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. The cruise line has spent billions on building and updating ships, so 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.
One Note About Things to Do on Norwegian Cruise Line
Before we get too far, there is one thing you should know. In our experience, many cruise lines have a consistent experience regarding things to do, places to eat, and bars to drink, across the entire fleet. Norwegian does some of this, but we think there is more of a difference between newer and older ships.
So while we’ve tried to cover many things you can do below, they may not be available on all ships. Keep this in mind.
If you want the most things to do, we suggest sailing on the line’s newest and largest ships such as the Norwegian Encore or Norwegian Prima. These ships typically have much more going on. No matter what, however, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained while on your cruise.
It All Starts With the Pool and a Drink
At the start of this article, we mentioned poolside and a drink. Well, when it comes to things to do, you can’t beat it. No matter which ship you sail, the pool will be a main focal point of the topside of the ship.
And like any good pool, there will always be a bar right nearby to where you can grab anything you want to sip on while you soak up the sun or hang out in the water. It may be simple, but it’s hard to think of anything more enjoyable to do on your cruise.
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.
In particular, newer ships seemed to be skewed toward fine dining, including spots like Onda by Scarpetta and Le Bistro. So be prepared to get fancy.
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 newest ships like Norwegian Prima, Encore, and more, 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 around $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, Joy and Encore are laser tag arenas that rival anything you might find on land. The cost to play is around $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 offers Broadway-style shows of Footloose and Kinky Boots on ships. In other words, these aren’t some low-level productions with a few singers and dancers. They are adaptations of major Broadway shows for performance at sea. 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. The ships even sell their own scratch-off’s
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.
Have a Mojito (or Six) at Sugarcane Mojito Bar
One bar that you’ll find on many NCL ships is the signature Sugarcane Mojito Bar. As you’d guess, this spot specializes in the tropical drink. Sure, you can get a classic mojito, but there are a lot of different flavors that you’ll want to try. This includes:
- Spicy Passion Mojito (spiced rum with passion fruit)
- Pineapple Coconut Mojito
- Jalapeno Cucumber Mojito
- Raspberry Guava Mojito
- Coco Mojito
Can’t make up your mind? How about a mojito flight where you can try them all? There are also other rum based drinks like a Floridita for you to enjoy in this cozy hangout.
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… or also known as Oceanwalk on some ships… 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 areas are always in the main walkways of the ship near the center so that you won’t miss it during your cruise.
Take in the View From the Observation Lounge
If there is a hallmark of Norwegian ships, it has to be the Observation Lounge. Sitting high at the front of the ship, these lounges (such as the one on Norwegian Joy, shown above) feature huge 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. It’s a fantastic place to sit and talk with friends or family, or just sit on your own and take it all in.
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 (about $30 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 extra 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. A similar spot called Soleil on Norwegian Prima offers a spot to lounge at the back of the ship and take in the view.
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.
Like High-End? Stay in the Most Exclusive Area of the Ship
On NCL ships, there is an exclusive spot known as “The Haven.” This area is home to high-end rooms that you don’t find elsewhere, but it comes at a price. 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.
Then there are exclusive pools, restaurants, and lounges that are only for guests staying in Haven rooms. It’s not for everyone, but those wanting the swankiest stay on the ship should check it out.
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 Mandara 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 NCL’s ships in the Mandara Spa. It’s a great way to truly relax on your vacation and have some personal time during your trip.
Norwegian is known for pushing the boundaries on the spa. This isn’t just a place to get a massage. They often have cold rooms (with literal ice), thermal suites, hot tubs, and more. It’s a complete destination that has to be seen to be believed. 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). Other ships will have different slides as well, but this is the most extreme in the fleet.
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 have their own dedicated spots to eat outside.
Have questions about things to do? Let us know in the comments below…
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Are there games, or contests during the cruise?
All the time. From trivia to basketball to hairy chest contests… there’s always a little competition going on somewhere.