Cruise Activities

Belly flop contests are popular for all ages.

Cruise activities are varied and exciting. For most vacations, the real fun doesn't begin until reaching the destination. A cruise, however, brings meaning to the cliché "getting there is half the fun." Dozens of daily cruise activities at sea entertain, educate, and exhilarate passengers of all ages. Indeed, some experienced cruisers may never leave the ship at all, focusing their vacation on the multitudes of activities that make traveling a delight rather than a chore.

Fun and Games

Vacations are inherently fun, and many cruise activities revolve around laughter and amusement. Trivia games are a popular activity, including themed sessions such as television, cruise, or historical categories. Games shows are another favorite event, and variations of television game shows may be adapted to a cruise ship atmosphere. American Idol and Survivor are two widespread choices, particularly on cruise lines known for a party atmosphere such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Most cruise ships also offer a range of wild poolside games: hairy chest, sexy leg, and belly flop contests are always designed for a good laugh for both the participants and the audience. Some games, in fact, are designed for complete audience participation, such as Carnival's "What's In The Bag" competition or Royal Caribbean's "The Quest."

Cruise Activities: Educational Lectures

Educational lectures are some of the more sedentary cruise activities offered in varying degrees by most ships. Holland America and Cunard offer a large number of enrichment activities, but most cruise lines do integrate at least a few educational opportunities for passengers. Port lectures in particular are a frequent pastime, offering shopping suggestions and precautions. On larger cruise ships with extensive wine cellars, wine-tastings are choice activities, though they may require a minimal additional charge. Guest lecturers may discuss a range of topics from history to photography to science, and art auctions provide another educational venue for passengers with distinguished tastes. Dance lessons, ice carving demonstrations, backstage tours, casino gaming lessons, spa lectures, napkin folding demonstrations, and galley tours are other frequent enlightening cruise activities.

Fabulous Fitness

Mini Golf
Many ships offer mini golf on board.

As personal fitness becomes increasingly popular, cruise passengers find themselves with many opportunities to work up a sweat through different cruise activities. Morning workout classes often include yoga, Pilates, stretching, kick-boxing, and step classes, some of which may have extra fees, particularly if they use specialized equipment. Organized morning walks along the jogging track are another option, and many cruise ships have a wide range of sporting equipment such as basketball courts, golf simulators, pools, shuffleboard courts, ping-pong tables, ice-skating rinks, and volleyball courts. Royal Caribbean in particular is known for its wide variety of sporting activities, including a rock climbing wall on every ship, inline skating tracks, and miniature golf courses. Naturally, no matter what the cruise line, larger ships offer more fitness options.

Cruise Activities: Shop 'Til You Drop

What would a vacation be without souvenirs? Cruise ships provide many gift shops for passengers to satisfy shopping urges, including standard boutiques stocking postcards, shot glasses, toys, t-shirts, and other typical keepsakes. Specialty stores offer merchandise such as jewelry, liquor, perfume, upscale clothing, watches, and cruise line items (bathrobes, cookbooks, paperweights, picture frames, etc.). Though in many cases prices are comparable to land-based stores, savvy passengers will wait for the frequent sales, particularly on days when the ship is at sea. T-shirts, jewelry, and alcohol are frequently offered at discounted prices, with the best deals toward the end of the voyage.

Lady Luck

Passengers with a knack for the right numbers will enjoy cruise activities focused on the ship's casino. Even smaller casinos are well-equipped with a variety of slot machines accepting different denominations, video poker terminals, and classic table games including roulette, craps, and blackjack. Tournaments are offered throughout the cruise, which passengers can enter for a set fee to compete for exorbitant prizes. Bingo games are a popular diversion, including "win a cruise" and "jackpot" games. For novice gamblers, casinos often offer gaming lessons, and casino crew members may be willing to provide an impromptu lesson when business is slow. It should be noted that some cruise ships, most notably all the Disney ships, do not feature onboard casinos.

Indulgent Pampering

A vacation is a relaxing experience, even more so when cruise activities include a trip to the spa for world-class pampering. Though all spa treatments invariably require additional and sometimes hefty fees, spa tours are available at the beginning of the voyage and may include a few minutes of "sample" treatments to entice passengers. Facials, manicures, pedicures, hairstyling, seaweed wraps, hot stone massages, and other exotic experiences are available as well as couple's treatments, perfect for honeymooners or any romantic indulgence. Spa lectures are less indulgent but still designed for passengers to feel their best and may include hair care, makeup, and nutrition tips.

Children's Activities

Obviously adults have plenty of cruise activities to choose from, and children have their own versions of many activities as well. Trivia contests, scavenger hunts, face-painting, board games, craft projects, and video games are popular children's activities, as well as parties, tours, and movies. Educational activities are often centered around upcoming ports of call, and children's areas include assorted fitness equipment such as pools, ball tanks, and play rooms. Each cruise ship offers different types of cruise activities for children, typically divided into similar age groups and always supervised by experienced counselors.

On Your Own

For some vacationers, the whole point of a getaway is to avoid planned activities. While there is much to choose from on a cruise ship, passengers are free to relax in their own way: sunbathing on the deck, indulging in a hot tub, reading from in an isolated deck chair (limited libraries are available on many ships), watching movies (many ships offer new movies on cabin televisions), surfing the internet (available for an hourly fee on most vessels), sampling gourmet treats, or simply letting the cruise take you away from any land-based troubles.


No matter what types of cruise activities you are interested in, you will find them offered at sea. From educational events and luxurious pampering to slapstick games and high seas high rolling, activities at sea are sure to convince every passenger that getting there truly is half the fun.

Cruise Activities