Get In Shipshape: Our Favourite Cruise Ship Sports & Activities At Sea

Whether you're a fitness fiend that can't fathom missing a day at the gym, a lover of sunrise yoga, or perhaps you prefer to get your adrenaline spike from watching live sport, we're happy to report that modern day cruising has you covered.

A woman rides the Surf-rider with two people in a skydiving simulator onboard a cruise ship

2min read

Published 19 March 2024


Whether you're a fitness fiend that can't fathom missing a day at the gym, a lover of sunrise yoga, or perhaps you prefer to get your adrenaline spike from watching live sport, we're happy to report that modern day cruising has you covered.

We love resting and relaxing just as much as the next person. Sipping cocktails by the pool with a good book? Absolute bliss.

Maxo-relaxo vibes aside, we also know how important it is (and how good it feels) to move your body. Whether it's a quick 20-minute gym session, a few laps in the pool, 45 minutes of Pilates or a game of basketball, there is something about getting your blood pumping that makes the relaxation all the more satisfying.

We've taken a deep dive into the wide world of sport at sea. If there's a particular element you're interested in, feel free to click the link below.

1. Do Cruise Ships Have Sports?

Simple answer: yes. Most cruise lines, especially mega ships, offer a wide range of sporting activities that are helping redefine leisure at sea.

Keen on some friendly competition? Scope out ships with a full-size basketball court, ping pong tournaments, pickle ball matches and badminton battles.

2. Popular Sports To Play At Sea

Common sports you can enjoy while conquering the ocean include:

  • basketball
  • soccer
  • ice skating (yes, really)
  • water volleyball
  • rock climbing
  • golf
  • surfing simulators
  • tennis
  • badminton
  • pickle ball
  • squash

Can you play football at sea? Look, you're probably not gonna swing a full-sized game of rugby or Gridiron, but don't let that stop you from hitting up the sports court and having a crack. Where there's a will, there's a way, right?

A soccer ball

Photo by: Konstantin Evdokimov

A soccer ball

Photo by: Konstantin Evdokimov

A soccer ball

Photo by: Konstantin Evdokimov

3. What About Onboard Activities For Those Who Prefer Quieter Pursuits?

If you'd prefer to slow things down, or opt for activities that exercise the body and the brain, consider these sports on your next cruising vacation.

  • shuffleboard
  • croquet
  • bocce ball
  • pool
  • street curling
  • table tennis

Fun fact: pool tables on cruise ships are specifically engineered to maintain their levelness despite the ship's mild movement!

4. Gym Facilities At Sea

Hoping to rest without too many rest days? Luckily most cruise lines have an epic array of fitness facilities and instructors to help you stay in shipshape.

Get your steps up with a scenic jaunt along the jogging track, pump some iron at the onboard gym or join any of the onboard fitness classes. From yoga to Pilates, boxercise, Mau Thai and meditation, there's never been a better time for travellers to get fit on a cruise.

There's also plenty of stairs to climb if you're desperately craving a chance to question your life choices and sanity.

A line of exercise bikes looking out over the sea on a cruise ship
A line of exercise bikes looking out over the sea on a cruise ship
A line of exercise bikes looking out over the sea on a cruise ship

5. Play 18 Holes On The Ocean

Don't let your handicap suffer just because you're on holiday. While cruise ships can't fit a full-size golf course, select ships offer everything from driving cages and golf simulators to putting greens and mini-golf courses.

Players keen to practice their swing should check out Cunard's Queen Mary 2 ship, which boasts a golf simulator that takes two hours to play with the option to try 40 of the world's best courses. You'll also find putting greens on Viking Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania, Silversea and Crystal Cruises.

6. Sports In Ports

Shore excursions are a great excuse to stretch out your sea legs and play or watch your favourite sport.

Depending on the destinations, onshore sporting options are endless. Some popular choices include enjoying a round of golf at renowned courses, snorkelling and diving in the Pacific, watching pro surfers in Hawaii, hitting the slops in Norway or getting your sweat on with a day of cross country skiing.

Can't find the shore excursion you're after? Chat with your travel expert before you depart.

7. Sports Themed Cruises

Take your love of sports to the next level by embarking on a sports-themed or fan cruise. Not only can you sail with some of your favourite sports heroes, but these cruises provide a chance to attend major events or focus on specific sports in port.

Popular among NFL, baseball, tennis and car racing fans, sports cruises help bring together a community of like-minded people for onboard parties, meet and greets, lessons and workshops.

8. Can You Watch Live Sports On A cruise Ship?

Planning a cruise that just so happens to coincide with your team's big game? Available on most major cruise lines, Sports24 connects travellers to unmissable sports moments live. That way you won't be stressed about missing a single goal, touchdown, point or shot, even if you are floating in the middle of the ocean.

Find Sports24 on Carnival Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America, MSC, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, P&O, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea, Virgin Voyages and Olsen Cruise Lines.

Most larger ships also feature a sports-themed bar, fitted out with heaps of TV screens, sports paraphernalia, beer and appetiser specials.

Love a good sports bar? Check out Royal Caribbean's 'Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade' on Symphony of the Seas, complete with more than 30 TV screens, an arcade and computer games.

9. Gaming At Sea

Speaking of computer games, if your talent lies in online gaming, rest assured that you'll also be able to flex your skills on board.

While we can't guarantee the best internet connection, all major cruise lines should have access to popular gaming consoles like Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo. Granted they might be in the kids club, some ships will even host a friendly competition on the big screens in public spaces.
If in doubt, the onboard arcade should have enough to tide you over until you get home.

Two people indoor skydive high on deck
Two people indoor skydive high on deck
Two people indoor skydive high on deck

10. Cruise Line Onboard Sports: Who Offers What?

We've done the rounds to highlight the best sports offerings on some of the most popular cruise lines. Keep in mind that this list isn't exhaustive. If you're after a particular vessel, itinerary or sport, our team of cruising experts are more than happy to assist.

Royal Caribbean

Fitted out with all the usual suspects like an onboard gym and jogging track, Royal Caribbean ups the ante for thrill seekers and those keen to try something new. Highlights include:

  • Odyssey of the Seas' SeaPlex Complex, which offers full-sized sports courts and the largest indoor active space on a ship.
  • All guests on Anthem of the Seas can enjoy a free 60-second flight in the onboard skydiving simulator.
  • Oasis of the Seas offers a sports pool for water polo, plus organised sports tournaments for games like football, volleyball and basketball. Alternatively, hit the indoor ice rink or go rock climbing.
  • Don't forget to try out the FlowRider wave simulators, zip lining, Sky Pad bungee trampolines and laser tag across most ships.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruises are known for well-equipped gyms and unique offerings for the whole family like 10-pin bowling, go-kart tracks, rock climbing walls and zip lines over the pool!

We also recommend soaking up some breath-taking views from the top deck, checking out the rope courses with suspension bridges and sky rails, and spiking your adrenaline on one of the many epic waterslides.

MSC Cruises

This popular European cruise line will see travellers soaking up the sun in Greece one minute and taking an onboard spin class the next. MSC Cruises sports highlights include:

  • 10-pin bowling lanes, onboard arcades, pool games, dance and fitness classes.
  • Fully fitted-out gyms featuring weight machines, resistance equipment, rowers, boxing and cardio.
  • MSC Meraviglia boasts an indoor Sportsplex with large courts and activities like F1 simulators, roller coaster simulators and a 4D cinema.

Disney Cruise Line

When you're not enjoying the wide range of onboard entertainment options, Disney has the whole family covered with a range of activities like mini golf, basketball, ping pong and virtual sports simulators.

Don't forget to try out the AquaDunk waterslide, which sends you rocketing over the ship's side on a 20-foot curve!

Carnival Cruise Line

Luckily for you, most of the sports and games onboard Carnival Cruise ships are included in your fare. With this in mind, make sure you try out the following with your friends and fam:
•    Head to the Sports Square, packed with mini golf, football, basketball, volleyball, foosball and ping pong.
•    Sweat it out at the gym which features stationary cycles, elliptical machines, weight lifting equipment and punching bags.
•    Boost your adrenaline at the ropes course with swinging steps and beams above the top deck, or get wet at the onboard water park.

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