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Do Cruise Lines Offer Pickleball?

Drone shot of cruise ship docked on the port.

Yes! Many cruise liners now provide pickleball courts as the sport continues to gain popularity. 15 Royal Caribbean vessels, as well as those of the Regent and Princess cruise lines, etc., offer pickleball. Pickleball is a racquet sport for two to four players that draws inspiration from ping pong, badminton, and tennis.

Initially, people ages 55 and up mainly played the sport. Now you’ll even find teenagers playing the sport on cruise ships too. Here’s all you need to know about pickleball and cruising.

Which Ships Have Pickleball Courts?

Carnival cruise ships leaving Cozumel.

Every Holland America cruise ship features onboard pickleball courts. The pickleball courts on board several of these vessels have “official” lines drawn for play. The remaining courts have scribbled lines, but are otherwise ready for action.

Both the Seven Seas Explorer and the next Seven Seas Splendor from Regent offer a pickleball court for their guests. We can play pickleball in the Sports Courts of the Sky Princess and the Enchanted Princess. The rules of popular games can be learned quickly at workshops occasionally hosted by Holland America Line.

Like during a volleyball or basketball pick-up game, you can find other visitors who are also interested in playing at these events. It’s common for this to occur during trips to Australia or Europe. Open games and tournaments will be included in the schedule if there is enough demand.

Pickleball open play sessions will also be advertised in Princess Cruises’ daily itineraries, and if there are enough interested passengers, the ship director will likely schedule tournaments. There’s even a pickleball championship for die-hard fans. On the ms Nieuw Amsterdam, operated by Holland America, there’s a seven-night Caribbean cruise and sports-themed small group trip.

It features sports court exclusivity, totally new game equipment, clinics each day involving teachers, and a cocktail celebration, among other delights and swag. As of late, scuba diving is available on 14 different Holland America vessels. Moreover, the Nieuw Statendam, the newest ship in the fleet, will feature the game when it makes its debut in December.

See below for a rundown of some of the Royal Caribbean ships that feature pickleball courts right now:

  • Symphony of the seas
  • Serenade
  • Odyssey
  • Oasis
  • Odyssey
  • Mariner
  • Liberty
  • Jewel
  • Independence
  • Harmony
  • Freedom
  • Explorer
  • Anthem
  • The Allure
  • Adventure

How Did The Introduction of Pickleball Into the Cruising Community Occur?

Image of Pickleball equipment.

Because many cruise lines target the same group of people—active seniors—pickleball is a natural addition to a cruise ship’s sports and entertainment offerings. It’s a terrific way for passengers of all ages to get some exercise while at sea, and much easier on the joints than tennis. In addition to helping you burn off those additional glasses of wine and scrumptious meals, it’s a great way to make new friends on your journey.

Pickleball Master Course by Steve Dawson ($199)

Cruise Pickleball Pros and Cons

Upsides of Cruise Pickleball

  • Have fun at sea with friends or family and even strangers
  • New experience
  • Relieve stress
  • Great aerobic workout
  • Boost your self-esteem and energy while at sea
  • Improve your hand-eye coordination
  • Gets you open-minded

Downsides of Pickleball Cruises

  • One court is often all that is available on board for pickleball. If you’re taking a cruise with a small number of fellow pickleball enthusiasts, having only one court to play on is fine. If, however, the ship is packed with groups of pickleball enthusiasts, you might as well take a number. Your most likely scenario involves waiting in line.
  • Limited space for pickleball courts on ships. Even though a lot of the pickleball facilities on cruise ships are of a standard size, there is sometimes insufficient space around the court to allow for wide-angled shots.
  • You should be aware of the wall. We’re certain that you agree that a loss of competitiveness occurs whenever the game is disrupted.
  • There isn’t any setting or mood. Where are the opportunities to connect with nature, take in some much-needed oxygen, and create some priceless memories that will last a lifetime? Playing pickleball in the open sea gives nothing in the way of scenery, in contrast to being moored at the port location.

Brief Description of Pickleball

A retro Pickleball player.

The racket sport known as “Pickleball” combines characteristics of “tennis,” “table tennis,” and “badminton.” Paddles can be crafted from a variety of materials, although wood and composites are the most common. The ball looks like a wiffleball in design.

You can play the sport with between two and four players, but doubles are the more usual format. Although it was created in Washington state in the 1960s, pickleball has only recently experienced a meteoric rise in popularity. It has recently overtaken tennis in popularity among residents of 55+ communities.

The USA Pickleball Association, located in Surprise, Arizona, claims it to be the fastest-growing sport in the Americas.

Pickleball-themed Cruises Growing Exponentially

Cruise ship in the blue sky.

In the fall of 2017, Engage Pickleball Academy sponsored a seven-day cruise on one of the ships owned by MSC Cruises. That event, which included coaching, instruction as well as clinics, and games, sold out and was so popular that a second cruise was added the following June – and a third will take place in October. The fall event, organizers note, is at the MSC’s exclusive Yacht Club.

Another pickleball mastery and tournament cruise idea, Pickleball in Paradise, established by Mark4Travel, was organized on a ship, Liberty of the Seas, outside of the Port of Galveston.

Economic Impact of Pickleball on Cruise Ships

An activity area on cruise ship.

Jack Thomas, the president of the USA Pickleball Association, recognizes the economic significance of the sport as well as its ability to attract more players. He predicted that pickleball would soon become a required activity on cruise ships because “the cruise industry has found out that pickleball is a relatively economical option to engage and entertain their passengers.” “It’s incredibly simple to pick up and play, loads of fun for people of all ages, and is a terrific way to bond with your shipmates.”

A cruise line’s entry into sports wouldn’t be the first of its kind. Many cruise lines cater to NFL fans by providing themed itineraries, onboard events, and fantasy football tournaments. Motor racing’s Grand Prix and soccer’s World Cup are two events that attract a large number of live viewers every year.

(Cruises can also make stops at ports popular for cycling and golfing.) As the location marathon rises in prominence, so do opportunities to participate in running cruises. Soccer@Sea is a cruise that features sports in port involving local teams, instruction from certified international coaches, and daily tournaments and contests.

Beach soccer is available at some vacation spots. Collaboration with cruise lines can bring a fresh perspective to sports while also allowing for family holidays. For families who are sick of traveling for tournaments, this could be a welcome break.

That sector of the economy is likewise expanding. The cruise sector is the fastest-growing segment of the leisure travel market, according to research from the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association. A roughly seven percent yearly passenger increase has been seen by the industry since 1980.

Where is Pickleball Played the Most?

Adult American women playing pickleball.

A total of over 4.8 million Americans participated in the sport in 2021 and 2022, making it the fastest-growing activity in the country according to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association. Reasons for the sport’s rising popularity include its low entry barrier, broad appeal, and quick learning curve. The United States is home to thousands of pickleball tournaments every year, such as the National Championships along with the United States Open Tournament, as well as two professional tours plus one competitive league.

Pickleball is expanding beyond the United States as evidenced by the proliferation of regional, continental, and world championships.

How Pickleball Originated?

Group of senior men on pickleball court, laughing.

One Saturday afternoon in 1965, when Pritchard and Bell got home from a round of golf, they found their families sitting around doing nothing. They had planned to play badminton, but nobody could locate the shuttlecock. Pritchard and Bell gave their children free rein to come up with their games.

The adults and children converged on the badminton court, where they tried out a variety of equipment, including table tennis paddles, to see what worked best. Over time, the badminton net was lowered from its original height of 5 feet (1.5 meters) to where it is now, at hip level, to allow for driving the ball. At first, it was assumed that a Wiffle ball would be the best option, but later, the Cosom Fun Ball proved to be more long-lasting and fun to play with.

Table tennis bats were promptly swapped out for bigger, stronger plywood bats made in an adjacent shed. McCallum kept his dad’s Seattle cellar workshop busy with his ongoing experiments with paddles of varying patterns. Most of the earliest paddlers used a paddle he designed and dubbed the “M2,” short for “McCallum 2.”