All cruise lines catering for families have free children’s clubs, usually for children aged two or three to 17, although activities for younger children are available with parent participation. Paid-for baby-sitting or night nurseries can often be arranged at night.
Royal Caribbean International has a Royal Babies programme (6-18 months but parents must attend), Royal Tots (18-36 months, with parents) and three Adventure Ocean age groups up to 11 including educational activities such as Certified Jr Adventure Scientists. There are also Tween and Teen groups and paid-for baby-sitting in a group setting or parents’ cabin, for children at least 12 months old.
MSC Cruises has free clubs for children: Baby (under-3s, although children under 1 must be accompanied by an adult), Mini (3-6 years), Junior (7-11 years), Young (12-14 years) and Teen (15-17 years). It will have the first LEGO-themed playrooms at sea on refitted MSC Armonia and two new ships launching in 2017. It is also developing children-only areas with Chicco, the Italian baby care brand.
P&O Cruises’ new ship Britannia has a teenagers-only outdoor space as well as an indoor hangout with video game zones. Children aged 13 to 17 are one of four age groups it caters for, starting from Splashers (2-4 years).
Britannia has P&O Cruises’ most advanced Night Nursery facility, but this is also available on the line’s other family ships from 6pm until 2am. Latest check-in is 11pm and the service is free, with parents given a pager in case children wake up.
Disabled children are welcomed to join in kids’ clubs activities, but if they need one-to-one care a parent or carer must be with them.
“All of our 24 ships have dedicated facilities and spaces for kids… We’re constantly looking to introduce new spaces on our ships such as the recent introduction of the Bookville, our Dr Seuss reading corner,” says Erin Johnson, Marketing Director of Carnival Cruise Lines.