We Like to Party: Our Top Picks for Nightlife Cruises and Onboard Nightclubs

Picture this: it's 10pm, you've spent the day out exploring an exotic ocean port, enjoyed a cheeky afternoon nap and just made the most of a delicious onboard dinner. Life is good.


Three women enjoy evening cocktails on the deck of a stylish cruise ship

2min read

Published 8 May 2024

Flight Centre Author


Vicki Fletcher

Head of Content and Social Media


Picture this: it's 10pm, you've spent the day out exploring an exotic ocean port, enjoyed a cheeky afternoon nap and just made the most of a delicious onboard dinner. Life is good.


While you could easily head to bed and snuggle up with a good book, a small part of you is ready to let your hair down and dance. Whether you fancy watching some live music with a nightcap in hand, or would prefer to dance the night away with a DJ spinning the latest hits, we can assure you that there is a cruise nightlife scene to satisfy every seafaring traveler.

No longer just floating beacons for bingo and retirees enjoying their golden years, party cruises attract travelers of all ages - from young adults to parents with kids and more. With child-minding services available, and your comfortable bed just minutes away, cruising proves to be a very efficient and stress-free way to party.

Add in the fact that you don't need to set an alarm, and there is the option to include beverage packages in your fare, it's easy to see why so many travelers are keen to experience one of these party cruises for themselves.

While most large cruise lines will offer some form of bar and live music option, not all cruise nightclubs are made equal. If you're keen to cut some shapes on the dance floor and make the most of your nights at sea, we've made a list of the best party cruise ships to ensure you're not missing out on any fun.

First things first, though, let's do the rounds and summarise the nightlife options available on the high seas.

1. What kind of nightlife can you expect on a cruise?

If you're keen to make the most of cruising nightlife, but aren't 100% sure a club is your scene, rest assured that there are plenty of late night options ready to tempt you with a good time. From live concerts to stylish nightclubs and chilled cocktail bars serving tipples till the wee hours, here are some venues you can expect to find on your party cruise ship.

A cruise liner moored at night in electric blue light

Photo: Jamie Morrison

A cruise liner moored at night in electric blue light

Photo: Jamie Morrison

A cruise liner moored at night in electric blue light

Photo: Jamie Morrison

2. Pubs, bars & lounges

Whatever your tipple or mood, chances are there's a bar or pub on board to quench your thirst. For a more low-key evening, relax over a cocktail in a piano bar, pop into a traditional pub with real draught beer or rekindle the romance in a sophisticated champagne bar.

3. Themed nights & parties

Many longer cruises (seven nights or more) host theme nights and dinners. Themes can include dress ups from the 80's and 90s, nights where everyone is encouraged to wear white (or red on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady), an excuse to don your black tie finery or even a glow-in-the-dark party.

Some ships may even do surprise themes, where guests need to pull out their creative flair and rustle a costume together last minute. Good luck!

4. Dance lessons

Salsa lessons, rock'n'roll or ballroom – put your dancing shoes on and don't let two left feet stop you getting your groove on. Dance classes and nights are a feature of many party cruise lines and are a great night out with your partner or mates.

Who knows, if you're single a dance class may be the perfect place to meet your holiday fling.

5. Casino

Many onboard casinos boast a full range of gaming tables and slot machines. Here, you can try your luck at the roulette table or take a poker master class. As with all gambling venues, entry and participation is restricted to over 18s only.

6. Pool deck parties

Make a splash and say cheers to drinks by the pool as the sun sets over the horizon. From here, you can dance under the stars and let the cool sea breeze fuel you into the early hours.

Whether it's a quick getaway or a longer adventure, most cruise lines will offer some form of sail away party on the day of departure that spreads from the deck to the ship's solarium bar. If this sounds like your cup of tea, double check the itinerary includes a chance to experience a pool party like no other.

Red light bathes silhouetted revellers in a night club

Photo: Jodie Walton

Red light bathes silhouetted revellers in a night club

Photo: Jodie Walton

Red light bathes silhouetted revellers in a night club

Photo: Jodie Walton

7. Night clubs

If you're a real party animal, choose a cruise with nightclubs to rival Ibiza or Miami and world-class bars like you'd find in any capital city. From ice bars to pumping venues spinning popular club music, the best party cruise lines are definitely something worthy of your bucket list.

Loving the idea of partying on a floating night club? Check out our top party cruise line picks below.

A cruise liner sails into a hilly harbour at night.

Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathise

A cruise liner sails into a hilly harbour at night.

Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathise

A cruise liner sails into a hilly harbour at night.

Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathise

Carnival Cruise Line

Best cruise ships to party on: Carnival Miracle, Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Horizon
The vibe: Unique nightclub themes and big nights out

If you've been on a Carnival Cruise before, chances are you're well acquainted with the cruise line's unique slew of nightclubs. Let out your inner freak and party with a giant Frankenstein at Frankenstein's Lab on Carnival Miracle.

Sip some vodka and lime juice at Carnival Valor's One Small Step club that was inspired by the moon landing, or dance the night away at Carnival Sunshine's after-hours nightclub, Liquid.

Honorable mentions go to the Cuban-themed parties, Latin tunes and dancers at Havana Bar on Carnival Horizon, Vista and Sunshine. If that's not enough, rest assured that every Carnival ship will include a mega deck party, piano bars and a comedy club.

Virgin Voyages

Best cruise ship to party: Resilient Lady
The vibe: Trendy, uber-chic venues that put a modern twist on cruising

Turns out Richard Branson knows how to party, and Virgin Voyages fleet of ships are no exception to the rule. These 100% adults-only cruises come packed with an onboard tattoo parlor, drag queen brunches, scavenger hunts and secret below-deck tours for tipples at the crew bar.

Let loose with top deck dance parties during the iconic Scarlett Night where the entire ship comes to life and is bathed in red. Alternatively, head to The Manor - a two-story, three-bar nightclub, and let the 70s punk vibe put other clubs to shame.

Royal Caribbean

Best party cruises: Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas
The vibe: High energy, family-friendly parties

As the sun sets, head up to the Solarium Bar on board any Royal Caribbean ship and watch Club Twenty One comes to life. With a retractable glass roof, go-go dancers, scratch DJ and white drapes swaying in the breeze, you'll quickly fall in love with the south beach style nightclub.

When you aren't at the club, watch a live band at the Music Hall, take the kids to a family friendly party and bring the house down with some Karaoke.

With guaranteed high onboard energy and plenty of choices, Royal Caribbean is a great party destination for the whole fam.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Best ships to party aboard: Norwegian Breakaway, Jewel, Epic & Getaway
The vibe: Sophisticated experiences and round-the-clock entertainment

Each of the Norwegian Cruise Line's nightclubs are different. Known as the Bliss Ultra Lounge, each of NCL cruises has a unique spin on a night out. Those keen on a boogie should opt for the biggest dance floor on Norwegian Epic, while folks looking for something different can hit the bowling alley at the club on Norwegian Pearl.

Feeling a little hot? Cool down with a beverage at Norwegian Breakaway's ice bar, Svedka. Here you can sip super-chilled cocktails amongst lights that mirror the Aurora Borealis.

Last but not least, feel like you're on the glitter strip with Norwegian Getaway's Vegas-style nightclub, filled with funky décor, huge plasma screens playing music videos, shadow dancers and a DJ.

Princess Cruises

Best ship for cruise nightlife: Regal Princess
The vibe: A regal nod to old style cruising (and partying)

Princess Cruises traditionally attract a more mature crowd - but that doesn't mean they don't know how to party. Each night you can sip and savour your drink of choice from the scenic Night Sky Lounge on Regal Princess.

Better yet, for one night on each cruise the top-deck retreat pool transforms into a Miami-style dance party fit with glowing drinks and pulsing lights. Bring your bathers, reserve a bottle service cabana and enjoy music from the hot tub in the middle of the ocean. Talk about boujee.

MSC Cruises

Best party cruise ships: MSC Cruises Fantasia Class Ships
The vibe: Late night European nightclubs

Thanks to MSC's European influence, you can rest assured that there will be plenty of party options aboard every ship. For those quite partial to a big night out, we recommend booking an itinerary onboard any of the Fantasia Class ships which feature the iconic Galaxy Lounge Restaurant and Liquid Disco Club.

At 11pm each night, the Galaxy Lounge takes inspiration from 50s supper clubs, allowing guests to live La Dolce Vita with a retro-chic atmosphere, panoramic views and a wide variety of music. Playing everything from salsa to reggaeton and 70's disco, there's bound to be something to get everyone on the dance floor.

Celebrity Cruises

Best Party Cruise Ship: Resilient Lady
The vibe: Upmarket traditional cruising nightlife with a twist

If you care a little more about the quality of your drinks, and would love to savour a tipple while listening to sooth tunes, then Celebrity Cruises is your pick.

With each departure bringing mixologists and sommeliers along for the ride, you can test your palette with a wide range of drinks from the Martini Bar and onboard Wine Bar featuring up to 400 wine selections.

After dark, head to the passport bar in the Grand Foyer to enjoy a craft cocktail or IPA while listening to the house band. Alternatively, night owls can beeline for the retro-chic club, Quasar, fit with silver chrome and white décor and DJ spun music.

Finally, those seeking something a little more romantic can hit up the Sky Observation Lounge with its moonlit views of the sea, specialty cocktail menu and drinks named after the zodiac signs.

P&O Cruises

Best Party Cruise Ship: Pacific Encounter
The vibe: Affordable fun for the whole family

Whether you're enjoying a longer itinerary, or one of P&O's short cruises, rest assured that there will be plenty of nightlife options onboard.

Sip wine and nibble cheese as you watch the ship come alive at the Lobby Bar at Avalon Cafe, or sample a range of draught beers, ales and ciders at any of the onboard hotels. Test your nose at 'The Bonded Store' P&O's very own gin speakeasy, enjoy intimate live music at the Blue Room, or head out to Altitude to experience the ship's best nightlife and cool cocktails.

8. Next Port: Funky Town

Ready to let your hair down and experience the onboard flashy discos, garage club, ice bars and moonlit dance floors for yourself?

With each cruise line offering year round sailings, all you need to do is choose a date and pack your dancing shoes. If you're struggling to pick the right ship that will service your sea paradise party needs, chat with one of Flight Centre's cruising experts and find your itinerary today.

Flight Centre Author


Vicki Fletcher

Head of Content and Social Media


Flight Centre

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