One of my favorite things about amusement park rides is that I don't actually have to do any work to have fun. Just strap me in and set me on a whirling, twirling, diving course. So when Carnival Cruise Line announced their newest whiz-bang attraction would require me to actually do the work, I wasn't sure what to think. SkyRide looked neat -- suspended 150 feet in the air, with beautiful views as far as the eye could see -- but having to pedal my own way around the course? I wasn't so keen on working up a sweat.
If you're going to sail on one of Carnival's "Fun" ships, it would be criminal not to give just about everything a try at least once. So I did.
What It Is
Created by the same fellow who invented Rollerblades, SkyRide is essentially a recumbent bike suspended from an 800-foot dual racing track 150 feet above Carnival Vista's and Carnival Horizon's 12th deck. Riders can either choose to race the cruiser in the bike across from them or go at a more leisurely pace to take in the 360-degree views. Speed enthusiasts will want to pedal hard; you can get up to 18 miles an hour if you push it.
SkyRide is popular and waits can be as long as 30 to 45 minutes, so I decided to give it a go on a port day. I wasn't alone in this thought; by the time I got up to the ride's entrance (five minutes before it opened), there were already 12 people in line. But things moved pretty quickly, and I was getting strapped in about 15 minutes from when the crew opened the ride.
There are four SkyRide bikes. Two riders can be on the track at the same time; while these two bikes are on the track, the next two cruisers step into a harness and get hooked into their bikes, so they can pedal off once the first two bikers return.
It took less than a minute for me to get into my harness (the same type you wear on a ropes course) and into my bike. I'm fairly short and I immediately noticed I had to stretch my legs almost all the way to reach the pedals. I worried I might have trouble pedaling, but when it was time for me to go, it wasn't a problem at all. Seats can be adjusted forward or back for those who are taller or shorter than the average person. (You must be 4 feet or taller to ride SkyRide.)
Nor did it take too much effort to pedal. If you're hoping these recumbent bikes will help you burn off the Guy's Burger you had for lunch, you can forget that notion now.
My original intention was to take my time on the course, so I could enjoy the panoramic views and make the ride last longer. It really only takes about a minute and a half to finish and, of course, the faster you pedal the faster it's over. I didn't know the gentleman on the other bike, so wasn't worried about feeling a need to race him.
I started off slowly, taking in Livorno stretched out beneath me. I'd pedal for 10 seconds, then stop and just let myself glide. But I soon noticed the other guy was pretty far in front of me and I suddenly felt like I needed to catch up. People would think I was a wimp if I took twice as long to finish! Also, the "dip" was up ahead and I wanted to work up some speed so I could zip down the small incline. (There is a brake on the bike so you can take the dip slowly if you want.)
Before I knew it, taking in the pretty scenery was the farthest thing from my mind, especially because as I got to the other side of the ship I found myself pedaling into the wind and that did require a bit more effort than the rest of the ride.
I was finished less than 20 seconds later -- and ready to go again! I can't say it was actually adrenaline pumping, but it certainly was fun.
Worth a Try?
Absolutely. Not sure I'd want to wait a half-hour or longer, but it's totally worth a 20-minute wait.
However, people with a fear of heights might have a problem with SkyRide. While just about everyone came off the ride with a smile on their face, two women who didn't like heights came off pale, saying once was enough.
Things to Note
To go on SkyRide you need to be wearing closed-toe shoes. Shorts or long pants and a short or long sleeved shirt are also required so that the harness doesn't rub against bare skin. The weight limit, per person, is 300 pounds.
SkyRide can be found on Carnival Vista, Carnival Horizon and Carnival Panorama.