Note from Wendy: Cruise-ship pools used to be tiny, boring, and pretty much all the same. Nowadays there’s a huge variety: indoor spa pools, private-deck pools, adults-only pools, pools with outdoor movies, pools with scuba lessons…. Yahoo! Travel has pinpointed eight of the coolest pools at sea today, and they’re worth looking at so you know all your options.
When temperatures rise, take a dip. Floating in a pool on a cruise ship that’s gliding along the ocean is an inimitable indulgence—especially when it’s in one of the industry’s most remarkable pool oases. Dive in on one of these eight wow-factor cruise ship pools and you’ll have to think twice about getting off in port.
1. Princess Cruises
Princess Cruises touts their signature “Movies Under the Stars” poolside cinema (see photo above) on nearly all of their ships, but it’s the Royal Princess and Regal Princess that boast the biggest movie screens at sea. Watch favorite flicks or sporting events day or night while swimming in the duo of freshwater pools, and for an extra dab of dazzle, catch the colorful water-and-light show put on by the adjacent dancing fountains.
2. Viking Cruises
Viking Cruises‘ upcoming trio of oceangoing vessels—the Viking Star, Viking Sky, and Viking Sea,debuting in 2015 and 2016—will be outfitted with onboard infinity pools, a rarity for the industry. Backed by glass paneling, the infinity pools will cantilever over the ships’ stern, allowing passengers to fully immerse themselves in the ocean and port-side scenery.
3. Sanctuary Retreats
Onboard Sanctuary Retreats‘ Sun Boat III, guests float along the Nile River. Fittingly, “Cleopatra’s Oasis” on the upper deck proposes the perfect perch to combine a refreshing dip with ogling of ancient temples along the riverbanks. The watering hole-style oasis is fringed by live palm trees, a sun deck with canopied daybeds, and an open-air bar—though it’s up to you to bring along somebody willing to fan you and feed you grapes.
It’s fairly uncommon for European river vessels to have a pool at all, let alone one with a nifty swim-up bar. Board AmaWaterways‘ AmaCerto, AmaPrima, AmaSerena, AmaReina, or AmaSonata, and you can take in the passing European landscapes from the comfort of a heated swimming pool, froufrou cocktail served up on command. As if you needed to take any more of a load off, the swim-up bars also come equipped with in-water seating, where you can sip your swill without a care.
5. Royal Caribbean
Disappear deep into the Asian jungle-inspired retreat that is the adults-only (ages 16 and up) Solarium aboard Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas. A pool and large whirlpool serves as the centerpiece to this transporting center for R & R, replete with verdant foliage, playful water features, and elephant statuary, all set at the entrance of the ship spa. Plus, with a retractable glass roof, the Solarium is relaxation-ready, whether the weather cooperates or not.
6. MSC Cruises
Sail aboard MSC Cruises‘ MSC Divina, where the onboard infinity-style pool is almost as much of a draw as the Caribbean ports the ship sails to. The adults-only, Zen-inspiring Garden Pool exudes minimalist design and is trimmed by four resounding sculptures that emit sounds from nature (like bird songs and waterfalls). The pool’s infinity edge melds with the ocean for seamless views, while a lively pool bar dishes out perfectly frothy drinks.
7. Royal Caribbean’s AquaTheater
Sister Royal Caribbean ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas tout the deepest onboard pools at sea—reaching depths of nearly 18 feet. Popular public pools by day (and the setting for afternoon scuba lessons), bordered by tiered platforms overloaded with lounge chairs, the kidney-shaped pools transform into the AquaTheater come nightfall, where aquatic performers—high-diving aerial athletes, water acrobats, synchronized swimmers, and more—reinvent the space as a theatrical venue, complete with amphitheater-style seating. Look, too, for a synchronized fountain show here, with shoots of water that reach up to 65 feet high.
8. Oceania Cruises
Classy Oceania twin ships Marina and Riviera each boast stylish pool areas, fringed by teak decks, soothing greenery, a duo of whirlpools, a pool bar, and plenty of plush lounge chairs. A water fountain feature adds atmosphere, while a large, built-in TV screen (airing movies, sports, and more) encourages guests to fully submit to being refreshingly submerged. The pool really pops, however, come evening, when soothing blue LED illuminations set the pool area’s sleek design aglow.