I recently planned a cruise vacation for my family and myself; my husband and I are Baby Boomers and our four children are Gen Y. This trip required a great deal of research to please everyone; my children’s wants and needs are very different from ours. Hope the information we uncovered proves useful for you.
Heidi – Editor-at-Large, AllThingsCruise
AllThingsCruise Offers Solutions for Mixing Baby Boomers & Gen Y (aka Echo Boomers, Generation Me and Millennials) on a Cruise Ship
Baby Boomers, people between the ages of 46 and 65, make up roughly one quarter of the U.S. population, according to the Pew Research Center. These 79 million Boomers, now mature and with adult children of their own (known as Gen Y), are also the top demographic for cruise vacations.
Since, as a group, Gen Y are said to be much closer to their families than their parents’ generation, multi-generational vacations have become extremely popular. Agreeing to go on vacation together is not the issue; it’s simply that Gen Y has a totally different concept of fun than their parents. The term “generation gap” is not just an expression, so is there a way for Gen Y and the Baby Boomer parents to travel happily together?
The answer is “yes” and can be found in a cruise; but the logistics can be tricky.
Most Baby Boomers are looking for a small ship experience, no crowds, with time to relax, read and indulge in spa treatments. They want sleepy mornings drinking coffee on a balcony, gourmet dinners and a piano bar at night … all the things that would likely bore Gen Y (the teenagers, college crowd and 20-somethings) to tears. They’re looking for action-oriented types of fun: action, crowds, rock climbing, casinos, nightclubs and the ultimate sports adventures. They also, statistically, have a greater need for connectivity; according to Forrester Research, Gen Y is almost twice as likely as boomers to use social tools. They are heavily dependent on their smart phones, and commonly use carriers such as Verizon and AT&T.
The travel experts at AllThingsCruise say one cruise ship can satisfy all these varied wants and needs. Boomers can find sanctuary and relaxation while Gen Y stays entertained, active and happy throughout a cruise.
Following are the details on which lines are best for the Boomers and Gen Y, their amenities and onboard policies.
Royal Caribbean International:
Baby Boomers: RCI does a wonderful balancing act. For parents looking for a feeling of exclusivity, there’s the Enhanced Program for suite guests, offering amenities like priority check-in, Concierge Club service, reserved and/or private meal seating, VIP pool deck seating, complimentary valet service and a priority departure lounge. The accommodations are will work for everyone and no one will have to share a bathroom.
Gen Y: RCI sets the standard for youth-oriented amenities like 200-foot-high rock-climbing walls, pool wave machines, late night disco parties and sports competitions. The newer ships (Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas) have a few extras, too, like a boxing ring and the H2O Zone waterpark, along with the Flowrider, that allows guests to surf right on the cruise ship.
Accommodations on Royal Caribbean to please the Boomers:
Two-Bedroom Suites require five people. Neither of these suites adjoins another like it.
Royal Family Suites have enough space to accommodate eight, with two bedrooms including four twin beds, two Pullman beds and a newly upgraded double sofa bed. All have a separate living area, two bathrooms, vanity area, refrigerator and a new flat-screen TV among their amenities.
Notes regarding On-Board Communications, Alcohol and Gambling on Royal Caribbean:
- Generally the gambling age is 18 and drinking age is 21, but 18 to 21 may be allowed in adult clubs.
- The minimum drinking age for all alcoholic beverages on all Royal Caribbean International ships is 21. However, on cruises departing from European and South American countries, where the legal drinking age is typically lower than 21, a parent whose children are 18 to 20 years’ old may sign a waiver allowing those children to consume alcoholic beverages.
- Passengers must be 18 to gamble in the casino (21 on Alaska cruises).
- No guest under the age of 21 will be reserved in a stateroom unless accompanied by an adult 21 years of age or older. This age limit will be waived for minor children sailing with their parents or guardians in adjacent staterooms or under-aged married couples (proof of marriage is required).
Royal Caribbean has six designated “Hot Spots” aboard each ship for Wi-Fi access. Working through your own laptop, the base rate is $.65 per minute, but pre-paid packages are also available. Ships have Internet Cafes for access to the email and internet. Check with both the cruise line and wireless carrier to identify any additional calling/texting costs.
Norwegian Cruise Line:
Baby Boomers: NCL is well known for their “Freestyle Cruising” philosophy. However, what’s less widely known is that they’ve been developing their own style of luxury onboard; there is a section of the ship dedicated to their “elite” guests. The Haven is a private “ship-within-a-ship” area with the finest amenities, including concierge and 24-hour butlers. A private courtyard allows guests to relax and dine in seclusion from the rest of the ship.
Gen Y: Norwegian’s “Freestyle Cruising” is very popular with young adults; the premise is that you can pretty much do things the way you like on NCL cruises; there are no dress requirements for the ship, no set meal times and no fixed schedule. This allows young adults to take a run stories above the ocean, visit a casino or join a Pub Crawl as they see fit. There is also a bowling alley on some of the ships and a club type of atmosphere in the bars.
Accommodations on NCL to please the Boomers:
- Owner’s Suite Connecting with Penthouse – This is the largest Owner’s Suite that accommodates two, but connects with a Penthouse Suite that sleeps three. On NCL, children can be in cabin next door, even if it is not adjoining.
- Aft-Facing Owner’s Suite with Large Balcony – These Owner’s Suites with a Large Balcony are great for up to two guests. They include a living room, dining room and separate bedroom with king-size bed. Along with a walk-in closet, luxury bath with whirlpool tub and a large aft-facing balcony with an incredible view. Includes butler and concierge service.
- Penthouse with Large Balcony – These Penthouses sleep up to three guests, and include a bedroom with queen-size bed, luxury bath with shower, living area, dining area, additional bedding to sleep one additional guest and a large private balcony to enjoy the view. Includes butler and concierge service.
- Family Villas & Courtyard Penthouses – Luxe, one- or two-bedroom Family Villas can be shared with up to five people, where you can enjoy dinner on your private balcony or breakfast in bed. NCL provides suites and villas that offer more exclusive experiences, catering to the mature and discerning cruiser. Butlers and concierges supply champagne, gourmet appetizers, elegant floral arrangements and luxurious bath products. There are private courtyards with pools, comfy oversized daybeds, sundecks and hot tubs and private fitness and steam rooms.
- There are also Deluxe Owner’s Suites and Owner’s Suites – Suites with walls of windows – most Owner’s Suites and Deluxe Owner’s Suites include one or two large balconies, and also offer you access to all the amenities of the exclusive Courtyard.
- Spa Suites, Penthouses & Suites, Balconies, Family Accommodations and Beyond
A collection of staterooms that range from Mini-Suites to connecting Balcony Staterooms to our Family Balcony Staterooms and more, all with a private balcony.
Notes regarding On-Board Communications, Alcohol and Gambling on NCL:
- Generally the casino allows age 18, drinking age can be 18 with consent form (wine and beer only), and clubs allow 18 and up with permission.
- Passengers 18 through 20 with written parental or guardian consent can purchase beer or wine for themselves only when the ship is sailing in international waters (except in Alaska and Hawaii, where you must be 21 years of age to consume or purchase alcohol).
- To gamble in the casino, passengers must be 18.
- No guest under the age of 21 will be reserved in a stateroom unless accompanied by an adult 21 or older. This age limit will be waived for minor children sailing with their parents or guardians in adjacent staterooms or under-aged married couples (proof of marriage is required).
All of NCL’s ships have Internet Cafés for those who need to be online. Guests can make and receive calls, send and receive text messages and read emails and surf the web on their own cell phones and mobile devices just as they do on land when the ship is at sea with the Freestyle Cellular Service. (In the U.S. and the Caribbean, this service is available once the ship is 12 miles from shore, but not while in port. In Europe, service is available when the ship is two nautical miles from shore.) Check with both the cruise line and wireless carrier to identify any additional calling/texting costs.
Carnival Cruise Line:
Baby Boomers: This line attracts a clientele who are spirited and spontaneous and as such offers an on-board experience that is fun with a wide range of choices. If you’re looking for a little pampering, this line can offer it; the cabins are comfortable and spacious. Suites have a sitting area and spacious balcony, and the Grand Suite also features a walk-in closet and whirlpool bath. There is 24-hour room service on the ships and the 23,000-square-foot Cloud 9 Spas (on the Carnival Splendor, Carnival Dream, Carnival Magic, and the Carnival Breeze) are among the largest at sea and feature both exclusive spa staterooms and top-quality facilities and therapies in a stylish, serene setting.
Gen Y: Carnival’s “Fun Ships” boast a broad range of activities for people of all ages, including the recently added Punchliner Comedy Clubs and Superstar Live Karaoke, where guests can perform classic and contemporary hits with a live four-piece band and even their own backup singers. Shore excursions include things like snorkeling, zip-lining, and 4X4 rides. Carnival also works with its partner Sixthman to host full-ship charters featuring a variety of top-named musical acts.
Accommodations on Carnival Cruise Line to please the Boomers:
The Grand Suites on Carnival Dream, Carnival Magic and the new Carnival Breeze debuting in June 2012 are the largest cabins in the fleet – at 430 total square feet (345 square feet of interior space and an 85 square foot balcony) and accommodates up to four guests. There are cabins that accommodate up to five guests on the Carnival Magic, Carnival Dream and Carnival Breeze. These accommodations include two bathrooms – one full bathroom and a second bathroom featuring a junior tub with shower and sink.
Notes Regarding On-Board Communications, Alcohol and Gambling on Carnival Cruise Line:
- Carnival requires age 21 to drink, 18 to gamble.
- Minimum drinking age is 21 years.
- You must be 18 to gamble in the casino.
- Guests under the age of 21 must be accompanied in the same stateroom by a parent or guardian 25 o older. Exceptions may be made for married couples or domestic partners who are minors.
- Ships feature internet cafes, ship-wide WiFi network to surf the Web, chat online and access email. You may use your personal laptop while onboard, your iPhone and all other WiFi equipped devices and most software installed on them without restrictions. Fees apply; check with both the cruise line and wireless carrier to identify any additional calling/texting costs.
Celebrity Cruise Line:
Baby Boomers: Some seasoned cruisers hold the opinion that Celebrity Cruises is trying to compete with luxury lines such as Crystal in areas such staterooms, cuisine and ship-board amenities. For example, the AquaSpa aboard the Eclipse features a 24-Karat Gold Facial, which uses rose quartz and a pure 24-karat gold leaf mask. Guests aboard the ship can rely on the services of a Personal Concierge to arrange a private shore excursion or implement a plan for celebrating a special occasion.
Gen Y: Traditionally, Celebrity has been geared to an older and well-heeled crowd, making their average cruiser’s age slightly higher than the other lines. However, the Celebrity Solstice class changed things up; rumor has it that the line knocked 10 yrs off of the average age of their passengers with these ships. The Solstice class introduced things like the first Lawn Club at sea and the first Hot Glass Show, and the streamlined, contemporary style seems to appeal more to a younger crowd. There is a large range of dining and activity choices, including Celebrity Central, where guests can catch a movie or comedy show, and a rocking nightclub to dance the night away.
Accommodations on Celebrity Cruises to please the Boomers:
Celebrity’s suites include butler service, assistance with packing and unpacking, a separate living room and dining area (perfect for a cozy family dinner), Egyptian cotton towels, and complimentary espresso and cappuccino. The suites themselves are incredible; on the Celebrity Solstice, the Penthouse Suites are 1,291 square feet and each has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, separate living room with dining area and baby grand piano.
Notes regarding On-Board Communications, Alcohol and Gambling on Celebrity:
- The age of 21 applies to drinking and gambling; however, on ships in Europe, South America and Australia, where the legal drinking age is lower than 21, a parent who is sailing with children between the ages of 18 to 20 may sign a waiver allowing the child to consume alcoholic beverages.
- No guest younger than age 21 will be assigned to a stateroom unless accompanied in the same stateroom by an adult 21 years of age or older. A guest’s age is established upon the first date of the sailing. This age limit will be waived for children sailing with their parents or guardians in connecting staterooms; for underage married couples; and for active duty members of the United States or Canadian military. Certain other restrictions and conditions will apply; such as compliance with the age of 21 alcohol policy, and proof of marriage for underage couples or proof of active duty military status.
Each ship in the fleet has 24/7 wireless connection “hotspots.” There is an Internet Café located on board, where you can receive electronic mail, via satellite link 24 hours a day, satellite conditions permitting. Check with both the cruise line and wireless carrier to identify any additional calling/texting costs.
Baby Boomers: Crystal Cruises, popular among the 50-something’s, is well suited to those who enjoy elegant surroundings and style – not usually a priority for the college age or the 20-somethings. The line caters to a more upscale crowd, and includes subtle amenities, like Aveda products and Scandinavian bedding, and more obvious luxuries like magnificent accommodations, golf lessons with PGA pros, and special wine and food cruises. After all, this is the line that has been awarded World’s Best Large-Ship Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure, an unprecedented 15 consecutive years since 1996!
Gen Y: While the ship itself may be a bit of a yawn for young, active adults, there’s absolutely no arguing that Crystal has the most outstanding array of shore excursions available, hands down. So, this may be a case of give a little, get a little… if the kids can give up some of the more youth-oriented onboard activities, they can experience an African safari, an Antarctic expedition, cave diving in Australia, racing rally cars in Estonia, cosmonaut training near Moscow or flying a MiG fighter jet over Russia. Amazing, from anyone’s perspective.
Accommodations on Crystal Cruises to please Boomers: The $25 million renovation of the Serenity this year featured a refurbishment of 535 of the ship’s cabins, and three classes (Deluxe Staterooms, Penthouses and Penthouse Suites) were refitted with floor-to-ceiling tufted headboards, bedside cabinets, sofas, curtains, pillows and carpets. The Penthouses are attended to by a personal butler who anticipates and handles every request, and an electronic “do not disturb” and doorbell system ensure privacy at the highest level.
Notes regarding On-Board Communications, Alcohol and Gambling on Crystal:
- For hard liquor, the drinking age onboard is 21. For beer and wine, it’s 18 minimum, depending upon location. When docked or anchored in U.S. ports within the three-mile limit, passengers must be at least 21 years of age for any alcoholic beverages on cruises.
- Guests must be at least 21 years of age to enter the gaming areas, or to play any monetary-based games of chance.
- Those under 18 must share a cabin with a person over 21.
- Mobile internet devices are supported on board Crystal’s ships. Wi-Fi is available throughout, and the ships also include workstations to connect to the internet. The line does note that all electronic communication to and from the ship is via satellite, and interruptions in satellite reception can occur. They therefore do not guarantee that communication connections for telephone, television, Internet, e-mail or fax will be available at all times in all areas of the world. Also, check with both the cruise line and wireless carrier to identify any additional calling/texting costs.
Notes on mobile device usage aboard the lines:
As mentioned earlier, connectivity is a major issue for many vacationing adults, and two of the most popular mobile carriers, Verizon and AT&T, have service available throughout the world. Here’s a little more detail about what they offer and how to find how connected you can be throughout a cruise.
Verizon’s Cruise Ship Cellular Rates and Policies:
Verizon offers service among all 5 of the cruise lines outlined above. To check for service availability: Refer to Verizon’s ship listing to see whether service is available on your desired cruise line. Then Dial *611 or call 1-800-922-0204 for specific details of service and to enable International Roaming.
Voice Roaming Rate: $2.49 per minute
Text Messaging Rates: $0.50/address sent, $0.05/message received
$30- 50MB Allowance
$75- 150 MB Allowance
$125- 300 MB Allowance
Rate after allowance: $0.005/KB ($5.12/MB)
Pay Per Use Rate: $0.02/KB ($20.48/MB)
Dialing Internationally: 011 + Country Code + Number
Dialing to the U.S.: 011 + 1 + Number
AT&T’s Cruise Ship Cellular Rates and Policies:
AT&T also offers service among all 5 of the cruise lines outlined above. To check for service availability: Refer to AT & T’s ship listing to see whether service is available on your desired cruise line. They have a neat tool that allows you to select your cruise line, your destination and mobile device, and tells whether or not your device is compatible with your destination. If your device is compatible the destinations shown above, call 1-800-331-0500 to add international roaming.
Voice Roaming Rate: $2.49 per minute
Data usage: billed at the standard pay-per-use rate (approximately $20.00 per MB).
Some tips on traveling and mobile device charges:
- Those who are accustomed to being “wired” 24/7 may have some issues on a cruise… online charges can soar quickly while on a ship. Be aware that there is a per-minute charge for usage; check into pre-paid plans, they tend to be significantly cheaper than the pay-as-you-go options offered by the cruise lines. Another thing to consider is that communications are done via satellite, which may experience disruption in service and tends to operate more slowly that its land-based counterparts.
- Be sure to check with your carrier before embarking- you will likely be better off, cost-wise converting to one of their “travel” plans for the duration of your cruise. And, if there is some inconceivable circumstance racks up a really large bill, don’t be afraid to contact your carrier directly to discuss the charges, as they are able and, many times, willing to reduce the charges.