Family Cruising: Pirates, Private Islands, Studying the Constellations

RandKbeachMy family has been blessed with many fantastic cruise vacations.  We have seen dolphins and whales frolicking in the deep blue ocean while watching amazing sunsets on a Hawaiian Island cruise.  This cruise was magnificent, however, young children (my boys were 3 and 5 on this cruise) have a more difficult time adapting to a major time change, because they cannot tell time.  My 2 boys awakened us every morning at 3 am.  The pastry chef took pity on us (all alone on the deck every morning, under brilliant stars teaching them about the constellations) and delivered to us, fresh croissants, Hawaiian Kona coffee and juice and cereal every day. Our family cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line turned out to be a wonderful experience for our entire family.

Royal Caribbean International ships and the children’s program’s they offer was exactly what every parent would dream about.  The children were extremely happy, had continual smiles, had a fun filled time, and learned much about oceanography ++.   My husband and I were able to enjoy some sun on the deck, delirious spa experiences (I highly recommend the xx facial) and romance time.   Our entire family had plenty of other moments together to explore new Caribbean Islands  and experience new types of activates like the helicopter tours of those beautiful Caribbean islands.  The day spent at Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island was over the top.

The island, features a 20,000 square-foot aqua playground Caylana’s Castle Cove, is an island designed exclusively for Royal Caribbean and Celebrity passengers. It’s a perfect spot for water lovers, there is a white-sand beach, wave runners and snorkeling among coral reefs with vibrant tropical fish and sunken wrecks. We also went parasailing to gain a bird’s-eye view of the island.

The lines’ second island, Labadee, features seven different “neighborhoods” (Bucaneer’s Bay, Dragon’s Plaza, Labadee Town Square, Adrenaline Beach, Columbus Cove, Nellie’s Beach and the Barefoot Beach Club) that have individualized offerings. Ride a rollercoaster at Adrenaline Beach, play at the aqua park in Columbus Cove or lounge in one of 20 private cabanas at the Beach Club (an experience exclusive to guests residing in a Grand Suite or above).

We especially loved the Antillia shipwreck sail and snorkel trip.  Nothing like a day of pretending you are pirates to make everlasting memories with your family.  If you are looking for a shore excursions up to 75% discounted, click here.

Cruises make for an excellent family vacation, but not all cruise lines provide the same children’s amenities- and some lines don’t even permit children to sail- so it’s important to plan carefully and find the cruise  that’s right for you and your family.

The details of a few of my favorite lines are below.  For a full listing of the children’s programs, please click here: https://allthingscruise.com/family-cruises/which-cruise-line-is-best-for-your-family-allthingscruise-expert-guide-to-cruising-with-children/..

Crystal Cruises

Infant/Toddler

Crystal Cruises is unable to accommodate children less than 6 months of age and reserves the right to restrict the number of those less than 3 years of age aboard the ships. There are no formal programs for children under 3.

Children

Crystal Cruises’ extraordinary commitment to excellence and quality of experience applies to guests of all ages. Space dedicated to children is rare on luxury ships, yet Crystal has designed its ships to accommodate multiple generations. Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity offer spacious staterooms in a range of categories as well as suites, third berths, and connecting staterooms, child-friendly cuisine, highly acclaimed children’s programs on select sailings with activities for children ages 3-17, a Fantasia playroom, and a video arcade for teens. During holiday cruises, summer sailings and other selected itineraries, additional children’s activities are offered under the supervision of experienced Junior Activities Directors. For parents longing for some time on their own, all vessels offer in-stateroom babysitting.

Facilities
Many facilities on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity were designed with young guests in mind. Fantasia has supervised activities, tables and chairs for board games, arts and crafts, giant padded cubes, puzzles, and large-screen televisions with kid-sized stadium seating. Teenagers enjoy the Waves video arcade, which has Sony PlayStation® 2, Nintendo Wii™ and Xbox 360TM kiosks. The Library offers a selection of children’s books and videos for in-room viewing; children can also see recently released films in The Hollywood Theatre.

Activities

Crystal Cruises offers children a broad choice of organized activities and entertainment options. A daily Surf Runner newsletter provides details on the following day’s activity schedule, tailored by age group, available on cruises that typically have many children (summer cruises, shorter itineraries and holiday sailings):

  • Scavenger Hunts
  • Hide and Seek
  • Story Times / Ice cream / Pajama Parties
  • Stretch-ercise / Dress-up Playtime
  • Bridge / Galley tours
  • Cookie Baking / Pizza making
  • Fashion Shows / Coke-tails / card games
  • Karaoke / Special Artists’ Performances
  • Mask Parade / Trivia
  • Movies / Dancing
  • Mini Olympics / Relay Races
  • Pool Games / Paddle tennis
  • Water Polo / Swimming
  • Shuffleboard / Volleyball
  • Late Night Pool Parties / Teen disco
  • Trivial Pursuit Teen karaoke
  • Twister Popcorn Parties
  • Pizza Parties Computer University@Sea®
  • E-mail Services

Dining

Crystal’s executive chefs and other culinary staff can prepare custom dishes and items comparable to those found on shoreside kids’ menus. Baby food, high chairs and booster seats are available on request. In addition to meals in the Crystal Dining Room and specialty restaurants, the Trident Grill & Ice Cream Bar serves complimentary hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and sandwiches as well as ice cream, non-fat yogurt and cookies throughout the afternoon.

Babysitting Services
All vessels offer in-stateroom babysitting for children over the age of 1. Arrangements can easily be made by contacting the concierge at least 24 hours in advance. Fees are $10 per hour for one child, $15 per hour for two children and $20 per hour for three children. To satisfy safety concerns, the maximum number of children/babies watched by one babysitter is three.

Family Savings

Children 11 and younger occupying the third berth pay 50 percent of the minimum fare when accompanied by two full-fare paying adults. Throughout the year, the line occasionally sets special promotions in which children can sail free when sharing a room with two adults.

Accommodations
Crystal Symphony offers ten connecting staterooms and 89 staterooms with a third berth available. On Crystal Serenity, there are 50 connecting staterooms and 154 staterooms with a third berth available.

Please note: Crystal Cruises is unable to accommodate children less than 6 months of age and reserves the right to restrict the number of those less than 3 years of age aboard the ships

Tweens/Teens

Teen Program (ages 13 – 17)

Daytime Activities

  • Sony Playstation® 2, Nintendo® Xbox 360 and Wii Tournaments
  • Afternoon Games in the Bridge Lounge
  • Afternoon Movie in the Hollywood Theatre
  • CU@Sea classes in the computer lab
  • Golf Pro Educational Classes
  • Clue Hunt
  • Paddle Tennis
  • Table Tennis
  • Shuffle Board
  • Golfing Range
  • Fitness Classes with the Fitness Director (ages 16+) Library
  • Lectures – Destination and Special Guest
  • Backstage Tour
  • Galley Tour
  • Teen Trivia
  • Teen Bingo

Night Time Activities and Theme Nights

  • Poker Night
  • Texas Hold Em Tournament
  • Karaoke Night
  • Movie Night – in Fantasia or the Hollywood Theatre
  • Disco Night
  • Pictionary Night
  • Game Night in the Bridge Lounge
  • “Coke”tails – meet and greet for teens
  • Liar’s Club – hosted by the Cruise Director, for all guests on board. Check Reflections for time and location.
  • Liar’s Club – teen version hosted by the Junior Activities Director.
  • Pool and Hot Tub Party Hangout
  • Paddle Tennis Tournament
  • Casual Dining with Friends in the Lido
  • Toga Party
  • Destination Party – with themes planned according to where the ship is sailing
  • “What if” Conversation Starters
  • Five Minute Mysteries
  • Murder Mystery Night
  • Sail-away Party

Cunard Line

Infant/Toddler

Children at least 6 months of age are welcome on most Cunard voyages; on Transatlantic Crossings, Transpacific voyages (including voyages to Hawaii) and World Voyages (including Segment Voyages), the minimum age is one year. Cunard offers a full children’s programme, from nursery to teens, so families can share this special journey together.

Children’s Facilities

All of Cundard’s ships offer exciting programmes for children and teenagers, aged 2-17 years. The specially designed areas known as The Play Zone, The Zone and The Teen Zone are complimentary and offer a peace of mind knowing that your children are well looked after and can socialise with other young people.

Highlights include:

• Activities which run throughout the day and into the night and offer your children the very best of ship entertainment. Varying every day, the daily programme is filled with a full range of engaging activities and offers something for everyone. All activities are age appropriate for the specific clubs such as arts and crafts, movies, quizzes and scavenger hunts. There is also plenty of time to simply relax and meet people of a similar age.

• Special children’s supper/tea served daily, allowing parents to have formal dinner by themselves.

• A night nursery is open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily and is available to children aged 12 months to 23 months and operates on a first come first served basis.

Please Note

The minimum age for children to participate in supervised daytime activities without a parent/ guardian is 2 years old. However for families travelling with children under 2, Cunard encourages you to come and use the facilities and activities with parental supervision.

For the safety and enjoyment of your children Cunard expects them to use the appropriate age group facility.

Holland America Line

Infants/Toddlers

Holland America will not accept reservations for infants 6 months or younger for non- Transocean sailings or 12 months or younger for Transocean sailings at time of cruise. There are no programs for children under 3.

Children

Club HAL® — Kids*: Children, ages 3-7, can participate in such activities as pirate treasure hunts, hands-on pizza making, storytelling, “Little Artists” crafts, ice cream sundae parties and a farewell pajama party. Children in the Kid’s age group must be toilet trained. Children in pull-ups or diapers are not allowed in the youth facilities, due to mandates from US Public Health. Exceptions to this rule cannot be made

Additional Family Services

Holland America Line is dedicated to making your family’s cruise vacation memorable and happy for each member of your family. They serve a wide variety of kid-pleasing food, including special sandwiches, tacos, hamburgers, hot dogs and pizza. Baby food, high chairs and booster seats may be requested in advance of boarding. On sea days, babysitting services are available through the Front Office for a small surcharge for children 3 years of age or older. This service is provided by staff on a volunteer basis, and may not always be available. Babysitting service is not offered while the ship is in port, although Club Hal does offer activities for children aged 3-12 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on port days. Special kid-friendly birthday parties can also be arranged with advance notice.

Extended Hours

Club HAL’s port day activities as well as After Hours is available for children ages 3-12 who meet Club HAL’s eligibility requirements. (Children must be pre-registered for the program in the way of a completed parental consent form, they must be potty trained, out of pull ups and 100 percent independent in the restroom as the youth staff are not permitted to assist.) Club HAL® After Hours is available on all ships (except the ms Prinsendam) from 10 p.m. – midnight for children 3 years of age or older. The fee is US$5.00 per child, per hour. Parents must pick up their children on time or a late fee is charged. For babysitting outside of the hours offered in Club HAL, guests may check at the Front Office to schedule this service provided by staff on a voluntary/limited basis only.

Tweens/Teens

Club HAL® — Tweens*: Tweens, ages 8-12 take part in Xbox and Wii tournaments, relay races, scavenger hunts, karaoke disco parties and participate in the award-winning National Park Service Jr. Ranger Program in Alaska on Alaska cruises.

The Loft and The Oasis*: Teens, ages 13-17 enjoy mocktail mixology classes, late night sporting competitions, teen yoga and hip hop classes, guys verses girls scavenger hunts, cooking demos, tech classes and teen only night club events. When there are more than 100 children on board, a HAL Talent Show is offered. (The Loft and Oasis are not available on the Prinsendam. The Oasis is located on the Statendam, Ryndam, Veendam, Rotterdam, Zaandam, Volendam and Amsterdam.)

*On the ms Prinsendam, youth activities are offered for ages 5-17. All other ships offer youth activities for ages 3-17.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Infants/Toddlers

Infants sailing onboard a Norwegian vessel must be at least 6 months of age at time of sailing. However, for voyages that have three or more consecutive days at sea, the infant must be at least 12 months old at time of sailing. Norwegian doesn’t offer babysitting but instead offers Group Sitting Services for children ages 3-12 years old every night from 10:30 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. (Late Night Fun Zone) and on port days while the ship is docked.

Kids

Splash Academy for Kids

Splash Academy is here and making a big, well, splash. The new program is specifically designed to engage active and creative kids ages 6 months – 12 years old. Whether it’s learning to juggle at circus school with Cirque du Jour presented by Hilario Productions, working on arts & crafts projects or getting the high score on Wii™, there’s plenty of fun for everyone throughout the ship.

Age Groups
Guppies: 6 mo. – 2 yrs.*
Turtles: 3 – 5 yrs.
Seals: 6 – 9 yrs.
Dolphins: 10 – 12 yrs.

*At least one parent must attend with the child

Norwegian doesn’t offer babysitting but instead offers Group Sitting Services for children ages 3-12 years old every night from 10:30 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. (Late Night Fun Zone) and on port days while the ship is docked.

On Port Days, a minimal fee is charged only during scheduled meal time per the activity booklet.

Nightly at Late Night Fun Zone, there is an hourly fee of $6.00 per hour, per child and $4.00 per hour, per child for each additional sibling.
Parents are encouraged to sign up in advance for both services. If no children are signed up or dropped off by 11:30 p.m. for the nightly service, the youth center will close for the evening. The fees are charged to your on-board account. Fifteen minute transition time is offered before charges apply from Splash Academy to Late Night. Both services are run by the Youth Staff in the Splash Academy Facility.

Hours of Operations
Port Day: Arrival into Port – Departure from Port
Overnight In Port: Arrival in Port – 8:00 p.m.

Tweens/Teens

Entourage for Teens

Introducing Entourage, the latest and greatest program for teens ages 13-17. Play a pickup game of soccer. Take part in a theater or fashion workshop. Dive into an interactive pool party. With so much to do around the ship, your teens can choose the activities they want to do.

Sporting Activities 

Basketball. Ultimate Frisbee. Rounders. Triangle Ball. Some of over 20 interactive sports around the ship that we’ve developed with King’s Camps to encourage teamwork, bonding and confidence building.

Themed Events

Between watching scary movies for vampire night to singing your favorite pop songs while playing an air guitar to a nighttime pool party, there’s something exciting happening every night.

Teen Center

Chill in the teen lounge with flat-screen televisions, Wii U, air hockey, foosball and more. Then dance the night away to the beats of the video jukebox

Princess Cruises

Infants/Toddlers

The minimum Passenger age is 6 months on Alaska, Canada/New England, Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, Trans-canal and Australia/New Zealand cruises, and 12 months on all other cruises, including transatlantic and transpacific itineraries.

Children under the age of 3 are welcome to visit the Youth Center, if accompanied and supervised by a parent at all times.

Kids

All vessels, with the exception of the Ocean and Pacific Princess, have dedicated Youth Centers and Teen Lounges. These two vessels offer youth programs when 20 or more children, ages 3-17, are traveling on a given voyage. Children under the age of 3 are welcome to visit the Youth Center, if accompanied and supervised by a parent at all times.

Youth Centers, ages 3–12

The Youth Centers are staffed by entertaining and experienced counselors, all of whom are dedicated and trained to make sure kids are having the best vacation ever.

“Princess Pelicans” (ages 3-7)
Little ones will want to stay all day while counselors entertain them with:

  • Kindermusik® at Sea
  • Kids-only dance parties
  • Movies and cartoons
  • Ice Cream and pizza parties
  • T-shirt coloring
  • Pajama parties
  • Theme nights
  • Fun Fairs
  • Art Projects

“Shockwaves” (ages 8-12)
Older kids will enjoy a boatload of exciting activities including:

  • Kids-only dinners
  • Dance parties
  • Movies
  • PS2/PS3, Wii and the latest games
  • Video Games
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Karaoke and talent shows
  • Sports tournaments
  • California Science Center workshops
  • Jr.CHEF@Sea
  • Klutz® projects
  • Theme nights

Tweens/Teens

Teen Lounges, ages 13–17

In the Teens-only exclusive Lounges, passengers ages 13-17 can make new friends while enjoying all of the coolest amenities. The Lounges are packed with PS2/PS3 and Wii games, the latest movies, music, and foosball tables. Princess also offers exciting events including:

  • Teens-only dance parties
  • Late-night movies
  • Sports tournaments
  • Casino Night
  • Talent shows
  • Formal dinners
  • Mocktail competitions
  • DJ workshops
  • Teen makeovers
  • Hip hop dance classes

Once registered for the Program, Teens are welcome to come and go as they please. No sign in or out necessary.

Please note that the Pacific and Ocean Princess do not have dedicated Youth Centers.

Regent Seven Seas

Infants must be 1 year of age as of the first day of the cruise. Guests traveling with a young infant that does not meet the infant policy will be denied boarding. Regent Seven Seas Cruises does not provide for the care, entertainment or supervision of children.

Royal Caribbean International

Infants/Toddlers

Infants sailing on a cruise must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise and/or CruiseTour. HOWEVER: For transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaii, select South American and other selected cruises and/or CruiseTours, the infant must be at least 12 months old as of the first day of the cruise/CruiseTour. For the purposes of this policy, any cruise that has three or more days consecutive at sea will require infants to be 12 months old on the first day of the cruise/CruiseTour.

Nursery Services & Sitters at Sea
The Babies and Tots Nursery offers parents a drop-off option in the daytime and evening, where their children can be left in the trusting care of trained professionals. Various playgrounds have been created by Fisher-Price® and Crayola® for young cruisers. For a nominal fee, Sitters at Sea offers babysitting services, both in a group setting, and individually in parents’ stateroom. Children must be at least 1 year old.

Babies and Tots programs

Join your child in the fun of Royal Babies® or Royal Tots® interactive playgroup sessions developed by early childhood experts at Fisher-Price®. Each 45-minute session, held on one of the onboard lounges, offers activities that make playtime learning time as well.

Children

Kids will have a blast at Royal Caribbean’s complimentary, award-winning Adventure Ocean® Youth Program. Every member of the youth team holds a four-year degree in education, recreation or a related field and has extensive experience working with children. They break kids and teens out into age groups so that they can enjoy specialized programs made to expand their imaginations in interactive, multi-room spaces designed just for them. It’s an awesomely fun, totally edu-taining adventure.* Pirates, Scientists, Artists, Ahoy!

Onboard, kids aren’t just kids. They’re scientists exploring the insect world, eye-patched pirates or the next great athlete to take the gold at the Wacky Olympics. With interactive programs and activities designed just for their age group, Adventure Ocean gives kids the chance to discover a whole new side of themselves.

All children participating in Adventure Ocean activities are required to be 3 years of age, 100 percent toilet trained and diaper and pull-up free.

Aquanauts (Ages 3-5)

These little at-sea adventurers will enjoy the magic of Bubbling Potions, uncover the dinosaur-sized secrets of Jurassic Jr., and take over the ship with the Pirate Party Parade. Parents of 3-year olds can opt for pagers so that Adventure Ocean staff can stay in touch.

Explorers (Ages 6-8)

Space Mud, Fossil Fever, Meteorology Madness! Hands-on science gets young minds churning – along with explorations of the fine arts with Adventure Art and Adventure Theater. Round out the night with dancing through the decades and ice cream for all.

Voyagers (Ages 9-11)

How about a scavenger hunt with new friends from across the world? That’s just the beginning for Voyagers, who enjoy programs including sports tournaments, talent shows, video game showdowns and much more.

DreamWorks Experience

Set sail with Royal Caribbean International and share unforgettable moments with your favorite DreamWorks characters. The young cruisers will enjoy fun activities such as story time, dance parties, parades, ice shows and aqua shows with characters from the DreamWorks Animation movies. Just imagine the laughs when they meet Alex, Shrek, Fiona and more.

Late hours

Kids and teens can enjoy activities into the late evening with extended hours in the Adventure Ocean and teen-only spaces. An hourly rate applies after 10 p.m.

Teens/Tweens

A Little Cool, A Little Chill

Royal Caribbean’s teen program isn’t some structured set of classes or rules – these “almost adults” deserve a vacation all their own. So they give them the freedom they deserve to join pre-planned events throughout the day or simply hang out in teen-only spaces – with Adventure Ocean staff that keep the good times coming.

Ages 12 to 14

Get active with rock climbing competitions, dodgeball and Dance Dance Revolution, then take it down a notch at BBQs and movie nights. Plus, the chance to let your star shine with open mic nights, talent shows and Scratch DJ Academy.

Ages 15 to 17

Join new friends at theme nights, pool parties and teen dinners. Feeling the competitive spirit? Bring it on the karaoke stage, on the Wii or at the basketball court and see who takes home the glory.

Teen-only Hang Outs

Whether you want to chill out or all-out dance, drop by teen-only spaces where you can hang out late. Start at the teen lounge, a laid-back hideaway, and then amp up the energy at the teen-only nightclub.

Teen Spa

Royal Caribbean’s YSpa menu features services made just for teens, including Acne Attack facial, Beach Babe deep conditioning hair treatment, Sole Mate pedicure and more.

Seabourn

Due to limited medical facilities, infants 6 months or younger on the date of departure are not permitted to participate in the cruise. Infants Must Be 12 Months or Older on Transatlantic Cruises. There are no special programs for children.

 

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