With the amazing increase in popularity of cruising, it’s no secret that cruising has become hugely popular with families. The number of children onboard is growing steadily, and more than 2 million kids younger than 15 sailed on cruise lines in 2013, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. Yet, despite the great strides made by cruise lines in accommodating children onboard, choosing the best cruise for your family is still complicated. Where once it was a struggle to find ships that were kid-friendly, the challenge now is wading through the bevy of activities, kids clubs, and child-themed activities of the newer ships offer to determine which cruise ships are best for your youngsters. Cruising from Australia the main competition is between P&O, Carnival and Royal Caribbean.
Ships: Radiance of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas
Royal Caribbean’s award winning Advenure Ocean Youth Programme and a host of onboard activities ensure your kids will have the time of their lives. It’s family time, and it’s all included. Please find below some of the highlights of their family program.
THE DREAMWORKS EXPERIENCE – Exclusive shows, parades, dining and photo opportunities for the whole family with characters from DreamWorks® Animation
FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT & ACTIVITIES – Be entertained with Broadway style shows, rock wall, FlowRider surf simulator, mini-golf, iceskating and swimming pools.
ADVENTURE OCEAN – Our Youth Staff have developed age-appropriate curriculums to engage and entertain kids and teens of all ages: Aquanauts 3 – 5 years, Explorers 6 – 8 years, Voyagers 9 – 11 years, Teens 12 – 14 years, Teens 15 – 17 years
FAMILY-FRIENDLY DINING – With My Family Time DiningSM, our expedited dining service, your kids (ages 3 – 11 years) are served their meals and then picked up by our Adventure Ocean staff so you can enjoy the rest of your dinner.
ROYAL BABIES & TOTSSM NURSERY – Our littlest guests (ages 6-36 months) can enjoy specially designed programmes whilst being cared for by trained professionals.
Ships: Pacific Jewel, Pearl, Dawn, Eden & Aria
P&O have a wide variety of daily activities designed just for kids. Their Kids Club program has been designed with help from childhood experts, and they limit the number of children onboard so nobody ever feels left out. At meal time, even the fussiest feeders will love the kids’ menu options, family share platters in the Waterfront Restaurant, and the kids’ only dinner every night at Plantation Restaurant. The kid’s clubs Turtle Cove and Shark Shack are open until 10:30pm and provide a late night child-minding service until 1am while tweens and teens can enjoy the features of HQ & HQ+ until 1am each night. So date nights and downtime are ready when you are.
For those after a serious dose of adrenalin, P&OEdge, the largest adventure program at sea is now onboard Pacific Jewel. That means you can climb, swing, jump and race your way through the ship. Whether you’re ascending high above the Big Screen, climbing up the aft tunnel or flying around the atrium you’ll see Pacific Jewel like never before!
Ships: Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend
Carnival Cruises are fun ships for kids and parents. They are the only ship cruising from Australia with water slides for all ages. The Green Thunder is the steepest waterslide at sea If you’re up for freefalling and being whipped around at up to 65 kilometres per hour you’ll have a blast. If you’re not, take a deep breath, and get ready for the ride of your life. A new addition to Carnival is the Seuss at Sea. The littlest ones, and their families, will enjoy an all-new, extra-special experience as the fantastical world of Dr. Seuss comes to life around them. Enjoy a special onboard character parade, interactive story time, arts & crafts activities, character breakfast and more, featuring their favourite Dr. Seuss characters. Seuss at Sea truly brings your child’s favourite books to life.
Camp Carnival offers tons of activities designed for children in three different age groups: 2 to 5 years, 6 to 8 years, and 9 to 11 years. Carnivals counsellors, each with education or childcare experience, are on the clock making sure everyone in the small groups of kids is having fun. When it’s mealtime, kids get their own menus, with faves like mac & cheese, chicken nuggets, and more. And when the sun goes down, we offer Night Owls (fees apply) so kids get to stay up late having fun, while their parents also enjoy themselves well into the night.