Teen hangouts with mocktail bars, gaming stations and DJ training? Padded play spaces for crawlers? Dr. Seuss and slumber parties? If your family is saying "yes, please" to all of the above, then you'll want to check out the five best kids clubs on cruises. Our favourite lines are working hard to keep your kids entertained onboard, and these exclusive areas for children, ages 6 months to 17 years, are bound to wow you.
1. Royal Caribbean's Adventure Ocean
Why We Love It: Royal Caribbean's award-winning Adventure Ocean kids club has large play spaces for each different age groups -- Aquanauts for kids aged three to five, Explorers for kids aged six to eight and Voyagers for kids aged nine to 11. There’s also a nursery for babies and toddlers, as well as hangouts for teens and tweens. Partnerships with Crayola and Fisher-Price keep the little ones happy, while DJ classes and plenty of video games appeal to the teen set. Plus, My Family Time Dining offers an option that lets kids finish dinner in the main dining room in 45 minutes, then get escorted by Adventure Ocean counsellors back to the kids' club to play while Mum and Dad dine at leisure.
2. Carnival's Camp Ocean
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Why We Love It: Carnival cruises attract lots of families with a focus on fun and affordability. The ships' kids clubs are routinely packed, and families appreciate separate spaces for kids, tweens and teens; Dr. Seuss-themed events and spaces (such as the Seuss-a-palooza Parade and Story Time and the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast); and plenty of games, crafts (including Build-A-Bear workshops), parties and scavenger hunts to keep everyone entertained. With the new Camp Ocean (formerly Camp Carnival), youth activities offer a marine theme that mixes education and play.
3. Celebrity X Club Youth Program
Ships: Celebrity Solstice
Why We Love It: Celebrity Solstice's youth program includes organised activities for kids of all ages from 9am to 10pm every day. Kids can participate in exciting games, sports, crafts, music, karaoke, treasure hunts, theme parties, movies and more. The Fun Factory (for three- to 11-year-olds) is broken into three separate programs Shipmates, Cadets and Ensigns. The X-Club (for kids ages 12 to 17) is a teen hangout with a soft drink "bar", a popcorn machine and a variety of social activities, gaming consoles and sports. There’s even a fun Toddler Time program for kids under three who are accompanied by their parents. We also love that Solstice provides lunch, dinner and slumber parties (for children aged three to 11) so parents can enjoy the night alone.
4. P&O Cruises Kids Clubs
Why We Love It: All P&O ships offer a kids’ club program developed with guidance from professional childhood educators, which means activities onboard are fun and educational. P&O also limit the number of children on each cruise so every child receives a high level of care and attention. The program is divided into four age categories: Turtle Cove and Shark Shack for kids aged three-10 and HQ and HQ+ for kids aged 11-15. Activities range from toys, educational games, crafts and talent shows for youngsters to movies, video games, themed parties and karaoke for older kids. Music-loving teens will also love Teen Jam and junior film buffs will enjoy BroadShorts, which offers teens the chance to make their own stop motion movie.
5. Princess' Fun Zone
Why We Love It: The Princess Kids Fun Zone offers facilities for children aged three to 17 run by a team of enthusiastic and experienced youth staff. There are a variety of imaginative age-appropriate activities; Wii, PlayStation3, X-Box and board games; and themed nights. Princess Cruises partnership with Discovery has added additional activities including science experiments made popular by Mythbusters, arts and crafts inspired by Animal Planet and a California Science Centre-endorsed solar system design. And at the Remix Lounge teens can participate in activities that include Zumba, karaoke and trivia quizzes and make use of the video games, movie library and board games.