We Like to Party: Our Top Picks for Nightlife Cruises

With swanky cocktail bars, themed dinners and pulsating nightclubs, the party never stops on these ships!

A woman enjoying the nightlife on a cruise ship

5min read

Published 18 April 2024

Flight Centre Author

By

Vicki Fletcher

Head of Content and Social Media


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With swanky cocktail bars, themed dinners and pulsating nightclubs, the party never stops on these ships!


Picture this: its 10pm, you’ve explored an exotic ocean port, enjoyed a cheeky afternoon nap and just made the most of a delicious onboard dinner. Life is good.

While you could easily head to bed and snuggle up with a good book, a small part of you is ready to let your hair down. Whether you fancy watching some live music with a nightcap in hand or would prefer to dance the night away with a DJ spinning the latest hits, we can assure you that there is a cruise nightlife scene to satisfy every seafaring traveller.

No longer just floating beacons for bingo-playing retirees, cruises attract travellers of all ages — from young adults to parents with kids and more. With child-minding services available and your comfortable bed just minutes away, cruising proves to be a very efficient and stress-free way to party.

Add in the fact that you don't need to set an alarm (and have the option to include beverage packages in your fare), it's easy to see why so many travellers are keen to experience one of these party cruises for themselves.

While most large cruise lines will offer some form of bar and live music option, not all cruise nightclubs are made equal. If you're keen to cut it up on the dance floor and make the most of your nights at sea, we've made a list of the best party cruise ships to ensure you're not missing out on any fun.



A woman at a theme party on a cruise ship
A woman at a theme party on a cruise ship
A woman at a theme party on a cruise ship

What kind of nightlife can you expect on a cruise?

First things first, let's do the rounds and summarize the nightlife options available on the high seas.

Pubs, bars and lounges

Whatever your tipple or mood, chances are there's a bar or pub on board to quench your thirst. For a more low-key evening, relax over a cocktail in a piano bar, pop into a traditional pub with real draught beer or rekindle the romance in a sophisticated champagne lounge.

Casinos

Many onboard casinos boast a full range of gaming tables and slot machines, allowing you to try your luck at the roulette table or take a poker class. As with all gambling venues, entry and participation is restricted to those aged 18 years and older.

Themed nights and parties

Many longer cruises (seven nights or more) host theme nights and dinners. These can include dress ups from the 80s and 90s, nights where everyone is encouraged to wear a specific colour, an excuse to don your black-tie finery or even a glow-in-the-dark party.

Some ships may even do surprise themes, where guests need to flex their creative muscles and pull a costume together at the last minute. Good luck!



Dance lessons and events

Salsa, rock 'n' roll or ballroom — put your dancing shoes on and don't let two left feet stop you from getting your groove on. Dance classes and nights are a feature of many party cruise lines and are a great way to extend the day with your partner or friends.

Who knows, if you're single a dance class may be the perfect place to meet your holiday fling.

Pool deck parties

Make a splash and say cheers to drinks by the pool as the sun sets over the horizon. From here, you can dance under the stars and let the cool sea breeze fuel you into the early hours.

Whether it's a quick getaway or a longer adventure, most cruise lines will offer some form of sail away party on the day of departure that spreads from the deck to the ship's solarium bar. If this sounds like your cup of tea, double check the itinerary includes a chance to experience a pool party like no other.

Nightclubs

If you're a real party animal, choose a cruise with nightclubs to rival Ibiza or Miami and world-class bars like you'd find in any capital city. From ice bars to pumping venues spinning popular club music, the best party cruise lines are definitely something worthy of your bucket list.

A brightly lit cruise ship sailing at night
A brightly lit cruise ship sailing at night
A brightly lit cruise ship sailing at night

What are the top party cruise lines?

Love the idea of partying on a floating nightclub? Check out our top party cruise line picks below.

Virgin Voyages

Best cruise ship to party on: Resilient Lady

The vibe: Trendy, uber-chic venues that put a modern twist on cruising

Turns out Richard Branson knows how to party, and Virgin Voyages’ fleet of ships are no exception to the rule. These 100% adults-only cruises come packed with an onboard tattoo parlour, drag queen brunches, scavenger hunts and secret below-deck tours for tipples at the crew bar.

Let loose with top deck dance parties during the iconic Scarlett Night, where the entire ship comes to life and is bathed in red. Alternatively, head to The Manor — a two-story, three-bar nightclub — and let the 70s punk vibe put other clubs to shame.

Princess Cruises

Best ship for cruise nightlife: Regal Princess

The vibe: A regal nod to old-style cruising (and partying)

Princess Cruises traditionally attracts a more mature crowd — but that doesn't mean they don't know how to party. Each night you can sip and savour your drink of choice from the scenic Night Sky Lounge on Regal Princess.

Better yet, for one night on each cruise, the top deck retreat pool transforms into a Miami-style dance party with glowing drinks and pulsing lights. Bring your bathing suit, reserve a bottle service cabana and enjoy music from the hot tub in the middle of the ocean. Talk about bougie.



Norwegian Cruise Line

Best ships to party aboard: Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Getaway

The vibe: Sophisticated experiences and round-the-clock entertainment

Each of Norwegian Cruise Line's nightclubs are different. Those keen on a boogie should opt for the biggest dance floor on Norwegian Epic, while folks looking for something different can hit the bowling alley at the club on Norwegian Pearl.

Feeling a little hot? Cool down with a beverage at Norwegian Breakaway's Svedka Ice Bar. Here, you can sip super-chilled cocktails amongst lights that mirror the Aurora Borealis. Last but not least, feel like you're on the Strip with Norwegian Getaway's Vegas-style nightclub — it’s filled with funky décor, huge plasma screens playing music videos, shadow dancers and a DJ.



Royal Caribbean International

Best party cruises: Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas

The vibe: High energy, family-friendly parties

As the sun sets, head up to the Solarium Bar on board any Royal Caribbean International ship and watch Club Twenty One come to life. With a retractable glass roof, go-go dancers, scratch DJ and white drapes swaying in the breeze, you'll quickly fall in love with the South Beach-style nightclub.

When you aren't at the club, watch a live band at the Music Hall, take the kids to a family-friendly party and bring the house down with some karaoke. With guaranteed high onboard energy and plenty of choices, Royal Caribbean International is a great party cruise line for the whole fam.

Celebrity Cruises

Best party cruise ship: Celebrity Solstice

The vibe: Upmarket traditional cruising nightlife with a twist

If you care a little more about the quality of your drinks and would love to savour a tipple while listening to smooth tunes, then Celebrity Cruises is your pick. With each departure bringing mixologists and sommeliers along for the ride, you can test your palette with a wide range of drinks from the Martini Bar and onboard wine bar featuring up to 400 selections.

After dark, head to the Passport Bar in the Grand Foyer to enjoy a craft cocktail or IPA while listening to the house band. Alternatively, night owls can beeline for the retro-chic club, Quasar, fit with silver chrome and white décor and DJ spun music. Finally, those seeking something a little more romantic can hit up the Sky Observation Lounge with its moonlit views of the sea, specialty cocktail menu and drinks named after the zodiac signs.

Carnival Cruise Line

Best cruise ships to party on: Carnival Miracle, Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Horizon

The vibe: Unique nightclub themes and big nights out

If you’ve sailed with Carnival Cruise Line before, chances are you're well acquainted with its unique slew of nightclubs. Let out your inner freak and party with a giant Frankenstein at Dr. Frankenstein's Lab on Carnival Miracle; sip some vodka and lime juice at Carnival Valor's One Small Step club that was inspired by the moon landing; or dance the night away at Carnival Sunshine's after-hours nightclub, Liquid Lounge.

Honorable mentions go to the Cuban-themed parties, Latin tunes and dancers at Havana Bar on the Carnival Horizon, Carnival Vista and Carnival Sunshine. If that's not enough, rest assured that every ship will include a mega deck party, piano bars and a comedy club.

A nightlife venue on a cruise ship
A nightlife venue on a cruise ship
A nightlife venue on a cruise ship

Next port: Funky town

Ready to let your hair down and experience the onboard flashy discos, clubs, ice bars and moonlit dance floors for yourself?

With each cruise line offering year-round sailings, all you need to do is choose a date and pack your dancing shoes. If you're struggling to pick the right ship that will service your sea paradise party needs, chat with one of Flight Centre's cruising experts and find your itinerary today.

Flight Centre Author

By

Vicki Fletcher

Head of Content and Social Media


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