Every year, cruise lines are coming up with bigger, bolder and more fun activities and features to offer cruisers. The idea is to design a ship so bold and buzzworthy that it draws travelers who just have to try it out.
We've sailed on quite a few new cruise ships in recent years, vessels that have somehow squeezed in innovative and entertaining venues and activities that no one had thought of before. These eight ships are real trend-setters in the cruise industry because of these standout features.
SkyRide on Carnival Horizon
This ride is a pedal-powered experience. You hop in the seat and start pumping to glide along the rail that encircles the perimeter of Carnival Horizon. SkyRide gives you incredible views all around from your unique perch.
Two riders at a time propel themselves on side-by-side tracks, and you can choose to race one another or just sit back and simply enjoy the sights as you make your circuit.
This is a free activity, and the ride is also available on sister ship Carnival Vista.
The RipCord by iFly skydiving simulator is located at the back of Anthem of the Seas and is another great attraction for thrill-seekers.
A wind machine in the big tunnel allows riders to feel as if they are free falling through the sky during this included activity. Instructors help you get in in the flow, explaining the best body positions so you can soar and get comfortable enough to try a few tricks once you get the hang of it. This activity is included in your cruise fare.
This is a true race track, with tiny Formula One cars zipping around the course that features hairpin turns, two levels and a garage area.
It's a blast. The track is about 1,000 feet long, and you can expect to race for about five to six laps and against about nine other drivers during each session.
This activity requires a fee. You can buy an unlimited pass for your cruise (about $100 for a weeklong cruise) or pay per ride ($10). There is also an unlimited daily ride pass for $30.
You can find tracks on sister ships Norwegian Encore and Norwegian Joy.
This innovative feature on Celebrity Edge serves as a flexible cantilevered space that can move among four designated decks.
The combination bar and lounge area is a floating platform that can be positioned at Deck 16 for "Dinner on the Edge" dining experiences. It moves to the Lido Deck 14 to add a bar and lounge to the pool deck. On Deck 5, it serves as an al fresco dining space for Raw on 5, the sushi and seafood eatery.
Down at Deck 2, it becomes a launch platform to tender ashore from the ship's Destination Gateway facility. The Magic Carpet has comfy seating, a full bar and space for live music acts.
This included thrill ride is a dry slide. You hop on a mat speed down through twisty tunnels that extend off the back of the ship and carry you more than 100 feet, from Deck 16 (the sports deck) down to Deck 6, which is the Boardwalk area of the ship.
It's over in about 12 seconds and will have you screaming with joy all the way. Plus, it's way more fun and a much quicker option to taking the stairs or elevator.
Ultimate Abyss is also on Symphony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.
This is the largest ropes course at sea, and it offers an almost infinite number of ways you can choose to navigate around the course. The course has a lot of cool features that will please daredevils and maybe freak you out if you are afraid of heights. It can be scary but is completely safe, as you are hooked in a harness and connected to a line the whole time.
The obstacles include two short ziplines. Plus, you can walk the plank and step right out to the edge to get a dizzying look over the side of the ship.
You'll take on rope walls, slacklines and thin beams before finding your way to the end of the course. The activity is free and also available on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway.
All of Viking's ocean 930-passenger cruise ships feature these large spa facilities.
Passengers can immerse themselves in the traditional Norwegian spa experience -- you get a sauna, steam room, cold plunge pool, thalassotherapy pool, snow grotto, hot tubs, cold dump bucket and experience shower. The elegant thermal suite also has ceramic loungers, padded lounge chairs and a full locker room.
The best part: it's included in your cruise fare, which is unheard of for such an immersive cruise ship spa.
This luxury expedition ship takes cruisers to new heights while exploring exotic destinations around the world in style.
The 228-passenger ship carries two six-passenger helicopters, and you can pay to take 20- or 40-minute rides to get a bird's-eye view of amazing places that are best seen from above. We tried it out in Martha's Vineyard, and we have heard amazing reviews of these helicopters rides over Antarctica.
The choppers feature noise-canceling headphones, and the pilot gives a commentary of the flight.
It's quite a thrill to take off a land right from your ship -- which also carries a six-passenger submarine onboard that can dive up to nearly 1,000 feet below the surface. This gives travelers more amazing ways to see the world.
Which of these trend-setting onboard cruise attractions are you most interested in giving a try on your next cruise?
Thanks for reading,