Thinking about taking the kids with you on a cruise? Good idea.
Cruise lines have been jumping on the family vacation band wagon for years and have evolved into some outstanding memory opportunities for children.
The new 4,000 passenger Disney Fantasy has just arrived for its maiden voyage from Europe and is the most advanced ship in their fleet.
Norwegian Cruise Line has recently updated its Youth Program and now offers Splash Academy that promotes active entertainment for the young ones, ages 6 months to 12 years.
Norwegian works with Cirque Du Jour, a New York-based company that specializes in teaching children real circus skills such as scarf juggling, ball juggling, plate spinning, clowning and acrobatics. Circus workshops and shows are offered to everyone in the family.
Teenagers will find programs offering many activities to choose from. Norwegian has Entourage designed for teens ages 13-17. Teens can play soccer, participate in a theater or fashion workshop, or swim at an interactive pool party.
Many cruise lines offer sports courts, rock walls, theaters, lounges and other specialized public spaces for family events such as parades and scavenger hunts.
Some of the best cruise lines that cater to children include Disney, Carnival, Celebrity, Holland American, Princes, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian.
Each has trained youth counselors who facilitate various talent shows, jewelry making, Ping-Pong tournaments, face painting and an array of games.
Some suggestions by parents and counselors who have ‘been there, done that,’ include:
Go to the fun places first. Get to your luggage later. Start the fun immediately so the children can be acclimated to the ship.
Seek out other parents with kids and try to make introductions for the purpose of helping your children meet new companions to share the experiences.
Prepare them for the lifeboat drill. Let them know all ships do this (just as attendants go over safety on airplanes) and try to have fun with it.
Consider bringing walkie-talkies so you can have that constant link of communication. It builds their independence and allows you freedom to enjoy the excursion and amenities.
Plan for rest time. Perhaps a DVD or nap is in order and should be scheduled.
Cruise line counselors have thought about everything from medical needs, safety, beepers to alert parents for diaper changing, and discipline procedures. Check with individual cruise line websites for more information.
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