Families are a very important market for Carnival Cruise Lines. The company expects to carry more than 700,000 children on their fleet of ships this year. “That’s more than any other cruise line and double what we carried just a decade ago,” says Jim Berra, Carnival’s Chief Marketing Officer.
With the roll out of innovative new spaces and programs, such as Seuss at Sea and Bookville, Carnival Cruise Lines has further enriched its appeal to families of young children. Carnival already had some strong advantages, though. While most cruise lines’ full-day, free of charge children’s programs start at three years of age, Carnival Cruise Lines’ free fleetwide children’s program begins at age two. In addition, unlike on many other cruise lines, Carnival’s Youth Staff are allowed to change diapers for children under three.
If you’re considering cruising with children ages two and under, take a look at five of the amenities Carnival offers for families with little ones:
1. Free Camp Ocean For Ages 2 and Up: Carnival’s new Camp Ocean children’s program launched on the Carnival Freedom and will be replacing Carnival’s existing Camp Carnival program on all ships by 2016. Carnival’s Camp Ocean program includes over 200 marine-themed activities for kids and each age group has their own fun space. The Penguin-themed area in Camp Ocean is adorable. Camp Ocean’s Penguins group includes ages 2-5, so families with siblings who are close in age would be paired together here. Parents of little ones still in diapers must bring along a diaper bag with supplies when they check their child into the program. Parents of children 3 and under are also given a communications device to help stay in touch if they need to be contacted.
Camp Ocean generally runs from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Kids in the Penguins 2-5 age group can eat dinner with the Camp Ocean Youth Counselors each evening (free of charge) if desired. Parents can also leave their kids in the Camp Ocean program on days when the ship is in port and go off exploring on their own. Parents on a Carnival excursion can show their tickets to the Youth Staff so that in an emergency, the Youth Staff can contact the tour operator who will let parents know to return to the ship.
2. Delightful Seuss At Sea Programs: As part of an exclusive partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises, Carnival is rolling out Seuss At Sea – a series of family dining and entertainment experiences. Little kids will enjoy participating in the Seuss-a-palooza Character Parade and listening to the interactive storytelling at Seuss-a-palooza Story Time, all free events that are fun for the entire family. Another great feature of Seuss At Sea is the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with the Cat in the Hat and Friends. At $5 per person, this character breakfast is one of the best values at sea. In addition to fun food, lovable Dr. Seuss characters such as the Cat in the Hat, Thing One and Thing Two, and Sam are available for interactive meet & greet sessions. Dr. Seuss movies and photo opportunities are also available throughout the cruise. Seuss At Sea programs are currently available on four Carnival ships and a total of eight ships will have the program by the end of 2014. Fleetwide implementation is expected to be completed by 2015.
3. Enchanting Bookville Reading Area: While having some adults-only time is important, parents want to spend time together with their little ones on vacation. Bookville, currently available on the Carnival Freedom, is the perfect place for parents to read with their tots and play together. This colorful Dr. Seuss-inspired space features colorful furniture, whimsical Dr. Seuss caricatures on the walls, and a wide variety of Dr. Seuss books and related games. Bookville will also be available on the new Carnival Vista in 2016.
4. Daytime Babysitting for Kids Under 2: Carnival knows parents of little ones need to enjoy some alone time, too. That’s why the cruise line has set aside specific hours when the Camp Ocean Youth Staff can take care of kids ages 2 and under. On days at sea, parents can leave their children under 2 with the camp’s Youth Staff from 8-10 a.m. for a fee of $6.75 per hour plus a 15% gratuity, per child. The Camp Ocean facilities are also exclusively available to parents and children under 2 during those hours. If parents want to stay and play with their children in the Camp Ocean facilities at that time, they can do so free of charge. During days when ships are in port, Camp Ocean’s care for children under two starts 15 minutes before the first tour until 12 noon, or from 1-5 p.m. for ships arriving in port after noon. Camp Ocean is only available for drop-off care on port days. The fee for children under two is $6.75 per hour plus a 15% gratuity, per child.
5. Evening Babysitting for Kids Ages 6 Months and Up: Late nights are fun times on Carnival’s Fun Ships, with lots of activities and venues for parents to enjoy. Parents can let their kids participate in Carnival’s Night Owls program so they can enjoy all that the ships offer. This nightly activity offers group babysitting from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. during the cruise. Parents of little ones under 2 should be aware that children ages 2-11 will be participating in this program, too. Children do not have to be potty trained to take part in these activities. Activities include movie time, playing with toys and video games, and enjoying room service snacks. Pillows and blankets are available for sleeping and Pack & Plays are provided for little ones. Participation in the Night Owls program costs $6.75 per hour plus a 15% gratuity, per child.
For more information on Carnival Cruise Lines’ ships and vacation options, visit https://www.carnival.com.
Nancy Schretter is Managing Editor of the Family Travel Network.
Photo Credits: Nancy Schretter
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