Family cruise and land vacation package By Mimi Slawoff
Family at Universal Orlando Resort (Courtesy Royal Caribbean)
Play with Shrek and other DreamWorks characters and sail the high seas on an adventurous family-friendly vacation in the Caribbean with Universal Orlando and Royal Caribbean International. The two mega corporations have teamed up to offer kid-friendly land cruise adventures.
The partnership between Royal Caribbean International and Universal Orlando Resort offers exciting family-friendly land and cruise vacation packages. The fun begins with a two-day stay at Universal Orlando, followed by a seven-night cruise onboard Freedom of the Seas to the Western or Eastern Caribbean.
The Western Caribbean itinerary featuring calls at Falmouth, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; and Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s private beach paradise in northern Haiti.
Universal Orlando Resorts
Loews Portofino Bay Hotel (Courtesy Universal Orlando)
The adventure starts in Orlando at the Universal Orlando Resort. Choose from one of four onsite properties to pair with your cruise. Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Portofino Bay Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort have access to/from Universal CityWalk (gateway to theme parks) via complimentary water taxis, bus shuttles and walking paths. Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort has access to/from Universal CityWalk via shuttles and a walking path that connects to Loews Royal Pacific Resort.
Parks. Universal Studios Florida has attractions based on pop-culture icons, blockbuster films, hit television shows and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, while Islands of Adventure features the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Lost Continent, Seuss Landing and Port of Entry. The immersive Hogwarts Express (an attraction in itself) connects the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley) in both parks. During the ride, train windows display moving Harry Potter characters as they travel between London and Hogsmeade. Tip: Skip the regular lines with the Universal ExpressSM Unlimited ride access* in both theme parks all day.
Freedom of the Seas
Freedom of the Seas (Photo: DJ Spiess)
While it’s hard to say goodbye to Universal, it’s exciting to sail on Freedom of the Seas with Shrek, Princess Fiona and other DreamWorks characters to the Caribbean. Onboard festivities begin with a buffet lunch and a DreamWorks sail away party by the family pool. Throughout the cruise, be sure to check the daily Cruise Compass activities program, jam-packed with shore excursion news, showtimes, special events and fun things to do with and without kids. As a bonus, the ship recently underwent a bow-to-stern refresh, adding more staterooms that include Panoramic Ocean View cabins with floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall windows.
Onboard Activities. Innovative onboard features include FlowRider (a surf simulator), a rock climbing wall, nine-hole mini golf and a full-size basketball court. At the ice skating rink (made with real ice), you can strap on a pair of skates or catch the incredible Freedom-Ice.com show – entertaining for the entire family. The hub for family fun with young kids is the H2O Zone kids aquapark, where there’s an oversized LED movie screen (watch movies under the stars!).
Just for Kids. Planning to register the kids in Royal Caribbean’s interactive youth programs? Adventure Ocean offers supervised activities that include finger painting for Aquanauts (ages 3 – 5 years); carnival games, talent shows and pirate night for Explorers (ages 6 – 8 years); and karaoke, sports and tag for Voyagers (ages 9 – 11 years). Teens ages 12 to 17 can come and go as they please to participate in sports tournaments, pool parties, themed dance parties and other staff-hosted activities.
For Adults. Escape to the Solarium’s pool, two large Jacuzzi’s (suspended over the ocean), poolside bar, spa and fitness center (work out to stunning ocean views).
Dining. Nine onboard dining options include new specialty restaurants (additional cost). At Sabor Modern Mexican, servers prepare fresh guacamole at your table, while Giovanni’s Table serves delicious Italian dishes family style. Be sure to make reservations for the popular DreamWorks Character Breakfast ($10 ages 6 and older). Included in your cruise fare are the main dining rooms and the buffet-style Windjammer.
It’s best to book shore excursions in advance or at least as soon as you board the ship. With so many adventures to choose from at each port, they book up quickly.
Labadee, Haiti (Courtesy Royal Caribbean)
Labadee, Haiti. Royal Caribbean’s private beach is paradise. Soak up sunshine and enjoy a beach lunch buffet. Fun family activities include the floating Arawak Aqua Park, Dragon’s Tail Coaster through a forest, and Dragon’s Breath Flight Line (a zip line over the beach).
Falmouth, Jamaica. Friendly and playful Jamaicans will put a smile on your face (and drench you) as you float down the Martha Rae River, zipline over a stream through a forest and ride ATVs. Souvenir shops are just steps from the ship.
George Town, Grand Cayman. Slather on the sunscreen for amazing outdoor adventures on this pristine island. Top attractions include a scenic boat ride to Stingray City where you can pet and feed the gentle creatures in a natural habitat, snorkel in a colorful, coal garden reef, and relax over a BBQ lunch under the palms at Tiki Beach on picturesque Seven Mile Beach (rated among the world’s top 10 beaches).
Cozumel. Challenge the kids to a game of laser tag in a Mayan-themed jungle at Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park in Cozumel (bring bug repellent). Afterwards, nothing feels better than a refreshing swim in the ocean and tasty Mexican lunch under a thatched hut. Shopping for bargain souvenirs? This is the port for deals.
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.