Archive for the ‘Family dining’ Category

2011 Family Cruise Vacation Shopping Guide

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Tips For Finding A Family Friendly Cruise

Making memories

There is no better remedy for combating the short, cold days of winter than planning a family cruise vacation. For some reason, just looking at itineraries and ship diagrams is enough to lift the spirits. But before long what started as a fun search for your next family vacation quickly becomes a nightmare as data-overload sends you over the edge.

To help keep things in balance, Family Cruise Advisor has put together a few tips to help make the cruise buying process a little more user friendly.

Think Value, Not Price

Disney Dream It

Although price is a good motivator, value is a better indicator that a cruise will be a success.

Consider what is included in the cruise price.

  • Does the ship have adequate care for infants? Some ships charge for babysitting infants because they do not have facilities for babies.
  • Does the ship offer kids programming for the ages you need?
  • Are soft drinks and juice included in the price? Disney Cruise Line has generous soda fountains and juice available around the clock. Other cruise lines do not.

Consider A Slightly Older Ship, But Watch The Size

When looking at price make sure you are comparing apples-to-apples. New ships typically have a higher price tag than slightly older ships.

Although Royal Caribbean International’s new Oasis-class ship Allure of the Seas has a lot of great features, pricing is significantly lower on Liberty of the Seas and her sisters in the Freedom-class. The cruise experience is almost the same: great kids programs, specialty restaurants, surf simulator, rock climbing wall, ice-skating rink, arcade, etc.

Royal Caribbean

Speaking of Royal Caribbean, watch the size of the vessel you select. For example, there are many features that are not available on Monarch of the Seas due to her smaller size. This is an example of too much of a good thing. Savvy shoppers will notice some great cruise fares on Monarch of the Seas, but this ship does not have the bells and whistles found on the larger ships in the fleet.

When to spend money for a cruise on a new ship

Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship Disney Dream is fetching top dollar for a product that is completely different than Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. The updated technology and innovations on Disney Dream are well worth the additional investment in vacation dollars.


Disney Cruise Line

In most cases when cruising as a family, the ship is the destination. However, families must also consider where the ship sails. Popular family cruise destinations for 2011 are: Europe, Alaska, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Depending on the age of your children and their tolerance for long flights, a realistic destination will become obvious. I say go for gold and head to Europe. But I am also the same person that took a three-month old baby on an six-hour flight to Hawaii.

Show Me The Money!

A lot of people think that if they wait long enough, cruise lines will offer deep discounts. Although this could be the case, when traveling with a family it is better to plan ahead to avoid disappointment.

Remember that there is little risk to putting down a deposit in advance. In most cases (Disney concierge class suites exempt) deposits are refundable. Final payment is due 90 days before the cruise. Some travel agencies and cruise lines will guarantee the price, which means that if the cruise fare goes down before final payment, you are entitled to getting the lower price.

Family Cruise Basics

Meet Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Auf Wiedersehen, Germany

Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream  has left the building and has begun the transatlantic crossing.

Disney Dream makes her transatlantic journey

Just a few days ago Disney Cruise Line‘s newest ship, Disney Dream left Bremerhaven, Germany on a transatlantic journey to Florida. Disney Dream will greet family cruisers starting January 26, 2011 on her inaugural cruise.

A Disney Cruise is always a great choice for families looking for a touch of elegance with just the right mix of kid-friendly amenities.

Family Cruise Advisor has compiled extensive reports about Disney Dream to help families navigate the many features and amenities on this new ship.

I am excited to see the blending of classic ocean liner design with state-of-the-art technology. Topping off my list of Disney Dream bells-and-whistles are the AquaDuck water coaster and Disney Cruise Line’s new adults-only Remy restaurant.

Disney Dream posts on Family Cruise Advisor:

  • An Overview of Disney Dream Highlights Too busy to read everything? This is a great place to discover the highlights of Disney Dream’s one-of-a-kind venues and experiences.
  • Disney Dream Youth Programs Everything a parent needs to know about youth programs on Disney Dream. The key to making sure the whole family has fun on a cruise vacation. Disney Cruise Line has one of the best children’s programs at sea. Discover what awaits your young cruiser.
  • Dining Options For Family Cruisers on Disney Dream. I appreciate a cruise line that offers a variety of food that appeals to both adults and kids, and I love how Disney Cruise Line staff will dispense ketchup for kids in the shape of Mickey Mouse as well as offering a sophisticated menu for adults in the no-kids zone specialty restaurants. Disney Dream is upping the game a bit in the food service department, especially for adults. For more on how Disney is pleasing parents and palates, read Disney Cruise Line, Michelin-starred Chef Create Perfect Pairing with French-inspired Remy Restaurant On the Disney Dream.
  • Entertainment on Disney Dream When you think of Disney, animation, technology and entertainment come to mind. It all comes together on Disney Dream, where entertainment
 includes live musical shows, first-run films, Digital 3-D movies and fun-filled family deck parties, which features the largest fireworks show aboard a cruise ship.

Can’t get enough? Check out our other Disney Dream stories on Family Cruise Advisor:

From Port Canaveral, Florida, Disney Dream will cruise to the Bahamas on rotating 3, 4, and 5-night cruises. All cruises on Disney Dream will visit Disney Cruise Line’s private Bahamian island Castaway Cay.


Allure Of The Seas Dining Options For Families

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

For better or worse, food is an integral part of a family cruise experience. Tasting one’s way through a cruise vacation is one of the delights family cruisers can look forward to.  On Allure of the Seas, family cruisers can choose to dine in more than 24 venues.

Allure of the Seas main dining room Adagio

Family Cruise Advisor has put together a list of the top eateries on Allure of the Seas. Click here for a full review of Allure of the Seas.

Top family-friendly dining venues

Adagio Dining Room: Designed in the 1920s Art Deco period, Allure of the Seas’ three-tier main dining venue offers breakfast, lunch and dinner service. Families with children ages 3 – 11 years old should take advantage of My Family Time Dining, which offers the early dinner seating with the option of checking your child into Adventure Ocean Club within the restaurant at a pre-arranged time. Other dining times are the flexible My Time Dining and Traditional dining (either early or late seating.)

Rita’s Cantina: This restaurant is truly unique to Allure of the Seas. Rita’s Cantina offers classic Mexican food. The design is inspired from beach bars and Southern California taqueria shops. Families can expect high energy food service in a kid friendly venue. Cost: $7.95 per person open lunch and dinner.

The Boardwalk Dog House: Also unique to Allure of the Seas, The Boardwalk Dog House offers gourmet hot-dogs. At this outdoor venue, look for a lunch counter located in the Boardwalk neighborhood. The location next to the Ice Cream Parlor will ensure a family friendly lunch. Cost: complimentary.

Johnny Rockets A standby on all Royal Caribbean ships, this 1950’s-style diner serves great fish & ships, grilled foods and breakfast items. Cost: $4.95 per person for lunch or dinner. Breakfast is complimentary.

Giovanni’s Table: An Italian trattoria with both indoor and alfresco seating, featuring Italian classics served family-style. Cost: $10 per person for lunch; $15 per person for dinner.

The Wipe Out Café: A casual self-service buffet with pizza, hamburgers, sandwiches and fresh salads. Cost: complimentary.

Sorrento’s Pizzeria: Featuring New York style pizza, made-to-order pies and by-the-slice. Cost: complimentary.

Dessert anyone?

The Cupcake Cupboard: Featuring fresh-baked gourmet cupcakes as well as cupcake parties. Cost: A nominal fee applies and will depend on what is ordered.

Boardwalk Donut Shop: Homemade donuts will please the kids. Cost: complimentary.

Ice Cream Parlor: A variety of ice cream flavors and toppings available.  Cost: A nominal fee applies and will depend on what is ordered.

Date-Night on Allure of the Seas

150 Central Park: Enjoy a glass of wine while dining in this upscale and intimate restaurant. Molly Brandt, winner of the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge co-hosted with The Culinary Institute of America, as well as Food and Wine’s 2006 best student chef, will create some fun and innovative cuisine. Cost: $35 per person.

Samba Grille: Unique to Allure of the Seas, this Brazilian steakhouse located in the Solarium features authentic Brazilian-style meats and seafood dishes. The theme of this restaurant is inspired from the Brazilian steakhouses known as churrascaria. Churrasco is the cooking style, which means barbecue in Portuguese. Cost: $25 per person.

Chops Grille: Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse with views of Central Park and premium cuts of quality meats. Cost: $25 per person.

Izumi Asian Cuisine: Asian food venue offering a Sushi bar and the hot-rock cooking experience. Guests can cook their own chicken, steak or mixed seafood on the hot rocks (heated 575 degrees Fahrenheit.) Cost: depends on each item selected.

Vintages: A wine bar with pre-dinner tapas and cheeses along with a robust selection of fine wines. Cost: varies by item from menu.

Park Café: Located in Central Park and famous for the Roast Beef sandwiches. This indoor/outdoor gourmet market is an easy option for families. Salads, sandwiches, soups and pastries available. Cost: complimentary.

Healthy Choice

The Vitality Café: Looking to stay in shape and find some great low calorie, healthy spa food? The Vitality Café serves up healthy snacks, sandwiches, wraps, fruit and smoothies. Also available are energy bars, vitamin-packed smoothies or Tazo teas. Cost: varies on what is selected.

The Best Coffee

Starbucks: The first ever Starbucks at sea is located on deck 5 in the Royal Promenade.  The Starbucks outlet on Allure of the Seas offers signature drinks like Frappuccinos, lattes, and seasonal specialties.

This is the best place on Allure of the Seas for hard-core coffee drinkers. In addition to specialty coffees, cruisers can find a selection of snacks. Look for this venue on the Royal Promenade between Boleros and On Air Karaoke Club. Cost: Fees for specialty drinks and upgraded snacks.

Café Promenade: The café offers Seattle’s Best coffee drinks. Food to enjoy here includes fruit shakes, pastries and sandwiches. Cost: complimentary.

Want to learn more about Allure of the Seas?

Avid Cruiser posts featuring Allure of the Seas: