Let me paint you a picture. The warmth of the sun is ever-so-slightly starting to fade as it kisses the horizon in the evening, there’s a gentle breeze across your toes as your close your eyes and lie back, sipping from your fresh cocktail and starting to feel yourself drift, a wave of serenity just passing over you, when suddenly:
“Mummy, I need the toilet!”
“Dad, can I go play arcades?”
“Muuuuuum, he hit me!”
“Daaaaad, I need the toilet again…”
…it was nice while it lasted, right?
But on a cruise ship it doesn’t have to be like this. Now I don’t want to offend families and this blog is by no means trying to just tell you how you can dump them somewhere and enjoy peace time without them. Well, it sort of is, but I’m not saying you should necessarily. Family holidays are great and you’ll have plenty of time to do things together but sometimes we all want a little quiet, and the chance to do something purely for ourselves.
A number of cruise lines have kids clubs but today I’m focussing on the Adventure Ocean Youth Programme on Royal Caribbean ships. There are actually seven different clubs on the ship as part of Adventure Ocean, because teenagers don’t want to be spending time with toddlers. The clubs are designed so that everyone has fun, and they aren’t just a holding pen for the benefit of parents.
If you’re taking a very young child on-board, parents can attend a programme session with their child for interactive play classes that allow kids to learn and have fun. Different groups are available for children aged six to 18 months, and for 18-36 months. Alternatively if your child is at least one year old, you can use the Royal Babies & Tots Nursery for a low hourly fee in the daytime and evening.
There are then three pre-teen adventure clubs, including Aquanauts (for 3-5 years), Explorers (6-8 years) and Voyagers (9-11 years). Each group has tailored activities such as pirate parties, interactive science activities, sports games and more, which are often educational but always primarily fun.
Teenagers aren’t forgotten too, with groups for 12-14 years and 15-17 years with their own activities such as BBQ parties, karaoke and talent shows, movies nights and a wealth of other exciting things to do.
There are also some teen-only spots on the ship, with freedom for guests to come and go as they please, including a lounge and a nightclub just for teenagers.
Late-evening activities are available, with an hourly charge after 10pm. If you just want someone to keep an eye on your children, babysitting services are also available either in groups or in your own stateroom. But it goes to show there are plenty of options for keeping the kids busy while you do your own thing. Just be careful – you might struggle to drag them away to spend any time with you!
By Ian Lewis