By Wendy Irvine
A CHILD IS A mouth wreathed in chocolate
ice cream, the first firefly of summer, a Fourth
of July bike parade. Children are magic.
Still, herding magical creatures is exhausting. Many parents would fork over a premium
price for a wand.
Thankfully, the clever folks behind cruising know which amenity parents most yearn
for: a luxurious break. In response, today’s
ships sail our big blue marble adorned with
ice rinks, zip lines, inline skating, four-story
waterslides and much more.
Yet when parents analyze a cruise, they
tend to focus on the destination, cabin size
and port location and assume a boatload of
kid action is a given. Big oops. A wise parent’s
wand in the real world? Kid research.
Turns out, different cruise lines—even
the different classes within a line—have
widely varying arrangements for kids. Some
have surf simulators. Many have rock walls.
Most have a movie theater (some even with
first-run movies in 3D), but only Royal
Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships have bumper
cars, surfing and indoor skydiving. How can
you get the most break for your buck? Match
the ship to your child’s maturity and age.
Baby, I’m yours!
Take Disney. While all lines now require
babies to be 6 months of age to cruise, Disney
offers one of the poshest infant-care facilities
at sea, for kids 6 months to 3 years of age,
Pools are a no-go on the majority of ships
if your child isn’t toilet-trained (swim diapers
and pull-ups don’t count). However, Disney
and Royal Caribbean (Freedom- and Oasis-
class ships) have splash pads for the diaper set.
And give Royal Caribbean, Crystal and
Celebrity a hand! They offer in-stateroom
babysitting for infants at least 12 months of
age (with fee).
Once children are in the elementary years
it becomes serious business to select a ship
class that offers age-appropriate activities.
While mega- and kid-oriented ships buzz
with possibilities for young family members,
others may not cater to your kids’ age range.
An incredible play care for little ones will
leave the over-8s yawning. Rule of thumb? If
varying ages are lumped together, the grumpiest dwarf will likely appear.
Kids thrill to meet their favorite celebs. Five
Norwegian Cruise Line ships feature
Nickelodeon characters (kids can greet
SpongeBob and Dora) and seven Royal
Caribbean ships boast DreamWorks friends
(from movies like Shrek and How to Train Your
Dragon). And in November 2015, Tangled: The
Musical opens on the Disney Magic.
Many ships’ play cares provide STEM
(science, technology, engineering and math-
ematics) activities, like Super Sloppy Science
and Anyone Can Cook (Disney), Jr. CHEF@
Sea and Science on the Seas (Princess) and a
Junior Ranger Program (available on several
lines’ Alaska cruises).
Norwegian’s Epic delivers a 200-foot
plunge into the largest bowl slide at sea, while
the Breakaway-class sports five multistory
waterslides. Disney’s Dream and Fantasy
boast a four-story high, 765-foot-long water
coaster that careers over the ocean. And Royal
Caribbean’s Oasis-class ships feature the
Aqua Theater, with a spectacular dive show
synchronized to music and lights.
Good to know: Disney is famous for
being the first (and still the only) line to station a lifeguard at every pool.
Older teens kickin’ it
What about your 18-year-old who turned
“adult” last week, but is still in high school?
Ages 18 years and higher can’t chill in teen
clubs, so choose a line with a high-activity
class, like Royal Caribbean’s Oasis or Quantum,
that delivers endless older-teen excitement.
As a blaze of coral shades sweeps the evening sky, chatterboxes will reappear brimming with excitement. You’ve waved your
cruise wand: The kids are happily tuckered,
the adults recharged. Time for family—the
most wondrous of life’s excursions. C
Wendy Irvine lives with her family in
Atlanta—five hours from the nearest port.
The Costco Connection
Costco Travel offers a variety of cruise lines
and ships catering to families and all types of
travelers. For more information, click “Travel”
at Costco.com or call;1-877-849-2730.
Charting the waters
for a successful trip
Splash pools and character encounters are
just two of the seemingly endless ways to
keep children entertained on cruises.