Best cruise ship water parks with everything from race slides to surf simulators

Long gone are the days when cruise holidays involved a few on-board games.

Nowadays, cruise lines are massively upping the stakes with heaps of fun for the whole family; and water parks have become a huge part of the experience.

After all, although you're surrounded by ocean waters you can't exactly dive in for a dip, so the water park offers the next best thing.

We're not just talking a couple of drench buckets and splash pools. Some cruise ships have full-blown water parks complete with racing slides, attractions where the floor disappears under your feet, and even rides that travel over the edge of the ship.

We take a look at some of the best cruise ship water parks below…

Royal Caribbean

A number of Royal Caribbean cruise ships feature water parks, and the cruise line offers some impressive water slides.

Highlights include the RipTide mat racer which goes over the edge of the ship and The Blaster which propels you with powerful jets (both of which can be found on Navigator of the Seas), the Perfect Storm racer slides Typhoon and Cyclone where you can take on your family and friends (found on Independence of the Seas), and the tallest waterslide at sea the Ultimate Abyss (found on Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas).

Royal Caribbean also has on-board activities such as FlowRider, a surf simulator for the adventurous (although it's not technically part of the water park, it felt apt to include).

Oh, and for something pretty spectacular, cruises including a stop to the new private island Perfect Day at CocoCay will offer a chance to check out Thrill Waterpark, which boasts 13 brand new slides.

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MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises offers up a plethora of fun, twisting slides sure to be a hit with thrill-seekers, while the various pools and splash pools sure to appeal to younger children or those with a more gentle disposition.

MSC Seaside is a must with FIVE different slides, including two racer slides which extend over the side of the ship, as well as a 367-foot water slide with lights and music playing as you're propelled down by the jets of water.

The on-board water parks can be found on board the likes of MSC Grandiosa, MSC Bellissima, MSC Seaview, MSC Seaside and MSC Meraviglia.

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Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian has a host of on-board water parks with everything for those seeking an adrenaline rush, as well as those wanting a bit more of a laidback vibe thanks to pool decks and hot tubs.

Highlights include The Epic Plunge on board Norwegian Epic, a huge bowl-type plunging ride.

Meanwhile, exclusively on board Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, you'll find FIVE multi-storey waterslides including The Whip, two racing side-by-side slides, and the Free Fall where the floor opens beneath your feet as you drop down the thrilling attraction. 

Younger kids are also tailored for in the Kids' Aqua Park offerings.

Disney's cruise ships offer up heaps of fun for the whole family, and their water parks live up to the hype.

Ships such as Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy boasts slides such a AquaDuck, a thrilling water coaster, as well as Mickey's Pool, a winding waterslide ideal for younger kids.

Meanwhile, Disney Magic also offers AquaDunk, where thrill-seekers can climb to the ship's highest point and take on the slide that twists down three storeys!

AquaLab water parks with splash zones and slides can also be found on Disney Wonder, Disney Magic and Disney Fantasy.

Looking for cruise deals?

Mirror Cruise has heaps of discounted packages including perks such as free cabin upgrades, free drinks packages and free handpicked hotel stays at glamorous destinations.

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