Monday, March 31, 2008

Best ships for NON-Potty Trained Tots

One thing that many parents of non-potty trained infants/toddlers are surprised to learn about cruising is that most cruise lines do not allow those children into the ship's pool. This is a law set by the CDC, it's not just a cruise line law.

Although on land, most of us throw a swim diaper on the baby and all is ships are different. It can come as quite a shock to most after alot of planning (not to mention money spent) for a cruise, only to find out that your child is not allowed in the pool. Most parents will see pictures of a "children's pool" on a ship and think "Hey that's for the baby."....sorry, those children's pools are for potty trained toddlers/children. We've been in a situation where the children's pool was shut down on a sea day due to being contaminated by feces. That doesn't make a good day for anyone.

So when you plan a cruise for a younger child, you have a few choices. The following cruise ships have water play areas for non-potty trained infants/toddlers....

  • RCCL Freedom of the Seas, RCCL Liberty of the Seas, RCCL Independence of the Seas and now coming soon RCCL Oasis of the Seas. On the Royal Caribbean Freedom Class ships, there is an area known as the "Baby Zone". It is part of the H2o zone seen here...

  • Disney Magic & Disney Wonder - Young children, who are not toilet trained, are welcome to enjoy the fountain play area near the Mickey Pool that has been designed exclusively for the enjoyment of children wearing swim diapers.

  • If you aren't booked on one of the above mentioned ships, then there is one more option...bring a small inflatable. Some parents bring an inflatable tub (works great for the little ones in a cabin with no tub too). Or you can bring a small inflatable pool. On most ships there is more than enough deck space to fit a small pool. All it takes is a couple of buckets of water from the main pool. And when you're finished, you can dump it down the shower drains (if there is a shower at the pool), the deck drain and some say they just dump it in the sink at the janitor's closet. It doesn't take much to take the buckets back out and dump them in an appropriate place.

Just a little planning can help guarantee a great family vacation, even for the little ones.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cut through the confusion - Kid's Camp FAQ

Disney Cruise line:

Parents receive a pager when they register their children. You can pre-register the children for the club.

Under 3: Flounders Reef Nursery. (3mos - 3yrs) Trained staff. Babysitting for children as young as 12 weeks old. One way mirror for parents to check on kids. Space is limited. Opened port days and in the evening. Fee applies.

Ages 3-7: Disney's Oceaneers Club. Lots of character activities, crafts, games and computer.

Ages 8-12: Disney's Oceaneer Lab. Discover a giant video wall with wireless controllers, private listening rooms with state-of-the-art equipment, flat-screen computers loaded with "family-rated" software, animation programs and activities you won't find anywhere else. Activities include making cookies, flubber and animation.

Ocean Quest (Magic) - Ages 10-14 - The perfect place for them to chill. Pull the ships in and out of the port on a simulation. Feels like an actual bridge. Occasionally offers family time.

Aloft and The Stack - Ages 13-17 - A haven for the teens. Surf the internet, play video games, have dance parties and have a smooth.

Carnival Cruise Line:

Special Notes: Non-Potty Trained children accepted. The counselors will change diapers as necessary. Strollers and swings available for a fee. Pagers or cell (pending on ship) will be given to parents with children in the 5 and under group.

After 10pm, fees apply for group babysitting. The charges are $6 per hour (1st child), $4 per hour (each additl sibling).

Minimum Age to cruise - 6 months.

Family Group Activities: Some activities may include Family Welcome Aboard Parties, Ice Cream Eating Contests, Kids Talent Show, Family Scavenger Hunt, Family Arts and Crafts, Family Name that Tune, Carnival's Teddy Bear Work Shop (Fees Apply), Facilities and Specialty Equipment

Under 2's - They are unable to accept children under the age of 2 during activity time, HOWEVER, infant - 2 year olds are welcome in the playroom each evening from 10pm - 3am and on port days (during specified times) for babysitting. A fee applies ($6 for the 1st child, $4 each additional sibling). In addition, they offer family play times where parents can come into the rooms with their Under 2's. Family playtime is available every Sea Day from 12-2pm, except the last sea day it is 1pm-3pm. During this time, only infants and their parents will be permitted into the room.

Ages 2-5 - Activities may include: SeaNotes Sing-a-longs - Music and Movement Activities, H2Ocean - Make your own Playdoh, Picture Bingo, A-B-Seas Reading and Story Time, Kid’s Talent Show, Face Painting, Game Boys, Soft Play Equipment, ExerSeas Indoor Ball Games, Parachute Games, Mini Late Night Parties - Including Candy Art, Dancing, Games & Sno Cones, "Fun Ship" Freddy Theme Activities, Movie Nights, Kids Dance Parties, Hullabaloo, Don't Eat Tommy, T-Shirt Decorating. Toddler Theme Character Activities which may involve the The Hunt for Pirate Pete, Bug Night, Under the Sea, Bunny Night, Bob the Builder, Dr. Seuss, Dora the Explorer, Scooby Doo and Blue's Clues.

Ages 6-8: (Juniors) Activities may include the latest game consoles, Game Boys, Spin Art, Sand Art and Candy Art, Face Painting - during theme activities, Prize Bingo, Late Night Party - Can you stay awake until 1 am?, T-Shirt Decorating, Dance Class with a professional Carnival Dancer, Jewelry Making, Junior Character Activities, Theme activities include: Super Heroes, Alien Invasion, Camp Out Night and Jurassic Park, "Fun Ship" Freddy, The Hunt for Pirate Pete. Specialty Programs include ExerSeas, H2Ocean, SeaNotes, Water Colors and A-B-Seas.

Ages 9-11: (Intermediates) Activities for intermediates may include: The latest game consoles, Game Boys, Bingo for prizes, Kids Disco, T-shirt decorating, Swimming Under the Stars, Spin Art, Sand Art & Candy Art, Air Hockey, Foosball, Scavenger Hunts, Video Arcade Tournaments, Freaky Fear Factor, Camp Carnival Survivor Challenge, Capture the Flag and Specialty Programs

Ages 12-14: Circle C activities include the latest game consoles, Talent show - Talent Show MC Competition - You can be the star of the show, Dance Parties, Late Night Teen Hang, Late Night Movies, Video Arcade Tournament, Scavenger Hunts, Karaoke, Freaky Food Fear Factor, Camp Carnival Survivor Challenge, Make Your Own Pizza, Game Boys, ExerSeas Activities - Including games like Dodgeball, Basket Ball, and Mini Golf, Sea Notes - Including games and activities like Name that Tune, Teen Idol, and Musical Jeopardy, Water Color Activities - Including activities like Mono-Printing, The Great Art Robbery, and Decoupage Boxes, Sand Art, Spin Art, Candy Art, T-Shirt Decorating and Carnival Twister Waterslide Races. There are even special shore excursions, giving your kids the chance to explore one of our exciting destinations with a teen cruise director. Some excursions may include: Dolphins Experience Encounter, Stingray City – Grand Cayman, Canopy Tour and River Tubing – Belize.

Ages 15-17: Club 02 activities include Board Games, Card Games, Music Hangs, Theme parties, Lido Deck Activities, Reality Games Shows, Trivia and scavenger hunts and Pool Parties.

Royal Caribbean:

Special Notes: *NEW* to RCCL - For any bookings created on or after 4/22/08, infants sailing on a cruise must be at least 6 months old as of the first day of the cruise/cruisetour. For transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaii, select South American and other selected cruises/cruisetours, the infant (as of the first day of the cruise/cruisetour) must be at least 12 months old.

Children must be 3 and 100%potty trained to participate in the Adventure Ocean program. No pull ups or diapers. Parents of 3-5 year old will be given pagers/cell phones (pending on ship). In Cabin babysitting available on a limited basis to children 1 year and older. Reserve at the purser's desk upon boarding. Fees apply - $12/hour.

Adventure Ocean counselors/activities are available at Labadee & CocoCay Adventure Beach.

6 months - 18 months Aqua Babies includes interactive classes developed by early childhood experts at Fisher-Price, Let's Roll, Musical Inspiration, Mission Accomplished, Everyday Early Learning, get Up & Go. Each session is 45 minutes. Times are printed in the compass. Parents MUST attend with the child.

18 months - 36 months Aqua Tots includes classes developed by Fisher Price such as Fun on the Farm, Terrific Trips, Out & About, Pirate & Princesses, Busy Builders, Learning Fundamentals. Each session is 45 minutes. Times are printed in the compass. Parents MUST attend with the child.

Ages 3-5: Aquanauts - Activities for this group includes Adventure Science, Adventure Art, Story time, Adventure Broadway Theatre, Pirate Parade and Theme Nights.
Hours: At Sea: 9 a.m. to noon, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.In Port: Thirty minutes prior to the first shore excursion to 5 p.m. or return of last shore excursion, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Ages 6-8: Explorers - Activities for this group include Adventure Science, Adventure Art, Adventure Broadway Theatre, Pirate Parade, Talent Show, Dance Parties and Theme Nights.
Hours: At Sea: 9 a.m. to noon, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. In Port: Thirty minutes prior to the first shore excursion to 5 p.m. or return of last shore excursion, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Ages 9-11: Voyagers - Activities for this group include Adventure Science, Adventure Art, Adventure Broadway Theatre, Dance Parties, Sports & Theme Nights.
At Sea: 9 a.m. to noon, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.In Port: Thirty minutes prior to the first shore excursion to 5 p.m. or return of last shore excursion, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Teens 12-14: Special teen only clubs/lounges like Fuel, The Living Room and The Back Deck. Activities include Improv Games, DJ 101, Mocktail competition, Dodgeball, Open Mic and Talent Show, ice-skating rink is yours on all Voyager and Freedom ships, Teen BBQ, Dive-In Movie and Pool Party, Meet the Stars Backstage tour, Dance Dance Revolution, Adventure Theatre, Teen Casino, Unplugged Jam Sessions, A Snowball Fight in the Caribbean and Rockwall Climbing Competition.
Hours: Activities are scheduled throughout the day and early evening. The Teen Center is open from 10:30 p.m.- 2:00 a.m. each evening. Young teens are welcome to come and hang out and join in activities, make new friends, and dance or just listen to music.

Teens 15-17: Special teen only lounges/clubs like Fuel, The Living Room and The Back Deck. Activities include, Battle of the Sexes, DJ 101, Dodgeball, Teen Casino, open Mic Night, ice-skating rink is yours on all Voyager and Freedom ships, Dive-In Movie and Pool Party, Sneak Peek Backstage, Unplugged Jam Sessions, Rockwall Climbing Competition and RCCL Idol.
Hours: Activities are scheduled throughout the day and early evening. The Teen Center is open from 10:30 p.m. - 2:00 a.m. each evening. Teens are welcome to come and hang out and join in activities, make new friends, and dance or just listen to music.

Holland America:

Notes: Children must be 3 and 100% potty trained to participate in youth program. Pull ups and diapers not allowed.

Ages 3-7 - Club HAL® - Kids participate in such activities as story telling, fabric painting, indoor games, arts and crafts, drawing contests, ice-cream sundae parties, puzzles, bingo, pirate treasure hunts or a farewell pizza party.

Ages 8-12 Club HAL® - Tweens might learn golf putting, have disco parties and theme parties, participate in the award-winning National Park Service Jr. Ranger Program on Alaska cruises, compete in on-deck sports events, compete in scavenger hunts or simply play Ping-Pong with a friend.

Ages 13-17 The Loft and The Oasis: Teens will especially enjoy the teen disco, karaoke sessions, video games, teen sports tournaments, card games, trivia contests, bingo, movies and videos. When there are more than 100 children on board, a HAL Talent Show is offered. (The Oasis is not available on all Vista-class ships)

On the Prinsendam, youth activities are offered for ages 5-17. All other ships offer youth activities for ages 3-17.

Hours: Times vary based on age group, number of children on board and staffing:
Sea Day - Morning, Afternoon and Evening Activities
Port Day - Morning, Afternoon and Evening Activities
Extended Hours - Club HAL® After Hours is available on all ships (except the ms Prinsendam) from 10:00pm - 12:00am. The fee is $5 per child, per hour. Parents must pick up their children on time or a late fee is charged. For babysitting outside of the hours offered in Club HAL, guests may check at the Front Office to schedule this service provided by staff on a voluntary basis only.

HAL Kids Culinary Workshops are geared toward two age groups; ages three to seven and ages eight and up. Teenagers 15 and up may participate in the adult classes.
The menus range from simple to teen gourmet. Classes are usually limited to fifteen students unless otherwise noted. All classes are hands-on and each student receives copies of the recipes prepared in class. All classes are complimentary and last approximately one hour.

HAL baby-sitting services are available for a small surcharge. Special-kid friendly birthday parties can also be arranged with advance notice.

Special Needs - HAL Youth Programs recognize that some children may have special needs. Special needs children are invited to attend activities based on their chronological age. HAL Youth Programs have many staff trained to work with special needs children. Guests should make HAL aware of this when booking their reservation.

Important HAL Notes
A limited number of high chairs, booster seats and cribs are available at no charge. These must be reserved in advance at the time of booking. An international children's menu is offered at dinner and includes a variety of appetizers, salads and soups, and standard items such as hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and chicken, plus chef's specials like beef tacos, grilled cheese, fish and chips or spaghetti.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Notes: Accepts children as young as 2 in their Kid's Crew Facilities. Children do NOT need to be potty trained. The parent will be paged (beeper) when a diaper change is necessary. Kids under 2 cruise at a substantially reduced fare and certain itineraries offer specials on 3rd and 4th guests in the same stateroom. Infants under six months of age are not eligible for travel on NCL ships.

Ages 2-5 (Juniors) Activities include Storytelling & Painting, Developmental Activities, Age-specific Games and Family Activities

Ages 6-9 (First Mates) Children's Pool Area, Pizza Making Parties, Games, Crafts & Classes

Ages 10-12 (Navigators) Sports Activities, Team-building, Challenges, Games & Parties, Video Arcade

Ages 13-17 (Teens) Activities include Teen Disco, Sport and Activities, Video Arcade, Movies and Parties

Group-Sitting for NCL Kids

The “Late Night Party Zone” and “Port Play” are both group-sitting services for kid's ages 2-12 in the Kid's Crew Facilities.

The “Port Play” is offered from 9am-5pm to accommodate those parents booked on Shore Excursions. Sign up is 8pm the evening prior.

The “Late Night Party Zone” is offered nightly from 10pm-1am. The charges are $5.00 per hour, per child, and $3.00 per hour for each additional sibling in the same immediate family. Charges are applied directly to your onboard account. Sign up is 8pm the evening prior.

Celebrity Cruise Line

Notes : Celebrity would like to offer pagers to use while onboard should they have a child with disabilities, special needs, allergies or in the event you wish to participate in their fun filled youth activities. Pagers are first come-first serve and have limited availability. *(Not available on Century, Galaxy & Mercury).

Children must be 3 and 100% potty trained to participate in the activities.

Hours: Sea Days 9-6PM no charge. Dinner is at 6PM and there is a fee of $ 6 per child. 7-10PM free of charge. $ 6 per child per hour from 10PM-1AM.
Port days 9-12PM free, 12PM-2PM lunch ($6 fee per child), 2PM- 6PM free, 6PM-7PM kids dinner ($6), 7-10PM free of charge. 10PM-1AM $6 per hour per child.

Under 3's (Toddler Time) - Toddler Time Children participating in organized X-Club events must be age 3 and fully potty trained. However you can accompany your child to the Fun Factory or any organized activity. Toddler Time is also offered to allow the parents of toddlers and their children to interact with other children their age. The X-Club team will provide suitable toys and products for your toddlers. Please check the X-Club daily program for times and locations. In accordance with USPH policies and standards, Celebrity has provided each vessel with lavatory based changing tables and baby wipes.

Ages 3-6 (Ship Mates) Activities Include: Theme Parties, Treasure Hunt, T-shirt Decorating, Talent Show, Arts & Crafts, Dancing and Musical Games, Play Stations, Cartoon Trivia, Ball Pit, Ship Tours, Movies, Ice Cream & Pizza Parties

Ages 7-9 (Celebrity Cadets) Activities Include: Theme Parties, Relay Races, Team Trivia, Arts & Crafts, Play Stations, Movies, T-shirt Decorating, Fitness Activities, Ship Tours, Talent Show, Outdoor Games, Ice Cream & Pizza Parties

Ages 10-12 (Ensigns) Activities Include: Pool Olympics, Scavenger Hunts, Karaoke, Talent Show, Theme Parties, T-shirt Decorating, Sports Activities, Team Challenges, Initiative Games, Movies, Play Stations and Late Night Pizza Parties

Ages 13-15 & 16-17 (Admiral T's) Activities Include: Theme Parties, Scavenger Hunts, Teen Late Night Dancing, Pool Olympics, Sports Tournaments, Team Trivia, Karaoke, Talent Show, Play Stations and Fitness Activities

Princess Cruise Line

Fun Zone Activities Ages 3-7 (Princess Pelicans) and Ages 8-12 (Shockwaves)
On all Vessels except Tahitian and Pacific Princess you'll find completely equipped Youth Centers. The Princess Pelicans and Shockwaves programs offer activities such as: Arts and crafts, Discos, Movies and Cartoons, Exclusive Kids Only Dining, Video Games, Edutainment Programs, Scavenger Hunts, Karaoke and talent shows, Afternoon Ice Cream Parties, Pizza Parties, Hall of Fame Tournaments, Shipboard Olympics, T-Shirt Coloring, Pajama Parties, Theme parties
Please note that on Diamond, Caribbean, Sapphire, and Star Princess, age groups for the children's program may differ from those listed.

Ages 13-17 - Teen Centers are packed with Playstation® 2, the latest movies & music, Karaoke, giant screen TVs, card games, board games, ping pong tables and juke boxes. In addition to all these features, on Grand and Golden Princess, teens have a separate Jacuzzi and sun deck area made just for them. They also offer teen-age passengers a wide range of activities such as: teens-only dance parties, the Dating Game, T-shirt painting, sports tournaments, Karaoke and talent shows, Casino night, pizza parties, mocktails, hip hop dance classes, and teen dinners.
Please note that the Pacific and Tahitian Princess do not have dedicated Teen Centers.

Princess Group Kidsitting at Night
For your convenience, group kidsitting for children ages 3 to 12 years is offered on all vessels except Royal, Tahitian and Pacific Princess, from 10:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. for a charge of $5.00 per hour per child.

Princess Port Day Activities
Our Youth and Teen Centers are open while in port from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A supervised complimentary lunch service is available with parental consent.

Princess Kid Dinners
As part of the Princess Kids program, Junior cruisers will also be able to participate in two special dinner evenings designed for each age group. Younger passengers will enjoy dinner without parents and in the company of new found friends and counselors in one of their ship's many eateries. For teens, one of the two evenings will feature a special evening get-together in one of the main dining rooms, complete with group photograph and a night out to enjoy Princess' many evening offerings.

Costa Cruise Line

Special Notes: Free nighttime group babysitting service available till 1am for Mini and Maxi club members (3-11 years old)

Hours: every day from 9:00 pm to midday, from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm and from 9:00 pm to 11:30 pm. This is a free group service.

Mini from 3 to 6 years
Maxi from 7 to 11
Teen Junior from 12 to 14
Teen from 15 to 17. Teen Junior is only active during certain periods.

Children under the age of 3 are allowed to enter and stay in the room only during certain times (not during busy times in high season) and must be accompanied by an adult.

2 THEMED DINNERS PER CRUISE JUST FOR KIDS with a menu designed by our chef for our younger guests. The children's program is called Fun@sea and is handed out to all children upon boarding by a member of our entertainment staff. The program shows the exact times of the different daytime and evening activities.

Activities include: Preparing costumes for themed evenings, Volleyball, Basketball, Painting t-shirts, Table tennis, Young sculptors! With plasticine and balloons, Table football, Edutainment activities in collaboration with the WWF, Hoops, Let's color the giant Squok, Games and tournaments in the pool and "steal the flag" in the water, Creativity and imagination courses, Bowling, Sailing knots course, Shuffleboard, Treasure hunt, Ice cream, Nutella and chocolate parties, Interview with the Captain, Spooky Halloween party, Sea game and WWF, Giant Memory Game, Pirate party, Squolympics (Olympics for young athletes and friends of Squok), An evening at the circus, Group dancing lessons, Games at the Squokkotheque (Squok's disco), Ship rally, Fun fair and face painting, Fun Quiz and Fancy dress parades with Squok.

Welcome to cruising with children!

I am here to tell you that cruising with children is not only possible, but it is actually one of the best family vacations out there. Believe it or not, it's economical too! There is no resort in the world where you can go to sleep in one country and wake up in another.

Every year cruise lines are adding more and more amenities to make the ships more family friendly. Gone are the stuffy days of ships for an elite class only. ANYONE can cruise. There is a ship for everyone.

Some offer in cabin sitting. Some offer water areas for non-potty trained infants/toddlers. With this blog, I will try to lay out the differences between the mainstream lines and help you find the perfect fit for your family.

I hope you find the tips helpful and I would love to hear feedback and answer specific cruising with kids questions that you may have.