Fall and Winter are a great time to cruise ... sailing to warmer waters of the Mexican Riviera, Sea of Cortez, and of course, the Caribbean Sea as well. However, this is also prime sports time. For men who "can't miss" their favorite game taking a cruise could be a major obstacle to booking a voyage. Don't worry though. No matter what your favorite sport, chances are you can still catch your favorite game on your next cruise!
No, I'm not saying that every cruise ship will show every football game and other American sports like basketball and especially hockey might be more difficult to come by, but there are some things you can do for those sports as well. However, you can almost always be assured that the big football games will be shown on the outdoor screens or if not, certainly will be available in the sports bar.
Watch The Game On The Big Screen
While not every ship is equal in this regard, even vessels like more conservative Holland America Line cruise ships will be showing football on Sunday afternoons on the pool TV screens. This holds true across other fleets from Carnival, Royal Caribbean, MSC Cruises, Princess, and Celebrity too.
Usually you will find the schedule for this is pre-planned and published in the daily schedule. If it doesn't tell you exactly what game will be shown, the planner will indicate something like "Sunday Football" or something similar. During other big sporting events such as the World Series, Olympics, and of course the World Cup - you will often have similar programming available.
Go To The Sports Bar
Most cruise ships have a sports bar, though it varies heavily in terms of how big and elaborate it will be. On some smaller and older ships, you might not have a formal sports bar - but there will be a bar or lounge of some sort that has TV screens tuned to whatever sports programming is available.
The best ships for those looking for a sports bar while sailing out of Southern California include Norwegian Bliss Carnival Panorama and Carnival Radiance, both of which feature the Heroes Tribute Bar and Lounge, The Local or District Brew House on Norwegian Bliss, and Playmakers Sports Bar on Navigator of the Seas. All of these bars will have a great sports vibe and plenty of TVs to watch your favorite football game or other sports match. However, our vote goes to Playmakers as the best option here.
Additionally, unlike watching the game on the big screen out by the pool, here you can usually ask the bartender to change one of the channels to your favorite team's game. While you might not be able to get the audio, it's a great way to enjoy the game with some new friends.
Watch It On Your Cabin TV
Every cruise line differs somewhat in terms of what programming is available on their in-room television but some are better than others in terms of watching sports. For instance, Royal Caribbean and Carnival have invested heavily into this space and offer ESPN on the in-room selection.
Stream It From Your Favorite App
Ok, this is going to be a bit trickier since cruise ship wifi is notoriously bad. So your mileage may vary here from not working at all to having a great experience. While some cruise lines like Disney Cruise Line and Holland America Line have absolutely terrible wifi and Norwegian's offering is sporatic, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity are all working very rapidly to upgrade their internet to Starlink. This "in theory" will allow for excellent streaming ability.
So this is ultimately going to be be the best way to ensure that you can watch whatever game you want. Just make sure to bring your tablet or laptop and set it up where you can avoid bothering other folks or just throw some earphones on and enjoy the gam.
Head Over To The Casino
Just like in most casinos, you will often find popular sports games being shown on TV in the casino as well as sometimes at the individual tables as well. Additionally, not only will you be able to watch your favorite football or other games here, Carnival Corporation is rolling out online sports betting across their various brands. This partnership with BetMGM includes: Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, and Princess Cruises. While Princess already has a good online sports book available on it's ships through Miomni, this new offering will begin rolling out in Q1 2023.
Details are still emerging but this will certainly lead to an increase in sports TV programming that will be available since Carnival and BetMGM will want to maximize opportunities to encourage cruisers to place wagers on their favorite games.