If a cruise ship party to you means an endless waterfall of alcohol imbibed in a pizza-patterned onesie while pillow fighting among new pals set to 24 hours of bass-thumping music, then pray you make it onto the waiting list for the annual at-sea party of a lifetime known as Holy Ship. If you're looking for a more casual party atmosphere to go with your cruise, there are plenty of fun, once-per-cruise deck parties for young and old alike. From an elegant white party and a Cuban fiesta to parties that span the decades, we round up the craziest cruise ship parties at sea so you know how to find them -- or avoid them.
A longtime favorite of Norwegian Cruise Line passengers, the White Hot Party (known as H2GLOW on the line's newer ships) is an epic affair where passengers don white and dance the night away with glow sticks in hand. The main pool deck hosts the party on most ships, while the line's newest ships transform the adults-only sun deck SpiceH2O (see photos) into a nightclub (open to all), complete with red carpet and set aglow with neon face painting, bracelets and costumed crew members. Wherever you're partying, the atmosphere is illuminating, with mesmerizing visuals projected on a big screen as the DJ spins tunes late into the night.
The closest thing to a night out in Havana, Cuba, can be found on Carnival's newest ships, Vista and Horizon. Following the second showing of "Amor Cubano: A Caribbean Dance Romance," a Playlist Productions show, the performers make their way to the Havana Bar, joining passengers on the dance floor while a live band spices up the scene with Cuban tunes. Couple that with mouthwatering mojitos, and you've got yourself the ultimate after-party. Note: Carnival Glory and Paradise also offer Amor Cubano, though the party is held in the atrium as the ships do not have the Havana Bar.
More than just a '70s theme party, the Love Boat Disco Deck Party harkens back to the TV show's heyday. Princess pays tribute to the influence the TV program has had on the cruise line's history with a video message from the original cast, a "Love Boat" sing-along, trivia, '70s music videos and even a live kiss cam. In the midst of dancing to a live band, stop to watch a special Love Boat-themed production number, or pose for a photo op with a "Love Boat" life ring.
Royal is known for over-the-top entertainment and activities, but its Prohibition Party is a secret. (A lapel pin and code get you into the event.) Available once per cruise, only on Allure and Oasis of the Seas, in the Jazz on 4 lounge, this soiree will take you back to the 1920s in speakeasy style, complete with a live jazz band and handcrafted cocktails inspired by the era. Plus, the line promises "a few surprises" throughout the night. (Expect some comedic touches thrown in to the evening's entertainment.) This party is for adults 21 and older, and costs $35; reservations are required. A selection of drinks and appetizers is included in the price.
As one would expect from Disney, the themed evening known as Pirate Night consists of more than just eye patches and skull flags. Begin your evening with a pirate-themed dinner in the main dining room; waiters dressed in swashbuckling attire serve up themed dinner options from a treasure map menu. A bandana is also provided to kick off the p"arrr"ty. After chowing down, swab the deck with your dancing shoes as the buccaneer bash heats up with character appearances and ends in a dazzling fireworks display.
An elegant take on a traditional white party, Azamara's White Nights has a fiercely loyal following. Once per cruise, the pool deck is transformed with pure white banners and balloons; the crowd is expected to add to the whitewash with their ensembles. Despite a demographic skewed toward mature cruisers, the event in blanc elicits boogying down from passengers who otherwise tend not to fill the nightclub.