Cruise Lines Ramp up their “All-Ages” Offerings
It wasn’t all that long ago that the height of cruise entertainment was shuffleboard. For kids, I mean. Ship-bound adults have always had the mercy of tequila sunrises and pulp fiction, and the grind of the nine-to-five has given them an exceptional appreciation for doing nothing at all. The sun decks, the whirlpools, the languid lunch hours and the dress-up dinners–these were the domain of the adult cruiser.
Kids got shuffleboard.
Today it’s a whole other story. Kids get a smorgasbord of rock climbing, zip-lining, surf riding, and video game playing. Just look some of the latest multi-generational offerings that are out there:
If you’ve read any of our other entries on cruising, you’ve probably heard us mention the Oasis of the Seas or the Allure of the Seas. Royal Caribbean claims that these ships are “built with everyone in mind,” and I’m not about to argue. There’s an adults-only Solarium area for those who want to sip and sun in peace, big onboard shows like Hairspray and Chicago, and upscale dining for those heels-and-cufflinks kind of nights. For kids there’s the Adventure Ocean® Youth Program, plenty of pools, and even a youth spa. Teens get a private disco and lounge. And did I mention the zip-line and mini-golf course? Fun.
Norwegian Cruise Line
The Norwegian Epic is another ship we’ve been talking a lot about. Its grown-up appeal comes through via the Epic Casino, the SVEDKA Ice Bar, a number of specialty restaurants, and Spice H20–an adults-only, two-level beach club. There are plenty of youth offerings as well. Younger kids can play Wii, PlayStation, and other games at the Recess Kid’s Area, while older kids can lounge by day and dance by night at the Entourage Teen Center. A video arcade and Aqua Park (with water slides!) give the old shuffleboard a run for its money.
Fun has always been the core of the Carnival cruise experience, and youth offerings are no small part of that. Their newest Fun Ship®, Carnival Magic, will launch in spring with a kid-friendly WaterWorks aqua park, special cabins for families, the first-ever ropes course at sea, mini-golf, and special areas and programs for kids and teens. For the adults, Carnival Magic comes complete with a new Cloud 9 Spa, a Key West-style pub, and the 11,250-square-foot adults-only Serenity area.
Disney® Cruise Line
Like Carnival, Disney® Cruise Line has a long history of focusing on families. The new Disney Dream has a program for every age group. A nursery offers day care for children up to three years of age, while Disney’s Oceaneer Club offers a place for slightly-older kids to dress up and play games. Tweens and teens get access to the Vibe and Edge lounges, while elsewhere on the ship, youths of all ages can try the AquaDuck water slide, play in a variety of pools, or catch a show at one of two onboard theaters. Pink and Meridian offer adults-only lounge atmospheres.
These are just some of the many kid-friendly offerings available, and with more extravagant amenities appearing with each new ship launch, it won’t be long before your kids are packing your bags for you. Have a story about sailing with kids (or as a kid yourself)? Share it in the comments!
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Photo Credits: “It’s a Cruise…” by hunnicutt77
My name: Kate Beall
How I earn my keep: Writing for Travelocity.
Best meal I've ever had: There are three: the mofongo at Jimmy'z Kitchen in South Beach, the lomito completo at Fuente Alemana in Santiago, and (for the sheer novelty factor) the cuy chactado in Arequipa, Peru.
First thing I do in a new place: Hit the shower. Anything more than an hour in transit gets me fantasizing about soap.
View that took my breath away: Seeing the endless stretch of the Sierras as I flew in to Reno/Tahoe for the first time. In the winter, it's an aching field of white all the way to the horizon, like a world wiped clean. Looking out at it gives you this unmatched feeling of eternity.
Most challenging travel moment: Sharing a pull-out couch in a cramped New York apartment. The heat wave of 2010 was in full, humid swing and the air conditioning was D.O.A. There was nothing to do but soak your clothes in the sink and hope to pass out before they dried. ...then wake up in an hour and do it all again.
Favorite way to get around: On foot. I'm still working on the motorcycle license.