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New cruise ship Norwegian Bliss brings go-karts and laser tag to its entertainment experience

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The battle of the cruise ships continues as the major lines seek to attract a younger clientele with ever more elaborate entertainment offerings. New cruise ship Norwegian Bliss brings go-karts and laser tag to its entertainment experience.

It’s a battle on the high seas as the large cruise ships go head to head in the battle for young hearts, minds and wallets. The days when cruise guests would settle for a sing-a-long and a game of cribbage have long passed. Now the race is on to attract younger guests with a host of elaborate on board activities.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd are upping the ante with ever larger ships and ever more extreme entertainment options.

The new Norwegian Bliss cost $1 billion to build and will cruise Alaska in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter. It offers a two-storey go-kart track and a space-themed outdoor arena for laser tag. Passengers can also hear a Beatles cover band playing inside a replica of Liverpool’s Cavern Club. Prices for a cruise start at $2,800 per couple.

However, unlike in the olden days, the package isn’t all-inclusive. Go-karting costs $9.95 for eight laps, while laser tag costs $5 for about 10 minutes of warfare.

The rise of on-water water parks, zip lines and onboard surfing

Other ships are not being slouches either. Carnival’s Horizon (its newest ship with a 3,960-passenger capacity) offers a Dr. Seuss water park alongside a Havana-themed night club and an Imax theatre.

Water parks are becoming almost de rigueur on the larger ships. Polin Waterparks have installed waterparks to several cruise ships, including Carnival Sunshine; Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas and P&O Cruises Australia’s Pacific Dawn.

This March, Royal Caribbean’s largest ship, the 5,518-guest Symphony of the Seas, took to the waters. The giant ship features an outdoor aquatics arena with acrobats. It also proffers a zip line and a wave machine for onboard surfing.

Exclusive options up onboard revenue

Norwegian tops onboard revenue at $76 per day. This compares to $53 at Royal Caribbean and $45 at Carnival. If guests choose to eschew the main dining room and opt for “specialty” restaurants they pay extra. A rib-eye steak would cost $20 with truffle oil mashed potatoes a further $3 for example. The Haven also offers well-heeled guests a private enclave with separate pools, spas and restaurants.

Although much of the entertainment on the Bliss is free, some shows cost extra. For example, the adults-only Happy Hour Prohibition – the Musical costs $24, including gratuities.

Andy Stuart, chief executive of the Norwegian line, says it’s all about giving customers the widest possible options. “Someone could come on a cruise and eat in the main restaurants, not drink alcohol and they can walk off and not spend a dime if they choose to,” says Stuart. Equally, he points out, “Someone else can come on the ship and spend a lot of money, depending on the experience they choose.”

Image credit – RCI.

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