Cruise lines have pioneered a unique concept in vacationing that offers incredible choice, flexibility and variety in all aspects of a shipboard experience and that includes exceptional entertainment. Cruise ships really come to life in the evening, as the show lounges and casinos get hopping.

Music, dancing and shows

Gone are the days of the lone lounge singer dragging a microphone around the dining room trying to get your attention while you dine on your surf and turf. Today’s cruise ships feature state-of-the-art facilities and technology, including full-sized theaters and lounges with professional production shows.

Most cruises offer several shows to choose from each night. Guests are treated to full-scale Vegas-style production shows with singers and dancers who dazzle in unbelievable costumes along with captivating pyrotechnics and other special effects. Of course, there are various other acts that can include magicians, comedians, and acrobats to name a few.

Passengers that love to dance will love cruising since it offers dancers of all levels the chance to get out on the floor and enjoy themselves. Onboard discos offer luminescent lights and pulsating sounds that keep energetic passengers dancing until the wee hours of the morning. Throughout the ship various lounges offer musical options from waltzes to country dancing. Dancing skills a bit rusty? No problem. Most cruises offer classes in ballroom, salsa, country and more. Some lines even offer Gentleman Host Programs where women who are traveling alone don’t feel left out of the dancing activities. Of course dancing isn’t necessary to enjoy all the musical offerings, guests can sit and relax with a favorite beverage while the band plays on.

Other options throughout a cruise voyage include numerous onboard parties, from the invitation-only Captain?s Cocktail Party to themed evening sail away deck parties with cocktails and festive music.

Gaming and More

Passengers that decide to roll the dice will discover that shipboard casinos are bigger and better than ever and offer abundant games of chance. In addition to slot machines in a range of denominations, cruise ship casinos offer roulette, craps, and a variety of card games from blackjack to poker. Bingo tournaments are offered on most cruises and are very popular with guests.

If casino games and Bingo isn’t your thing, almost every ship has a card room, which is typically filled up with everything from bridge players to scrabble and backgammon aficionados.

There are also various trivia contests and sports competitions. Poolside games are passenger participation spectacles that include silly, but fun activities. Other onboard games include some variations of old TV favorites, such as the Newlywed Game, American Idol, Name That Tune, and more.

Enrichment Programs

Long a staple on cruise ships, the port lectures have grown to cover a variety of topics as well as demonstrations. In addition to port lectures, topic samplings include health, nutrition, wine, politics, finances, photography, computers, geography and history. Very popular, are the cooking demonstrations (sometimes by world famous chefs) where you get to taste and sometimes participate.

Another popular form of entertainment for many is attending onboard art auctions. Typically, they are held at least a few times during the cruise in a lounge with a live auctioneer. They also discuss various artworks, so these lectures can also be a learning experience.

For the kids

Families with children will find that cruise lines have ample offerings for kids of all ages. Most ships have exclusive areas for little kids, big kids, and teens. Activities are determined by age group and teens often have their own hang out area and disco. In fact, here are so many activities that the kids won’t even notice when parents want to get away for a little private romantic time for a candlelight dinner and dancing into the night.

Still, even with all the aforementioned activities, many people’s idea of great entertainment is a quiet movie in their stateroom with room service. That’s what makes cruising so appealing; guests can choose to do as little or as much as they please.

By Anita Dunham-Potter
Anita Dunham-Potter Anita Dunham-Potter is a Pittsburgh-based travel journalist specializing in cruise travel and cruise vacations. In addition to writing pieces for Princess Cruises, Anita is a weekly travel columnist for and Tripso, and she is a contributor to Fodor’s “Complete Guide to Caribbean Cruises 2007”