Best Cruise Parties: Entertainment at Sea

Deck BBQ aboard Windstar Cruises. Photo by Rodan Robles for Windstar Cruises
By Heidi Sarna

After a great day in port, unwind with one of these onboard parties. Whether you're up on deck waving farewell to some picturesque coastline in Europe or the Caribbean (or whether you take the party inside to one of the ship's nightclubs), here's a look at the best places to get your groove back.

Photo Caption: A deck barbecue aboard Windstar Cruises.
As part of the Pirates IN the Caribbean deck party, Disney Cruise Line guests enjoy awe-inspiring fireworks on the high seas. Photo by Disney Cruise Line
During the Pirates IN the Caribbean deck parties aboard Disney Cruise Line's ships (, Captain Hook, Captain Mickey, and other stunt characters rappel from the funnel and zoom over the open decks attached to zip lines. Offered once per cruise on all itineraries (except Alaska), the adventure culminates with an exciting fireworks show launched right from the ship.

Photo Caption: As part of the Pirates IN the Caribbean deck party, Disney Cruise Line guests enjoy fireworks on the high seas.
SeaDream's Champagne & Caviar Splash. Photo by SeaDream Yacht Club
On Caribbean itineraries, SeaDream Yacht Club ( passengers are tendered from the posh yachts to a quiet beach on Jost Van Dyke or Virgin Gorda for the most fun a ship of middle-aged vacationers could ever hope for: The ship's staff members wade into the surf with their uniforms on to serve champagne and caviar from a floating surfboard as guests eagerly tread through the water to partake. A beach barbecue follows the champagne.

Photo Caption: SeaDream's Champagne & Caviar Splash.
Guests dancing in the Queen Mary 2 Queens Room. Photo by Cunard Line
With its high arched ceiling and crystal chandeliers, the Queen Mary 2's ( retro Queens Room ballroom is the perfect backdrop for a nostalgic evening of dancing to the classics. Whether you're there to waltz or to tango, it's an excuse to dress to the nines. Sometimes there are theme nights, such as a black-and-white ball or a lady's hat party.

Photo Caption: Guests dancing in the Queen Mary 2 Queens Room.
Dining on deck, Windstar Cruises. Photo by Windstar Cruises
Once per cruise in the Caribbean and Mediterranean aboard Windstar's ( sexy yachts, enjoy live music and a buffet on the open decks under the ships' towering masts and sails. Dance, drink, and dine under the stars as some gorgeous port like Santorini fades into the distance.

Photo Caption: Dining on deck aboard Windstar Cruises.
Crystal Cruises ships docked in Monte Carlo. Photo by Crystal Cruises
Sip complimentary bubbly and nibble on hors d'oeuvres as your Crystal Cruises ( ship glides away from the coastline of Monaco and the Côte d'Azur. Enjoy the stunning views along with live music from the ship's classical string quartet, orchestra, or a guest headline entertainer.

Photo Caption: Crystal Cruises ships docked in Monte Carlo.
Norwegian Cruise Line's White Hot Party. Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line
This happening party takes place on the pool deck on warm-weather cruises. As the name implies, Norwegian Cruise Line ( passengers dress in white, while the staff members don white-feather angel wings. Dancing and drinking rage into the wee hours.

Photo Caption: A staff member at Norwegian Cruise Line's White Hot Party.
Group of friends having drinks at Quasar nightclub onboard Celebrity Solstice. Photo by Celebrity Cruises
The Quasar nightclub aboard Celebrity Silhouette, Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Eclipse ( is the way to visit outer space without spending a fortune. Four large LED screens are programmed with high-tech lighting that's synchronized with music for abstract, futuristic-style nightly shows and hours of dancing and cocktailing with shipmates.

Photo Caption: Group of friends having drinks at Quasar nightclub aboard Celebrity Solstice.
Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas. Photo by Royal Caribbean International
The cool solarium aboard Royal Caribbean's ( Oasis, Voyager, and Freedom class ships is transformed into a trendy after-hours South Beach-esque nightclub called Twenty. White billowing sheets, chandeliers, and a classic paparazzi entrance with red velvet cords create a realistic scene of posh excess.

Photo Caption: Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas.
Carnival Spirit. Photo by Carnival Cruise Lines
Aboard the Carnival Spirit ( in Hawaii, a festive luau party features a roast pig served with lots of tropical fruits and island-inspired salads. Guests don leis and their flashiest Hawaiian print shirts as a Hawaiian duo on board for the party croons traditional island songs.

Photo Caption: Carnival Spirit