Cruise ships have come a long way since the steam vessels of days gone by. Today, choosing a cruise is all about the five star facilities and entertainment on offer. And more often than not, the swimming pools and now even aqua theatres, are often the deal breaker. Swimming pool and spa designers are now an integral part of new cruise ship design teams and there's some incredible water fun to be had! Here's a selection of some of the most extravagant and luxurious.
Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas
Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean, are two of the world's largest cruise ships. The ships' awe inspiring AquaTheaters are like nothing you've ever seen. The swimming pool in the theatre area is 5.5 metres deep and is surrounded by a 735-seat arena with two surf machines, fountains, diving towers and even a trapeze! The ships also boast surf simulators, four swimming pools and 10 whirlpools, two of them cantilevered over the ocean.
Voted "Best Cruise Ship" by Travel Weekly in 2011, the Norwegian Epic boasts the only tube water slide at sea. The ship's impressive Aqua Park features three multi-level water slides but it's The Epic Plunge that puts the blast of inner-tubing into the core of a bowl slide, with an incredible drop through a 200-foot long tube.
There are also two main pools with rising water effects that illuminate at night, five hot tubs, a wading pool and a kids' pool that features colourful sculptures, water sprays and yet another slide.
For the ultimate in cruising swimming pool and spa luxury, Holland America's Eurodam cruise ship has it all. Around the main mid-ship lido pool - which is covered by a retractable roof in bad weather – you can retreat to a private cabana.
Inside your private tent, you'll find wicker couches and chairs, Evian spray misters, a special menu for lunch service, complimentary snacks - like fruit skewers - and iPods uploaded with music.
A second adults-only Sea View pool features two hot tubs and plenty of deck space with a view of the open sea. And below deck, the ship boasts a luxurious hydrotherapy pool to soothe away those aches and pains.
On the Crystal Serenity, you might be mistaken for being on a sailing ship, with all the luxury of a cruise liner. Crystal Serenity's exclusive swimming pool is surrounded by beautiful all-teak sun decks and is furnished with comfortable, padded loungers