Innovative Cruise Programs for Kids (Part 2)

| May 4, 2009

Many cruise lines have recently added new and inventive childrens' activites aboard their ships.

Norwegian Cruise Line NCL recently introduced LEGO programming to its Kids' Crew activities. Additionally, children and parents can interact during the Freestyle LEGO Family Fun hour where families can build creations with LEGO. On cruises that are five days or longer, kids can build a LEGO mosaic which is equivalent to "paint by numbers," whereby NCL images such as Officer Snook (Kids' Crew environmental mascot) are constructed for public display.

Once again, NCL is hosting R Family Vacations on a July 11 cruise to Alaska aboard the Norwegian Star. R Family Vacations offer family-friendly vacations to the gay and lesbian communities. This is the seventh time in five years that NCL has hosted R Family Vacations aboard one of its ships. There is a range of special family-oriented activities on this cruise including Rosie's Broadway Kids, which gives children the chance to learn a Broadway routine and perform it in the ship's theater; educational workshops on gay adoption, surrogacy and gay marriage, led by The Family Equality Council; and more.

Princess Cruises Princess Cruises has had a long-time partnership with the California Science Center to present edutaining programming to kids throughout each cruise. One of the newest additions is Wizards Academy, which explores the connection between science and magic in a fun, participatory environment. This programming is offered once per cruise.

Another new family activity that takes place once per cruise is a Family Fun Fair. During this time, parents and children can enjoy arts and crafts and face painting in the atrium/piazza of the ship.

Arts and crafts are becoming more of an integral part of Princess' youth activities now that they have teamed up with Klutz products which offer step-by-step instructions on how to make a wide variety of handicrafts ranging from creating lanyard bracelets, craft paper flowers, or thumbprint art. Klutz craft activities are offered during the youth center's regular activities or during the ship's Family Fun Fair.

Royal Caribbean International Royal Caribbean has just announced extensive, enhanced family programming and services.

The youth program hours have been extended from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. (Before, it ended at 1 a.m. and there was a two hour break during lunch time on sea days.)

Every RCI ship now has a selection of children's books called Adventure Family Library. This area also has seating for parents to read to their little ones. In the evenings, Royal Bedtime Stories invites whole families to the Adventure Family Library where a youth counselor reads a child's book aloud. Pajamas, cookies and milk are all part of the atmosphere!

Royal Caribbean recently started a partnership with Mattel whereby Mattel games are available in the youth room for kids to use. Family play sessions are also offered periodically each cruise.

Another innovative idea that should prove popular with both kids and parents is My Family Time Dining. Available during the first seating of the main dining room, kids enjoy expedited service within a 45 minute time period. Children registered in Adventure Ocean youth program and My Family Time Dining are met by Adventure Ocean youth counselors at the main dining room entrances at 6:45 pm. after the kids' meals. They are then led back to the Adventure Ocean rooms for youth activities. Thus, parents can share part of their mealtimes with their children yet experience some quiet time over the main course and coffee. Best of all, kids do not have to sit through a long meal typically lasting 1-1/2 hours. My Family Time Dining will be available fleetwide in July 2009, as will a newer, healthier menu for youngsters.

There no longer is a two hour break in Adventure Ocean youth activities on sea days for those families who opt for Lunch and Play. Available for youngsters aged three to 11 years, this option provides a lunch, movies and playtime from noon to 2 pm. The cost is $7.95 per child; parents must register their children for Lunch and Play.

A number of new services and programming for infants and toddlers has just been added too. Babies 2 Go program offers parents the option to order online organic baby food, diapers, wipes and other baby products by Huggies. The baby products can be ordered through RCI's Gifts & Gear section of the Royal Caribbean website and they will be delivered to the family's stateroom upon arrival.

For parents desiring exercise, there is Stroll & Roll, which dedicates the jogging track during set morning hours to guests with infants in strollers.

In addition to the 45-minute existing Fisher-Price playgroups offered on a daily basis for those 6 to 36 months and their caregivers, RCI just instituted Crayola Beginnings. For parents and toddlers aged 18 to 36 months, these 45-minute sessions feature story time with an Adventure Ocean counselor and Crayola Beginnings products to co-create toddlers' first creative artwork.

Additionally, there is a treasure chest of Fisher-Price toys available to families on each ship. The Fisher-Price Toy Lending Program is for those 6 to 36 months; parents can borrow and exchange toys that are developmentally appropriate.

Another service started by Fisher-Price is Sitters at Sea. RCI has always offered in room private babysitting; now RCI staff babysitters arrive with Fisher-Price toys and Mattel games to engage children while parents are out. Fees are $10 per hour for up to two children; $15 per hour for 3 or more children. Sitters must be reserved at least 24 hours ahead of time.

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