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Take an Epic Plunge aboard Norwegian Epic


Some of the world’s most thrilling water parks are on board your favourite liners.


It often feels that everything at sea is a little bit more spectacular than its land-based counterpart. The world’s most luxurious liners have certainly gone to extreme lengths to surprise and delight passengers and children are no exception. In their quest to win the hearts and minds of their smallest travellers, many have discovered the essential ingredient for success and continue to break records in the process. It is of course, the water park, and one experience of its tumbling thrills will convince you of why no ship is the same without one.

The spectacularly popular MSC leads the fleet in the race to secure the most exciting water park at sea, recently unveiling plans for its Seaside class of ships due to break boundaries in November 2017. The largest ship to ever leave the Fincantieri shipyard will sail year-round from Miami to the Caribbean, boasting the most interactive aquatic park in cruising history.

The qualifying features include five water slides, one of which combines the usual spills and thrills with gaming technology. Slideboarding will involve guests plummeting through a two-storey, 112- metre slide on a raft that contains an embedded game controller which guests can use to test their speed and responsiveness against a buddy.

Not all of the forthcoming water park’s slides will take passengers to a virtual reality, however, with some relying on the traditional method of towering heights to inspire excitement. The Adventure Trail, which is to connect directly to the park, will feature bridges suspended between towers, climbing equipment and slides, all with the best views of whichever exotic locale the ship happens to be anchored in.

In the meantime, cruisers can get their fix aboard MSC Preziosa, featuring Vertigo, the 120-metre slide that arches beyond the side of the ship, at which point the safety of the slide gives way to a nine-metre transparent panel with views to the depths of the ocean!


Norwegian Cruise Lines
For a high-sea adventure that twists, turns and topples, Norwegian Cruise Line exceeds even the wildest expectations of tiny adrenaline seekers. Aboard the Breakaway Class ships, five multi-level water slides in candy-coloured splendour take centre stage, daring passengers to test their bravery on vertical drops and dizzying spirals.

The Free Fall is the most extreme of the Aqua Park’s attractions, taking the crown as the fastest water slide at sea as passengers plunge down the tube at an exhilarating speed. Its younger sibling, The Whip, is gentler by comparison but wet and wild in its own right, featuring side-by-side twister slides that make for the ultimate battle between friends.

Norwegian’s other vessels are by no means more ordinary. On a ship christened Norwegian Epic, a reputation for all things impressive must be upheld. Fortunately, the colossal checkered bowl slide that is The Epic Plunge does just that, as daring souls are sucked into its vortex.

Royal Caribbean
Royal Caribbean already has an outstanding reputation among children as a floating wonderland, and this will only improve in May 2016 when Harmony of the Seas makes its maiden voyage. On board will be the first Splashaway Bay at sea, a vibrant waterscape where passengers play side-by-side armed with water cannons.

On her journey through the Mediterranean stopping at Barcelona, Provence, Florence and Naples, the ship will officially earn the title of possessing the tallest water slide at sea, ominously known as the Ultimate Abyss. This 10-storey super ride begins in the Pool and Sports Zone and delivers guests safely to the Boardwalk neighborhood below, before they test their might on the The Perfect Storm and the Supercell, all equally thrilling.

Those that have travelled aboard the existing Freedom Class and a selection of Oasis, Quantum and Voyager Class ships will have already encountered Royal Caribbean’s unique aqua attractions. The Flowrider, for instance, is a surf simulator that gives passengers the opportunity to live out their deep-barrelled fantasies.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
German cruise line, Hapag-Lloyd, takes the incredible water experiences ashore with their voyages aboard Europa 2. The compact and maneuverable zodiacs on board allow access to secret coves and water parks of the natural variety. With a range of on-shore family programmes, passengers may find themselves snorkelling in Langkawi or descending to the underwater world of the Caribbean with the help of a submarine.

Although not an activity of the aquatic variety, the two state-of-the-art golf simulators aboard Europa 2 are also noteworthy for families. With equipment designed specifically for children between the ages of six and 10, Hapag-Lloyd offers little guests the chance to master their swing accompanied by Capt’n Knopf, the resident teddy bear and mascot. Parents can also book a personal hour-long session with the onboard golf pro for their little ones.

Kids and luxury cruising

Not every luxury cruise ship is child friendly but nevertheless little ones and five star cruising can mix as long as you plan things carefully. Here are our tips on how to take your kids on a luxury liner without feeling all at sea.

1. Eat early
It goes without saying that children should eat at the first sitting. Many ships also have other à la carte or casual bistro dining available so mix it up for variety’s sake. It also goes without saying that only the most extraordinarily mature child should ever be seen at the Captain’s Table.

2. Pick your room carefully
The bigger the better, so children can lounge around and watch DVDs in their own space. For example, Crystal Serenity’s Penthouse suites with a verandah are some of the largest at sea and the two penthouse floors have a free launderette. Don’t be tempted to book two staterooms next to each other – a separate door onto the corridor is an escape route for littlies.

3. Think through excursions
Children love taking tenders ashore or exploring new places but the organised tours may not suit children. Sometimes it is better to go it alone with young adventurers so that you can set the pace. An ice-cream in the square and a walk around the city ramparts in Dubrovnik is more engaging than a historical tour.

4. Make your own fun
Recognise that you will be spending more time with the children than on some other family-style cruises. Luxury cruise ships often don’t have specific kids’ centres and although staff and nannies are on offer (so you can find a deckchair by the railing on occasion) this isn’t going to happen all the time. Family board game nights in the room will be fun and great for bonding at sea.

Royal Caribbean

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