2017 Sea Tales Family Cruise Travel Planner

SeaTales 2017 Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner

by Heidi M. Allison Shane


Policies subject to change without notice, always check with your travel agent regarding pregnancy policies and children age policies prior to booking your cruise.


D ear Readers, We are sitting in a very unusual bar, staring—just a few feet from us—at a waterhole in Kenya. Numerous zebra are enjoying a cool drink, and I am enjoying the exotic sights and sounds and the fragrances of warm bread and appetizers being prepared…things that I have never encountered before anywhere else on my travels. The sky is utterly black, allowing me to witness millions of stars. It is truly breathtaking, and calls to mind the song “The Circle of Life” from the movie The Lion King. Where exactly is this magical wilderness paradise? We are in Amboseli Na- tional Park (yes, it’s part of a cruise itinerary), dominated by majestic Mount

Kilimanjaro, which rises to over 19,000 feet—15,000 of which are above Amboseli’s acacia-dotted grasslands. Local people didn’t think that God, or gods, lived on Kilimanjaro. They thought the mountain was God, and casting your eyes on the still, glacier-topped behemoth, you are able to understand why. Kenya’s Amboseli National Park is famous for its big game, including lions, cheetahs, baboons and large elephant herds that traverse the savannahs in search of watering holes or feeding grounds. We are staying in nearby Campi ya Kanzi, one of the premier lodges in Africa. Created by Luca and Antonella Belpietro and their Maasai partners, ya Kanzi is nestled in peaceful isolation at the base of the Chyulu Hills—the very Green Hills of Africa that so captivated Hemingway. The highlight of most Kenyan safaris is the world-famous Maasai Mara National Reserve, widely regarded as the best game-viewing park in Kenya. The “Big Five” (lions, leopards, buffaloes, elephants and rhinos) can be spotted here, and more than a million wildebeests and zebras migrate annually to Maasai Mara from the parched Serengeti plains of neigh- boring Tanzania in the annual “Great Migration.” Our tour also included visits to Maasai villages, where we were able to interact with local villagers. A tribal chief fell in love with the baby wipes I was using on my hands; his wife, who had never seen anything like them, became very dis- turbed and thought they were magic. In Kenya’s semi-arid, rugged northern region lies the Samburu Game Reserve, a small oasis that is home to many rare an- imals, including Grevy’s zebras, long-necked gerenuk antelopes, Somali ostriches, and reticulated giraffes. Many Kenyan safaris also visit Lake Nakuru National Park, a relatively small preserve that has been designated as a rhino sanctuary and is considered to be one of the finest places on earth for bird watching. Our host for this adventure was Micato Safaris, and our hotel stay began at the Nairobi Safari Club, where my room has a hiding place in the ceiling just in case I need a quick escape (from what, I am not sure.) This lovely hotel oozes old world charm, reminiscent of a time when honored guests went to the bar to delight in appe- tizers and cocktails before the grand feast. After our visit to Nairobi, we will eventually meet back up with our ship, the Marco Polo, in Mombasa, where sugar sand beaches abound. Each time I arrive at an airport, no matter what the destination, I wonder and daydream about what type of excitement this latest adventure will bring into my life and the lives of accompanying family and friends. How will it feed my senses, my mind, body, and soul? What will I learn? What treasures will I bring home for my family from somewhere like Africa? Perhaps it will be an African mask, created as to allow the wearer to embody the spirit the mask depicts. That’s what I


2017 Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner

chose on this trip, and my sons loved the exotic carvings I brought them from deep in Africa. The masks are prominently displayed in their homes to this day. Exotic trips to Africa (in this case, actually a pre-trip to my cruise aboard the Marco Polo) aren’t the only memorable ex- cursions I’ve had during my cruise travels. The emergence of “water tourism”—greatly expanded from times when ships were simply a means of transportation from one continent to another—has come a long way in making such memorable excursions attainable to travelers of every age and background. Ecotourism—allowing travelers to discover the fragile and pristine places of the earth—has also grown in recent years, fostering the opportunity for a greater public awareness and promoting better ways to save and protect our global environ- ment for the benefit of future generations. Over the years, my travel companions have been many and varied. They include a member of the Nobel Peace Prize Com- mittee, a young artist in St. Petersburg who drew beautiful paintings that hang in my home, famous sculptors from Nai- robi, and travelers from all walks of life throughout the world. It never fails to strike me that, while we may all originate from different nationalities and cultures, we all share common hopes, dreams and aspirations that unite us in the truest global sense. The opportunity for global travel has increased the ability of people worldwide to broaden their horizons in every sense of the world. From my own experience, some of these personal enrichment opportunities have included, and taken me to… The Hawaiian Islands, where Captain Woo of the lovely SS Independence once sent one of the staff to my cabin to awak- en my family at 4 a.m. Once on deck, we watched the sunrise illuminate hundreds of majestic female humpback whales, frolicking with their calves. The Panama Canal, aboard the Pacific Princess, where once I travelled with David McCullough, author of “Path Between the Seas.” This book, about the creation of the Panama Canal won the National Book Award in History. Former President Jimmy Carter later said that the treaties that handed over ownership of the Canal to Panama would not have passed had it not been for David’s book. My travels gave me the opportunity to lecture throughout Canada with Lars-Eric Lindblad, a noted environmentalist and a man who pioneered tourism to many remote and exotic parts of the world. I met him as part of the Orient Lines team when they acquired a Russian ice-breaker and refitted it as the Marco Polo, an expedition ship. Lindblad also believed tourism had been responsible for saving many threatened ecosystems and species. In opening re- mote and exotic areas of the world to tourism, he became widely recognized as a prominent figure of ecotourism. I’ve had the good fortune of experiencing 67 cruise voyages (some of which were inaugural journeys) on such well- known lines such as Princess Cruises, the former Norwegian American Line (owned the Sajafjord and Vistafjord) and American Hawaii Cruises (the only line to carry the American Flag in the last century), Cunard Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Sitmar, Royal Viking Line, Royal Caribbean Line, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival, Holland America Line and my per- sonal favorite, Regent Seven Seas Cruises. (You can read more about my experience and background in travel here.) My hope is that you find this Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner so compelling that you cannot wait to take a cruise vacation with your family. I have been blessed with a career that mixes my love of travel with writing about and sharing it with others. This book is truly a labor of love!

Bon Voyage! Heidi Heidi M. Allison Shane CruiseCompete & AllThingsCruise

Policies subject to change without notice, always check with your travel agent regarding pregnancy policies and children age policies prior to booking your cruise.


Your Vacation Is the Most Important Two Weeks of Your Year. Don’t Trust It to Just Anyone!


Throughout this book, we will provide links to helpful sites, including CruiseCompete.com. CruiseCompete.com does not sell travel; it is a free and anonymous service that helps cruisers find the best values for their cruise vacation. Consumers simply submit a ship name and sail date with a few other pieces of relevant information. Top travel agencies then craft custom responses to meet the specific needs of the consumer. Cruisers are notified by e-mail when new quotes are available, so they can view these quotes and contact the agencies directly to book their trips. (For people who need help choosing a cruise, a CruiseCompete member-agency offers Live Agent Help.) CruiseCompete LLC is an independent organization. We are not a travel agency or owned by a travel agency, and we pro- vide travel agents with a steady stream of easy-to-manage, highly qualified leads. CruiseCompete: Since Our Inception in 2003, We’ve Received Compliments and Mentions From Many of the World’s Most Influential Publications and Writers: From the AARP and Fodor’s to The Wall Street Journal to Kiplinger, MSNBC, The Street, Newsday, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Zagat, The Miami Herald, The Chicago Tribune, Gayot, The De- troit News, and more The compliments and mentions here can give you insight into our website and why we are so highly acclaimed with travelers and the media alike! Zagat “5 Great Websites to Search for Amazing Cruise Offers” CNN.COM

“…Specify which cruise ship you want…agencies then get back to you with best deals they have…” Fodor’s “How to Choose the Right Cruise…” AARP “Great Ways to Save – 16 Ways to Travel Cheap – Number 6” The Wall Street Journal “The Best in…” See full stories at http://www.cruisecompete.com/press_quotes.php http://www.cruisecompete.com/press_quotes.php


2017 Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner

Table of Contents

Introduction - Here’s the Truth About Cruising: Dispelling Some Myths and Finding the Right Cruise for Your Family Chapter I - Top Ten Family-Friendly Cruise Lines Chapter II - Thinking of Taking a Cruise While You’re Expecting? It’s a Great Idea! Chapter III - Baby-Friendly Cruising: Should You Take a Nanny, or Use Onboard Babysitters and Kids’ Programs? Chapter IV - Wonder How You’ll All Make It for Seven Days Together? Ten Great Ideas for Things to Do with Your Children on a Cruise Chapter V - Tips for Parents Cruising with Teens and Tweens Chapter VI - Private Islands Make Fabulous Memories for Families Chapter VII - “Wow” Activities That Will Thrill Your Children and Transform Your Idea of the Family Cruise Experience Chapter VIII - Inside Information on Shore Excursions, the Most Sought-After Cruise Experience Chapter IX - Family Reunions With a Splash: Is a Cruise Right for Your Family? Chapter X - Celebrating Milestones: Holidays, Graduations, and Family Reunions on a Cruise Chapter XI - What’s Your Ideal Cruise Ship Size? Chapter XII - Contemporary Cruises Chapter XIII - Upscale Contemporary Cruises Chapter XIV - Premium Cruises

Chapter XV - Ultra-Premium Cruises Chapter XVI - Ultra-Luxury Cruises Chapter XVII - Luxury Hotel Barges Chapter XVIII - River Cruises Chapter XIX - Expedition Cruises Chapter XX - Small Ship Cruises and Lines with Sailing Vessels and Yachts Chapter XXI - Summary Chapter XXII - About CruiseCompete About the Author: Heidi Allison

Policies subject to change without notice, always check with your travel agent regarding pregnancy policies and children age policies prior to booking your cruise.


Introduction Here’s the Truth About Cruising: Dispelling Some Myths and Finding the Right Cruise for Your Family Thinking of cruising with your family? Cruises make for an excellent family vacation, but it’s important to plan carefully if you want to find the cruise that’s right for everyone in your clan. The experts at CruiseCompete have done the research for you, covering the entire spectrum of options with information on mainstream lines like Disney, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and NCL, as well as unique alternatives like luxury, river, and small ship excursion companies. It’s important to remember that not all cruise lines have children’s programs. Some lines have minimum age requirements for children (and pregnancy policies for expectant parents!), and others don’t permit children to sail at all. If you’re planning a family vacation, pick a cruise line that meets your specific needs, where the kids will be entertained and you can actually enjoy your time on board. It will feel much more like money well spent that way. This guide is designed to kick-start your planning. You’ll find all the information

in an easy-to-read format, with brief summaries so you can see at a glance if the cruise line fits your basic requirements, followed by more detailed information about the atmosphere on board, the destinations you can travel to, and the specific children’s programs available for your kids. Let’s begin by dispelling some commonly held misconceptions about cruising. Myth No. 1: Cruises are too expensive for a family vacation. Reality: A cruise is actually one of the best travel values out there. Most cruises include your selected shipboard accommodations, 24-hour cabin service, standard meals in the dining room and/or various buffets, ports of call, and most entertainment aboard the ship. Children’s programs are also included. On some lines, even airfare and transfers may be included. In addition, many lines are now moving toward a completely all-inclusive format, which makes your cruise experience even more streamlined and simple. Even with all these included amenities, a seven night cruise generally costs less than seven nights at a comparable resort. The food alone, breakfast, lunch, snacks poolside, dinner and cookies and milk at a resort add significant costs to a land vacation. Myth No. 2: People only take cruises when the weather turns cold. Reality: Cruise travel is a year-round pastime. Sure, it is a great way to beat the cold, but families also take cruises during the summer months when children are out of school. Regardless of the time of year, you can find the perfect cruise for your family. Cruises to the Caribbean and Bahamas run year-round, the Alaska cruising season runs May through September, Europe runs from April through November, Bermuda runs from April through October, and the Panama Canal runs between September and April.


2017 Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner

Myth No. 3: You have to have a lot of time for a cruise vacation. Reality:

Cruise lengths actually vary significantly to meet personal tastes. They can vary from a quick three-day jaunt to a world cruise that lasts 100 days or more. It all depends on what you want; there’s no shortage of cruise itineraries to meet your needs. Myth No. 4: We’ll get bored: there’s nothing to do on a cruise. Reality: Cruise ships are floating resorts, with plenty of fun for everyone. The flurry of activities on board a cruise ship is amazing; typical activities include shore excursions, water sports, pool activities, fitness centers, live entertainment, casinos, bingo, dance lessons, talent contests, karaoke, wine tasting, rock wall climbing, spas, movies, and much more. Most days are spent in exotic ports with plenty to see and do. If you have a special interest, the lines cater to these as well: golfers can play challenging, top-ranked island courses (extra fees may apply), gourmets love the dining, and explorers can find a different adventure in every port. In addition, all of the major cruise lines offer organized programs and camps for children. They can participate all day, or only in specific activities. This provides for both fun family time and a chance for parents to relax on their own. Daycare and babysitting services are also available. Myth No. 5: What if there’s a medical emergency? We’ll be in the middle of the ocean with no medical services. Reality: Virtually every cruise ship has a fully equipped medical facility and staff on board to handle almost any emergency. The cruise lines also have precautions in place if a person has to be evacuated to a hospital on land. If you have concerns, be sure to speak with your travel agent to get specifics on the line’s policies. Some tips: • Be sure to purchase trip insurance. Most lines cover these types of medical emergencies • Prescription medication should be kept close at hand in a purse or carry-on, rather than in checked luggage. • Carry a written list of medications with dosages, in case your medications get lost. Cruise vacationers actually have the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time on land. Virtually every cruise features multiple ports of call, giving travelers a chance to visit beautiful, secluded beaches, vibrant cities, and popular tourist sites, as well as to enjoy breathtaking scenery. Every port offers a unique experience. Ships usually arrive in port early in the morning, allowing plenty of time for shopping, dining, visiting historical sites, and exploring the area. Planned excursions, arranged by the ship’s staff or local sightseeing companies, also are available at an extra cost. Myth No. 7: There aren’t any healthy options on board for my family. Reality: While cruises are known for having plenty of food available, cruise lines are very aware of the healthy-eating lifestyles of many cruisers. Every meal offers healthy choices as part of their already extensive food selections, which are prepared under the direction of some of the greatest chefs in the world. Plus, there are plenty of activities on board and off to help people burn away any extra calories during their vacation. Myth No. 6: Cruise ships spend all their time at sea; we won’t see anything! Reality:

Policies subject to change without notice, always check with your travel agent regarding pregnancy policies and children age policies prior to booking your cruise.


Myth No. 8: A cruise ship cabin is claustrophobic; my family will be climbing the walls! Reality: An inside economy cabin does tend to be small and usually lacks a window. An outside cabin (ocean view) has a window or porthole, while a balcony (verandah) cabin has a glass door leading to a balcony that is usually equipped with a small table and chairs. Most ships feature larger suites for those who truly need more space, but realistically, with all the goings- on on board, most passengers spend a limited amount of time in their cabins, and it’s a non-issue. Myth No. 9: We’ll probably all get seasick on a cruise. Reality: Even if you suffer from motion sickness during car rides or on airplanes, it is unlikely you will become seasick on a cruise ship. Due to their immense size and the stabilizers that all ships are equipped with, you probably won’t notice any motion at all. Some parts of the ocean, however, are rougher than others. If you do get seasick, medications are available on board to get you back on your feet quickly. Myth No. 10: We’ll be completely out of touch and unreachable at sea. Reality: While some people relish the thought of getting away from it all, the cruise industry realizes many folks want (or need) to stay in touch. Cell phone connectivity is standard across the industry, and wireless Internet has progressed in leaps and bounds in recent years. As an example, Royal Caribbean’s 4,180-passenger ship Quantum of the Seas has enough bandwidth that friends and family can follow along on your cruise, watching what’s happening via tweets, Facebook, and other social media posts—even your personal blog, if you have one. These developments are of course a response to passengers’ need to be fully connected while on vacation. It’s a huge leap forward in technology, as historically Internet connections aboard ships have been much slower than on land, and data restrictions are in place. Fees currently range from $15 to $30 a day for unlimited usage.


2017 Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner

Chapter I

Top Ten Family Friendly Cruise Lines CruiseCompete believes that every family can have a world-class cruise experience, whatever the size of their family and whatever their interests, budget, and needs. We have researched thousands of reviews from travelers on every ship and cruise line. These reviews gave us deep insight into every cruise line, ship, and destination in this book. After tabulating all the reviews, we discovered which family-friendly cruise lines really stood out. This chapter looks in detail at the top ten—the best of the best.

Royal Caribbean International – Upscale Contemporary Disney Cruise Line – Premium Norwegian Cruise Line – Upscale Contemporary Princess Cruises – Premium MSC Cruises – Upscale Contemporary Celebrity Cruises – Premium

Holland America Line – Premium Carnival Cruises – Contemporary Crystal Cruises – Ultra-Luxury Cunard Line – Ultra-Premium

#1: Royal Caribbean International Minimum Age: Six months (twelve months for transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaiian, select South American, and other selected cruises.) Children’s Programs: Extensive Babysitting: Yes Tickets: http://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/royal_caribbean_cruises.html

New for 2017: Royal Caribbean no longer sails to South America Overview

Royal Caribbean ships are resort cities at sea, offering the most varied and best-quality entertainment for the entire family of any cruise line around. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline rush or uninterrupted tranquility, these ships have it all. Try rock climbing, ice skating, or surfing 200 feet above the waves. Melt away land-based stress with a massage, build a scrapbook, or simply relax poolside.


2017 Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner

Royal Caribbean offers the ultimate in dining experience ambience, and variety, from casual to sophisticated, cupcakes to canapés. World-class entertainment is available around the clock, from Broadway musicals, to the DreamWorks Experience, to ice skating spectaculars, to casinos and live comedy, as well as music, bars, clubs, and more. Children will never be bored thanks to the complimentary Adventure Ocean® Youth Program. The programs are packed with totally awesome stuff for babies, teens, and kids in between: everything from pajama nights and science experiments to scavenger hunts and theme parties. Royal Caribbean International cruises are best for families both with and without children, active couples, and singles of all ages who love the fun of large ships and diverse onboard activities. Even if you never left the ship, you would feel you had an amazing vacation. Destinations Alaska Arabian Gulf Asia Australia / New Zealand

Bahamas Bermuda Canada / New England Caribbean Europe Hawaii Pacific Northwest

Panama Canal Repositioning South Pacific

Transatlantic Transpacific Minimum Age Children must be at least six months old as of the first day of the cruise. However, any cruise that includes three or more consecutive days at sea will require children to be 12 months old as of the first day of the cruise. Babysitting The Babies and Tots Nursery offers parents a drop-off option in the daytime and evening, where their children can be left in the trusting care of trained professionals for an hourly fee. Also for a fee, Sitters at Sea offers babysitting services, both in a group setting and individually in parents’ staterooms. Children must be at least a year old for eligibility. Kids and teens can enjoy activities late into the evening in the Adventure Ocean and teen-only spaces. An hourly rate applies after 10 PM. Pregnancy Policy Royal Caribbean International cannot accept guests who will have entered their twenty-fourth week of pregnancy at any time during the cruise. All guests are required to sign a health questionnaire at check-in to ensure they are aware of our pregnancy policy. A physician’s “Fit to Travel” note is required prior to sailing, stating how far along (in weeks) a guest’s pregnancy will be at the beginning of the cruise and confirming that she is in good health and not experiencing a high-risk pregnancy. The “Fit to Travel” note should be faxed to the Access Department at 1-954-628-9622. Please contact RCL at 1-866-592-7225 or at spe- cial_needs@rccl.com if you have already booked a cruise or cruise tour and do not meet this requirement.

Policies subject to change without notice, always check with your travel agent regarding pregnancy policies and children age policies prior to booking your cruise.


Children’s Programs Infants and Toddlers (0–3 years)

Royal Caribbean International offers Royal Babies® and Royal Tots® interactive playgroup sessions developed by early childhood experts at Fisher-Price®. Each 45-minute session, held on one of the onboard lounges, offers activities that make playtime learning time as well. Children (3–11 years) Royal Caribbean offers a complimentary, award-winning Adventure Ocean® Youth Program for children. Divided by age group, it offers everything from pirate parties and a Jurassic Jr. exploration of dinosaurs, to science experiments and dance parties, to scavenger hunts, sports tournaments, talent shows, and video game tournaments. With the DreamWorks Expe- rience, young cruisers will enjoy fun activities such as story time, dance parties, parades, ice shows, and aqua shows with characters from the DreamWorks Animation movies. Every member of the youth team has extensive education and experience working with children. Children must be100% toilet trained and diaper and pull-up free. Tweens and Teens (12–17 years) Royal Caribbean recognizes that teens are also getting a vacation, not just being looked after. They provide both pre- planned events and a teen-only lounge and nightclub where the older kids can just hang out with people their own age. Pre-planned events include rock climbing, sports competitions, BBQs, movie nights, talent shows, pool parties, karaoke, and even a YSpa with feature services just for teens, including an Acne Attack facial, Beach Babe deep conditioning hair treatment, and the Sole Mate pedicure. #2: Disney Cruise Line Minimum Age: Six months for most sailings; twelve months for certain destinations Children’s Programs: Extensive Babysitting: Yes Tickets: http://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/disney_cruises.html New for 2017: • Disney Wonder has undergone several upgrades. The Flounder’s Reef Nursery aboard the Wonder is now called It’s a Small World Nursery as it is called on Disney’s other ships. • Disney Cruise Line does not have any Hawaii Itineraries for 2017 • Marvel’s Avengers Academy is now also available aboard the Disney Wonder • Star Wars: Millennium Falcon play area is new aboard the Disney Dream. This play area features arts, crafts, broadcasts of Star Wars Rebel, and computer stations with games from the Disney XD show, Star Wars Rebel. Overview For a line that’s focused on kids and their families, and which offers comfortably casual cruise experiences, Disney has created elegant, modern ships with features that can be appreciated by young and old alike. The oversize staterooms can


2017 Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner

accommodate a family of four (some family cabins hold six); all have bathtubs (a must for little kids), TV, hair dryers, and safes; and about 40% have verandas. Some cabins have the luxury of an added half-bath. As might be expected from Disney, the children’s programs are exceptional at every level, from the nurseries to the teen options. There are hands-on science programs, high-tech interactive programs, treasure hunts, and just about everything to amuse, entertain, and enrich young passengers. Depending on the ship, older kids might get video games, listening sta- tions, smoothie bars, and even outdoor hot tubs. The technology throughout the newer ships—high-speed computers, mo- tion sensors, and LCD screens—is so dazzling that adults, too, are drawn to the interactive “art” and the “magic” floors. Disney has wisely created adults-only areas (restaurants, lounges, clubs, and spas) on all ships, as well as on the line’s private island, Castaway Cay. The Disney Dream, for example, has a section called The District, which encompasses sev- eral lounges and nightclubs and caters to adults in the evening. As the passenger list is composed mostly of families, the adults-only areas are generally pleasantly uncrowded. Disney cruises are best for anyone who loves the magic of Disney and wants a big-ship cruise experience rich with activi- ties for the whole family. They’re perfect for family reunions and multigenerational families who understand and appreci- ate the Disney product. Destinations Alaska Bahamas California Coast Canada and New England Caribbean Disney’s Castaway Cay Europe Mexico Panama Canal Transatlantic Minimum Age Your child needs to be at least 6 months of age on the day of sailing for most itineraries. The minimum age for transatlantic, and Panama Canal itineraries is 1 year of age on the day of sailing. Babysitting Care for children from six months to three years of age is available at the It’s a Small World Nursery. . Pregnancy Policy Women who have entered their twenty-fourth week of pregnancy as of their embarkation date will be refused passage due to safety concerns. Neither a physician’s medical statement nor a waiver of liability will be accepted. In addition, Disney Cruise Line cannot be held responsible or liable for any complications relating to pregnancy at any stage. Children’s Programs Infants and Toddlers (newborn–3 years) It’s A Small World Nursery - It’s a Small World Nursery, a delightful nursery for young children located on Deck 5, mid-

Policies subject to change without notice, always check with your travel agent regarding pregnancy policies and children age policies prior to booking your cruise.


ship on the Disney Dream, Disney Magic, Disney Wonder and Disney Fantasy, is a themed space–inspired by the classic Disneyland Resort attraction (with original artwork by Mary Blair) that provides care for little ones aged six months to three years. It’s a Small World Nursery is available at an additional charge and must be reserved in advance: $9.00per hour for the first child and $8.00 per hour for the second child in the same family. Children (3–11 years) Disney’s Oceaneer Club A children’s activity center located on Deck 5, midship, Disney’s Oceaneer Club is the perfect place for kids to dress up as their favorite princess or hero, play computer games, and enjoy a wide variety of supervised themed activities throughout the day. Disney’s Oceaneer Club includes four distinctly themed play areas (Andy’s Room, Monster’s Academy, Pixie Hollow, and Explorer Pod, all based on kid-favorite Disney and Pixar movies), computer banks with child-friendly computers, a reading area, a small stage for games, multiple televisions, play structures, and a giant TV screen. What makes Disney’s Oceaneer Club even more magical is an endless supply of toys and games, an open seating area for arts and crafts, and ongoing Disney movies. Mats for naps are also available. Children are invited to partake in a wide range of delightfully themed activities available at Disney’s Oceaneer Club. While some activities are recommended for certain age ranges, participation is based on a child’s interest level and maturity—not age. As a result of this, siblings and friends aged 3–12 can play together without restriction. Although subject to change, activities at Disney’s Oceaneer Club may include: Disney’s Once Upon a Time - Bartleby the Bookmaker leads the kids through the art of bookmaking and wows them with his very special talent: When he reads the books, he makes the characters come to life! Puzzle Playtime with Mickey and Friends - Mickey Mouse and his pals stop by to play some of their favorite games with Disney Cruise Line’s youngest cruisers and their families. Tinker Bell’s Talent Show - Tinker Bell has come from Pixie Hollow to Disney Cruise Line to help young cruisers dis- cover their Fairy Talents and to give them the opportunity to shine. You can register your child for Disney’s Oceaneer Club either at the terminal or on board the ship. Upon boarding the ship on embarkation day, both children and parents must check in at the front desk at Disney’s Oceaneer Club. During this con- firmation process, parents will fill out final paperwork and children will receive a wristband indicating that they are part of Disney’s Oceaneer Club. During the registration process, parents are invited to tour the facility, meet the counselors, and learn more about the many activities offered. Children aged 3–12 with special needs are welcome at Disney’s Oceaneer Club. Simply let the counselors know in ad- vance and they will accommodate you as best they can. Marvel’s Avengers Academy - Aboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, you can let your young crime fighters help with special missions and operations—Avengers’ style. Star Wars: Millennium Falcon play area is new aboard the Disney Dream. This play area features arts, crafts, broadcasts of Star Wars Rebel, and computer stations with games from the Disney XD show, Star Wars Rebel. Mickey Mouse Club - A fun space where kids can make crafts, enjoy games, and play with Goofy Gears. Dining at Disney’s Oceaneer Club - Children are invited to enjoy lunch and dinner at Disney’s Oceaneer Club.


2017 Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner

Royal Court Tea Aboard the Disney Fantasy - This special activity is offered during 7-night itineraries aboard the Dis- ney Fantasy. Enjoy a royal teatime that includes visits from Disney Princesses. Disney’s Oceaneer Lab - Disney’s Oceaneer Lab—a children’s activity center located at Deck 5, Midship aboard the Dis- ney Dream, Disney Fantasy, Disney Magic, and Disney Wonder—is the ideal place for children to play and learn while at sea thanks to the plethora of imaginatively themed activities and games available daily. Disney’s Oceaneer Lab is a play space designed for children and dedicated to adventure and exploration. It’s an ideal location for children ages 3 to 12 years of age to play, featuring a seemingly endless supply of toys, games, and Disney movies. It is a space for educational experiments with a variety of supervised activities throughout the day. There are individual computer stations, and in addition it is the staging area and starting point for a ship-wide quest game, in which young explorers gather and decipher clues during an exciting adventure around the ship. Disney’s Oceaneer Lab is designed with delightful amenities, including: • A stage in the main hall where kids can hear stories of great expeditions and star in their own swashbuckling plays. • A 103-inch plasma screen, which displays Disney movies and interactive animated characters, including Disney’s mischievous animated alien Stitch, whose unrehearsed, real-time antics are sure to bring laughter. • A workshop and laboratory where kids concoct crazy experiments, stretch their culinary skills, and participate in other hands-on activities. Children are invited to partake in a wide range of delightfully themed activities available at Disney’s Oceaneer Lab. While some activities are recommended for certain age ranges, participation is based on a child’s interest level and maturity—not age. As a result of this, siblings and friends ages 3-12 can play together without restriction. Although subject to change, activities at Disney’s Oceaneer Lab may include: Monsters, Inc Open “Mike” Night – Mike Wazowski and the other monsters of the Disney•Pixar film Monsters, Inc. have lost their voices and are unable to collect kids’ laughter to power Monstropolis. It’s up to the kids to put on a comedy show for their parents so they can save Monstropolis from certain doom. Get the Hook! – Captain Hook’s favorite dress hook has been stolen and the kids must help him find it and catch the cul- prit. Led by Detective Clue and featuring site-specific crime scenes, their three-day search for clues will take them all over the ship as it sails the sea, culminating in a reward from the Captain himself. Super Sloppy Science with Professor Make-O-Mess – Professor Make-O-Mess is a world-famous scientist who is known for performing the sloppiest science experiments around. Now teens can partake in some educational fun as the Parents should note that children have the ability to move back and forth between Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab during most operating hours to experience activities. Youth activity counselors will be on hand to direct children. The workshop and laboratory connect Disney’s Oceaneer Lab to Disney’s Oceaneer Club. Themed Spaces – Branching off the Oceaneer Lab’s main room are several themed play spaces: Media Room – Children can kick back and relax in bean bag chairs and watch movies, play video games, or even read a book. Animator’s Studio – Designed as a working animation studio, this room allows children to create original, hand-drawn art or learn how to sketch their favorite Disney characters. With the help of a youth counselor, kids can even design and bring to life computer-animated characters. professor offers some hands-on training that will surely having them laughing and learning. Dining – Children are invited to enjoy lunch and dinner at Disney’s Oceaneer Lab.

Policies subject to change without notice, always check with your travel agent regarding pregnancy policies and children age policies prior to booking your cruise.


The Wheelhouse – This space is all about technology, featuring numerous computers and large, high-definition LCD screens. Here, young technophiles can compete in a unique Pirates of the Caribbean game exclusive to DCL. Sound Studio – This interactive area is dedicated to children who appreciate music and want to create it. Craft Studio – Children seeking a more tactile artistic experience can escape from technology to this creative studio and create hands-on arts and crafts projects. Tweens and Teens (11–17 years) Edge, a tweens-exclusive space located at Deck 13 inside the Forward Funnel aboard the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy, as well as on Deck 2, Midship aboard the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder, is a scenic spot where kids ages 11 through 14 can play videogames, watch television, listen to music, surf the Internet, and partake in various activities with kids their own age. Vibe, a teens-exclusive space located at Deck 11, Midship aboard the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder, and Deck 5, Forward aboard the Disney Dream and the Disney Fantasy, is a hip hotspot featuring an indoor lounge and breezy sundeck where teens aged 14 through 17 can listen to music, watch television, and play videogames inside—or catch some rays and splash it up out on deck. #3: Norwegian Cruise Line Minimum Age: Six months (twelve months for voyages of three days or longer) Children’s Programs: Extensive Babysitting: Yes Tickets: http://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/norwegian_cruises.html New for 2017: • GRAMMY® Experience at sea is no longer an activity aboard NCL

• The Cake Boss’s Carlo’s Bakery does not appear to be onboard NCL’s ships any longer. • NCL now sails Asia itineraries, as well as sailings to Australia and New Zealand • Teen Center now has a WiiU in place of the old Wii game systems. Overview

Norwegian Cruise Line revolutionized the industry in 2000 when it introduced “Freestyle Cruising,” which allowed pas- sengers greater freedom to dine when they like (with extended restaurant hours), where they like (with a number of alter- native venues), with whom they like (with open seating), with freedom to dress as they please (with a “resort casual” dress code at night), and other relaxations of the usual cruise ship procedures. One of the most appealing freestyle elements is Norwegian’s disembarkation procedure, which is far more relaxed and pleasant than is usual on other large vessels. Moving to create one of the industry’s youngest and most modern fleets, Norwegian eliminated some of its older ships and added four Jewel-class ships between 2005 and 2008. But the biggest step forward was made with the new F3-class design of the Norwegian Epic and the Norwegian Breakaway, which have more than twenty dining venues (with electronic reservation


2017 Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner

systems), luxury villas, interconnecting cabins, family-suitable suites, multi-purpose indoor and outdoor spaces, huge water- parks, bowling alleys, champagne bars, ice bars, solo cabins (the first in the industry), and superior live entertainment. At a time when air travel is becoming increasingly unpleasant, especially for families, Norwegian offers departures from a number of US homeports, including New York, Seattle, New Orleans, Boston, and Tampa. Also appealing: the line often advertises excellent discount deals, such as $99 children’s fares and complimentary onboard credits. NCL is the only cruise line that offers year-round Hawaii cruises. There is so much to see and do aboard Norwegian’s newer ships: Latin-inspired dance productions by Burn the Floor, world-class magicians, really good comedy shows, fireworks at sea, a “hot” ice bar, and a wealth of dining options to satisfy any foodie. There’s generally a surcharge for specialty dining and reservations are required (savvy passengers, hit the electronic reser- vations ASAP to avoid disappointment!). Regardless of the event or dining venue, no one is ever required to put on formal dress; resort casual is fine for restaurant dining and the usual shorts and flip-flops are okay for almost everything else. Norwegian ships feature full-service Mandara spas, which also offer popular specialties like teeth whitening. Typical clientele include a mix of age groups, such as the usual mature travelers, but also young families and couples, both straight and gay. Most travelers are American, but also include other English speakers from the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Norwegian cruises are best for adults and families who want a fun and lively cruise experience where there are few rules or fixed schedules. They’re also good for solo travelers who don’t want to pay a single supplement. Destinations Alaska Asia Australia and New Zealand Bahamas and Florida Bermuda Canada and New England Caribbean Pacific Coastal Panama Canal South America Transatlantic Minimum Age Infants sailing on board a Norwegian vessel must be at least six months of age at time of sailing. However, for voyages that have three or more consecutive days at sea, infants must be at least 12 months old at time of sailing. Babysitting Norwegian doesn’t offer babysitting but instead Group Sitting Services for children aged 3-12 every night from 10:30 PM to 1:30 AM, and on port days while the ship is docked. Parents are encouraged to sign up in advance for both services. If no children are signed up or dropped off by 11:30 PM for the nightly service, the youth center will close for the evening. The fees are charged to your onboard account. Europe Hawaii Mexican Riviera

Policies subject to change without notice, always check with your travel agent regarding pregnancy policies and children age policies prior to booking your cruise.


Pregnancy Policy NCL will not accept guests who will have entered their twenty-fourth week of pregnancy by the time their travel with NCL concludes. A statement from the expectant mother’s doctor (letterhead form required) stating her due date and fitness to travel must be sent to NCL’s Access Desk (accessdesk@ncl.com). Children’s Programs Infants, Toddlers, and Children (6 months–12 years) Splash Academy for Kids This program is specifically designed to engage active and creative kids aged six months to 12 years old. Whether it’s learning to juggle at circus school with Cirque du Jour (presented by Hilario Productions), working on arts and crafts projects, or getting the high score on Wii, there’s plenty of fun for everyone throughout the ship. The Splash Academy operates from 9 to 12pm and 2 pm to 5 pm and 7 pm to 10:30 pm on at Sea Days; and from Port Arrival Time to 10:30 pm on port days; and 8pm to 10:30 pm on embarkation day. The transition from Splash Academy to Late Night Fun Zone begins a t 10:30 PM. Late Night Fun Zone cost is $6.00 per hour per child, $4.00 per sibling per hour. There is a 15 minute transition time between Splash Academy and Lite Night Fun Zone offered before charges are applied. Hours of Operations Port Day: Port Arrival Time – 10:30 p.m.
 Sea Days: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m./2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m./7:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
 Teens (13–17 years) Entourage for Teens Play a pickup game of soccer. Take part in a theater or fashion workshop. Dive into an interactive pool party. There’s so much to do around the ship, and your teens can choose whatever activities they like. Sporting Activities  NCL has over twenty interactive sports on ship that encourage teamwork, bonding, and confidence building, including: basketball, ultimate Frisbee, rounders and triangle ball. Themed Events Between watching scary movies for vampire night and singing your favorite pop songs while playing an air guitar at a nighttime pool party, there’s something exciting happening every night. Teen Center Chill in the teen lounge with flat-screen televisions, WiiU, air hockey, foosball, and more. Then dance the night away to the beats of the video jukebox.


2017 Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner

#4: Princess Cruises Minimum Age: Six months or twelve months, depending on destination Children’s Programs: Extensive Babysitting: In-cabin babysitting is not available on any ship. Tickets: http://www.cruisecompete.com/lines/princess_cruises.html

New for 2017 • The Ocean Princess is no longer part of Princess’s Fleet

• Princess now offers Late Night Group Kidsitting for children ages 3 to 12 years is offered in the Youth Centers from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am for a charge of $5.00 per hour per child, except on Pacific Princess. Kids can relax and watch movies or play games with their friends while mom and dad have a relaxing night out. Overview A good slogan for Princess might be: “Have It Your Way,” for the line has a fleet of different ship styles, sails itineraries all over the world, and successfully blends traditional cruise elements with more modern amenities. For example, the line has set seating, and also offers “Anytime Dining.” The entertainment mix includes traditional Ve- gas-style revues, talent shows, and comedians, not to mention “Movies Under the Stars.” The dining mix (which varies by ship) might include a New Orleans–style café or an Italian restaurant. The three-deck Piazza, a relatively new feature that’s being expanded to older ships, includes a 24-hour café, a wine bar, and Alfredo’s pizza, as well as shops and a performance venue. Princess ships have casinos, nightclubs, discos, and kids’ clubs. All have Lotus spas and fitness centers that offer yoga and other classes. Some spas feature alternative therapies like acupuncture; the newer ones have such medi-spa options as Bo- tox and other fillers. Depending on the ship, activities might include art auctions and all kinds of classes, some of which carry a fee: computer technology, photography, ceramics, or cooking. The newest (Royal Class) ships have expanded piazzas, SeaWalks (glass-enclosed walkways), and Princess Live! (an interactive TV studio). Princess cruises include both formal nights (one for 7-to-13-night trips) and smart casual nights. Formal means a tuxedo or dark suit for men and gowns, cocktail dresses, or fancy-pants suits for women. “Smart casual” means pants and open- neck shirts for men and dresses, skirts, or slacks and sweaters or blouses for women. T-shirts, shorts, and halter tops are not allowed in the dining room, and shoes are required. Back in “the old days” of cruising, friends and family were allowed to come aboard with passengers, perhaps to share some champagne and small treats before sailing. That sweet custom ended, but Princess revived it with the “Bon Voy- age” experience, which allows guests to come aboard for a tour and lunch with wine. The package, which runs about four hours, costs $39 and is a nice way to share the cruise experience. (And if any guests decide to take a cruise after sampling the experience, that $39 can be applied to the price.) Depending on the ship, fellow passengers can include family groups, couples, singles, or mature travelers. On the big or mid-size ships, you’ll find the broadest mix. Princess Cruises’ smaller ship, Pacific Princess—has fewer features that appeal to families and sail longer itineraries to more exotic ports, so it attracts older travelers.

Policies subject to change without notice, always check with your travel agent regarding pregnancy policies and children age policies prior to booking your cruise.


The mid-size and big ships are best for couples, families, multi-generational groups, and singles who enjoy an active environment and want many itinerary choices. For mature travelers who want a small-ship experience with few children, longer itineraries and off-the-beaten-path ports, the Pacific Princess is a good choice. Destinations Alaska Asia, India, and Africa Australia and New Zealand California Coastal Canada and New England Caribbean Europe Hawaii, Tahiti and South Pacific Japan Mexico The minimum Passenger age is 6 months on Alaskan, Canada/New England, Caribbean, European, Mexican, and Panama Canal cruises, and 12 months on all other cruises to places such as Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the Indian subcontinent, South America, the South Pacific, Hawaii, Tahiti, transatlantic and world cruises. The minimum age for escorted cruise tours is five. Babysitting There is no in cabin sitting available. But Princess now offers Late Night Group Kidsitting for children ages 3 to 12 years is offered in the Youth Centers from 10:00 pm to 1:00 am for a charge of $5.00 per hour per child, except on Pacific Princess. Kids can relax and watch movies or play games with their friends while mom and dad have a relaxing night out. Pregnancy Policy Pregnant women are not allowed to sail if they are entering the twenty-fourth week of their pregnancy by the last day of the cruise. All pregnant women in their second trimester are required to produce a physician’s letter stating that mother and baby are in good health and fit to travel, and asserting that the pregnancy is not high-risk. The letter must also include the estimated date of delivery calculated from both last menstrual period and ultrasound (if performed), and may be faxed to the Fleet Medical Department’s confidential fax line at 1-661-753-0121. Children’s Programs Infants and Toddlers (0–3 years) Children under the age of three are welcome to visit the Youth Center, if accompanied and supervised by a parent at all times. Children (3–12 years) All vessels, with the exception of the Ocean and Pacific Princess, have dedicated Youth Centers and Teen Lounges. These two vessels offer youth programs when twenty or more children, aged 3–17, are traveling on a given voyage. Panama Canal South America World Cruise Minimum Age


2017 Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner

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