If you are sailing Royal Caribbean, then one of the biggest draws might be all the activities on the ship. From rock-wall climbing to waterslides to even bumper cars, the cruise line is known for pushing the limits of what’s possible on a cruise ship.
And one activity is synonymous with sailing Royal Caribbean: the Flowrider. Across practically the entire fleet you’ll find this ride, and it’s a huge draw. But what exactly is the Flowrider? And how does the process of riding it work?
We have everything you’d want to know about the Flowrider to get you prepared for your next cruise.
What is the Flowrider? How does it work?
Flowrider is an attraction across Royal Caribbean’s fleet that is essentially a surfing simulator. A continuous thin layer of water is shot out at high speed over an incline. The result is a layer of water that is only a few inches thick, but is powerful enough that you can ride on it with a boogie board or a specially made surfboard.
So beginners can hop on and learn to ride while laying down on a boogie board. (If you can hold onto the board, then you can learn to ride.) And if you’re a pro, then you can surf like you would a real wave, carving back and forth.
What are the age and height limits?
Have kids? There’s no doubt that they will be excited to try the Flowrider. Fortunately for them, Royal Caribbean doesn’t have an age minimum. However, they do have a minimum height. Riders must be 52″ tall in order to boogie board. They must be 58″ tall in order to surf standing up.
Based on average heights, that comes out to about 9-10 years old for most kids before they will be able to boogie board.
What are the weight limits for the Flowrider?
While there might be weight limits, we’ve never seen any specifically mentioned on signs around the Flowrider. Instead, the only restriction seems based on height.
What are the hours of operation?
Unfortunately, the Flowrider is not open all day, every day. Instead, the hours will vary and it’s usually open for several hours at a time before taking a break. The good news is that there are normally open hours each day of the cruise, including days that the ship is in port. In other words, there will be plenty of opportunities to ride.
That said, some sessions may be reserved only for people wanting to surf and others just for people wanting to boogie board. You can check the ship’s daily planner each day for the specific hours and which type of riding the session is for.
It’s also open for private lessons if you’re willing to pony up the money.
How do you sign up to ride?
To ride the Flowrider, it’s not just a case of showing up and getting in line. First, you will have to head to the office near the ride to get approval. There, you’ll be told about the ride, including some safety aspects. You’ll also need to sign a release waiver before you ride. Once completed (takes about 5 minutes), you’re given a wristband. This lets the staff operating the ride know that you’ve been through the safety briefing.
You’ll only be able to ride with the wristband, so make sure you don’t take it off afterward.
Once you’re ready to ride, then you simply hop in line by the side of the Flowrider. There are no reservations required; it’s simply first-come, first-served.
How do you actually ride the Flowrider without falling?
When you ride, the instructor will ask if you’ve ever done so before. If not, they will give you some advice on how to get started. From there, you’ll lay on the boogie board and then ease yourself into the wave.
The best advice is to grab the board with both hands near the top and then place your elbows on the board as well (it’s tempting to hold your elbows out). From there, try to position yourself back on the board as far as possible. Lean too far forward and you’ll find yourself shooting forward on the wave, instead of being nice and centered in the ride area.
Once you get the feel for how to ride, the staff will show you how to start adding in more moves like carving back and forth and even sitting up on your knees on the board.
How long does the ride last?
There’s no timer on the Flowrider; everyone goes until they’ve had a decent turn. If you immediately wipe out, then you’ll get more chances to try. Likewise, if you’re a pro and don’t fall, then the staff will encourage you to try some more advanced maneuvers that may mean you soon fall off.
In general, the rides seem to last 3-4 minutes each, but there is no set time.
Is the Flowrider difficult to do?
Overall the ride is fairly easy, but there is a definite learning curve at the beginning. If you’ve never done anything like it before, don’t be surprised if it takes a couple of tries to get the hang of it. But we have yet to see anyone who simply can’t do it after giving it a couple of shots.
But just like anything else, if you want to challenge yourself, then you can make the ride more difficult. For instance, if you feel at ease just riding on your stomach then the staff will have you get up on your knees. Once you’ve mastered that, then it’s time to start trying to do some turns (including full 360-degree turns).
And if riding on the boogie board is too easy, then you can level up to start trying the surfboard. In other words, there’s always something new to learn, but getting started isn’t too hard either.
Does it hurt if you fall?
Eventually you are going to wipe out on the Flowrider. The good news is that most likely only your ego will be hurt. The entire area is padded, and the floor itself that the water flows over also gives way. So in most cases, you’ll be ok if you fall.
That said, with the fast-moving water there’s always the chance to fall awkwardly. In the safety briefing they will go over how to fall safely, including tucking your head. It’s a bit of an extreme sport, so getting dinged up is possible, but for most people it’s not an issue.
One note about swimsuits (especially women)
The entire crux of the Flowrider is a fast-moving layer of water. Most of the time you’ll be riding on top of that water, but when you fall, you get the brunt of it pushing you. That means if you have any clothing that can catch water, it might be getting pulled down.
So women wearing bikinis might find that the rush of water wants to pull parts of their swimsuit down. Guys wearing shorts that are a little loose might end up showing more than they intended. So when you fall, it’s a good idea to double check that everything is in the right place before you start strolling back to the line to ride again.
Is the Flowrider fun?
There’s no doubt that riding the Flowrider is a lot of fun. In fact, you’ll find all ages riding it from adults down to kids. Being able to glide over the water and then practice some moves is pretty entertaining.
That said, we’ve personally found ourselves getting a bit bored after three or four rides in a day. Once you get the hang of it you can keep practicing new moves, but the actual act of riding gets to be old news. So it’s not something that we want to do all day, every day, but for several sessions it’s really cool.
Truth be told, we get a kick out of grabbing a drink and sitting in the stands watching the Flowrider. Each ship has several rows of “bleachers” where you can sit and watch the other riders. It’s great to see someone looking extremely nervous for their first ride then get the hang of riding. It’s also fun to see more experienced riders try some new moves. And of course, nothing beats the wipe outs.
In other words, yes it’s fun, but if you get a little bored, then try watching others take their turn.
Which Royal Caribbean ships have the Flowrider?
If you’re sailing on Royal Caribbean, then most shops will have the Flowrider, and some Oasis-class vessels even have two.
That said, a handful of older ships do not have the attraction. This includes Vision of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, and Rhapsody of the Seas.
More on sailing Royal Caribbean:
- 41 Must-Do Activities Aboard Royal Caribbean Ships
- Complete Guide to Sailing Royal Caribbean (What It’s Like)
- Worth It? Complete Guide to Royal Caribbean’s Drink Package