If you’re a kid, there’s nothing that quite has the draw of an arcade. From the flashing lights to the chance to have some fun away from parents, the arcade is a paradise for kids and teens.
And if you’re a parent on a cruise? The attraction of the arcade is even stronger. There’s no better place to let the kids have some freedom for an hour or two while you get a break from watching them. After all, you likely didn’t book a cruise so that you could babysit the kids for a week straight.
So if you’re wondering what you can expect from a cruise ship arcade, we have details on the games available, how they work and how much they cost.
Note: The pictures below are from a recent cruise aboard the Carnival Valor. While every ship arcade will be a little different, this should give you a good idea of what to expect.
Cruise Ship Arcades Overview
Cruise arcades have come a long way from having a few quarter machines tucked into a random corner of the ship. While the arcade is rarely as busy as other places on the ship (like the casino!), as more families take cruises, there has been an investment into the area.
What you’ll usually find is that the arcade is still tucked away, but on a main deck — usually near places for teenagers on the ship like the teen nightclub. The entrance isn’t going to be as big and open as you’d see with the casino, so you might have to hunt for it a little or consult the ship’s map. For instance, the arcade on the Carnival Valor is a small entrance near the One Small Step Dance Club.
Today’s arcades look a lot different than parents might remember. Simple games like Pac-Man are out. The games today are a whole lot more complex and look almost like slot machines than video games.
Expect a wide variety of games. There are a few traditional games like Ski-Ball, but they have a decidedly new look. There are also racing games, shooting games, puzzle games, and lots of skill cranes in which you try to scoop up a prize.
Here’s a sample of games recently seen aboard a ship arcade:
- Operation G.H.O.S.T. (Shooter)
- Typhoon (Motion Simulator)
- Space Invaders (Large Version)
- Air Hockey
- Buzzer Beater (Basketball)
- Assorted Skill Cranes
- Baseball Pro Challenge
- Kung-Fu Panda Dojo Mojo
- Crazy Tower
- Spongebob Pineapple Arcade
While there are games for all ages, most of the games are aimed at bigger kids. If you have a small child that wants to play in the arcade then — depending on the ship — you aren’t likely to find a ton of games geared toward their age range.
Arcade Costs & How it Works
If it’s been awhile since you’ve last visited an arcade, you might be surprised by two things — the cost and the technology.
Gone are the days of taking a roll of quarters to play for a few hours. On the cruise ship, everything is handled through your room keycard — just like if you were to make a purchase in the gift shop. Anything you spend will appear on your onboard account.
To play, you swipe your card. It charges your account and begins play. If you play a game that earns tickets, they no longer dispense from the game, but are automatically credited to your card.
In other words, to play you only need you card for the onboard account. No cash or tickets are required.
There’s no way around it, playing in the cruise arcade is expensive. Nearly every game is between $1-2. That may not seem like much, but considering a game takes only a couple of minutes to play at most — or in the case of skill cranes, just 30 seconds or less — then it can add up in a hurry.
Like most things on a cruise ship, the arcade is pretty good considering it’s aboard a floating vessel traveling the world. It’s not as large or impressive as you’d find at Dave and Buster’s or a similar hangout, but you wouldn’t expect it.
It’s a great place for kids and teens to spend a few hours, although they will likely get bored after a trip or two. Just be sure to set spending limits because the costs can add up quickly.