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Norwegian Cruise Line

Sea & stay: Cruises vie to offer onboard recreation

Sea & stay: Cruises vie to offer onboard recreation

Above Deck 17 on the Norwegian Getaway, a father and young son wearing safety harnesses work their way around a ropes course, taking careful steps on a web of narrow beams, winding their fingers through a rope net for balance.

Up ahead, a woman is walking The Plank, the most extreme element of the course — a beam six inches wide that extends eight feet over the edge of the ship, 180 feet above the water. Connected by a harness to an overhead line, she looks down, grinning, asks someone to take her photo, and kicks her leg out to the side, clearly undisturbed by any fear of heights.

Water slides with free falls and 360-degree spirals. A rock-climbing wall, bungee trampoline,...