Lounging beside your swimming pool, cocktail in hand, catching up on the latest beach reads and taking the occasional dip is many people’s idea of holiday heaven. It’s certainly a big part of most cruisers’ plans, which is why the major lines pay so much attention to the design of their swimming pools.

And with today’s customers expecting more than just a leisurely few laps before heading off for a pina colada, the bar is rising every year. The latest pools incorporate all kinds of cool extras, from glass walls to wave machines and underwater exercise equipment – so dive in and discover our pick of the best…

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
Best for…Wow Factor

Cruise ship swimming pools
Below decks on Uniworld’s SS Catherine, the pool is a glamorous oasis of green – with dazzling jungle decor 

If it’s a totally unique experience you’re seeking, take a look at Uniworld’s SS Catherine, which sails the Saone and Rhone in France. Forget sparkling swimming pools with azure depths. Tucked away in the stylish Bar du Leopard, the boutique pool aboard this ‘Super Ship’ glows emerald green at night. Its mosaic-clad backdrop depicts a stunning rainforest with wildcats and exotic birds, and will work perfectly with your palm-leaf bikini (what do you mean, you don’t have one?)

‘We take great care to ensure that every element on board – down to the smallest detail – has been thoughtfully considered and flawlessly rendered,’ says Uniworld. And it shows.

Norweigan Cruise Line
Best for…Kids

Cruise ship swimming pools: NCL
Have a splashing time on Norwegian Epic

Cruise lines wanting to attract families know that exciting water slides are a must – and nobody does these better than Norwegian.

On Norwegian Epic, brave kids (and sometimes their less courageous parents) can enjoy the thrill of rafting down a giant 60-metre tunnel before splashing into the pool below, while on sister ship Norwegian Getaway, the terrifying Free Fall pits sliders side-by-side in a race to the finish.

Older (and bolder) kids on NCL’s Breakaway-class ships can walk the plank, Pirates of the Caribbean- style, while younger ones will love the Aqua Parks, with their water- squirters and paddling pools.

Royal Caribbean
Best for…Watersports

Cruise ship swimming pools: Royal Caribbean
Surf’s up on Royal Caribbean’s FlowRider

Royal Caribbean’s FlowRider has been thrilling passengers since 2005, and this incredible 40ft surf-simulator can now be found on most of the line’s ships.

A FlowRider wave is formed by water rushing at 25mph towards the surfer, who can either catch it standing up, or lie down on a boogie board. Not a surf dude? Don’t worry – you can get lessons from the onboard pro.

And it doesn’t end there. Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas also boast the deepest pools at sea – more than 5 metres – so passengers can even learn to scuba dive while they cruise.

Viking Cruises
Best for…Style

Cruise ship swimming pools: Viking
Every Viking ocean ship features a super-stylish infinity pool

 

Ready for a relaxing dip? There’s no swimming experience quite like an infinity pool on the open sea. Aboard every Viking ocean ship, you’ll find one of these in the perfect position – right at the back, almost overhanging the stern, with a glass wall so you feel as though you’re floating in the ocean itself. Bliss!

Next-door to the pool you’ll find an inviting hot tub and the chic teak Aquavit Terrace – Viking’s super- stylish venue for alfresco dining. And as the sun goes down, the pool’s mirror-like surface makes the perfect backdrop for a glass of something chilled.

Regent Seven Seas
Best for… Serious Swimmers

Cruise ship swimming pools: Regent Explorer
Regent Explorer’s elegant teak-lined pool deck

Forget the postage stamps that some cruise ships offer – at 125sq metres, the swimming pool on Regent Explorer is perfect for passengers who like to start the day with 20 laps.

The water is saline, so less chlorine is used than on most ships (much kinder to your skin), and there are two shaded whirlpools, offering the perfect way to warm down after doing a few lengths. Regent has even provided canopies with voile curtains, so you get the double benefit of an impressive pool and luxurious privacy as you relax on the elegant teak deck.