Some cruise passengers head to sea looking for time in the sun and to catch up on sleep. Then there are those looking to dance until dawn. For the late-night party crowd, cruise ships have discos, often designed to capture a South Beach or New York vibe.
House DJs or visiting celebrity spin masters man the turntables, drop the bass and get the party started. Live bands may also do sets.
Dance the night away in the best cruise ship discos.
Spice H20: This outdoor club is a sunning spot for grownups during the day and morphs into one of the coolest ship dance floors at night – on the Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway. DJs arrive, music pulses from giant speakers and videos play on a huge LED screen. Don't miss the 1980s night (come in your favorite Madonna or big hair rocker outfit).
Bliss Ultra Lounge: Enter through a lit tunnel, belly up to the illuminated bar, then hit the pulsating dance floor at trendy, city-esque clubs on Norwegian Cruise Line's New York-based Norwegian Breakaway and Miami-based Norwegian Getaway. On Norwegian Gem, Epic and Pearl, the lounges have a retro chic vibe that includes ultraviolet lights, video screens, plush furnishings and the fun feature of 10-pin bowling lanes.
Blaze and Dazzles: Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas are the largest ships in the world. It makes sense, then, that they'd have multi-level discos with balconies overlooking the dance floor action and celebrity scratch DJs hosting dance parties. On Freedom of the Seas, you can dance the night away in the Gothic-themed disco, The Crypt. All the Royal ships also have Boleros, a Latin themed lounge that draws fans of salsa. The new Quantum of the Seas, debuting in November, will have a space called Music Hall, described as "an edgy live music venue."
Quasar: At this hot spot on Celebrity Cruises' Solstice-class ships you can go back to the future, swinging in a hanging bubble chair when not hitting the dance floor (it's "Groovy, baby").
Carnival Nightclubs: With a bunch of different themes – including Frankenstein's lab on Carnival Miracle and lunar-landing on Carnival Valor – the Carnival Cruise Line discos feature scratch-n-spin masters trained by DJ IRIE, official DJ for the Miami Heat. They spin everything from oldies to current dance hits using fancy sound and light systems, and also host outdoor parties.
The Tube: Disney Cruise Line ships feature special nighttime districts for adults only, where the clubs and lounges include a lively disco scene. On Disney Fantasy, The Tube is themed on the London subway complete with "Mind the gap" reminders, a tube map, and a cocktail menu including a drink themed on Big Ben. On sister ship Disney Dream, the dance floor action at Evolution takes place under glowing butterflies.
Sharazad Disco: The Costa Cruises disco scene goes well into the night in spaces done up with bright lights and video walls, such as the one themed on "A Thousand and One Arabian Nights" on the Costa Deliziosa.
Cunard's Disco: Cunard ocean liners are known for their classic appeal. But head through the silver doors in the back of the ballroom on Queen Mary 2 and you'll find a lively disco scene in the two-level G32 disco – named for the number assigned the ship's hull during construction at a French shipyard. In addition to the pulsating dance floor, the industrial chic bar is a popular hangout spot.
Skywalkers: An unusual design feature on several of Princess Cruises' Grand-class ships, this contemporary, windowed disco is up on top and actually hangs off the stern, so when you're inside you can look back at the ship – kind as if you were in a helicopter flying behind. The views are the attraction, but the dance floor sees action too.
Galaxy: The international crowd on the MSC Divina keeps the dance floor hopping into the wee hours at this dance club, which doesn't open until midnight. Up on Deck 16, and with panoramic windows overlooking the sea, the space doubles as a specialty brunch and dinner venue.
By Fran Golden, Special for USA TODAY
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