Your Top Questions About Cruise Ship Entertainment, Answered

Plus, we share which cruise lines have the best onboard activities.

Group of friends at an entertainment venue on a cruise ship

6min read

Published 31 May 2024


Plus, we share which cruise lines have the best onboard activities.

Today’s top cruise lines have upped the ante to offer a level of floating entertainment like no other. Whether you're keen to get down and boogie with your fellow guests at a sail away party, cry with laughter over a comedian’s witty remarks or shop 'til you drop at the onboard mall, there’s something to suit every traveller's needs.

To prove it, we’ve answered some top questions about cruise ship entertainment, and have shared which cruise lines are knocking it out of the park… err, water.

A group of people dancing at a silent disco aboard a cruise ship
A group of people dancing at a silent disco aboard a cruise ship
A group of people dancing at a silent disco aboard a cruise ship

What kind of entertainment can you find on a cruise?

A better question might be, “What kind of entertainment isn’t on a cruise?”

During the day, you can take your pick from activities like cooking lessons, rock climbing, scavenger hunts, cocktail and wine tastings, fitness classes, bingo, game shows, massages and more. Or, if you're keen to relax, you can simply reserve a day bed by the pool or curl up with a good book in bed.

Cruise ships also come alive at night with a suite of incredible entertainment options. Dance the night away at a deck party or onboard nightclub, sip a cocktail at a supper club, enjoy some belly laughs at a comedy show or simply treat yourself to a luxury dinner.

Of course, no cruise vacation would be complete without a trip to the theatre. Even if you're not a regular theatregoer, these shows are well worth checking out. Performed in purpose-built venues, cruise ship productions feature huge casts, spectacular costumes and world-class choreography.

A group of teens playing pool aboard a cruise ship
A group of teens playing pool aboard a cruise ship
A group of teens playing pool aboard a cruise ship

Is there entertainment specifically for kids?

If you're after a vacation that has the kids covered, then cruising is a no brainer. Most megaships boast a ton of kid-friendly activities, meaning the little ones can have the time of their lives while you sit back, relax and soak up some much-needed adult time.

When booking, be sure to enquire about your cruise’s kids’ club options. Beyond the regular activities and entertainment on board, kids’ clubs are often divided into age groups and offer everything from free play periods and games to cooking classes, arts and crafts, and onboard pajama parties.

Do you have to pay for cruise ship entertainment?

As a rule of thumb, most entertainment options are included in your cruise fare. Think nightly shows, live musical performances, comedy acts, kids’ clubs, bingo, fitness classes and more.

More niche experiences like indoor skydiving (yes, this is a thing), laser tag, massages and boutique dining options may come at a cost. If in doubt, ask your Cruise Specialist before you book or enquire with the onboard crew once you’ve set sail.

A group of friends at the casino on board a cruise ship
A group of friends at the casino on board a cruise ship
A group of friends at the casino on board a cruise ship

What cruise lines have the best onboard entertainment?

These eight cruise lines have gone above and beyond to offer a voyage bursting with entertainment.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International pushes the boundaries of what is possible at sea. There's a lot to cover here, so let's just dive in.

First up is its ice-skating shows featuring world-class figure skaters doing lifts, spins and dance moves at the onboard rink. Worried about catching a chill? Thaw out from the ice and head to the open-air Aqua Theater, which plays host to water-based acrobatic shows, synchronized swimming and high dives.

Royal Caribbean International has also brought Broadway to the high seas, with shows like Mamma Mia!, Grease, Saturday Night Fever and Hairspray all making an appearance on different ships. Those keen on a laugh can also watch live comedy inspired by NYC's stand-up scene. Once the kids are asleep, adults can compete in game shows like Love and Marriage and Battle of the Sexes, or sip delicious cocktails courtesy of a robot mixologist.

Quantum Class ships feature the expansive Two70 entertainment venue, a multimedia theatre that combines virtual concerts, robotics, aerial shows and video projections. Harmony of the Seas also boasts its very own escape room set in outer space.

Add in the onboard Casino Royale, original theatre productions featuring talented musicians, FlowRider surf simulators, the tallest waterslides at sea and Adventure Ocean kids’ programs, and you'll be busy finding time to relax.

Princess Cruises

Consistently recognized for its onboard entertainment in Cruise Passenger magazine’s annual Reader's Choice Awards, Princess Cruises knows a thing or two about putting on a good show.

Most notably, Princess Cruises has partnered with award-winning composer Stephen Schwartz, (aka the guy that scored popular Broadway shows like Wicked, Pippin and Godspell). Together with Stephen, the cruise line has created exclusive productions, including:

  • The Secret Silk, a show featuring life-size puppets
  • Magic to Do, a song-and-dance extravaganza
  • Rock Opera, a one-of-a-kind musical production 

When you're not being wowed by the cruise line's award-winning theatre offerings, consider venturing to the Spotlight Bar to connect with local storytellers, pick up the pace with high-energy dance classes or kickstart your singing career by competing in The Voice of the Ocean (complete with rotating chairs).

Kids will love watching magicians, illusionists and street performers in the piazza, or learning something new at the cruise line’s Camp Discovery kids’ club. Last, but certainly not least, finish your day with Movies Under the Stars on the top deck or by watching the latest blockbuster in your stateroom.

Carnival Cruise Line

With a name like Carnival Cruise Line, you should expect a little pizazz when it comes to onboard entertainment. And you won’t be disappointed!

Known for ships boasting a wide variety of live music performances, elaborate productions and top-rated comedy shows, Carnival Cruise Line's fleet is made up of floating fun havens. Aboard more than half of the fleet you'll find music-driven Playlist Productions, which use LED screens and special effects to enhance the performances.

Take your pick from Motown-, RnB- and rock-inspired evening shows; sip cocktails at the Piano Bar; or tickle your funny bone with some laughs at the Punchliner Comedy Club. Up the stakes with some friendly banter and participate in a live game of Family Feud or go all out playing Hasbro, The Game Show.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Set sail and settle into an unmatched offering of live performances with Norwegian Cruise Line. Musical theatre buffs will be wowed by top Broadway productions like Six, Choir of Man, Rock of Ages and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Prefer to shake your tail feather? Let loose and unleash your inner dancing queen as you watch the Latin and ballroom dance teams perform Burn the Floor.

Beyond the epic theatre productions, Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships also come with comedians, game shows, laser tag and even onboard go-karts on Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Joy.

Disney Cruise Line

For the little ones and those young at heart, it's no surprise that Disney Cruise Line knows how to have a good time. Offering everything from grand-scale productions to intimate interactions with characters like Goofy and Snow White at mealtimes, there is entertainment laced into every minute.

While onboard, we recommend enjoying dinner and a show at restaurants like Animator's Palate and Tiana's Place before heading to the theatre to watch Disney films come to life. These kid-friendly shows feature highlights from classic films like Beauty and The Beast and Frozen.

Adult cruisers aren't left behind, either. They’ve got the option to watch newly released Disney and Marvel movies on the big screens in the theatre and on the pool deck.

Cunard Cruises

Seeking a more upper-crust approach to cruising and entertainment? Luxury line Cunard Cruises is ready to impress even the most discerning sailors with symphony performances and Shakespeare.

Cunard Cruises has partnered with the Royal Shakespeare Company to bring the famous bard aboard the Queen Mary 2. Here, you're invited to Q&A sessions and workshops with the cast before watching the exclusive theatrical piece Boundless as the Sea — a unique blend of Shakespeare's iconic love scenes.

As if that isn't enough, Queen Mary 2 also boasts an onboard planetarium that plays host to a range of space shows in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium.

Holland America Line

So... you like jazz? If you're a fan of smooth tunes, look no further than Holland America Line. Boasting a trio of partnerships, patrons can enjoy world-class entertainment at the ship's Music Walk complex every night.

Take your pick from classical music inspired by the Lincoln Centre Stage, Memphis-style blues with B.B. King's Blues Club and popular hits played by duelling pianos courtesy of Billboard. Better yet, those on newer ships will be wowed by the two-story World Stage fitted out with a 270-degree LED projection screen.

Virgin Voyages

Richard Branson wasn't mucking around when he appointed Jennifer Lopez as the Chief Entertainment and Lifestyle Officer of Virgin Voyages.

With J.Lo at the helm, Virgin Voyages promises rowdy, fun and sometimes controversial entertainment for anyone over 18. The main theatre on board all of the line’s cruise ships features a variety of live performances and musical numbers that are guaranteed to get you dancing.

Virgin Voyages is also renowned for its pop-up performances that occur randomly throughout sailing. Combine this with the club-like atmosphere of the ships, a scattering of drag queen brunches at the Razzle Dazzle restaurant and some fresh ink from the world's first floating tattoo studio, and it's safe to say Virgin Voyages is beckoning a new era of onboard entertainment.

Ready to be entertained?

As you can see, there’s no shortage of things to keep you and the family entertained at sea. Check out our current cruise deals or chat with Flight Centre's Cruise Specialist team to choose and book your next sailing today!

Flight Centre

© Flight Centre Travel Group (Canada) Inc.

*Conditions apply. Prices are in CAD. All advertised prices include taxes & fees. Air travel in economy class unless otherwise stated. Package, cruise, tour, rail & hotel prices are per person, based on double occupancy for total length of stay unless otherwise stated. All-inclusive vacations include airfare on a per person basis. Prices are for select departure dates and are accurate and subject to availability at advertising deadline, errors and omissions excepted, and subject to change. Taxes & fees due in destination are additional and include, but not limited to, local car rental charges & taxes, one-way rental drop fees which are to be paid upon arrival, resort fees & charges, and airline baggage fees. Additional important conditions and supplier terms may apply. For full terms and conditions visit please speak with a Flight Centre Travel Consultant. CPBC#2790, TICO#4671384, OPC#702971.

Future Travel Credit Terms & Conditions | Green Policy | Anti-Spam Policy