DETROIT, MI--(Marketwired - May 14, 2013) - Planning your next family vacation? While a cruise is an excellent choice for families, ship-specific for cruise line children's programs should be given careful consideration. Not all cruise lines provide the same children's amenities, and an excellent children's program really can be key to enjoying your cruise together as a family.
To that end, the cruise experts at AllThingsCruise have dug deep, compiling the most comprehensive list of youth programs on the Web. Their research covers mainstream lines such as Disney, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and NCL, but also includes information on exotic options such river cruise and small ship excursion companies. (In general, river cruise lines tend to discourage children, and many small ship lines welcome children but do not offer special programs for them. However, more and more are developing special "multigenerational" itineraries, so it is worth inquiring about activities for children onboard and even in port.)
For a comprehensive listing of the lines and their children's program information, (including the minimum ages accepted by each line) please click here.
(Please note: Cruise line children's program and family vacation information is direct from the lines and is subject to change, so please confirm details when you book your cruise. The age parameters may vary by line so be sure to check each one individually.)
Following are highlights of what is offered by each line. An asterisk (*) indicates that a complete children's program is available for toddlers to teenagers. (Please click here for full information for each line.)
1. Disney Cruise Line Children's Programs: Disney is all about family cruising and its programs are probably the best offered; accordingly, their prices tend to be higher than other lines. They offer excellent daycare centers for ages 3 months to 3 years. The Oceaneer Club offers four distinct play areas for older children. Special needs children are welcome. Edge is a "tweens" club and Vibe is for teenagers 14-17. (*)
2. Princess Cruises Children's Programs: Passengers ages 13-17 can enjoy all of the coolest amenities in Princess's teen lounges. The teen lounges feature all of the latest tech, like PS2/PS3 and Wii games, movies, and music. Teens can also participate in activities such as Casino Night, hip hop dance lessons, sports tournaments, teen makeovers and more. (*)
3. Royal Caribbean International: The minimum age to sail is 6-months' old, with a 12-month age requirement for some cruises. RCL has a dedicated nursery for children aged 6-36 months that holds interactive playgroup sessions. Daytime and evening drop-off is available for $8 an hour. (*)
4. Paul Gauguin Cruises: Offers a unique program that introduces travelers ages 9-17 to the extraordinary natural wonders of French Polynesia through direct, hands-on, interactive experiences with marine and island ecosystems. Young Ambassadors explore coral reefs, hike rainforest trails, learn to paddle outrigger canoes and visit marae (ancient Polynesian temples). The fee is $299 per child.
5. Alaska Dream Cruises: Alaskan Dream Cruises makes science come to life for kids and their families, while creating memories to last a lifetime. There's something new to see, do and learn around every bend. As the Baranof Dream cruises through Southeast Alaska, daily activities provides kids personal experience in the Last Frontier with boots-on and hands-on learning opportunities.
6. Holland America Line: Tweens aged 8-12 can take part in Club HAL's video game tournaments, scavenger hunts and karaoke disco parties. They also have the option of taking part in Holland's National Park Service Jr. Ranger Program on Alaska cruises. (*)
7. Celebrity Cruises: The Fun Factory, available 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, has the latest gaming technology and kids can participate in various sports, crafts, music, karaoke, treasure hunts, theme parties and movies. (*)
8. Costa Cruises: While cruising is a vacation for the whole family, Costa also provides quiet time for mom and dad. That can be during the day, while the kids are entertained in the Kids Club program, or at night, while the kids are with group baby-sitters. Mini and Maxi Club nighttime group baby-sitting is a free-of-charge service until 1:30 a.m. (*)
9. Compagnie du Ponant: No formal children's programs are offered; however, young people over age 8 are welcome. Flexible or connecting staterooms, baby-sitting service on request, children's menus, fun tea parties, games, piano lessons and other activities are offered.
10. Carnival Cruise Lines: Camp Carnival designs its children's activities for three age groups: 2-5 years, 6-8 years and 9-11 years. Our counselors, each with education or childcare experience, make sure everyone has fun. At mealtime, kids get their own menus, with faves like mac & cheese, chicken nuggets and more. Camp Carnival Night Owls (fees apply) enable kids to stay up late having fun while their parents also enjoy themselves well into the night. (*)
11. Crystal Cruises: Space dedicated to children is rare on luxury lines, yet Crystal has designed its ships to accommodate multiple generations. They offer spacious staterooms in a range of categories as well as suites, third berths and connecting staterooms, child-friendly cuisine, activity programs on select sailings for ages 3-17, a Fantasia playroom and a video arcade for teens.
12. Norwegian Cruise Line: Splash Academy is here and making a big, well, splash. This new program is specifically designed to engage active and creative kids ages 6 months to 12 years. Whether it's learning to juggle at circus school, working on arts and crafts projects or getting the high score on Wii™, there's plenty of fun. (*)
13. Hapag Lloyd: The particularly intense and individual care of the toddlers in the Knopf Club costs approximately $85 per day and is available during the opening hours. Participation is limited to a maximum of 12 toddlers. They offer free Baby-Welcome-Packet aboard the EUROPA and the EUROPA 2, which contains all baby care products for toddlers up to 3 years of age -- and reduces the parents' luggage significantly. (*)
14. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection: Uniworld's long-term experience is that most young children (especially those under 8 years of age) do not enjoy or appreciate the river cruise experience. There are no special arrangements, activities, or accommodations for children on Uniworld river cruises and tour programs. An exception to this is our Multigenerational Family-Friendly Cruise Program, which is offered on select itineraries during the summer months.
The above is just a sampling of the wide range of children's programs available on the today's cruise lines. To read more, refer to this comprehensive listing of children's programs.
Once you've researched the children's programs, take a look at what will be included on your next cruise. AllThingsCruise has also published very popular all-inclusive cruising chart that details exactly what amenities are included in the different "all-inclusive" packages offered by the various cruise lines. (To view that chart, click here.)
AllThingsCruise is a website for cruise enthusiasts, dedicated to the joy of cruise travel planning. A valuable unique feature of AllThingsCruise is a complimentary e-card travelers can send to family members and others prior to departure. For more information, please visit http://allthingscruise.com/.
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