Guide: Pickleball Courts on Cruise Ships

People playing pickleball under the sun in Holland America

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Looking for a unique way to enjoy pickleball? If so, look no further than pickleball aboard cruise ships.

As more and more people discover its fun, various cruise lines installed pickleball courts on cruise ships.

Whether on a makeshift basketball court or in a dedicated space, playing pickleball is a great way to stay active and meet other players at sea.

In this article, we’ll share everything you need to know about pickleball on cruise ships, including which cruise lines offer it as an included activity.

People playing pickleball under the sun in Holland America
(Photo courtesy of Holland America Line)

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. Two or four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a lightweight plastic ball (similar to a whiffle ball) over a net.

Pickleball was first invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, a congressman in Washington, and his friend, Bill Bell. The game was originally played on a makeshift court in Pritchard’s backyard using ping-pong paddles and a wiffle ball.

Now, the game is played on a court roughly the same size as a double badminton court, with a net about 36 inches high at the center.

The game spread through word of mouth and eventually became popular at YMCAs and community centers across the United States.

Today, pickleball is played by millions of people in hundreds of countries worldwide. It’s popular because it is easy to learn and doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment.

Additionally, pickleball can be played by people of all ages and skill levels, making it an excellent option for families and recreational players alike.

Pickleball equipment at Norwegian Prima

How to play Pickleball

To play pickleball, you need a pickleball paddle, which is a larger version of a table tennis paddle, and a small plastic ball with holes called a pickleball.

To start the game, the server stands behind the baseline and hits the pickleball over the net to the opposite corner of the court. The opposing player then hits the ball back over the net, and the players continue to hit it back and forth until the ball lands out of bounds or one player misses it.

Points are scored when a player serves and wins the rally, and the game is played until one player or team reaches 11 points and is ahead by at least two points. Pickleball is definitely worth a try if you are looking for a fun, fast-paced sport that can be played indoors or outdoors.

People playing pickleball  in Holland America
(Photo courtesy of Holland America Line)

Pickleball courts on cruise ships: Which cruise ships have them?

Now that you have some context on pickleball and its popularity, you can see why cruise lines are jumping on the court.

Carnival Conquest was the first Carnival Cruise Line ship to have a dedicated Pickleball court, and the game is offered on other ships in the fleet.

Recently, Holland America Line teamed up with the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) to bring the game fleetwide across all its ships. The line also has pickleball starter packs available in its gift shops for guests who want to go all in and an instructional video on stateroom televisions.

“We like to say that travel unites us, but sports do that as well, and Holland America Line is proud to be the first and exclusive cruise line partner of the PPA. We’re excited to offer our guests an elevated pickleball experience as they travel to spectacular and scenic cruise destinations,” said Kacy Cole, vice president of marketing for Holland America Line.

1. Holland America Line

Ships: All ships

Holland America is the Official Cruise Line of the Professional Pickleball Association, and all of its ships feature top-deck pickleball courts decked out with PPA Tour partner logos.

Equipment is provided. Free beginner lessons are also offered, where guests can learn the rules and basics of playing pickleball.

Additionally, tutorial videos on the game are available on in-cabin TVs, and passengers can purchase souvenir pickleball starter kits.

Holland America recently just added a sports director position fleetwide to teach and facilitate games.

In Holland America, pickleball on TV lessons

2. Royal Caribbean

Ships: Adventure, Allure, Anthem, Explorer, Freedom, Harmony, Independence, Jewel, Liberty, Mariner, Navigator, Oasis, Odyssey, Serenade, Symphony, and Wonder of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s ships don’t have dedicated pickleball courts, but you can play on one of the other top-deck sports courts or in the indoor SeaPlex. Equipment is provided.

3. Carnival Cruise Line

Ships: Carnival Conquest, Breeze, Celebration, Dream, Glory, Firenze, Horizon, Jubilee, Legend, Miracle, Panorama, Pride, Spirit, Splendor, Venezia, Vista, and Mardi Gras

Carnival Conquest and Glory have dedicated pickleball courts, while the other ships offer pickleball in the basketball court space. Equipment is provided.

Carnival Conquest crew members playing pickleball
(Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)

4. Norwegian Cruise Line

Ships: Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva

Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Prima-class ships feature small, dedicated pickleball courts in The Stadium’s open-air sports and games area. Equipment is provided.

5. Princess Cruises

Ships: Discovery, Sky, and Enchanted Princess have dedicated pickleball courts, while Coral, Regal, Royal, and Emerald Princess set up pickleball on another sports court.

Princess Cruises’ three newest ships feature dedicated pickleball courts in deck 18 Center Court’s sports area. On the other four ships, guests can play pickleball on the basketball court at particular times. Equipment is provided.

6. Celebrity Cruises

Ships: Celebrity Apex, Beyond, Eclipse, Equinox, Solstice, Constellation, Infinity, Millennium, and Summit

The nine ships listed above all feature open-air pickleball courts. On Beyond and Apex, pickleball is located in the Rooftop Garden. The other ships feature pickleball on their sports decks.

Guests can enjoy pickleball during free-play periods and participate in organized pickleball events and tournaments during the sailing.

Court times are offered for adults, and dedicated times are for families with kids. Equipment is provided.

7. Cunard

Ships: All ships

All three of Cunard’s current ships and the upcoming Queen Anne feature net-enclosed paddle tennis courts.

Racquets are available, but if you want to play pickleball with the usual “pickleball” ball, you must bring one yourself. The courts are also covered in grass turf instead of hard flooring.

8. MSC Cruises

Ship: MSC Meraviglia, MSC Euribia, MSC World Europa, and MSC World America

MSC Meraviglia features pickleball in its sports complex area. The line’s brand-new upcoming ship MSC Euribia, will include pickleball as part of its kids’ sports program called Z Active.

MSC’s two World-class ships, MSC World Europa and the upcoming MSC World America, also offer pickleball.

Aerial view of MSC World Europa in Doha, Qatar
MSC World Europa in Doha, Qatar (Photo courtesy of MSC Cruises)

9. Oceania Cruises

Ships: Marina, Riviera, and Vista

Oceania’s two Oceania-class ships, Marina and Riviera, offer pickleball on their upper deck sports court. The line’s first Vista-class ship, Vista, will also include pickleball. Equipment is provided.

10. Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Ships: Seven Seas Splendor, Seven Seas Explorer, and Seven Seas Grandeur

Regent Seven Seas’ newest ships, Splendor and Explorer, and its upcoming ship Grandeur, all feature dedicated, screened two-sport courts (for pickleball and paddle tennis) located on deck 12 aft.

11. Virgin Voyages

Ship: Valiant Lady

Virgin Voyages’ ship Valiant Lady offers pickleball in a shared sports court for dodgeball and basketball. Equipment is provided.

12. AmaWaterways

Ship: AmaMagna

River cruise line AmaWaterways recently installed a regulation-size pickleball court on the sundeck of its ship AmaMagna.

The court is located behind the wheelhouse and includes a perimeter net. Pickleball can only be played when the ship is docked because the net needs to be removed to go under certain bridges along the Danube River.

Aerial view of people playing pickleball at Amamagna Pickleball Court
Aerial view of people playing pickleball (Photo via AmaWaterways)

Final Thoughts

Plenty of lines have built-in or makeshift courts if you’re looking to play pickleball on cruise ships.

You can satisfy your pickleball craving from Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line to Holland America and Princess Cruises.

So pack your paddle and comfy shoes, and take your game to the high seas.

Who knows? You might even meet some fellow pickleball enthusiasts and make some unforgettable memories along the way.

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