1. Home
  2. Planning
  3. Best Cruises
  4. Cruise Nightlife: 7 Best Cruise Ship Nightclubs

Cruise Nightlife: 7 Best Cruise Ship Nightclubs

  • The last comedy show just ended, you're a few gin martinis in and the dance floor is calling your name. Where do you go for trendy music and an upbeat atmosphere?

    Every mainstream cruise line has a nightclub or designated dancing area onboard its ships, but not all of them can keep passengers Cupid Shuffling, Percolating and rolling their hips like Shakira until the wee hours of the morning. Onboard nightclubs run the gamut from flashy discos to top-deck dance parties, while DJs typically spin hip-hop and electronic dance music, mixed with disco throwbacks and other genres. Picture some of the more stylish nightclubs you've seen on land, and you'll get the idea of the cruise ship version, which often plays around with themes and fun decor. Depending on the ship, you might even luck out with a view.

    If you long to dance, it's probably more important to pick the right itinerary than the right ship; the best nightclub can't counteract the exhaustion you get from back-to-back days of hardcore sightseeing. But if we had to choose, the following clubs are our favorites at sea. If you plan to sail on one of these ships -- be you clubbing fiend or wallflower -- make sure you pack your dancing shoes.

    Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line

  • 1

    Carnival Cruise Line's Nightclubs

    Ships: Fleetwide

    Why We Love It: Carnival takes the cake for unique nightclubs at sea. Ships have their own individual venues, rocking fun themes and jaw-dropping decor. A few of our favorites include Frankenstein's Lab on Carnival Miracle (because you can't beat dancing around a giant Frankenstein); One Small Step on Carnival Valor, inspired by the moon landing; and Carnival Sunshine's Liquid, a show lounge that transforms into a nightclub after hours. Each venue features high-tech sound and light systems, as well as DJs trained by DJ Irie, the official DJ of Carnival and the Miami Heat.

    Photo: Carnival Cruise Line

  • 2

    Club Twenty

    Ship: Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas

    Why We Love It: Held in each ship's Solarium Bar, covered by a retractable glass roof, Club Twenty is the hottest Royal Caribbean spot for dancing after hours. The South Beach-style nightclub features popular club music played by a Scratch DJ Academy-trained DJ, and go-go dancers enhance the mood. The atmosphere is lively, colorful and refreshing. Passengers are given flashing glow-in-the-dark accessories, while decorative white drapery sways in the ocean breeze.

    Photo: Cruise Critic

  • 3

    Bliss Ultra Lounge

    Ships: Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Gem

    Why We Love It: Norwegian's Vegas-style nightclub not only features a funky, vibrant atmosphere, but it also has plasma screens playing music videos, shadow dancers and a DJ spinning the latest hits. Each club is unique in its own way; Norwegian Epic offers the most space to dance, while Norwegian Pearl even includes a bowling alley in its nightclub. One standout feature all the ships' nightclubs share is the colorful, cozy lounge area.

    Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line

  • 4

    Night Sky Lounge

    Ship: Regal Princess

    Why We Love It: Outdoor nightclubs aren't new to the cruise industry, but none comes close to the Night Sky Lounge on Regal Princess. For only one night per cruise, the top-deck Retreat Pool transforms into a Miami-style dance party with colorful lights, glowing drinks and a DJ. Passengers can enjoy music from the hot tubs and even reserve cabanas with bottle service.

    Photo: Princess Cruises

  • 5

    MSC Cruises' Nightclubs

    Ships: Fleetwide

    Why We Love It: Perhaps because it's a European-influenced cruise line, the clubs on MSC are active late into the night. Inspired by "La Dolce Vita" and '50s supper clubs,the Galaxy Lounge Restaurant & Club can be found on MSC Cruises' Fantasia Class (MSC Divina, MSC Fantasia, MSC Preziosa and MSC Splendida). The venue is actually a restaurant that turns into a nightclub at 11 p.m. Along with the retro chic atmosphere and panoramic views, we love the variety of music. A DJ spins music ranging from salsa and Reggaeton to '70s disco while music videos are streamed on a large screen. Keeping with the '50s theme, Garage Club is found on MSC Seaside and is a diner-themed disco that sometimes stays open until 4 a.m.

    Photo: MSC Cruises

  • 6

    B.B. King's Blues Club

    Ships: Holland America's Koningsdam, Eurodam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Oosterdam, Rotterdam, Westerdam and Zuiderdam

    Why We Love It: We dare you not to get up and dance when the B.B. King's Blues Club band takes the stage. Every night in the Queen's Lounge, the high-energy, jazz band pumps out R&B classics (think Sam Cooke's "Twistin' the Night Away" and Martha & the Vandellas' "Heatwave") and modern songs with a soulful twist that make singing and dancing along contagious. After hours, a DJ takes over and spins the latest hits for those who decide to linger.

    Photo: Cruise Critic

  • 7

    Havana Bar

    Ships: Carnival Horizon, Carnival Vista and Carnival Sunshine

    Why We Love It: It's easy to feel like you're out on the town somewhere in Cuba, at Carnival's Havana Bar. The Cuban-themed venue heats up with Latin tunes -- courtesy of both a live band and DJ -- that tend to draw a crowd early into the night. On Carnival Vista, dancers from the ship's popular production show "Amor Cubano: A Caribbean Dance Romance" are known to join passengers on the dance floor. Need some liquid courage? The Havana Bar serves up excellent mojitos.

    Photo: Cruise Critic

Find a Cruise

Popular on Cruise Critic

6 Cruise Ship Cabins to Avoid
You might expect loud noises, close quarters and crazy maneuvers in the dance club onboard your cruise ship -- but not in your cabin. Even if you don't plan to spend much time there, it should be a restful and private place so you can maintain that much-needed vacation stamina. To help you do so, we've compiled a list of cabins you'll want to avoid booking if closet-like dimensions or scraping chair sounds overhead aren't appealing to you. Heed our advice, and you might be feeling a bit less claustrophobic and a tad more refreshed come disembarkation.
8 Best Luxury Cruise Ships
The moment you step aboard a luxury cruise ship, a hostess is at your arm proffering a glass of bubbly while a capable room steward offers to heft your carry-on as he escorts you to what will be your home-away-from-home for the next few days. You stow your things (likely in a walk-in closet) and then emerge from your suite to get the lay of the ship. As you walk the decks, friendly crew members greet you ... by name. How can that be? You just set foot onboard! First-class, personalized service is just one of the hallmarks of luxury cruise lines. You can also expect exotic itineraries, varying degrees of inclusivity in pricing, fine wines and gourmet cuisine as well as universally high crew-to-passenger ratios. That being the case, you might think any old luxury cruise ship will do, but that's not quite true. Like people, cruise ships have their own unique personalities -- and some will be more suited to your vacation style than others. Lines like SeaDream might not offer the most spacious suites, but their intimate yachts can stealthily visit ports that large ships can't manage. Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises are owned by the same parent company but Regent offers a completely inclusive vacation experience, while Oceania draws travelers with a more independent streak. Take a look at Cruise Critic's list of best luxury cruise lines and ships to see which one resonates with you.
How To Choose a Cruise Ship Cabin: What You Need to Know
Your room on a cruise ship is called a cabin (or stateroom) and is akin to a hotel room, but typically much smaller. Choosing a cruise ship cabin can be fun and challenging at the same time, and not just a little bit frustrating on occasion. Cabins fall into different types or "categories," and some cruise lines will present as many as 20 or more categories per ship. Before you get overwhelmed, it's helpful to remember that there are essentially only four types of cabins on any cruise vessel: Inside: the smallest-sized room, with no window to the outside Outside: a room with a window or porthole (a round window) with a view to the outside, often similarly sized to an inside cabin or a bit larger; also known as oceanview Balcony: a room featuring a verandah that allows you to step outside without going up to a public deck Suite: a larger cabin, often with separate living and sleeping areas, and a wide variety of extra amenities and perks It's the permutations (size, view, location, amenities and price, for example) of the four basic cabin types that can make choosing difficult. In addition to knowing your cabin options, you need to know yourself: Do you tend to get seasick? Do you prefer to nest peaceably on your balcony rather than hanging with the crowd around the pool area? Conversely, is your idea of a stateroom simply a place to flop into bed at 1 a.m. -- no fancy notions necessary? Are there certain amenities you are willing to splurge on, or can you simply not justify paying for unnecessary perks? The answers will help guide you toward selecting the best stateroom for your money. If you're feeling overwhelmed by choice, we'll help you get started with this guide to choosing the best cruise cabins for you and your travel party.