If the sea that surrounds your cruise liner is a little too choppy for you and the opportunities to snorkel, dive and paddle offshore don’t float your boat, why not choose a cruise liner that makes a splash with an impressive on-board swimming pool?
Quench your thirst for swimming, splashing and sliding by diving into our top thirteen…
13. Seabourn Quest Plunge Pool
As elegant as those who sail on this luxury line, the Seabourn Plunge Pool doesn’t boast any extravagant bells and whistles.
There’s no slides or water coasters.
What you get is a simple but stylish plunge pool flanked by two whirlpools, on a smart decked area, surrounded by sunloungers with a sea view. It’s quietly luxurious, which is in keeping with this class act of a cruise line.
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12. Oceania Marina and Riviera Pool
If you’re looking for a pool that’s more about elegance and style, rather than how much fun can be crammed into every square foot of water, the pools onboard the Oceania twins, the Marina and Riviera, are for you. They each have a built-in TV screen and water fountain, plus LED blue lights that, come nightfall illuminate the area with a stunning wash of azure.
There are also some plush lounge chairs scattered around, for those times when a plastic sunlounger just won’t do.
We need somewhere to sit, comfortably, with the cocktail that we ordered from the pool bar, after all!
11. Royal/Regal Princess: Movies Under The Stars
Watch a movie at the poolside cinema, while taking a dip in the pool, with Princess! Movies Under The Stars can be found on most Princess ships, but the Royal and Regal Princesses boast the biggest screens. Swim in the duo of freshwater pools at the same time as watching a new release, a classic or a sporting event. The colourful water-and-light show put on by the adjacent dancing fountains is just the royal icing on the cake!
10. MSC Divina Garden Pool
The Zen-inspired Garden Pool on MSC Divina is an infinity one, with four sculptures that use the magical power of sound to make you feel as though you’re in a tropical paradise, surrounded by birdsong and waterfalls.
Who needs relaxation tapes when you have this?
There’s a lively pool bar too, just in case all that tranquillity threatens to send you to sleep. You don’t get on-tap cocktails in the middle of a tropical rainforest now do you?
9. Viking Star/Sky/Sea Infinity Pool
The new fleet of ocean liners by Viking will all boast infinity pools that will make you feel like you’re about to fall off the back of the ship like a drunken sailor – or, to sell it more elegantly, like you’re floating blissfully with nothing between you and the sparkling ocean beyond.
Backed by glass panelling, the pools will cantilever over the stern so that guests can immerse themselves in the pool, and the sea, and the scenery, all at the same time.
8. Princess Cruises: Swim-Against-the-Current Lap Pools
Perfect for athletic types who want to keep fit during their cruise holidays (unlike some *cough* (us), who are happier to be spectators, watching with a mojito in hand, rather than take part). Someone needs to cheer the swimmers on, right?
The current is supposedly rather strong but if you fancy giving it a go and swimming against the current like a salmon trying to get upstream, we’re not going to stop you!
Just press the button next to the Buddha and swim with everything that you’ve got! It’s a brilliant full body workout – so they tell us.
7. AmaWaterways Certo/Primo/Serena/Reina/Sonata Pool
The reason (you guessed it) is the swim up bar (you know us so well, cruise fans). Onboard these river boats, not only is there a pool (which, in itself, is virtually unheard of on river cruises) but the pools have bars that you can quite literally swim up to. This means that there’s no need to suffer the inconvenience of clambering out of the pool every time you want a drink (which is often, if we know the typical cruiser!).
There’s also in-water seating, so you can perch your bikini-clad behind on an immersed seat while supping a refreshing cocktail, before swimming (or floating) away again when the mood takes you. Careful you don’t get carried away with the novelty and drink too much though. There won’t be a speedo clad policeman asking you to swim in a straight line to prove your sobriety but sinking too many shandies while you’re literally in the drink is never a good idea.
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6. RCI Brilliance of the Seas: Solarium
There’s nothing better than a little adult-only time, especially when you’re in the middle of the ocean on a cruise ship that appeals massively to families (aaargh! No escape!).
The Asian-inspired Solarium onboard the Brilliance of the Seas is such a child-free haven, where you can paddle in the pool, soak in the whirlpool or simply admire the huge elephant statuary and jungle environment.
The retractable roof also means that you can enjoy the relaxation, even if the weather wants to misbehave like the kids do, sometimes. Pack your waterbabies off to the Adventure Ocean Club, pick up your swimsuit and you’re all set for a splash-free swimming pool experience.
New boat on the block Quantum of the Seas also boasts a solarium to soothe all your family-holiday troubles away. Aaaand relax…
5. RCI Oasis and Allure: AquaTheater
Not only are these pools touted as two of the deepest at sea, plunging up to 18ft in their deepest parts (perfect for the diving lessons that are available) but they also morph magically into an AquaTheater at night-time, where aquatic performers, including aerial athletes, water acrobats and synchronised swimmers show off their moves in a dazzling water display. The amphitheatre seating means that nobody will miss a thing either.
Plus, if that’s not enough, there’s also a synchronised water fountain display, with water shooting up to 65feet – that’s something that’ll give the water features outside the Las Vegas Bellagio fountains a swim for their money!
And the kids don’t have to miss out just because of an absence of flumes – on Allure, the Madagascar team make a splash in their very own aqua show!
4. RCI Freedom Class/Oasis Class FlowRider Surf Pool
OK, so it’s not exactly a pool, but it has water in it so it’s the same, right? It counts?
You can get one on one tutorials if your surfing skills leave a lot to be desired or if you can already surf (even if it’s just a little bit) you can give the surf simulator a try and see how long you can stay upright – it’s not as easy as it might sound, not when you have 60,000 gallons of water rushing by you every minute.
It’s great fun but be warned – if the surf wipes you out in a You’ve Been Framed-worthy moment, you may well be broadcast on the big screen for all spectators and those enjoying a burger in the Wipeout Café, to see.
Hang your head in shame, surfer wannabe!
3. Disney Dream/Fantasy AquaLab
It’s a tough call to pick a pool on a Disney cruise, because all of these ultra-kid-friendly pools – Mickey’s, Donald’s and Goofy’s – bring something different to the pool table (boom boom!). However, the AquaLab, found on the Fantasy and Dream, pips the others to the post due to the almighty fun factor that it boasts.
The AquaLab is an 1800 square-foot play area full of interactive elements such as pop jets and geysers, as well as wheels and levers that allow little rascals to change the speed of the AquaDuck water coaster that can be seen whizzing by overhead (which is another fun amenity, in itself – if you dare!)
Also on the Dream and Fantasy you’ll find the Adult’s Only Quiet Cove Pool – so if you don’t want to have to have one eye trained on the kids all the time, you can leave them in the capable hands of one of the kids’ clubs and head off for a little quiet time with no geysers or flumes in sight. More aaaaah… and less argh!!! – It really is the stuff that grown-up Disney dreams are made of.
2. NCL Epic Plunge
Consisting of a 200ft long tube that shoots you out into what can only be described as a human-sized washing machine permanently placed on its spin cycle (just without the soap suds), the Plunge spins you around before dropping you through the hole in the middle, plummeting you into the tub beneath.
They do have free-fall slides, a SpongeBob themed play area, and four hot-tubs though. After all, you’ll need somewhere to unwind in after all that fluming, won’t you!
1. Carnival Breeze WaterWorks
It’s hard to choose which Carnival ship to put at the top of the pool-pile when it comes to their WaterWorks water park but seeing as bright and beautiful Carnival Breeze is the most recent (and largest) ship to be added to the line, we think it’s earned the top spot.
The WaterWorks configurations vary by ship, so do some research before you go to find out which slides and flumes are waiting for you (although we think leaving it as a surprise would be more exciting!).
The onboard WaterWorks water park is what at-sea-day dreams are made of – if you like water parks, that is. If you don’t, don’t worry, there are plenty of other activities onboard to keep you busy that don’t include getting soaked or flailing around on a flume!
The great thing about WaterWorks is that it’s not just aimed at kids – with a 312ft-long Twister waterslide and a funnelling Drainpipe on Breeze and Magic, and the Speedway Splash on Sunshine, plus loads more flumes and features fleetwide, cruisers of all ages will want to splash down in this fun addition to the Carnival fleet.
Whether you’re after refined relaxation or exhilarating fun, you’ll find a pool to suit in our splashtastic top 13. Just make sure that, if you do spend a lot of time in the water while on the water, you keep on top of the sunscreen situation. The last thing you need, come evening time, is for people to struggle to distinguish between you and the fresh lobster on the menu!