More and more families are choosing to cruise due to the fantastic facilities available for children of all ages. Parents can relax whilst children enjoy the brilliant kids clubs on board. Here are 6 of the best kid’s clubs at sea that your children are sure to love:
The Reef, P&O Cruises
P&O Cruises‘ four family-friendly ships, Aurora, Azura, Oceana, and Ventura, along with the newest addition to fleet, Britannia, due to set sail in 2015, all boast ‘The Reef’ – an activity and play centre overseen by ‘Reef Rangers’ The Reef varies its children’s programmes on each family-friendly ship to ensure your children have new activities to try out.
The Reef is divided into four different age groups – Splashers, Surfers, Scubas, and H20 – with each area offering age-appropriate activities. For the younger children in the Splashers and Surfers groups, there’s a wide range of toys, creative activities, and games to take part in, while the older kids in the Scubas and H20 groups will enjoy treasure hunts around the ship, trips to the buffet restaurant for treats and a few games in the sporting nets. Teenagers have their own separate spaces including their own nightclub and video game centre.
Ages: 2 to 17 years
Charge: It’s free!
Handy Hints: Some activities are on a first come-first served basis, so it’s best to arrive early.
Youth Centre & Teen Centre, Princess Cruises
With the exception of Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess, all Princess Cruises vessels include the Youth Centre, for younger children and the Teen Centre, for the older ones. The Teen Centre is very lively and vibrant and there’s always something going on. It incorporates ‘The Remix group’, which is all about hip-hop dance classes, themed nights and Wii tournaments held on the gigantic outdoor movie screen.
The younger children are separated into two groups – Princess Pelicans, and Shockwaves. Princess Pelicans, the group for the youngest sailors, has a very creative atmosphere and uses Klutz brand art supplies, so leave room in your luggage for bringing paintings and drawings home with you. In the Shockwaves group kids can learn and have fun with hands-on equipment from the California Science Centre – one of Princess Cruises’ partners.
Ages: 3 to 17 years
Charge: Free, except for a $5 per hour charge per child between 10pm and 1am for group sitting services for children aged 3 – 12 years.
Handy Hints: If you accompany your under 3’s, they can have fun in the Youth Centre, too.
Adventure Ocean, Royal Caribbean
There are kids clubs on board all Royal Caribbean ships, which cater to children of all ages. In fact, Royal Caribbean has facilities for even the smallest of passengers, aged from just 6 months old. Younger children aged up to 3 years (Royal Tots) can enjoy interactive play sessions held around the ship throughout the voyage, whereas older kids can join groups including Aquanauts (3-5 years), Explorers (6-8 years), Voyagers (9-11 years) and the tween and teen programmes.
The Royal Babies & Tots interactive sessions last for 45 minutes and include story time, colouring and other creative activities. Various playgrounds have been created by Fisher-Price® and Crayola®. For a nominal fee, Sitters at Sea offers babysitting services, both in a group setting, and individually in parents’ staterooms. Children must be at least one year old.
Older children in Aquanauts can become certified junior scientists through educational play and Explorers will love the themed parties and cooking up yummy treats. Teens will love cruising on Royal Caribbean as the older kids’ clubs are more informal, meaning they can come and go as they please. However, with the group having access to exclusive teen-only areas of the ship, they probably won’t want to leave!
Ages: 6 months to 17 years
Charge: $8 per hour for Royal Babies & Tots, free for other groups.
Handy Hints: Similar to P&O Cruises, some activities are on a first come-first served basis, so it’s best to arrive early.
Fun Factory & X-Club, Celebrity Cruises
All Celebrity Cruises’ ships offer kid’s clubs, but the type of club on offer will be dependent upon each individual ship’s facilities. For example, ships with a Celebrity iLounge offer iTake for older kids, a unique programme which gives them the chance to direct, produce and star in their own videos. There’s also the largest collection of Xboxes at sea on Celebrity Cruises, so teens will be in their element.
The kid’s clubs on board Celebrity ships are divided into two groups – the Fun Factory for little ones and X-Club for teens. Kids attending Fun Factory will be divided further based on age group – Shipmates (3-5 years), Cadets (6-8 years), and Ensigns (9-11 years). The younger kids tend to stay within the Fun Factory, whereas Ensigns can enjoy ship-wide activities, as well as the ability to sign themselves in and out as they please. For younger kids, there is a toddler room that can be used with parental supervision.
Ages: 3 to 17 years
Charge: Free, but there is a $6 per hour, per child fee for children ages 3-11 to participate in the Afternoon Party from noon-2pm on port days.
Handy Hints: Book your kids in for the ‘dinner party’ so you can enjoy dining in peace!
Splash Academy & Entourage, Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line offer excellent facilities, especially their partnerships with Kings Camp – a popular kid’s activity provider – and Hilario Productions, a circus-style company encouraging creativity in children.
Splash Academy, for kids between 6 months and 12 years, is broken down into different areas: Guppies (6 months-2 years), Turtles (3-5 years), Seals (6-9 years), and Dolphins (10-12 years). Teens can sign themselves in and out of the Entourage Club, where there are Wii U tournaments, sporting activities and even a disco. On board Breakaway, Dawn, Epic, Gem, Getaway and Pearl there are the eYouth tablets, which make registration and sign in quick and simple – this is one of the most technologically advanced kid’s clubs at sea!
Ages: 6 months to 17 years
Charge: Free, but there’s a small fee for leaving your children on board if you go ashore.
Handy Hints: In the Guppies Group, at least one parent must supervise.
The Zone, Cunard
All three of Cunard’s vessels include The Zone – a play programme for children that is divided into three separate age groups – The Play Zone, The Zone, and the Teen Zone. You’ll also find changing facilities, child-sized toilets and sinks and a quiet room for when your kids need to take a nap after a busy day. The Zone can be used as a play area with parental supervision, or as a nursery, allowing you to enjoy a child-free evening on board.
Kids at The Zone are never bored. Smaller children can play with toys, paint and draw, play games, or watch movies and TV shows. The ships also boast private outdoor areas for use by The Zone only, where there’s a kid’s splash pool, outdoor play equipment and ride-on toys. Older children are often escorted around the ship on treasure hunts or to the buffet restaurant for drinks and ice creams.
Ages: 2 to 17 years
Charge: Completely free!
Handy Hints: Ask for a pager when you drop your children off for total peace of mind.