In the dynamic world of cruise ship entertainment, a new era of excitement and innovation has dawned. Gone are the days of traditional cabaret and lounge acts. Today, cruise lines are delivering unforgettable, multi-dimensional experiences that leave passengers in awe. Among these thrilling advancements is the AquaTheater, offering a unique blend of high-energy performances and aquatic artistry. Exclusively found on Royal Caribbean ships, this remarkable aquatic venue redefined onboard entertainment when it debuted. Learn about the AquaTheater facility, the remarkable shows it hosts on various ships, how to see the shows, and some tips for maximizing your experience.
The first AquaTheater at Sea on Oasis of the Seas
The AquaTheater, a groundbreaking concept, made its debut when the Oasis of the Seas first set sail in 2009. This ship had a new split super-structure design that created neighborhoods in the center of the ship. At the back of Deck 6 was a new neighborhood called the Boardwalk. The jewel of this neighborhood was a new open-air theater at the back called the AquaTheater.
Originally, Royal Caribbean planned to make this space available to guests throughout the day, and have performances at night. In the original press release for the Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean said, “By day, guests can swim in the theater’s magnificent kidney-shaped pool, relax on sun loungers located on tiered platforms surrounding the pool, and even participate in SCUBA lessons in the afternoon.” That dream went by the wayside, and the AquaTheater space goes largely unoccupied during the day and is often busy with performers practicing the shows.
State-of-the-art AquaTheater facility
The AquaTheater is an architectural marvel featuring state-of-the-art technology and design elements that create a mesmerizing entertainment venue. Here are some key features:
Deepest Pool at Sea
At the heart of the AquaTheater is the deepest pool at sea at nearly 18 feet. It contains a staggering 137,000 gallons of water to provide a safe space for performers to dive into.
Twin 30-Foot Diving Platforms
Flanking the pool are two towering 30-foot diving platforms. These platforms serve as launchpads for high divers, adding an element of daredevilry to the shows.
Moving Floors and Platforms
The AquaTheater boasts moving floors and platforms that can adjust the depth of the pool and create dynamic performance spaces. The floors can seamlessly move up and down in the water, creating spectacular effects where a performer can be walking on the floor at one point and, seconds later, disappearing beneath the water’s surface.
Fountains and Powerful Water Nozzles
The AquaTheater facility has hundreds of nozzles that can shoot water in all directions. Both the front of the stage and the bridge between the two towers are lined with jets of water that can shoot up to 65 feet high.
In between the two diving towers is a giant trampoline that allows performers to perform impressive acrobatics and flip into the pool.
The evolution of the AquaTheater
Since its introduction on the Oasis of the Seas, the AquaTheater has appeared on every Oasis-class ship, but that doesn’t mean Royal Caribbean was done innovating. They’ve tweaked its design with each iteration.
In the most recent incarnation, the Wonder of the Seas, the designers put a shell at the back of the theater. This large structure helps significantly reduce winds and makes performances more reliable and safer for performers. It also gives them a canvas for projects to use projection mapping to create otherworldly visual effects.
The concept will evolve even further with the introduction of the Icon of the Seas. Here, the Aqua Theater is moved to a new location, at the top of the ship, in a structure called the AquaDome (read more here). This fully enclosed structure will house a new type of stage and new technologies like robotic arms to create new performances. The AquaTheater in the AquaDome will be fully enclosed, hopefully reducing the number of times the show can’t be performed due to rough water.
Captivating AquaTheater shows across different Royal Caribbean ships
The AquaTheater creates an unforgettable entertainment experience that combines the beauty of water with the artistry of performers. It’s not a Broadway-style show or a pure stunt spectacular. Instead, Royal Caribbean presents an artistic show showcasing amazing acrobatics, state-of-the-art lighting and effects, and a unique musical score.
Each ship has a large team of entertainment professionals behind these shows, which includes a cast of 20 talented athletes, among them world-renowned slackliners, high divers, aerialists, synchronized swimmers, and more. They deliver unforgettable performances on a stage that leverages advanced technology to engage all the senses.
Each ship has its own unique shows that feature different set pieces, tricks, and stunts.
Oceanaria (Allure of the Seas)
Dive into a mystical underwater world as Oceanaria brings an ancient civilization to life through aerialists, acrobats, and synchronized fountains, all set to a mesmerizing soundtrack.
The Fine Line (Harmony of the Seas)
Immerse yourself in a 360° show that pushes the boundaries of aquatic entertainment. High liners, slackliners, whip crackers, high divers, street dancers, and 3D flyers come together to redefine your AquaTheater experience.
Hideaway Heist (Harmony of the Seas)
Step into the world of a 1950s holiday resort in Hideaway Heist. This comedy aqua show combines high-diving escapades with laughter as you follow an undercover detective’s pursuit of a crafty burglar.
Aqua Action (Icon of the Seas)
Aqua Action is the new show that will debut on Icon of the Seas. The show will take advantage of the many unique features of the AquaTheater at the AquaDome, including robotic arms, hydraulic lifts, and projectors.
Aqua80 (Oasis of the Seas)
Take a nostalgic journey back to the 1980s with Aqua80, where jaw-dropping feats, high dives, and acrobatics are set to iconic tunes from the era. It’s a radical blast from the past brought to life by extreme athletes.
Splash (Oasis of the Seas)
Olympic-class divers and synchronized swimmers make a splash in a captivating showcase of high dives and thrilling stunts.
Hiro (Symphony of the Seas)
Prepare to be amazed by high-flying feats, unexpected stunts, and extraordinary acrobatics in this cutting-edge production. Hiro’s ever-changing nature ensures each show is a unique experience.
AquaNation (Symphony of the Seas)
AquaNation showcases world-class high divers, trick liners, synchronized swimmers, acrobats, trampolinists, and aerialists in a thrilling display of adrenaline-pumping feats.
InTENse (Wonder of the Seas)
Experience the maximum intensity of AquaTheater entertainment with high-energy performances that include pool plunging and tightrope teetering. It’s a high-octane show that leaves audiences on the edge of their seats. InTENse also features the first all-female diving cast.
How much does it cost to see an AquaTheater show?
The AquaTheater shows are included in your cruise fare and have no additional cost. You will need to make a reservation to get in or wait in the standby line, but it doesn’t cost anything.
Tip: Be prepared for canceled shows. The stunts the performers are executing are challenging, and a strong wind or sway in the ship can make some stunts life-threatening. The shows are frequently canceled due to high winds, rough seas, or rain. Sometimes, a performance may stop midway as well.
How to see an AquaTheater Show on a Royal Caribbean ship
To secure your spot at these breathtaking AquaTheater shows, you should book ahead of time using the Royal Caribbean app. Depending on the ship and sail date, you either book ahead of time or book as soon as you arrive on the ship and connect to the ship’s wifi.
The theater only seats around 600-700 people (or roughly 10% of the guests), so the performances book up quickly. If you can’t secure a reservation, there will be a standby line for each performance.
Tip: Even if you have a reservation, it’s important to arrive early to a performance. Your reservation secures you a spot but not a specific seat. The AquaTheater has a mixture of seating available, from single beach-style chairs to large benches.
My experience at the AquaTheater on Harmony of the Seas
I had the chance to go to the AquaTheater on a cruise on the Harmony of the Seas (follow that cruise here). It was my first time on an Oasis-class ship, and so my first chance to check out the AquaTheater. As soon as I boarded the ship, I connected to the wifi and used the Royal Caribbean app to book my group of seven a chance to see “The Fine Line” show. We booked it for the second showing on the first day of the cruise.
We arrived 30 minutes early to ensure we got a good seat. I wanted to be sure to get one of the backed lounge chairs, not the bench seating. The AquaTheater was mostly empty at this point.
I was immediately impressed by the space. The circular-style seating in the amphitheater provided excellent views for everyone, unlike some theater setups. The pool looked much larger in person than it appeared in the pictures.
As we were sitting there, the sky opened up and started pouring. The AquaTheater wasn’t covered, so everyone ran to get shelter under the upper decks. Thankfully, it was a quick rain, and everyone returned to their seats once it stopped but had to sit in wet seats.
The show started with a performer standing in the middle of the stage and spinning in circles for quite a while. It made me wonder if seeing the show was worth our time. Thankfully, once it started, I was much more impressed.
Not to give any spoilers, but close to the beginning of the show, there was a moment that had everyone’s jaw drop and set the tone of the show for the evening.
The setup very much reminded me of the Cirque du Soleil production of “O” that’s in the Bellagio in Las Vegas. I loved how they used the pneumatic stage to mess with your mind. One second, a performer would walk across the stage, and seconds later, he would take a step and fall beneath the waves. I was constantly surprised by what they managed to do.
In terms of plot, I couldn’t explain what was going on. There’s no dialogue you have to follow, but it clearly had a story it was trying to tell. No one in my group was able to figure it out, though. Nevertheless, we were all really impressed by the performers.
Unfortunately, halfway through the performance, they had to shut it down because it was unsafe for the performers due to the rough seas. It was the second cancellation of the show that sailing. Of course, I wanted the performers to be safe, but it seemed like such poor planning on Royal Caribbean’s part to develop shows that are subject to the weather and seas. Hopefully, their new design on Icon of the Seas, avoids these programs by having the AquaTheater inside the AquaDome.
You can find the AquaTheater on the following ships
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