From an escape room to a skydiving simulator, Charlotte Flach rounds up new showstopping features and activities onboard ships
As cruise ship designs become ever more ambitious, incredible activities and fun entertainment are cropping up onboard. “With ships now very much destinations in themselves, onboard features are just as important as where the ship is going,” explains Steve Williams, director of sales for MSC Cruises, UK and Ireland.
Here we round up new onboard activities that are making cruises an easier sell.
Guests on the newly launched Scenic Eclipse can experience a deep-dive to see marine life up close in the ship’s six-guest Scenic Neptune submarine. Capable of reaching depths of up to 300 metres,Scenic Neptune provides uninterrupted views of sea creatures, coral reefs and underwater ruins.
Scenic Neptune is a fantastic bucket-list experience, according to Joseph Grimley, director of UK trade sales at Scenic.
“When selling, I would suggest travel agents focus on clients who are celebrating a special birthday, anniversary or those who insist on the best of the best,” he advises.
BOOK IT: Scenic’s 14-day Iceland & Greenland Explorer is priced from £9,195pp, departing 3 August 2020. Submarine excursions are at an additional cost.
Clients can take part in digital and physical challenges in Phantom Bridge, Princess’s new escape room. Up to six players will be challenged to captain a virtual ship through historical and futuristic scenarios, with each solved clue bringing them one step closer to escaping. The game, which has 700 different outcomes, will be available on Sky Princess from December and Enchanted Princess from next year.
“Phantom Bridge will appeal to all guests and families looking for a unique, gamified experience,” says Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises’ vice-president for the UK and Europe.
BOOK IT: Princess Cruises offers an 11-day Scandinavia cruise on Sky Princess. Prices start from £1,499pp, departing 25 April 2020.
Thrill-seeking clients can experience the rush of sky-diving onboard Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas thanks to RipCord by iFly.
The seven-metre-tall glass tube provides a controlled environment for guests to simulate flight while taking in ocean views. It is available to guests aged three and over, lasts just over an hour and includes a pre-flight training course, flight gear and time with a professional instructor in the wind tunnel.
Martin MacKinnon, sales director for Royal Caribbean UK and Ireland, says: “This is a popular activity, so we recommend guests reserve the experience via their Cruise Planner, although walk-ups may be possible during their cruise too.”
Book it: A five-night sailing onboard Anthem of the Seas is priced from £652pp based on two sharing, departing on 27 October 2019.
Launching in August 2020, Carnival’s new Mardi Gras ship promises to be a scream. Featuring Bolt, the first-ever rollercoaster at sea, the open- air ride perched high above the deck comprises more than 240 metres of twists, turns and drops. Two riders in a motorcycle-like vehicle will race along a track 57 metres high at up to 40mph.
“When agents are selling, they shouldn’t just target cruise customers, as Bolt will appeal to anyone who loves theme parks,” advises Iain Baillie, vice-president international sales, Carnival Cruise Line. “Focus on clients who may feel cruising doesn’t provide them with enough thrills. Emphasis should also be placed on the fact that not many people will be able to say they’ve ridden a rollercoaster at sea!”
BOOK IT: A seven-day Western Caribbean cruise round-trip from Port Canaveral costs from £624pp, with $50 onboard credit per stateroom, departing on 14 November 2020.
Clients can channel their inner Lewis Hamilton on MSC Cruises’ Formula 1 simulators. The new MSC Grandiosa, which sails from November, will feature a Sportsplex centre housing the Virtual Games Arcade and a high-definition virtual reality maze, alongside two life-size F1 racing simulators.
“The Sportsplex is a perfect way to pitch cruise to multigenerational families, or first-time cruisers who need a bit of convincing there’s more to cruise than quizzes and formal nights,” says Steve Williams.
BOOK IT: A seven-night cruise onboard MSC Grandiosa is priced from £479pp on a cruise-only basis. Departs on 11 January 2020 from Genoa.