kids will love the play area complete with tons of spraying nozzles and things to play with. The most fun feature is a huge bucket that fills with water and every few minutes dumps out, completely dousing the entire area — and all the kids playing.
Dine al Fresco Around the Ship
You might think that dining outside would be simple on a cruise ship. Truth is, however, it’s tough to pull off. Because the ship is normally underway, there is always a breeze, which makes it tough to eat outside. Norwegian, however, has put a lot of effort into battling this problem with wind breaks and covered areas. Not only is there outdoor dining for the buffet, but most restaurants (especially those on the Waterfront) have their own dedicated spots to eat outside.
Have questions about things to do? Let us know in the comments below…