Family cruise amenities you and your kids will love. By Mimi Slawoff
Numerous onboard amenities make it smooth sailing for passengers of all ages. (Flickr: Christian Lambert)
Cruise lines sure know how to make life a breeze when sailing on the high seas -with or without kids. Family pools and supervised children’s programs keep kids (and parents) happy while adults are pampered with spas, bars and pools that are off-limits to minors. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Today’s large ships are decked out with more entertainment and food options you could possibly stuff into one family vacation.
Check out these 5 cruise amenities sure to please both kids and adults.
(MORE: Best Hotel Amenities for Kids)
Royal Caribbean’s AquaTheater (Courtesy Royal Caribbean)
If onboard adventure floats your boat, look no further than Royal Caribbean International, known for first-at-sea activities like a surf simulator and a sky diving experience. The revolutionary Oasis of the Seas features the AquaTheater, first amphitheater at sea, zip line views, and the Youth Zone, the largest kids’ area at sea. On ships Quantum and Anthem, a jewel-shaped glass capsule attached to a rotating mechanical arm gives riders thrilling views from more than 300 feet in the air. SeaPlex (the largest indoor recreational space at sea) transforms from a full-size basketball court to a circus school, skating arena and bumper cars platform. These ships are so smart they’ve got robotic bartenders that mix perfect drinks.
Princess Cruise’s Discovery at Sea (Courtesy Princess)
Children’s programs have come a long way, baby. Age-appropriate hands-on activities, scavenger hunts, contests and karaoke keep youth busy day and night. Princess Cruises recently introduced Discovery at Sea, which includes Animal Planet-related games, and science experiments made popular by Mythbusters. Perfect for a cruise to Alaska!
Soak up sun and water activities at the pools. Norwegian Cruise Line boasts the fastest drop slide at sea with Free Fall on its Breakaway Class ships. In contrast to boisterous family fun at a cruise ship’s main pools, tranquil adults-only areas are balm for the soul. Pride of America, the only NCL cruise ship that sails from Honolulu year-round, features a Kuku Cultural Center onboard so families interested in exploring the heritage and history of Hawaii can enjoy a crash course before their visit.
NCL’s Nickelodeon at Sea (Courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line)
Bon appetite around the clock. In addition to onboard restaurants and poolside eateries, many ships offer complimentary 24-hour room service. So let the kids sleep in and enjoy a leisurely breakfast (or midnight snack?) on your private balcony. Many are also forking out specialty restaurants (perfect for an elegant dinner) and character meals for family dining. Find Mickey and friends on the Disney ships, Shrek and pals on Royal Caribbean’s ships, and Nickelodeon characters like Spongebob and Patrick Star aboard NCL’s Norwegian Jewel.
(MORE: How to Get the Best Cruise Vacation Deal)
It’s showtime! Cruise ships typically have outstanding live shows, from Broadway-style musicals to ice skating extravaganzas. Also popular are Movies under the Stars (films are projected on big screens above the family pool) available on many ships. If sailing with Disney, be sure to catch first-run movies in cozy onboard cinemas. Don’t forget the popcorn!
Mimi Slawoff of Planetfamilytravel contributed this to MiniTime. She is a Los Angeles-based journalist and a seasoned family travel expert who explores the world with her three children and writes about their journeys.