Family Cruising: Carnival’s Caribbean

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Awesome Overview
Families have voted with their wallets, and Carnival is the clear cruise-line winner for family vacations. Kids obviously love the Fun Ships, judging from the more than half a million who cruise with Carnival each year, and it’s easy to understand why. Carnival’s ships are equipped with enough toys, games, excursions and shipboard programs to keep the fussiest tots or the most cynical teens happy, and Carnival is a consistently excellent value for families.

All of Carnival’s ships are outfitted with comprehensive family friendly facilities, but for a family friendly embarkation, step aboard Carnival Glory, the largest “Fun Ship” ever to sail from Port Canaveral, conveniently situated within driving distance of the Orlando theme parks and well equipped for families.Age Appropriate
No matter the age, Carnival knows how to keep them entertained and happy, and if the kids are willing, Camp Carnival has some “EduCruise” programs that help explain the places the children are visiting and seeing. The teen recreation center, Club O2, houses a large video-game room and dance club, with nonalcoholic specialty drinks, and there are large rooms and play areas for the younger ones, too, as Carnival’s children’s program is set up for kids 2 years and older.

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Too Much Fun
No shortage of fun stuff on the Fun Ships. Even the most restless child can rent a GameBoy, if need be. But for simple, yet exhilarating, joy, nothing tops the 214-foot waterslide on the pool deck. You’ll see children make dozens of trips down these slides, their smiles nearly as wide as the slide is long.

Best Adventure, or THE attraction
For tweens and teens, there are discounted shore excursions – from kayaking and cave tubing to mountain biking or swimming with dolphins and stingrays – that are for teens only; they’re supervised by Carnival staff, but parents are not invited. For instance, one such excursion, available on Western Caribbean itineraries, takes the kids out to Stingray City off Grand Cayman, where they can swim with and feed the rays.

Keep’em Happy/No Shuffleboard, Dad!
While there is not shortage of activities for when kids and parents want to go their separate ways, Carnival organizes quite a few activities and contests for families who want to play together. In many of these games, the Dads wind up looking silly, often as the butt of the good-natured jokes of the activity director.

Timing is everything
When do you want to go? The Carnival Glory sails the Caribbean year-round out of Port Canaveral. Summer and school holidays will be particularly busy.

Avoid the Crowds
This is a big ship capable of accommodating nearly 4,000 people. The design and the facilities keep everybody from getting in each other’s way – most of the time. Getting on and off the ship does cause some chafing for those who can’t maintain their patience.

Can’t Miss
Maintaining Carnival’s tradition of Vegas-style revues blending elaborate choreography, big sets and exciting songs, Rock Down Broadway is considered one of the best and most entertaining shows ever produced for a cruise ship, with songs from high-energy productions like Hair, Jesus Christ Superstar, Saturday Night Fever, Footloose, and Rent, enhanced by lasers, pyrotechnics and great choreography.

Best Dining
Kids will love the multitude of choices available all day long, but Mom and Dad will want to spend an evening at the Emerald Room, Glory’s reservations-only supper club. The cost is $30 per person, but Carnival’s alternative restaurants are excellent, with top-notch food and service. Reserve early because the Carnival supper clubs are very popular.

Anchors Aweigh!
Forget what you’ve heard about Carnival. The days of party hearty are long gone. Carnival has had a tough time of shaking that 1970/80s image, but rest assured that today’s Carnival never fails to live up to its brand promise, which is to deliver fun for everyone on board.

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