Archive for the ‘Family Cruise Lines’ Category

Best Cruise Ships For Families

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Children’s programs on ships used to be just a place for parents to park their kids while mom and dad went off to do some important adult relaxing. Today, the best family ships devote a huge amount of resources, acreage, and innovation to making sure kids are having as good a time as their parents — or even better. For families traveling with kids, here are some of our favorite ships.

Disney’s Disney Dream: Arguably the best ship at sea for families with young kids, Disney Dream offers the biggest and best children’s facilities, a nursery for kids 3 months to 3 years, separate teen and tween centers, a kids’ pool with waterslide, a toddler-friendly splash zone, and a 765-foot water flume called the AquaDuck (if you can’t view the video above click here) — and those are just the highlights. There are also the best standard family cabins at sea, fantastic family oriented shows and movies, and lots of high-tech magic to make kids go “Oooh!,” plus some secluded adults-only areas to make parents go “Aaah.” You can even pre-order diapers and other baby supplies that’ll be in your cabin when you arrive. A near-identical sister ship, Disney Fantasy, will launch in 2012.

On Disney Cruise Line, the fun is not limited to the ship. Disney owns its own private island, Castaway Cay.

Disney’s Disney Magic & Disney Wonder: Though not quite as amazing as the newer Dream, Disney’s two original ships aren’t far behind, offering an almost identical experience at an only slightly scaled down level. There’s no AquaDuck, but there is different scenery outside, with Magic scheduled to sail from New York and Galveston next year, and Wonder doing Alaska and Mexican Riviera voyages.

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas & Allure of the Seas: The biggest cruise ships in the world, these two sisters are also the only ones that give Disney’s ships a run for their money in the family category. Each offers a huge open-air family area styled like an old-time boardwalk (there’s even a carousel), 28,700 square feet of kids’ playrooms, a nursery for kids 6 months to 3 years, extensive teen centers with their own outdoor deck, a pool deck with three different pools and a fun water park, a sports deck with surfing simulators and rock-climbing walls, an ice-skating rink, 3-D movies, fun dining options, and more. Courtesy of a deal with DreamWorks Animation, there are also costumed characters like Shrek and the Madagascar penguins, who participate in a parade and other activities throughout each cruise. As with Disney, you can order diapers and other baby supplies and have them ready in your cabin when you arrive. To view the video “A Teen’s View of Allure of the Seas” click here.

Also see Family Cruise Advisor’s Top Ten Family Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Epic: NCL’s biggest ship, Epic is also its best for kids, with one of the cruise world’s best waterslides, a splash pool for younger kids, a rock-climbing wall, a trampoline, a 24-foot “spider web”–style climbing cage, a basketball court, a batting cage, a two-story video screen in the atrium that’s great for watching sports; and meet-and-greets by costumed characters from Nickelodeon. The kids’ center offers Wii and Playstation II games, a dance floor, a big-screen TV room full of beanbag chairs; a great play structure with a crawling maze and ball jump. Teens get their own club/hangout, located up a “secret” hideaway staircase. Bonus: Kids under 2 sail free when sharing a cabin with two paying guests.

Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas & Liberty of the Seas: Once the world’s biggest cruise ships but now also-rans after fleetmates Oasis and Allure, these sister ships offer tons for families, including a huge playroom and video arcade, a teen club, a nursery for kids 6 months to 3 years, puppet shows created by Emmy and Tony Award nominee John Tartaglia, a water park, a surfing simulator, an ice-skating rink, a rock-climbing wall, 3-D movies, a basketball court, and a miniature golf course. For fun enrichment, there are educational programs offered in collaboration with Fisher-Price and Crayola; for kiddie celebrity sightings, there are character parades and photo ops with DreamWorks movie characters; and for sugar highs there are Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream parlors and fresh-baked cupcake shops.

On Carnival Magic, kids and adults alike enjoy the SkyCourse, the first-ever ropes course at sea. Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival’s Carnival Dream & Carnival Magic: These two sister-ships — one already in service (Dream) and the other debuting next month — are Carnival’s best for families with kids, especially kids who love water slides, since they come armed with twin 80-foot racing slides; a 104-foot enclosed spiral slide; and a 303-foot-long, four-deck-high enclosed corkscrew waterslide. There are also kids’, teens’, and tweens’ centers, a basketball court, and a miniature golf course, and Carnival Magic will add a “ropes” course, in which kids (and adults) can strap into a safety harness and work their way along 230 feet of beams, rope bridges, and swinging steps suspended above the top deck.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Jade, Norwegian Pearl & Norwegian Gem: These ships were the most recent generation from NCL before its new Epic, and are just all-around fun vessels. For kids, they offer huge, brightly colored play and crafts area; a big-screen TV room full of beanbag chairs; a huge play structure with a ball jump and crawling maze; a computer room; a video arcade; a teen center; and a small outdoor play area. The buffet restaurant includes an adorable “Kid’s Cafe” section with chairs, tables, and serving stations scaled down to pint size, and with kid-friendly food to match.

Princess’s Caribbean Princess, Crown Princess, Emerald Princess & Ruby Princess: Kid-wise, the best thing about these ships is the fact that their kids’ center includes a large, attached, fenced-in outdoor play area with a splash pool, lots of plastic trikes, a kids’ basketball setup, and kid-size tables and chairs. It’s a great place for energetic kids to work off steam while their parents relax nearby. Inside, the bright, cheerful kids’ centers have toys, games, computer stations, and organized activities. The teen centers have computers, video games, and a dance floor. The line’s “Movies Under the Stars” outdoor movie experience is great for families, with lounge chair seating and free popcorn.

MSC Cruises’ MSC Fantasia & MSC Splendida: Though the children’s programs at Italian line MSC aren’t in the same league as those offered by Disney, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival, it still makes this list for one primary reason: because kids 11 and under sail fare-free when sharing a cabin with two paying guests (though government fees and taxes still apply). The line’s recent ships all have smallish children’s centers with games, arts and crafts supplies, PlayStations, and activities, plus an enclosed outdoor area with a wading pool, play structure, and tube slide. The new Fantasia and Splendida add a 4-D movie theater (with moving seats) and a Formula One racing car simulator.

Click the links below to read full ship reviews of the vessels featured in this article.

Disney Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean International

Carnival Cruise Lines

Princess Cruises


MSC Cruises

Carnival Magic – The New Family Friendly Cruise Ship From Carnival Cruise Line

Friday, March 25th, 2011
Carnival Magic

Carnival Magic

Carnival Magic will offer family cruisers plenty of new and exciting features.

My first cruise was in 2000 when my daughter (aged 2) was just old enough to enter Camp Carnival. We choose Carnival Cruise Lines because they had an award-winning children’s program (accepting children in diapers) and the price was right. I never regretted my cruise line choice; in fact, Carnival Cruise Line is one of my favorite cruise lines when traveling with my family.

A lot has happened in the cruise industry since my first cruise. Ships keep morphing into floating resorts and onboard amenities and activities keep getting bigger and better.

Set to debut May 1, 2011, Carnival Magic will offer family cruisers many cruise industry-firsts that will have kids of all ages begging for a vacation at sea.

Topping the list of cruise industry-firsts on Carnival Magic is the ropes course.

Carnival Magic, will have over 19,000 square feet of family oriented spaces inlcuding the first ropes course at sea. Located in the expansive SportsSquare recreation complex, the ropes course, called SkyCourse, will offer adventure-seekers, magnificent views of the sea nearly 150 feet below while strapped in a safety harness and traversing rope bridges, swinging steps and beams.

Those that are not as willing to go full-throttle may choose from a variety of other fun activities in the SportsSquare complex. Families can spend hours playing popular video games on a large plasma screen TV, pumping-iron (think Venice Beach in CA) at the first outdoor weightlifting area on a cruise ship, or playing mini-golf at Carnival’s first two-level miniature golf course.

Rounding out the SportsSquare menu of activities are: the Vita exercise course; a lighted multi-purpose court for basketball, volleyball and soccer; and tables for ping pong and foosball.  With all this action, cruisers are bound to want to cool-off at the WaterWorks aqua park.

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WaterWorks aqua park will feature an exhilarating "Twister" spiral water slide

Carnival Magic’s WaterWorks aqua park will feature an exhilarating “Twister” spiral water slide, as well as the new Aqua Play splash park designed for youngsters and their families, featuring a gigantic, 300-gallon “dump bucket.”

It’s not all about the action on the open decks, Carnival Magic offers new and exciting dining venues as well.

The latest Dream-class ship, Carnival Magic will debut new dining venues:  Cucina del Capitano and Red Frog Pub.

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Cucina del Capitano, ("The Captain's Kitchen") will offer dinnertime options with made-to-order Italian favorites in comfortable, relaxed surroundings

Cucina del Capitano, (“The Captain’s Kitchen”) will offer dinnertime options with made-to-order Italian favorites in comfortable, relaxed surroundings. Cruisers may dine on hand-made pastas, risotto and fresh-from-the-oven Italian specialties – many served family style. Many of the dishes and recipes were hand-selected by Carnival’s captains. Dinner will carry  a nominal fee. During the day, the space will be utilized as a casual made-to-order pasta bar with items offered on a complimentary basis.

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RedFrog Pub will offer a Caribbean island-inspired environment, which will serve snacks and drinks, including ThirstyFrog Red, a private-label draught beer brewed especially for Carnival Magic.

RedFrog Pub will offer a Caribbean island-inspired environment, which will serve snacks and drinks, including ThirstyFrog Red, a private-label draught beer brewed especially for Carnival Magic. There will be seating for 100 in an indoor/outdoor venue. The menu will feature Bahamian conch salad, grouper fingers, firecracker Jamaican chicken wings, as well as other Caribbean inspired fare.

Young cruisers will enjoy the “Fun Ship” treatment when it comes to eating on Carnival Magic. Families can look forward to expanded children’s menus offering a variety of kids’ favorites, as well as a “daily junior special.” The new menus are included on the back page of a fun coloring/activity book.

To be among the first family cruisers to experience Carnival Magic, book a cruise during the inaugural season.

Carnival Magic will operate a series of Mediterranean cruises departing May 1 to mid October, 2011 from Barcelona. After her European cruise season, Carnival Magic will reposition to Galveston, Texas to launch seven-day Caribbean service.

Carnival Launches New NASA Mercury Exhibit At Grand Turk

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011


A unique exhibit commemorating the National Aeronautics & Space Administration’s (NASA) Mercury space program and the historic 1962 splashdown of the Friendship 7 capsule off the coast of Grand Turk is now open at the Grand Turk Cruise Center.

“Splashdown Grand Turk” is a 3,500-square-foot attraction celebrating the unique relationship of the American human spaceflight mission and its importance to Grand Turk’s history.

Located on the south side of the Grand Turk Cruise Center, the free exhibit features amazing replicas unique to the Mercury space program, including a scaled 20-foot-tall Atlas rocket and a full-size, three-dimensional replica of astronaut John Glenn in spacesuit, and, of course, a detailed replica of the Friendship 7 capsule, which splashed into the Atlantic in 1962, a few short miles from the island of Grand Turk.

Storyboards at the exhibit depict the accomplishments of the NASA space program and detail the differences in space equipment of yesterday and today while offering an overview of the current space program and future plans.

Opened by Carnival Corporation & plc in 2006, the Grand Turk Cruise Center serves as a gateway to this unique destination and encompasses a state-of-the-art pier and a 14-acre complex offering a variety of shops and restaurants.

The 2011 cruise season will bring 285 ship calls to the Grand Turk Cruise Center carrying approximately 625,000 visitors who will have an opportunity to learn more about Grand Turk’s involvement with the NASA space program.