All aboard the fun ship – the Caribbean for kids

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

down your pack­ing. When it comes to a cabin, chil­dren this age re­quire more space than their size might sug­gest. Con­sider a state room with means to cur­tain off the cot so you don’t have to sit in the dark in the evenings, and if your child naps in the af­ter­noon, book­ing a bal­cony cabin is a no­brainer. Un­like al­most every other line, Dis­ney fea­tures bath­tubs even in stan­dard cab­ins.

Ba­bies and tod­dlers love wa­ter, but on many cruise lines, there’s a rub – chil­dren in nap­pies aren’t per­mit­ted in the swim­ming pools. The three lines above all have des­ig­nated splash pool ar­eas for those in swim nap­pies. Come the end of term, every pri­mary school par­ent has the same goal – find­ing a hol­i­day that will give them a break, al­low for some qual­ity fam­ily time and burn off a bit of the chil­dren’s end­less sup­ply of en­ergy.

Nor­we­gian’s Splash Academy of­fers ev­ery­thing from cir­cus skills classes to scav­enger hunts, and Princess Cruises part­ners with the Dis­cov­ery brand for its youth pro­gramme, with ac­tiv­i­ties in­spired by the chan­nel’s hit shows.

Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional’s Ad­ven­ture Ocean, Car­ni­val’s Camp Ocean, and Celebrity Cruises’ Fun Fac­tory all of­fer an ac­tion-packed mix of sports, games, arts, crafts, com­pe­ti­tions and themed ac­tiv­i­ties.

All these clubs stay open un­til 10pm, so if you’d like an adult din­ner, you’re sorted. Dis­ney Cruise Lines’ Ocea­neer Club keeps go­ing un­til mid­night, and the line gives fam­i­lies com­pli­men­tary phones so par­ents can be con­tacted any­where on the ship. All these lines al­low par­ents to head off to shore while leav­ing the chil­dren in the club. A lit­tle ex­tra space will make ev­ery­one feel more com­fort­able. Nor­we­gian and Royal Caribbean of­fer fam­ily state­rooms and min­isuites with ex­tra drop-down or con­vert­ible beds, com­fort­ably sleep­ing a fam­ily of four. Car­ni­val’s Fam­ily Har­bor cab­ins sleep up to five, and also in­clude com­pli­men­tary ac­cess to a spe­cial lounge with TVs and con­sole games. Most lines also of­fer in­ter­con­nect­ing state­rooms.

Want to keep costs down by book­ing an in­te­rior cabin? Con­sider one of Royal Caribbean’s Vir­tual Bal­cony cab­ins with real-time, floor-to-ceil­ing dis­plays, or Dis­ney’s Mag­i­cal Port­holes, where the live video stream cor­re­sponds to the state­room lo­ca­tion and Dis­ney char­ac­ters oc­ca­sion­ally float past. Ex­cur­sions based around ac­tiv­i­ties are pop­u­lar for this age group. The Maya, Lost Mayan King­dom ad­ven­ture park in Mex­ico is an op­tion on both Car­ni­val and Nor­we­gian’s West­ern Caribbean sail­ings. You’ll find wa­ter slides and zip lines, plus a splash park and lazy river for the younger – or older – fam­ily mem­bers who re­quire less adrenalin-pump­ing ac­tiv­ity. Car­ni­val has plenty to tempt chil­dren off the ship, in­clud­ing surf lessons in San Juan and river tub­ing in Ocho Rios – both suit­able for over sixes.

A seven-night Pride of Panama cruise on Marella Dis­cov­ery 2 cruis­ing out of Ja­maica to Costa Rica, Panama and Colom­bia de­part­ing on Nov 13 starts from £875pp based on two adults and two chil­dren shar­ing an in­side cabin. Prices in­clude drinks and tips and flights from Gatwick (tui.co.uk/cruise).

Cruise lines en­sure plenty of ac­tiv­ity for younger guests

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