There’s a lot to love about cruising right now: The food has never been better, old rules have been abolished, and new activities are way cooler than shuffleboard. But if we could build our own personal dream ship, what would it look like? Here’s a glimpse into the cruise ship of our dreams:
1. Shake Shack
Norwegian Breakaway has a New York theme, so why not throw in a Shake Shack? - Photo by Claudia Uripos / eStockPhoto
Sure, we love a fancy five-course meal with wine pairings and a cheese course as much as the next guy, but on sea days in the Caribbean, we want casual food that feels just right being scarfed down. In our bathing suits. On our laps. In a deck chair. (Hey, you won’t catch us giving anyone reason to snatch up our perfect poolside perch!)
For our money, there’s nothing more comforting than New York City-based restaurateur Danny Meyer’s chain of burgers and frozen custards. On land, the shops have a calendar of daily-changing custard flavors in fun choices like red velvet cake and coffee and donuts. We’d want nothing less for the at-sea version, and (ideally) we’d want the flavors to reflect the port, like funnel cake when a ship sails out of New Jersey and café con leche when leaving Miami. (That’s not too much to ask for, is it, Danny? Please tell Royal Caribbean we sent you. Thanks.) And, like the excellent — if a bit greasy — burgers at Guy’s Burger Joint on Carnival Cruise Lines, we want them to be complimentary.
2. Pop-Up Shops
Onboard pop-up stores would be a fantastic addition to any ship. - Photo by JuliusKielaitis / Shutterstock.com
In recent years, stores from Target to H&M have opened pop-up stores to promote new lines or holiday offerings. How much fun would it be if a cruise line partnered with a major brand to offer its summer lines onboard, from swimsuits to sandals and cover-ups — all at great prices? We know we’d be into it.
3. Infinity pools that drip over the edge
Viking Star has the cruise world's first glass-backed pool. - Photo by Viking Cruises
Luxury resorts have some pretty sexy pools in the Caribbean and Mexico. And while some ships have mirrored those in some ways (think tricked-out cabanas with butler service and TVs, poolside mini massages and sunglass cleaning), the pool designs themselves could be a little cooler. We’re picturing a lido deck infinity pool in the fore or aft in which the water drips over the side — or, more likely, appears to — and has plenty of room for swimming laps or just splashing around. Fortunately, Viking River Cruises' first ocean-going vessel is ripped right out of our fantasies.
4. Concerts (and Plays) Under the Stars
More lines need to follow Carnival's lead in brining on acts like REO Speedwagon. - Photo by Carnival Cruise Line
OK, so these happen now. We’re not denying that. But they’re mostly on chartered, music-themed sailings. And Carnival just started bringing on ’80s bands and other popular acts for its Carnival Live series. We’re picturing even bigger names, more often, and on the top deck under the stars. That’s our ideal summery night at sea. In addition, while most of the major lines are offering movies on big screens on the lido deck, we’d love to see other types of performances at night, such as Shakespearean plays, like many major cities host in their parks on summer nights.
5. Food Trucks
Food "trucks" would be an easy (and welcome) addition to the lido deck fare. - Photo by Kogi BBQ
The food truck trend has swept the country in the last few years and, if we were building a ship, we would design a space on an open deck for a series of food trucks to “park” there. The offerings could rotate frequently or be set, and include anything from LA’s Kogi BBQ (yep, sign us up for that sailing, stat) for tacos filled with bulgogi to New York’s Wafels & Dinges, serving up amazingly caramelized Belgian waffles on sea days. And port days. And disembarkation days, too, please.
6. Museum Exhibits
A onboard art museum with rotating exhibits could spice up sea days. - Photo by Claudia Uripos / eStockPhoto
There are some pretty great art collections at sea — Oceania Cruises and Celebrity Cruises spring to mind first. But how amazing would it be for a line to partner with a major museum to showcase artwork of the region that a ship visits? When, say, it’s in the Mediterranean for the summer, you could see world-renowned ancient artifacts, and when it’s in the Caribbean, it could feature Mexican paintings by Frida Kahlo.
7. Momofuku … Anything
The Crack Pie was named that for a reason. - Photo by Momofuku
Like all New York foodies, we’re a bit obsessed with all things David Chang, the young chef-restaurateur who took Gotham by storm a few years ago with his ramen and inventive Korean-American fusion. We’d be happy to see a Momofuku Milk Bar at sea (that’s the bakery and dessert arm of his brand, which serves up the much-lauded, custardy Crack Pie, as well as cereal-flavored soft serve), but it’s his ramen shop (and the pork belly steamed buns he serves there) that would really get us excited about dinner onboard.
8. Free, Reliable Internet
One day, you'll never have to lug your latpop into port for a solid connection. - Photo by Travnikov Studio
Viking Line's new ships have solid WiFi, as do Royal Caribbean's newer vessels. Still, we're looking forward to the day where we don't have to sail on a megaship just for dependable internet.
9. Dim Sum
Lines are constantly adding dining options, so dim sum is only a matter of time.- Photo by Paul Brighton / Shutterstock
Sure, lots of ships have brunch. But how much fun would it be to sit down to dim sum on a sea day, with carts bringing around a la carte dumplings as you catch up with your travel companions? Lots and Lots. (We’re looking at you, Carnival, since you already have some Chinatown-themed bars that could be easily converted.) Bonus: We’d also like to see bubble tea and fancy multicourse Peking duck dinners.