Kids and vacation have one thing in common… they’re both about having fun. Of course, parents and kids have different ideas of what’s fun. Parents may find romantic dinners, dancing and laying in the sun the ultimate escape, while kids would rather enjoy marathon play, water slides, and campouts. So if you’re hard-pressed to find an activity that the entire family can enjoy, consider a family cruise!
There are several cruise lines that cater especially to the family. Each has specialized activities for kids of all ages as well as luxury for the parents. Here are some of the best family cruises out there…
Carnival Cruise Lines will have about 100,000 kids on its cruises this year alone. Considered the leader in family cruising, they have created the Camp Carnival program specifically for children ages 2-15. This year-round, fleet-wide program provides daily fun-filled and age-appropriate activities that include supervised “free play” and babysitting service (for a fee.) But it’s not a daycare… the program is designed so that families can enjoy “family quality time” with one another, and yet also gives the children a choice to play with their peers whenever they wish. Each playroom is stocked with toys, puzzles and games for all ages, and each ship is equipped with an electronic game room filled with the latest video games. The youth counselors on board have either a college education (in a related field,) professional childcare experience, or both. Each one of the youth staff is certified in CPR and basic first aid, and has had a thorough background check. The programs are geared to 4 age groups, as follows:
Toddlers (age 2-5) – Splash pool, fund family games, late night munchies, cartoon time, Little Tykes toys, Learn your Colors, Can you Count, sponge painting, indoor beach parties, Mousercize, pizza pig out, drawing contests, sing-alongs, bingo, face painting, arts and crafts, cookie decorating.
Juniors (ages 6-8) – Talent show, face painting, cartoon time, indoor fair, sea animals, Mousercize, Disney trivia, ice cream sundaes, cookie decorating, button making, puppet show, beach party, outdoor fun and games.
Intermediate (ages 9-12) – T-shirt painting, photography, jewelry making, board games, dance class, video tournament, ping pong, talent show, volleyball, show time, scavenger hunts, meet the entertainers back stage, breakfast fun.
Teens (ages 13-15) – Ping pong, pool party, teen dance, dance class, talent show, pizza party, indoor beach party, skin care and hair dressing demonstration, photography.
The staterooms are more spacious than those of traditional cruise lines, and most offer adjoining rooms. The 114-long, 15-ft-high water slide is bound to be a hit with all of your kids (even your 35-year-old!) Carnival also offers a kids’ menu, so your little ones can gobble their favorites, while you indulge in your culinary delights. Camp Carnival takes the guesswork out of how to manage the cost of a family trip, because it’s all-inclusive and is the perfect remedy to the costs that add up while traveling with children.
Disney Cruise Line ~
Nothing says “kids” like Disney. If you’re looking for guaranteed fun this year, look no further than Disney Cruise Line. With 14 on-board family activities, from Karaoke to Dance Party to Talent Show, you’re bound to find something for everyone during this vacation. More than 15,000 square feet is designated towards children’s programs on this incredible ship. Adults can pamper themselves at the on-board spa, while the kids take pleasure in age-appropriate and themed activities. And when everyone meets up again for dinner, tranquil and refreshed, they can share their unique Disney experiences in a themed dining facility! In true Walt Disney fashion, they also have their own island, called Castaway Cay. This private island oasis offers adult fun (check out the parasailing adventure) as well as kid-friendly fun (like Scuttle’s Cove ~ a phenomenal area for exploration and discovery!) Enjoy the aquatic playground on Castaway’s Family Beach, a gorgeous getaway to sail, play volleyball, or snorkel in the sparkling lagoon.
With spacious staterooms, remarkable activities and adventurous excursions, Disney keeps the whole family in mind to offer an outstanding vacation experience unlike any other.
Norwegian Cruise Lines ~
NCL’s Kids Crew™ and Teen’s Crew™ lets you wind down while your kids are winding up. With all the activities aboard, they’ll never finish them all before the vacation is over!
Kid’s Crew (ages 2-12) offers everything from pajama parties to arts and crafts. Kids age 2 and over can enjoy age-appropriate activities, a T-shirt for painting, a Chef’s hat (for cooking,) a birthday party (if applicable,) a copy of Kid’s Crew news, all complimentary while Mom & Dad can enjoy a night out! Children will receive an ID bracelet that includes their name, stateroom number, allergies, medications, and lifeboat station number. Keeping safety in the forefront, children 12 and under will not be permitted to leave the program unless a parent picks them up. Parents of participating children who are not potty-trained will receive a beeper that will alert them when their child needs to be changed.
Teen’s Passport Program (ages 13-17) program includes a passport booklet with 20 non-alcoholic drink tickets, including non-alcoholic smoothies for $34.50; afternoon dance party for teen and a guest with D.J., pizza and unlimited non-alcoholic drinks; “Farewell Frat Party” on the last evening of the cruise. And unlike the Kid’s Crew, teens can come and go as they please throughout the day. Teens can also enjoy Playstation®, video arcades, movies, parties, sports and activities, board and card games. On some ships, they can also break a sweat at the Teen Disco!
Kid’s Crew hours while at sea are 9am-noon, 2pm-5pm, and 7pm-10pm. During sea days and port days, they’re open from 7pm-10pm. Group sitting is also available, for a nominal fee.
Each carefully chosen staff of youth counselors is college-educated, and has attended a special training course on safety, communication skills, and confidence building.
Your kids will have the time of their lives, while you indulge in a hot-stone massage, decadent cocktail by the pool, or a hand of Blackjack. Whatever your family’s desires, no one will leave this cruise disappointed.
Royal Caribbean ~
Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean® program is the reason why more and more families have been cruising lately. More than just the typical games, this unique program offers something a little different… “Edu-tainment.” Your children will get to learn about local customs, do cool science experiments, and make great new friends. Children must be at least 3 years of age and be potty-trained (no pull-ups or diapers.) This free program is open to kids ages 3-17, and blends educational activities with ports of call, individual and group sports, art, and performance. Babysitting service is also available, so kids can spend time together and munch on pizza, mac and cheese, hamburgers and hotdogs, while the parents can utilize their free time to do as they see fit… including absolutely nothing. Kid-friendly TV programming and lots of great age-appropriate play areas are included in your getaway, and on selected nights, the youth staff hosts dinners in the RCI specialty restaurants. Teens can have fun too in the Late Night Party Zone, from 10pm to 1pm. Or, get together as a family and try some Karaoke, ice-skating or beach games that are played shore side. Safety is paramount on RCI, and each staff member holds a degree in education, recreation or other related field, or has qualified-equivalent experience in caring for children ages 3-17. All are certified in CPR, and have an extensive background in working with large groups of children, ages 3-17. They also possess three to five years experience working in team situations. So you can rest assured that your kids are safe while they’re having fun.
Traveling with children doesn’t have to be a chore, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. So many more cruise lines are geared towards the family vacation experience nowadays, and many offer these phenomenal programs included in the price of the cruise.
Take advantage of many amenities available during your next family cruise, and you’ll never look at vacation the same way again!