The 9 Best Party Cruise Ships

Depending on your travel style, how you choose to party on the high seas can mean a million different things. We've rounded up a wide array of cruise ships for every kind of traveler. To start with, you'll find classic ships for cruisers looking to party spring-break style. Expect bumping dance music, lots of nightclub action, and hosted daytime pool parties. To even things out, we've also found the ships that are best for travelers who like to mix high-octane adventure with their party antics, and even some family-friendly party ships. Read on for our nine favorite party cruise ships, from Carnival to Disney and everything in between. It's a party on the high seas.

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1. Carnival Fantasy

The Main Pool on the Carnival Fantasy/Oyster
The Main Pool on the Carnival Fantasy/Oyster

Wondering which cruise line is best for partying? Well, we found it. Carnival Cruises are hands-down the way to go for those seeking a tried-and-true cruise party experience. For starters, the cruise line has its own DJ academy that’s run by famous Las Vegas and Miami DJs. The brand essentially gave birth to the party cruise with its “Fun Ship” fleet, and the Carnival Fantasy is the most senior of those. In fact, there are a total of eight Fantasy-class sister ships that are commonly deployed on shorter weekend getaway cruises. That makes these the perfect length cruises for travelers who want to party, but not spend too many of their vacation days. Interiors are bright and colorful throughout the ships, including the the bars and nightclubs. The Fantasy itself features the line’s latest BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar, as well as a nightclub and theme party nights. Is this a peaceful weekend getaway? Likely not. But if you’re looking to live your wildest life, the Carnival Fantasy is for you.

2. Carnival Vista

The Beach Pool on Carnival Vista/Oyster
The Beach Pool on Carnival Vista/Oyster

If you’re seeking Carnival’s slightly more refined side, the Carnival Vista may be more your speed. All the fun is still here, but the formerly flashy decor of previous ships is swapped for a more subtle beach resort aesthetic. You’ll find brand staples like BlueIguana Cantina, along with the pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar and RedFrog Pub & Brewery offer beers that are brewed right onboard. Aside from the bars and clubs, parties are hosted at the outdoor pool deck and indoors at the Liquid Lounge. Check your cruise itinerary for theme nights, so you know which outfits to pack.

3. Norwegian Escape

Jimmy Buffett’s Magaritaville at Sea on Norwegian Escape/Oyster
Jimmy Buffett’s Magaritaville at Sea on Norwegian Escape/Oyster

Norwegian Cruise Line channels Jimmy Buffett to create the relaxed party atmosphere aboard the Norwegian Escape. The musician’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar and Margaritaville at Sea embody his philosophy of partaking in the good life. Still, passengers can get their blood pumping again with all sorts of high-octane activities. There are thrilling waterslides plus a challenging ropes course to enjoy. Broadway-worthy productions in the Stardust Theater are also thrilling. And then there are the themed parties (like the wildly popular Glow Party), which you’ll learn more about just below.

4. Norwegian Pearl

Comedy and Dancing on Norwegian Pearl/Oyster
Comedy and Dancing on Norwegian Pearl/Oyster

In addition to the Norwegian Escape, the Norwegian Pearl is party central. For starters, many music festivals come to the ship, giving guests a chance to listen in on multiple live sets as well as mingle with their favorite artists. The expansive pool deck and concert-friendly Stardust Theater also make great live-entertainment venues. However, Norwegian is perhaps most famous for its themed party nights. These include Latin Night, ’70s and ’80s nights, and the Glow Party — where black lights, club music, and neon are guaranteed to make the night memorable.

5. Harmony of the Seas

Royal Promenade on Harmony of the Seas/Oyster
Royal Promenade on Harmony of the Seas/Oyster

If you’re after a cruise ship that’s really more of a floating city, you’d do well to check out the ships of the Royal Caribbean International line. Specifically, the Harmony of the Seas. It’s one of the largest at sea, and has almost too many venues, restaurants, and bars to count. How big is the Harmony of the Seas? Well, for starters, its central Royal Promenade is big enough to host parades, and its Studio B is a multipurpose hub of activity complete with a genuine ice rink. This one even has an escape room experience — Escape the Rubicon — as well as the thrilling Ultimate Abyss spiral dry slide and AquaTheater, with performers executing all sorts of cool acrobatics and aerials. Harmony of the Seas also has a bevy of bars to keep your thirst at bay, including a robot bar and a nightclub with a light-up dance floor.

6. Anthem of the Seas

The North Star Bar on Anthem of the Seas/Oyster
The North Star Bar on Anthem of the Seas/Oyster

Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas is another ship that mixes party-ready elements (like a dizzying number of bars) with cool thrills for those who get their kicks in more visceral ways. Or maybe you love both! Let’s start with the booze. Like sister ship Harmony of the Seas, you’ll find the Bionic Bar on board, where robots stir and shake all types of boozy concoctions to shockingly solid reviews. There’s also the North Star, which allows you to sip cocktails while dangling way above the cruise deck. For cruisers who prefer some action, check out the line’s signature FlowRider surf simulator as well as the RipCord by iFly skydiving simulator (which is especially fun lit up in neon at night). For milder, kid-friendly fun, head to the SeaPlex. Here you’ll find a video game lounge, bumper car arena, roller rink, circus school, and dance club.

7. Disney Fantasy

Disney Fantasy character show/Courtesy of Jason Leppert
Disney Fantasy character show/Courtesy of Jason Leppert

It will come as absolutely no surprise that when it comes to family party time, Disney Cruise Line takes the cake. And its Disney Fantasy ship just so happens to pack in the most fun for travelers on its weeklong voyages. You can expect Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and other recognizable Disney characters at sea, which is guaranteed to please the youngest cruisers. Best of all, the line does a fine job of providing something for everyone. Families can catch stage shows, film screenings, and opt for themed dining, as well as ride the AquaDuck water coaster and play at the AquaLab. Kid-centric destinations onboard include the Midship Detective Agency or Disney’s Oceaneer Club — where the little ones will get character visits and access to games and toys. Adults can head to Europa for The Tube nightclub or La Piazza, Ooh La La, O’Gills Pub, and Skyline bars.

8. Disney Wonder

Tiana's Place, Disney Wonder/Courtesy of Jason Leppert
Tiana’s Place, Disney Wonder/Courtesy of Jason Leppert

The Disney Wonder may be smaller than the Fantasy, but you’ll still find plenty of family-fun party activites on board. Those include its own AquaLab interactive water park., as well as a long line-up of deck performances (including one helmed by Mickey Mouse as your ship departs port). Fireworks and pirates are also cruisers favorites. When it comes to dining, the Disney Wonder excels, especially at Tiana’s Place, a restaurant inspired by “The Princess and the Frog.” Here, a live jazz band and parade accompany your southern-inspired meals. Of course, big hits with kids include the Marvel Super Hero Academy and Frozen Adventures, which are both part of Disney’s Oceaneer Club. No Disney Wonder cruise would be complete without a visit from Queen Elsa and Princess Anna during the family-friendly “Frozen, A Musical Spectacular.”

9. Queen Mary 2

QM2/Courtesy of Jason Leppert

While it may not come to mind as a party ship at first, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is a wonderful option for those who want to step back in time. This ocean liner is all about creating an elegant vintage vibe, with its formal dress code and live big-band music. The ship attracts a more mature crowd than you’d find on Carnival’s ships, and far fewer families than the Disney cruises. It also has an incredibly high price tag, with luxury dining venues and the world’s only at-sea planetarium. Itineraries can be incredibly long and are often booked as a once-in-a-lifetime adventure (including around-the-world sailings). When it comes to entertainment, expect everything from Broadway-style revues to Shakespeare.

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