It was only a six-word headline. But in the world of kids cruising, they don’t come much bigger than this: “Disney takes Star Wars to sea”.
The extraordinary growth of family cruising has created a shipboard revolution – ships designed to accommodate tiny passengers who once would have been left at home.
This has created a demand for brands that attract this kind of sailor: Dr Seuss, Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. And now Darth Vadar is joining their ranks.
For parents, it can all be a bit confusing. So Cruise Passenger set out – with an expert panel of two – to road-test two of our most successful kid-friendly ships.
Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Legend and Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas both sail in Australian waters.
Voyager of the Seas
One of the biggest drawcards on Voyager is the FlowRider surf simulator, the most talked-about ride of 2014.
It is also the first ship with a proper ice rink where champion skaters dazzle guests with their spectacular flips and turns. But when the rink is not being dominated by the professionals, the kids can take a twirl around the ice.
For young movie fans, Voyager has a 3D cinema where new releases from DreamWorks Animation and other studios come to life. The ship also has an outdoor cinema above the pool area where kids can watch movies while vegging out on sunloungers.
Kids who love parades can meet Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and other DreamWorks characters on board. They will even pop up at breakfast.
Other activities include a rock-climbing wall, basketball court and an arcade room with video games.
Voyager offers a range of meals that will appeal to even the fussiest kids. There are healthy options like grilled chicken breast, turkey burgers, steaks and fish, but there are also the usual kids’ favourites including macaroni cheese, burgers, pizzas and an array of desserts.
Frozen drinks are served in the Windjammer dining room. Kids can choose from Oreo Cookie, Berry Banana Colada, Bora Bora Brew and many more.
There are special dining times so the entire family can eat together. Kids who love DreamWorks characters can sit down and have breakfast with Shrek and Fiona. But it’s not just for kids – parents, you may enjoy the spread more than the kids!
If the little darlings don’t want to eat with you, there’s the My Family Dining Time when kids aged between three and 11 are served their meals, then picked up by the line’s Adventure Ocean staff.
Like Legend, Voyager has a number of interconnecting rooms, so for parents who are a bit freaked out about the kids sleeping in a separate room, there is always this option.
But for those who may only have one child travelling with them, a stateroom is large enough to cater for you and your spouse, as well as a rollaway for your child.
In conjunction with Fisher-Price there is a special program for babies aged 6-18 months called Royal Babies, while tots aged 18-36 months have the option of Royal Tots. Parents must accompany their baby/tot to these.
Club Ocean, for kids aged three to 11, offers activities such as finger painting, puppetry and much more.
For older kids (age 12-plus), Navigators offers video games, air hockey, foosball and Karaoke. There are also pool and dance parties as well as scavenger hunts. Meanwhile teens aged 15 to 17 have their own hangouts such as Living Room and Fuel. Here they can watch movies, listen to music, play video games and even make up their own talent shows.
Voyager has an in-room babysitting service for kids aged over 12 months. This must be organised at least 24 hours in advance and costs $8 an hour for two children from the same family or $10 per hour for a maximum of three children.
The Adventure Ocean Centre provides group sitting from 10pm to 1am for $5 per hour, per child. For this, children have to be at least three years old and fully potty trained.
Check out latest cruise deals aboard Voyager of the Seas here
There is a plethora of activities for kids on Legend. One of the ship’s standout features is the heart-stopping Green Thunder slide, the steepest and fastest waterslide at sea and the main attraction of the top-deck Carnival Waterworks. This area also features Carnival’s Twister Waterslide and a SplashZone with mini racing slides and a giant tipping bucket.
But it’s not all about getting wet. There is also a miniature golf course, a multipurpose sports court and a range of youth programs on offer. These include pirate adventures, painting and story time. Those who are a bit more creative can make their own soft toy in the Beary Cuddly workshop or learn how to make Carnival Cruise Lines’ famous towel creations.
For families who want to eat dinner together, Legend has seating times that start at 5.30pm. There is also a later seating option at 7.45pm.
Kids who would rather have dinner with their new mates can join a kids-only supervised dinner at 5.30pm in the Lido restaurant.
At Fat Kimmy’s C-side BBQ, kids have the choice of delicious fare such as pulled pork sandwiches and Italian sausages. And what kid doesn’t love pizza and ice-cream – these two staples are available on board 24/7.
There are healthy choices, too, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables on offer.
For something a bit different, Legend hosts a Green Eggs and Ham breakfast with Dr Seuss’s Cat in the Hat and Friends. This fantastical breakfast includes brightly coloured fruit, gravity-defying pancake stacks, funky French toast and much more.
If you’re worried about the kids sleeping by themselves in their own room, never fear because Legend offers interconnecting rooms. So the kids can be nearby (but not too near) if you are looking for some privacy.
Legend has 53 sets of interconnecting rooms. There are also plenty of quad-share rooms with flexible configurations that include a massive king-size bed for parents and two singles for the kids.
Legend has a range of kids’ clubs for tiny tots to teens to keep them out of trouble during the cruise, including port days.
Camp Carnival offers loads of activities, from arts and crafts to sport and dance classes. It is available for children in three different age groups: two to five years, six to eight years and nine to 11 years.
Circle C is a great spot for kids aged 12 to 14. It’s ideal for teens who want to make new friends and enjoy activities like dance parties, games and outdoor movies.
For older teens (15 to 17) there is Club O2. This is a space where they can watch movies, listen to music, play sports and video games, have Karaoke sessions and even pool parties.
The Night Owl program offers a child-friendly late-night activities, from pyjama parties to team challenges. Carnival doesn’t offer in-room babysitting but, for a fee of $15, kids aged two to 11 can join one of four Owl Jams between 10pm and midnight. Night Owl services are also available for parents who need a babysitter between 10am and 1am. The service accepts children from 12 months to 11 years for a fee of $8 an hour.
Check out latest deals aboard Carnival Legend here
Read Carnival Legend and Voyager of the Seas reviews in Rate Your Ship here
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