When sailing with Royal Caribbean, all of the activities on the ship could be one of the biggest draws. From rock climbing to water slides to bumper cars, the cruise line is known for pushing the boundaries of what’s possible on a cruise ship.
And one activity is synonymous with sailing at Royal Caribbean: the Flowrider. You’ll find this ride on practically the entire fleet, and it’s a major attraction. But what exactly is the Flowrider? And how does the process of riding work?
We’ve got everything you need to know about the Flowrider to get you ready for your next cruise.
What is the Flowrider? How does it work?
Flowrider is an attraction in Royal Caribbean’s fleet that is essentially a surfing simulator. A continuous thin layer of water is shot down a slope at high speed. The result is a layer of water just a few inches thick, but strong enough for you to ride a boogie board or custom-built surfboard on.
This allows beginners to step on and learn to ride while laying on a boogie board. (If you can hold on to the board, you can learn to ride.) And if you’re a pro, you can surf and carve back and forth like a real wave.
What are the age and height restrictions?
Have children? There is no doubt that they will be excited to try the Flowrider. Luckily, Royal Caribbean doesn’t have a minimum age. However, they have a minimum height. Riders must be 52″ tall to boogie board. You must be 58″ tall to surf standing.
Based on average height, most kids are around 9-10 years old before they can boogie board.
What are the weight limits for the Flowrider?
While there may be weight restrictions, we’ve never mentioned one on signs surrounding the Flowrider. Instead, the only limitation seems to be based on height.
What are the opening times?
Unfortunately, the Flowrider is not open every day. Instead, opening times vary and it’s usually open for several hours at a time before taking a break. The good news is that there are usually opening hours every day of the cruise, including days the ship is in port. In other words, there will be many ways to drive.
However, some sessions may be reserved only for people who want to surf and others only for people who want to boogie board. You can check the ship’s daily planner each day for the specific hours and type of riding that the session is intended for.
It’s also open to private lessons if you’re willing to put up the money.
How do you sign up for horseback riding?
Driving the Flowrider isn’t just about showing up and queuing. First you need to go to the office near the ride to get the permit. There you will be informed about the ride, including some safety aspects. You will also be required to sign a waiver prior to boarding. Once done (takes about 5 minutes) you will receive a bracelet. This lets the staff running the ride know you’ve gone through the safety briefing.
You can only ride with the wristband on, so don’t take it off afterwards.
Once you are ready to ride, simply stand next to the Flowrider. No reservations are required; it’s just first come, first served.
How do you actually ride the Flowrider without falling?
When you ride, the instructor will ask if you’ve done this before. If not, they will give you some advice on how to get started. From there you lay down on the boogie board and then slide into the wave.
The best advice is to grab the top of the board with both hands and then put your elbows on the board as well (it’s tempting to stretch your elbows out). From there, try to position yourself back on the board as much as possible. If you lean too far forward you’ll find that you’re shooting forward on the wave instead of being nice and centered in the riding zone.
Once you get a feel for the ride, the staff will show you how to add more moves like back and forth carving and even sitting on your knees on the board.
How long does the journey take?
The Flowrider has no timer; everyone goes until they’ve had a decent turn. If you wipe out right away, you’ll have more chances to try. If you’re a pro and don’t fall, the staff will also encourage you to try some more advanced maneuvers that may cause you to fall soon.
In general, the rides seem to last 3-4 minutes each, but there is no set time.
Is the Flowrider difficult to make?
Overall, the ride is fairly easy, but there’s a definite learning curve in the beginning. If you’ve never done anything like this before, don’t be surprised if it takes a few tries to get the hang of it. But we’ve yet to see anyone just can’t do it after giving it a few shots.
But like anything else, you can make the ride harder if you want to challenge yourself. For example, if you feel comfortable driving on your stomach, the staff will bring you to your knees. Once you’ve mastered that, it’s time to try some spins (including full 360-degree spins).
And if riding the boogie board is too easy, you can level up to try the surfboard. In other words, there’s always something new to learn, but it’s not too difficult to get started either.
Does it hurt when you fall?
Eventually you will wipe out the Flowrider. The good news is that most likely it’s just your ego getting hurt. The entire surface is padded, even the floor itself, over which the water flows, gives way. So in most cases, if you fall, it’s okay.
However, with the fast-moving water, there is always a chance of a clumsy fall. In the safety briefing, they go over how to fall safely, including ducking your head. It’s a bit of an extreme sport, so it’s possible to get cramped, but it’s not a problem for most people.
A note on swimsuits (especially women)
The entire crux of the Flowrider is a fast-moving sheet of water. Most of the time you are floating on this water, but if you fall, you will be weighed down by the brunt. That means If you have clothing that can catch water, it may pull down.
So, women wearing bikinis might find that the jet of water wants to pull down parts of their swimsuit. Guys wearing shorts that are a little loose might end up showing more than they intended. So if you crash it’s a good idea to double check everything is in place before heading back to the line to ride again.
Is the Flowrider fun?
There is no doubt that driving the Flowrider is a lot of fun. In fact, you’ll find that all ages ride it, from adults to children. Being able to glide across the water and then practice some moves is quite entertaining.
However, we personally felt a bit bored after three or four rides in one day. Once you get the hang of it, you can always practice new moves, but actual riding will be old news. So it’s not something we want to do all day, every day, but it’s really cool for multiple sessions.
To be honest we enjoy grabbing a drink and sitting in the stands watching the Flowrider. Each ship has several rows of “granaries” where you can sit and watch the other drivers. It’s great to see someone look extremely nervous before their first ride and then get the hang of it. It’s also fun to see more experienced riders trying out new moves. And of course, nothing beats the wipe outs.
In other words, yes, it’s fun, but if you get a little bored, try watching others take their turn.
Which Royal Caribbean ships have the Flowrider?
When sailing Royal Caribbean, most stores have the Flowrider, and some Oasis-class ships have two.
That said A handful of older ships don’t have that appeal. These include Vision of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Grandeur of the Seas, Enchantment of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, and Rhapsody of the Seas.
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