Cruising with Kids
Youth Cruise Programs
Caribbean cruises are popular family vacations because the major cruise lines go out of their way to offer special programs for kids of varying age groups from 3-17. These are no longer called children's programs since they include teens as well.
The following list includes the minimum ages for each cruise line. Most cruise lines do not offer programs for those above 17. By that age, there is enough for teens to do on their own.
These programs can change at anytime and may vary seasonally, so always check to see what's available when you intend to sail. A good youth program is reason enough to choose one cruise line over another.
Carnival Cruises’ Youth Experience: Carnival's Youth Experience offers programs primarily for kids 17 years and younger. They are divided into five age groups: 2-5; 6-8; 9-11;12-14 and 15-17. Counselors, each with education or childcare experience, make sure everyone has fun. At mealtime, kids get their own menus, with favorites like mac & cheese, chicken nuggets and more. Ages 15-17 enjoy their own private lounge where no adults or younger kids are allowed.
Celebrity Cruises Youth Programs: The Fun Factory for ages 3-11 offers the latest X-game technology. Kids can participate in various sports, crafts, music, karaoke, treasure hunts, theme parties and movies. Celebrity also has a special program for children with autism.
Crystal Cruises Youth Program: The Junior Activities program for those between 3 and 17 is available on holiday and almost all summer sailings. Crystal has designed its ships to accommodate multiple generations by offering staterooms with third berths, connecting staterooms and child-friendly cuisine.
Cunard Youth Programs: Cunard offers something for all ages and the program is broken down into 3 categories; the Play Zone (ages 1-7) the Kids Zone (ages 8-12) and the Teen Zone (ages 13-17). The line also features a Night Nursery, which is available to children aged 12-23 months and is open in the evening beginning around 6 p.m.
Disney Cruise Lines Youth Programs: Disney is all about family cruising and its programs are perhaps the best offered. Daycare is offered for ages 3 months to 3 years. The Oceaneer Club offers four distinct play areas for children and those 3-12 can dance with some of the Disney characters. Teens enjoy an exclusive space to listen to music, watch TV and play group games with those the same age. Check the available facilities for each ship.
Holland America Youth Programs: Go to "Youth Programs" at the bottom left of the HAL page to find the hidden information. Tweens aged 8-12 can take part in Club HAL’s video game tournaments, scavenger hunts and karaoke disco parties. Activities for 13-17 in the The Loft for Teens with mocktail mixology classes, late night sporting competitions, hip hop classes, guys verses girls scavenger hunts, tech classes and teen-only night club events. When there are more than 100 children on board, a HAL Talent Show is performed. In the
Culinary Arts Center, hands-on cooking classes offer basic cooking techniques, kitchen safety and recipe instruction. Kids are most likely to be aboard during holiday cruises and in the summer.
MSC Cruises Youth Programs: MSC is exceptionally family friendly, with kids cruising free on certain sailings. For activities, MSC offers four separate clubs offering a variety of activities for 4 different age groups. Hi-tech gaming includes PS3, Xbox,Wii and more. Water attractions feature the Aqua Park, Swimming Pools and Water Slide. With kids sailing for free at certain times, this is a cruise line to look at closely.
Princess Cruises Youth Programs: Staffed Youth Centers and Teen Lounges for ages 3-17. Activities include art projects, game tables, the latest movies, pizza parties, talent shows and video games. Some vessels offer youth program only when 20 are more are sailing on the same ship. Check the availability of youth offerings on the cruise/ship you find appealing. Your needs might not match what the cruise offers.
Royal Caribbean Youth Programs: The Adventure Ocean youth and teen programs with interactive classes start with dedicated nurseries for babies from 6-18 months and kids from 18-36 months. Crayola, the famous crayon maker, designed some of the activity areas and the DreamWorks characters Alex, Shrek and Fiona all make their appearances. Special designated programs are also offered for tweens and teens.
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