These cruise ships have giant go-kart race tracks on board

On most cruise ships, you spend your days at sea lying by the pool, watching a show in the theater and stuffing your face at the all-you-can-eat buffet. But now, with Norwegian Cruise Line, you can tap into your more adventurous side and race go-karts.

Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy and the soon-to-be ready Norwegian Encore all feature go-kart race tracks on board that sit on the top deck of the ship, overlooking the ocean. The go-karts, which go up to 30 mph, are electric and produce minimal noise, but you'll be able to hear the rev of the engine in speakers located in the kart's headrest. 

Riders can race morning, day and night, but we recommend making a reservation in advance of boarding or while on the ship to avoid the long line of eager riders. 

41 PHOTOS
Take a look at Norwegian Joy
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Take a look at Norwegian Joy
Norwegian Joy cruise ship
Norwegian Joy cruise ship

Pool Deck 

On the top of the ship guests can take a dip in the pool, enjoy several hot tubs and go for a ride down two different waterslides. The Aqua Racer is a fast, looping waterslide (shown on the right in the picture) that sits above a family-friendly Aqua Park.

Go to the next slide to see the second waterslide!

Ocean Loop Waterslide

This waterslide has a few clear windows so riders can see when they're going over the ocean in the Ocean Loop, which hangs off the side of the ship. 

Race Track 

According to President and COO of Norwegian Cruise Line Andy Stuart, who we heard speak aboard the ship, one renovation they knew they had to make was was widening this track so passing is easier and more fun! 

You'll have a blast taking a spin around the race track (the first race track at sea!) and racing your friends and family.

Norwegian Joy race track
Norwegian Joy Observation Lounge

Mini Golf

Play a round of mini golf while you watch go-karts race around the track. There's nothing too fancy about the course, unless you count the amazing ocean views. 

Galaxy Pavilion

Think of this as extremely upgraded arcade! You'll find some traditional games like skee-ball and pinball, but this arcade is mostly rides that use virtual reality (VR) to create a 7D experience.

Wearing a VR headset you can sit in a life-size Indy race car simulator to whip around a racecourse, ride through Jurassic Park, or ride a rollercoaster. 

Norwegian Joy Galaxy Pavilion

Galaxy Pavilion

Step inside the immersive VR gameplay experience that is Dark Ride 7D. 

Laser Tag

Enjoy the sea breeze as you play laser tag atop the ship. This is best enjoyed when the sunsets and the stars are out.

Norwegian Joy laser tag
Norwegian Joy laser tag

Teppanyaki

Like your traditional hibachi, take a seat around a shared table while chefs cook your meal on a large steel grill. 

Spice H2O

This bar is located on the top deck and is inspired by the beach parties on the island of Ibiza. The adult-only area features three large hot tubs and lounge chairs for enjoying a drink during the day. Come night it, it's a full outdoor dance club.

Norwegian Joy cruise ship

"Footloose"

Have a seat in the theater and watch as a young Chicago teenager moves to a small town and soon finds out his love of dancing has been banned. Based on the '80s movie, this musical packs in some of your favorite music from the decade as well as originals.

"Elements"

Head to the theater for "Elements," a show which combines dance, magic and acrobatics to portray earth, wind, fire and air.

Norwegian Joy cruise ship

Q is home to Texas BBQ, meaning ribs, chicken, brisket, smoked peach margaritas and the best jalapeño cornbread we ever did have. Once you finish your dinner, stick around for a darn good live country band that plays throughout the night.

Casino

Play cards or hit the slots in the onboard casino. Fingers crossed you get lucky!

Food Republic

This restaurant features a smorgasbord of tapas and noodles. Think: sushi, ramen, chicken satay, ceviche, Mexican street corn and reuben dumplings. 

Our cruise director Dan Dan recommended the Pad Thai and we have to say, it did not disappoint! 

Starbucks

Just because you're on a cruise ship doesn't mean you have to totally forgo your usual morning routine. Stop by Starbucks for your regular brew, located at the center of the ship. 

The Local

The Local is located at the center of the ship and is open 24 hours a day, featuring casual pub food and drinks. Catch a game or stop by after winning big (hopefully) at the casino nearby. 

Dining here is also complimentary, unlike other restaurants which are paid for à la carte. 

Norwegian Joy cruise ship

American Diner

The diner is open for lunch and dinner and features your classic burger, fries, shakes and all your other favorite diner foods. Sit inside or sit outside by the pool deck for views of the ocean. 

Cagney's Steakhouse 

Like any good steakhouse, you can get a wide range of rich options at Cagney's and either sit inside a beautiful dining room or out on the deck by the waterfront.

At Cagney's Steakhouse we enjoyed a wedge salad, crab cakes and lobster bisque followed by an extremely tender filet mignon, asparagus and truffle fries (highly recommend those).

For dessert, we tried the "OMG" cheesecake, 7-layer chocolate cake (which was actually chocolate cake and chocolate mousse each layered seven times, totaling 14 layers) and a brownie sundae. We rolled out of the restaurant stuffed up to our throats, but we can assure you, it was well worth it. 

Norwegian Joy waterfront

The District Brew House

Order up one of 60 plus brews or a specialty cocktail at this this bar with floor-to-ceiling windows, live music and games.

Mixx Bar

Grab a drink before or after dinner and enjoy live piano music at this bar that sits between two of the main dining rooms.

"Wine Lovers The Musical"

If you love wine and comedy, this is the show for you. Have a laugh while you watch the world's first wine tasting musical and enjoy lunch. 

Sugarcane Mojito Bar

Order a classic mojito or try a new version like the honey ginger mojito that's refreshing day or night.

Skyline Bar

Take a break from the poker table and have a drink at the Skyline Bar. You can start a new game with bar-top poker screens so you won't miss out on winning. 

Norwegian Joy stateroom
Norwegian Joy Beach Club
Norwegian Joy - The Haven private pool
Norwegian Joy - The Haven
Norwegian Joy stateroom
Norwegian Joy stateroom
Norwegian Joy cruise ship
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Norwegian Joy was the first ship to have an at-sea go-kart track when it began sailing in China in 2017. However, it very recently underwent $50 million dollars in renovations, including making the track wider for easier passing, and is now sailing in Alaska. 

Norwegian Bliss, its sister ship, added an even bigger track to its deck in 2018 and Norwegian Encore, set to make its debut in Fall 2019, will reportedly have the largest race-track of all three.

Encore's track will have over 1,100 feet (longer than three football fields!) and 10 exciting curves, with some reaching nearly 13 feet over the ship's edge. Spectators can watch from a covered viewing area in the middle of the track and use laser guns to give their favorite racers a turbo boost.

No matter if you're traveling to the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, the Panama Canal or down the Pacific Coast, you can challenge other guests to a friendly race while taking in the sunshine (in-between a game of outdoor laser tag, of course). 

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Cruise crew members reveal secrets
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Cruise crew members reveal secrets

1. Relationships between passengers and crew members are forbidden.

Wrote Chockythechipmunk, "Crew sleeping with passengers is strictly (like, kick you off the next day strictly) forbidden."

Echoed another crew member Heapsgoods, "I worked on cruise ships for 3 years and have had three friends sent home over this. Essentially you get busted, you have a Masters Hearing and you're sent home at the next port (on your dime). The cruise companies don't want to be liable for anything and rape accusations are all too real. We aren't allowed to take elevator rides with guests if you're the only two people in it either, for the same reason. Also if you're taking a photo with a guest both of your hands must be visible. It's happens before that a guest claimed she was groped and you couldn't see the crew members hand in the photo (it was on guests back). Luckily there was a security camera that capture them from behind."

2. They're strict about visitors, too.

"I'm sure lawsuits have happened in the past. Sexual harassment and such. All I know is if you're even in the vicinity of a passenger cabin you have to have a sheet of paper on your person that says you're allowed to be there. When my mom came on board the ship and I wanted to visit her, I had a sheet signed by my boss and my boss's boss," ChockytheChipmunk explained on the Reddit thread.

3. Even regular interaction between the crew members and guests is discouraged.

Wrote Reddit user GDH27: "The reason I quit was the relationship between the crew and the guests. We were expected to be ghosts, and couldn't sit anywhere guests were, and would have to move if they wanted to come where we were sitting. I'd see them for their dives and not be acknowledged for the rest of the time except if they wanted something. It's degrading to be honest, and a pain in the arse. Some days I'd be up at work for 3.45, and have to wait until 11 at night for the guests to leave the decks before I could fill the tanks."

4. Quarters are cramped, sleep is limited.

Explained Reddit user Teddersman

"My position shared a bedroom with bunk beds and really small bathrooms. You could shit, shave your legs, and brush your teeth all at the same time. Depending upon your position on board determined if you had guest area privileges. I was allowed in guest areas, but after spending all day with the guests that's the last thing I wanted to do. You're always on duty and your supervisors have 24 hour access to you at all times by just ringing your phone and waking you up in your cabin. Sleep was very limited, so every off hour was spent trying to catch up."

Wrote JMPBass, "On both ships, I shared a room with a member of my band. My first ship, I roomed with the keyboardist, who was much older than me. We got along, but it was apples and oranges. I had the top bunk, which ended up being the best because the bottom bunk was coffin-like. He tried to trade me a couple of months in, I said no. On my last ship, I roomed with the guitarist. He and I were a year apart, it was his first time, and he was totally cool with having top bunk. The beds in our room were in an L-shape, so it was great for space. I also had a double bed in that room, which was awesome. Everyone enjoyed coming to our room because we'd just be hanging out in there most days, doing our thing and not really caring about the gossip."

5. Some even described the living conditions as hell. 

Wrote Reddit user GDH27, "Living conditions were hell. My "cabin" was a box with a mattress smaller than a standard single, the ceiling was so low I couldn't sit up on the mattress, no fan, no air-conditioning, and just 20 cm on one side for me to store my stuff on."

Complained MirtaGev, "The rooms are tiny, and your shower curtain will always be trying to get to know you Biblically."

Explained another user Puss_ParkersWidow: "We got crammed in a tiny cabin with 3 other employees but you have varying hours, so there's people coming and going when you're somewhat asleep- but you worked hard, so you're tired and you might actually sleep. The engine noise tends to be helpful in that regard."

6. It can be a "money pit" for employees.

Explained Reddit user Teddersman

"Crew members are super hard working and work weeks are 70 hours a week without a single day off for 6-8 months at a time. Most crew members rely on tips for their wages. My position was salaried for $58/a day, I was an officer on board working in the guest services office. Came out to roughly $1400 a month after taxes. No one else is taxed besides Americans on board."

Wrote user TickleMafia

"Paying zero rent or bills is a great deal and I've been incredibly lucky that that is an option, but... the pay is almost always less then what you make on land, and if you lose work on land it can be a wash, some lines also try and suck the crew dry, charging extra for necessities like toilet paper, drinking water or over-charging for internet."

Reddit user JustHereforCarterHam said:

"Most of my friends work for cruises, since we work in technical theatre production, it's an easy hire. Cruises are either a great way to save money or an awful one. Your lodging and food is paid for, and you're getting paid, so that's great. But cruises are BORING. Sure, cheap booze and free travel is great for the first little while. But after a while, it becomes like Squidward in that episode where he finds his perfect down. So routine. So boring. Wifi is usually anywhere from $5/day to $10/hour and there is no cell service. So, when you're not working, you're trying your best to find anything to do. So a lot of the time you'll start spending money on anything new, and then you're not saving or enjoying yourself, so there's little point."

"However, many people still enjoy the life of the routine and the travel, and figure ways around spending money. Just know, it's harder than you expect to be one of those people. But if you can be, it's a great opportunity."

Echoed another employee MirtaGev, "US citizens aren't payed that well, but some countries, where the conversion rate is really good, make some serious bank. South Africa, especially."

7. Despite the long hours, some crew members are in it for the ability to travel. 

Explained Too-Tsunami, "It was awesome, though. You travel for free, drink for cheap, and save a lot of money since you aren't really paying for anything unless you want to. I'd suggest it to anyone who has no strings attached, & is willing to work hard for 6-8 months at a time."

Asserted Seastar321, "In 5 years on cruise ships I literally travelled the world. I went to Europe Canada north, south and Central America including Alaska and Hawaii Asia inc China Japan and India Africa. I basically visited every continent except Antarctica, and went to over 75 countries. I took a sled dog ride in Alaska, white water rafting along a river through the jungles of Costa Rica, visited Alcatraz, had an authentic curry in Mumbai, spent a day on a luxury yacht sailing around the Caribbean, snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef, visited the great pyramids in Egypt, been to the lost city of Petra, spent days in Barcelona,Athens, Rome, Kiev, and so so so much more. None of the bullshit you have to put up with on board matters compared to that."

8. Hygiene is a big priority, understandably.

A now-deleted post wrote, "One thing she did tell me is the cruise lines (the well known ones anyway) are very anal about cleanliness. If there's even the hint of a norovirus outbreak, it's all hands on deck and the entire ship is scrubbed down with disinfectant. But while the ship is clean, certain lines will sometimes cut corners when it comes to maintenance of the mechanical systems. Think the infamous "Poop Cruise" from a few years back."

9. There may be a huge discrepancy in pay.

Explained BilliousN, "Totally depends on which country you come from. My wife and I met working on ships. She's Indonesian, worked 10 month contracts without a day off, 12-14 hours a day... and made about $600 bucks a month. Lived in a shared room, ate food that was literally made from the scraps of what passengers didn't eat, never had time to get off ship in port."

"I'm American, worked 4 month contracts, had a solo room, usually worked about 6-10 hours a day, ate with the passengers in the lido, and made around $3000 a month."

"Different roles, but the jobs all have nationalities. On our ships, bartenders were all Filipino EXCEPT the crew and officers bar bartenders were Indonesian."

Echoed Ghotiaroma, "Yup, every ship I have ever been on your job is decided by your nationality. This is one of the reasons no ship I know of registers in the US. They need to be free of any regulations of a civilized world."

10. Yes, there is even an onboard ranking.

Explained Throwawaytheflag, "When it comes to getting assigned to ships, they'll take seniority and relationships into consideration. Once my cousin and another girl with the same job were applying to work on a certain ship that both their bfs had already been assigned to (with this job, it's one person per ship). My cousin got the assignment because she had seniority. But the contracts are about 6-8 months, so it's not the end of the world in most cases."

Wrote SoundTech_157, "It really varies by what position you have on the ships. I worked for 2 cruise lines and worked on 7 ships. There are 3 classes of people on the ship the top rank which is officers. They have their own dining hall and better food gets served there then the other 2 which is staff mess and crew mess. Staff are the entertainment team, child care team, photography and shore excursion any type of non officer management and guest service team. Crew are the shitty jobs like room stewards, deck hands, bartenders, cooks etc."

Asserted JMPBass, "SHIPS ARE A VERY CLASSIST SYSTEM!!! I can't stress that enough. If you're in to social justice, it's a case study worth exploring. Sometimes, the work is exploitative, other times it's demeaning, but these crew have to support their families somehow, and often it's better than what's at home. I've tried to curb my entitlement each time I've been on board."

11. Crew members are given a physical before they're hired. They also have random drug tests. 

Wrote SoundTech_157, "They do have random tests for drugs every month but I have never had to do one. You are only supposed to have .08 blood alcohol level while not working. But as long as you are not an asshole drunk, you can drink until you don't remember and security won't bother you."

Explained Daftsnuts, "You have to take a somewhat intense physical before getting on board. This includes a drug test. Random drug tests also happen while on board. Moral of the story? If you want a cruise ship job, stop smoking weed 3 weeks ago."

12. Life aboard becomes mundane. 

"We had a saying "Every night is a Friday night and every morning is a Monday morning. Every day is ground hogs day," wrote Rmmyyz.

"The best way to describe no days off is, waking up to your alarm and every single day feels like a Monday morning (for those that actually have normal work weeks)," explained Reddit user Teddersman.

"The thing I remember most from what [my cousin] told me is that there are basically 3-4 channels on the TVs, and they loop the same movies over and over. So you'll end up watching a movie in chunks depending on when you turn your TV on, until they switch out the movies," wrote user Throwawaytheflag.

13. Laundry is hard to come by. 

"Laundry is best done on port days, or at odd hours. Musicians work nights, so I could get away with doing my washing at 3AM, no problem," asserted JMPBass.

Wrote MirtaGev, "You will never find a free washer unless you camp out in the laundry room for a few hours. There are usually about 5 to 15 washers/dryers, and anywhere from 1000 to 2500 crew members."

14. Some didn't see mental health as a top priority 

Explained JMPBass, " I wanted to get in to mental health on ships. Basically, there is none and 0 support system, and it's unfortunate. People get all riled up, there's drama, closed quarters, etc, and things happen. If there was someone on board that was trustworthy and reliable to help educate, support and guide some of the crew, then ship life wouldn't be as destructive as it can be. I don't want to get in to it, but it's a conversation I've had on almost every ship I've been on."

15. Food and social life are better depending on what line you're on. 

Wrote SoundTech_157, "The food is not the same as what the guests eat in both messes. In staff mess we have waiters and if you don't see what you like you can order an egg on a bun or hamburger or something like that. In the crew mess the food is more Asian palate based. Some days there will be fish head soup some days you will have normal cream of mushroom soup. There will always be some sort of chicken that's been sitting out too long and not hot. Some sort of cold cooked veggies, Salad, pasta, dessert and fruit. This does not sound bad and for the first month on board it is not. But it end up being the same food constantly. Ex mondays are fish stick days and Wednesdays are undercooked burger days."

Wrote SirMaximusPowers, "The meals for the crews was pretty bomb, and you could also eat/drink anywhere you wanted on the ship as long as you were off your shift and not in your work clothes. It seemed as if the general consensus was it being a great experience for a short period of time, but it is not something you'd most likely enjoy for more than a few seasons unless that type of lifestyle appeals to you."

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