10 Amazing cruise ship swimming pools
Disappointed by cruise ship swimming pools? Here are 11 that will make you want to jump right in
The showpiece pool – Viking Star infinity pool
Gorgeous to look at and offering matchless sea views, this glass-walled infinity pool cantilevered off the stern (Deck 7, aft) of the new ocean ship Viking Star is in a league of its own. Look down and it feels like you’re floating in the ocean; at night it looks like a sapphire, shimmering in the inky night.
The details: 6.775m x 4.195m (too small for lengths). Open 6am to 6pm.
What else is on deck? The (not much bigger) main pool is next to the attractive Winter Garden and a hidden movie screen. This entire area can be covered by a retractable glass dome.
The showtime pool – Allure of the Seas Oceanaria
The deepest freshwater pool (5.45m/17.9ft) at sea – on the biggest cruise ship in the world (so far) with 5,500 passengers – is not for passengers to swim in! However, as the sun sets, a choreographed fountain show comes into its own with jets, music and lights and water acrobats performing dizzying high dives and underwater feats (viewed from giant screens). As a piece of aqua theatre it’s hard to beat.
The details: 15.7m x 6.75m. Decks 8/9/10.
What else is on deck? On Deck 15, the H2O zone is open from 7am-midnight each day and has three other pools – the Sports Pool, the Main Pool, for those seeking a simple swim and the faux-rock-lined Beach Pool, which features a sloped entry, allowing passengers to sit with loungers partially submerged
The family fun pools – Disney Magic
It’s the Disney “we’ve thought of everyone” factor. The three fresh water swimming pools on Disney Magic are all located on Deck 9, each with a different theme or purpose. AquaLab, aft, is a dedicated water play area for children with pop jets, geysers, bubblers and a freshwater pool. It also includes the Twist ’n’ Spout Slide, and the Nephews’ Splash Zone, a water playground for children (aged three and under). Goofy’s Pool and pool deck (with giant screen), is located mid-ships and has two hot tubs for families.
The details: AquaLab and Goofy’s Pool are open 8am-10pm. Approx 167 sqm and 1.2 m deep.
What else is on deck? Quiet Cove, forward, is the adults-only area. The pool is large enough for laps and is open from 8am to midnight. The maximum depth is 1.2m
Swimming with the stars – Emerald Sky indoor pool
Like its sister ships (Star, Sun and Dawn), Emerald Sky has pioneered the pool-cum-cinema on river ships. It has a retractable roof and in the evening the swimming pool base rises to create a floor. Pool loungers are rearranged to face the large pull-down screen at the aft of the ship. Films range from modern-day blockbusters to old favourites such as the The Sound of Music, screened when cruising through Austria.
The details: 6m x 4m. Horizon deck, open from 6am until 6pm daily.
What else is on deck? There’s a bar in the corner and in the evening filmgoers get complimentary popcorn
The wow-factor pool – Bar du Leopard, Uniworld’s SS Catherine
Why is it special? Tucked away behind floor-to-ceiling glass walls on this river ship is a small resistance pool with a mosaic-clad interior depicting a jungle/rainforest scene, with leopards and other wildlife. The pool glows emerald-green at night, adding a wild, ‘Me Tarzan, you Jane’ ambience. This pool yearns for Audrey Hepburn, or Ursula Andress.
The details: measurements are irrelevant. This one's for dipping and sipping something exotic, while posing in a palm-leaf bikini. Find it on the Camargue Deck.
What else is on deck? Beyond its room-with-a-pool innovation the Bar du Leopard is a cool and peaceful space. At dinner, it’s home to a bistro
The thrillseekers' pools – Norwegian Escape Aqua Park
Almost too many thrills! There’s the Aqua Racer slide, the newest tandem waterslide at sea, where competitors can race side-by-side as they twist and turn to the finish line. There is also the Free Fall, where sensation seekers free fall, as the floor drops from underneath, propelling them into a thrilling loop. Or a more sedate, relaxing ride, in the family-friendly open-flume body slide.
The details: the Aquapark (Deck 16) features four multi-story water slides, a dedicated children’s Aqua Park, two pools and four hot tubs.
What else is on deck? Spice H2O, on Deck 17, is an adults-only space with waterfall grotto and hot tubs during the day. At night there’s dancing beneath the stars and a huge LED screen.
The big splash pool – Carnival Sunshine Serenity
By far the biggest adults-only area Carnival has on any of its ships, Serenity is an adults-only retreat complete with a triple-height waterfall and plunge pool, plus hot tubs, cabanas and bars.
The details: it’s a small, round plunge pool set directly beneath the waterfall. Find it on Deck 9.
What else is on deck? The on-board waterpark (WaterWorks – entrance on Deck 14) has five slides including Speedway Splash (72m long) and cork-screw Twister (102m) and a SplashZone for children
Why is it special? Like all Oceania ships, Nautica has a tranquil saltwater pool (on Deck 9) straddled by a pair of whirlpool tubs. There are comfortable, cushion-topped loungers and stylish “outdoor living” areas featuring plush couches and deep armchairs positioned for shade.
The details: 6.4 x 4 x 1 (forward) and 1.5 m (aft). Open 6am-10pm.
What else is on deck? The Canyon Ranch Spa Club has its own thalassotherapy pool and sun deck area with unlimited access for spa-goers and Concierge and Suite guests. For other passengers it’s free for one hour before or after a treatment,
The private pool – MSC Yacht Club
Why is it special? Because it’s exclusively for the use of MSC Yacht Club members, on MSC Fantasia, Splendida, Divinia and Preziosa, so there’s a butler to serve you drinks.
The details: Though small, it is on Deck 18, so only club members are allowed to use it. MSC Fantastia class ships have four adult pools (the biggest is 11m x 5m) and one for children with splash park and waterslides, plus 12 whirlpool baths. Opening times vary but the longest is 7am-10pm.
What else is on deck? For MSC Yacht club members, The One Bar and on Deck 16, the spa.
The serious swimming pool – the Crystal Pool on P&O Oriana
For serious swimmers size is everything and this is largest of any cruise ship. Stylish, with hints of art deco, you can contemplate a striking bronze water sculpture by Andre Wallace. The timeless Oriana is an adults-only ship.
The details: 12m x 5.25m. Midship of the Lido Deck (12), Open 24 hours.
What else is on deck? The Riviera and the Terrace pool – each 4m shorter than the Crystal.