I’ll start this off by saying: I’ve never used a Flowrider before and I am not a surfer either, I have never surfed.
The only places I’ve been that have one have been theme parks and it’s always been where I haven’t brought swimmers (eg the one they used to have at Dreamworld) or it isn’t included in the standard ticket and you have to pay more (eg Wet’n’Wild), so it’s just never happened.
Since we were on Voyager of the Seas for 12 nights which included 6 sea days I decided it was time to give it a go, even if there was a long queue.
It turns out the queue is not too bad earlier on in the cruise, however I finally got the opportunity on the 14th of April, the second last sea day and the queue was worse. I didn’t have a go on the 15th, the last sea day, but the queue then was even worse again. They actually had the Flowrider split and had people on each side of it. So back to my attempt. I had two turns in about 45 minutes at the boogie board. I think it is important to note though that you do need to plan a little in advance. You cannot choose whether you want to use the boogie board or the surfboard during a session. Each session is either a boogie board session or a surfboard session for the entire session which is usually a few hours long.
The session times and whether they are a boogie board or surfboard session are shown in the Cruise Compass for the day, and there is also a list of session times for the entire cruise on the noticeboard by the sports court.
So I had two turns, and I’d say I was definitely starting to get the hang of it by the end of the second turn. It took my first go to figure out how to steer properly and how the board responded to different movements and weight in different places. I stacked it trying to get up on my knees because I didn’t have my hands in the right place on the board and so my weight was not holding it in place properly as I got up.
In my second go I felt pretty confident in my steering and was able to get up on my knees. Once you get there it’s a real confidence boost and in my opinion it is actually easier to control the board when you are on your knees than when you are on your stomach! You can check out the video below of my first and second attempts. I had a lot of fun.
You don’t really see it in the video, but as soon as I’m on my knees in the second attempt I actually am trying to work out how to do the transition to sitting on the board. When I finally tried to do that transition I stacked it. I’d definitely like to have another go at it and figure that out. I’d also like to have a go at the surfboard. It really is quite easy to get the hang of and it’s a lot of fun! I’d definitely recommend having a go while you are on board Voyager of the Seas or any other ship that has one, or if you have an opportunity somewhere else. I did wonder whether being on board the ship with it’s movement and with the wind would make a difference. So to answer that question, according to the sports staff, yes bad weather, wind and rough seas does make it harder. However I found that with regular cruising (though with 3m swells), I didn’t notice much ship movement while I was doing it at all, there is enough movement in the Flowrider itself that it kind of absorbs the movement of the ship. I thought the wind might have been a bigger deal as it was a very windy day, however the location of the Flowrider at the back of the ship is actually dropped down somewhat so it sits about halfway between two levels. So when you are on it, most of the wind is actually going straight over the top of you. I’d imagine it would be different if you had really bad winds though as the wind was still very noticable and strong when standing beside the Flowrider waiting for my turns.
One other thing I might note, if you are unsure about whether or not you want to have a go. You have to sign a liability waiver before you can try it. That said, the surface of the Flowrider is not particularly hard. There is actually a gap between the material you see and the firmer surface below. This gives you a little bit of cushioning if you fall, and it also means you aren’t dragging your knees and feet on a hard surface. The water then adds another layer of cushioning, and if you fall off, the water is going so fast it’s going to catch you and wash you over the top of the Flowrider pretty quickly anyway. It’s actually up here that it is a little harder because you are trying to stand up while the water is trying to push your feet out from under you. You can use the wall to help yourself up and the staff are there pretty quickly to give you a hand if you need one. I did a face plant the second time, and in the video it looks like I probably hit my face fairly hard. I actually didn’t. I didn’t hit my face at all, or if I did the surface was so cushioned I didn’t notice for all the water coming at me! So I didn’t hurt myself at all. The worst that happened was a bit of water in my eyes and up my nose. In the same session as me a couple of older gents gave it a go and they did quite well, they struggled a bit standing up after they stacked it, but beyond that they were fine as well.
The sports team did demonstrations throughout the cruise, I recorded one of the surfboard demonstrations which you can watch below:
The sports team also ran two shows called the “International Flowrider Show”. These were at the end of the sessions on the last two sea days, at 4:45pm on the 14th and 4:15pm on the 16th. We watched the one on the 16th and they said it had been a very interesting show the day before (the day I tried it) because it had been so windy. The show goes for about half an hour and you can watch it below, they are a team of very talented people who obviously love their jobs!
So, to reiterate, I loved it! I would and will definitely go on it again, and I can’t wait to give it another try!