The Best Cruise Lines and Ships for Entertainment and Activities - 2020 Members' Choice Awards

royal caribbean best entertainment activities awards 2020
The Perfect Storm waterslide on Symphony of the Seas - Photo by Royal Caribbean

Long gone are the days of little to do onboard besides theater shows and shuffleboard. Today, you’ll find so many forms of entertainment and activities to participate in that you won’t have time to do it all before disembarkation day! Here are the best ships and lines for activities and entertainment, based on member review scores.

Best Lines For Entertainment

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AquaTheater on Harmony of the Seas - Photo by Royal Caribbean

1. Royal Caribbean - 4.18
2. Celebrity Cruises - 4.08
3. Carnival - 4.06
4. Princess - 4.06
5. Disney - 4.01

Just like in 2019, Royal Caribbean claimed the top spot for entertainment. Their blend of Broadway-style shows with groundbreaking technology, ice shows on the ships with skating rinks, high-dive performances in the AquaTheater on the Oasis class, and guest comedians, singers, and everything in between makes it easy to believe that they’d take the lead here. Meanwhile Celebrity Cruises climbed up to second place, showing that Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (the company that owns both lines) has their finger on the right trends when it comes to keeping their guests entertained.

Carnival fell from second to third place, which quite frankly doesn’t surprise us because their shows just don’t always display the same level of quality that Celebrity exhibits. What does surprise us is Disney Cruise Line, which fell from third to fifth place. With Disney being the entertainment leader they’ve been for decades, we’re disappointed to see their cruise line fall to a nearly even 4 out of 5 stars rating.

 

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Best Ships for Entertainment

symphony of the seas ice skating show awards 2020
Ice show on Symphony of the Seas - Photo by Royal Caribbean

1. Symphony of the Seas - 4.61
2. Allure of the Seas - 4.51
3. Harmony of the Seas - 4.39
4. Carnival Valor - 4.32
5. Navigator of the Seas - 4.31

If you saw our Best Royal Caribbean Ships for 2020 article, you’ll know that we aren’t surprised by the top three ships here. Royal Caribbean’s three newest Oasis-class ships are exceeding expectations in a number of areas, and entertainment is certainly one of them. We already mentioned the high dive and ice shows above, but specific things that stand out to us on the Oasis class include late-night adults-only comedy shows, Flight: Dare to Dream on Symphony, Grease on Harmony, and Music Hall on Allure, where you can hear cover bands play your favorite songs. Overall, Royal Caribbean blew this category out of the water with the recently refurbished Navigator of the Seas coming in fifth, meaning four out of the top five ships for entertainment bear the Royal Caribbean emblem. 

The older Carnival Valor snuck into fourth place here, which is a big surprise since this ship doesn’t really offer anything that other Carnival ships don’t have. It just demonstrates that it isn’t always about the glitz and glamour of new venues or groundbreaking technology. Sometimes the pure quality of the performers is all you need for a great show. 

 

Symphony Deals From  

 

Best Lines for Onboard Activities

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Rock climbing wall on Symphony of the Seas - Photo by Royal Caribbean

1. Royal Caribbean - 4.03
2. Celebrity - 3.91
3. Carnival - 3.86
4. Princess - 3.77
5. Disney - 3.74

You might have noticed that the order of best lines for both entertainment and onboard activities is exactly the same. This suggests that cruise entertainment and activities usually go hand in hand, and chances are if a line is good at one, it will be good at the other. Something interesting to note is that overall scores are all lower in the activities category than in entertainment. With an abundance of things to do for many people right near home, it’s harder to impress when it comes to fun things to do around the ship.

We’re not at all surprised that Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney place in the top five, as they all have a heavy focus on activities for every member of the family, such as the FlowRider surfing simulators on Royal, the ropes courses and water slides on Carnival, and the themed deck parties on Disney. However, we are a bit disappointed that Norwegian Cruise Line is notably absent while Celebrity and Princess, who have less of a focus on families and the newest bells and whistles, hold strong spots among the mainstream cruise lines. 

 

Royal Deals From 

 

Best Ships For Onboard Activities

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The kid's water park on Allure of the Seas - Photo by Royal Caribbean

1. Allure of the Seas - 4.35
2. Symphony of the Seas - 4.34
3. Harmony of the Seas - 4.26
4. Navigator of the Seas - 4.25
5. Carnival Horizon - 4.20

Notice a pattern here? That’s right, the four Royal Caribbean ships that made the top five for entertainment are the same ones that topped the onboard activities category. We’re guessing that things like the zip line, FlowRiders, rock climbing walls, Ultimate Abyss slide, and open ice skating greatly boost the Oasis-class ships above all others. Though Navigator of the Seas isn’t in the same class, it boasts many of the same features. 

Yet again we have a lone Carnival ship, but this time we can see why it beat out the rest of its fleet. Carnival Horizon is the line’s second newest ship and is jam-packed with fun things to do such as the SkyRide cycling coaster, WaterWorks aqua park, Make it With Michael’s crafts, the SportSquare with mini golf and a ropes course, and Hasbro, The Game Show where board games become larger than life. The results in this category are just about what we expected, especially since we’d hope that the three largest cruise ships in the world (Allure, Symphony, and Harmony of the Seas) would have the most varying and fun activities, and it certainly seems that they do. 

 

Allure Deals From 

 

Lines considered: Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean.

 

Join the discussion

Of the lines you've sailed, which do you think has the best entertainment or activities?

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