What’s not to like – from a kid’s perspective anyway.
The way they see it, a cruise ship is vacation heaven, better even than a theme park.
There’s all the food and free room service. “You’ll be stuffed when you leave,” says 11-yearold Matthew Moris.
There are all the other kids onboard (more than a million children cruise every year, reports the Cruise Lines International Association, more than 1,000 on each Disney ship) and organized kids’ and teen activities from morning until night. “You’ll find a friend on the first day,” promises Brooke Abzug, 10.
There’s all the freedom to roam as they please, sun by the pool, hit the arcade, watch a movie, grab a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone. Alyssa Baron, 15, says she would never be permitted to be on her own as much at home or at a resort.
“When I come in to our cabin, my parents are already asleep!”
“You don’t have to be with your parents, except maybe at dinner,” said Allison Clayton, 12. Clayton, Abzug and Moris – all from South Florida – were chosen to be on a panel I moderated recently in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., at cruise3sixty, the cruise industry’s annual conference for travel agents and cruise lines, which was sponsored by the Cruise Lines International Association. The kids in the group ranged in age from 7 to 15 and were all cruise veterans. Their charge: Give the grown-ups a kid’s-eye-view of cruising.
They weren’t the least bit fazed by the more than 1,000 people in the audience. A cruise, they agreed, beats a theme park any day. At a theme park, “There’s not as much to do, or as much good food,” said Mathew.
Some keys to success:
– Choose the right ship for your family. (Visit www.cruising.org.) Make sure there are programs for your kid’s age group.
– If you can, splurge on a second room for older kids.
Kid-friendly cruise lines:
– Royal Caribbean (www.rccl.com) has just announced Nickelodeon-themed cruises starting this summer on Freedom of the Seas, which kids love because of the FlowRider surf simulator and H20 Zone water playground.
– Carnival (www.carnival.com), which expects to carry 600,000 kids this year, is adding WaterWorks aqua parks complete with 300-footlong corkscrew water slides, water spray park and doublelane racing slides.
-Norwegian Cruise Line (www.ncl.com) has more connecting staterooms than any other cruise line. Families like the “Freestyle Dining.” Now there’s no need to get dressed up or eat with others.
-Regent Seven Seas (www.rssc.com) offers an “Ambassadors of the Environment” youth program on certain Alaska and Tahiti voyages that was created by Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques Cousteau. The program is designed to provide families, through hands-on activities, the awareness and skills needed to build environmental sustainability into their lives.