All aboard the fun ship – the Caribbean for kids
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