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Guide To Family Cruising Aboard Carnival
Guide To Family Cruising Aboard Carnival
Carnival does a very good job of living up to its tag line of "Fun Ships" and genuinely provides fun for all ages on the high seas. One of the world's largest cruise companies, there are 24 big vessels operating three to 18-day cruises that depart from several ports around the US, and sail into more than 60 of the world's most beautiful destinations.
Carnival cites the growing trend in North America of taking short getaways vs. longer-length vacations as the reason behind scheduling many shorter itineraries. We're pleased that they're offering so many port options, too, which will make it more cost-effective for families to join their ships.
Youth Programs Aboard Carnival
With over 700,000 passengers under age 18 each year, Carnival hosts more kids than any other cruise line. Maybe that's why they're so good at it. Complimentary daily programming is available in dedicated, staff-supervised facilities from 10am until 10pm.
Carnival welcomes passengers as young as 6 months, however, children must be at least 2 years of age to participate in the youth program.
- Camp Carnival (ages 2-11) Children will love the indoor play areas, video walls with cartoons showing, jungle gyms, mini-basketball, kiddie pool and onboard stroller and bouncy chair rentals. Programs are divided into three age groups -- 2-5 years, 3-8 years, and 9-11 years -- and are scheduled three times throughout the day (check your ship's itinerary for specific times). While parents are responsible for taking kids to lunch, Camp Carnival offers "kids only" dinner from 6:00-6:45pm on every night except embarkation, and serves up tasty "kid-friendly" meals including hot dogs, pizza, and mac and cheese in the Lido restaurant. The staff welcomes 2-year-olds into their youth program, changing diapers and administering bottles, a much appreciated service for vacationing moms. For added security, parents with children 5 and under receive a beeper or cell phone upon registration on the first day, which they keep throughout the cruise. The beeper works for ship-use only; the range does not extend beyond the ship. Parents will be beeped/called if a child is misbehaving, ill, seriously unhappy, asking continuously for their parents, or in the case of an emergency.
- Circle "C" (ages 12-14) offers amenities including dance floors, plasma TVs, and the latest gaming systems. Tweens can pick up a copy of the Fun Times to help plan their daily activities including team sports, water games, late-night movies, and pool parties. Parents have the option to let tweens come and go as they please, or request that they be signed in and out of the program.
- Camp Carnival Night Owls (ages 2-14) is Carnival's after-hours group babysitting service which begins at 10pm and runs until 3am in the Camp Carnival space. The fee is $6.75/hour plus 15% gratuity, and is offered for children ages 2 to 14. The service is also available on dock days, so parents can opt to take advantage of the childcare service while they participate in one of Carnival's 30 shore excursions.
- Club O2 (15-17) Young adult passengers have their own private space where they can socialize, hang out, and let loose (under staff supervision) with teen-only shore excursions, spa treatments, mocktail parties, karaoke, and other age-appropriate activities.
Check out this teen's review on her family vacation aboard the Carnival Victory.
Fun for the Whole Family Aboard Carnival
Despite its breadth, the youth program is not intended for parents to get rid of their kids. There are many family activities in which parents must participate in order for children to take part. The family arts 'n crafts night, talent show, welcome and farewell parties, and scavenger hunts are all great options for bringing everyone together.
Carnival Style Fun for Grown ups
Why should kids have all of the fun? There's no shortage of nightlife aboard with an ever-expanding selection of dance parties, lounges, comedy clubs, bars and casinos.
If athletic activities are more of your style, Carnival ships have sports and fitness facilities aboard all of their ships. Passenger aboard the Breeze, Magic, and Sunshine can be the first to try out SportSquare, the industry's largest outdoor recreation center equipped with rope courses, exercise equipment, basketball courts, pool tables, and more.
While Carnival isn't the obvious choice for a quiet getaway, passengers looking to escape the party atmosphere will appreciate the Serenity Adult Retreat, a 21-and-over adult relaxation zone with whirlpools, chair-side service, and spectacular views from the open air deck. And in a new development, the Carnival crew will be patrolling poolside deckchairs to remove the belongings on any chair that remains unoccupied for 40 minutes, so that you may actually find a seat facing the sun.
Dining Aboard Carnival Cruise Lines
From buffets to elegant reservation-only dining, all ships have multiple dining options that should suit everyone's needs. For fresh, baked pastries, cappuccinos and tea, each ship comes with a European-style café. Each ship also features a sushi bar and New York style deli. Many also provide convivial wine bars with selections from around the world.
All of the ships offer delicious dining options for younger passengers, particularly the kids' menus, ice cream stations, prepaid Fountain Fun Cards for soft drinks, and the 24-hour pizzeria.
Carnival's Newest Additions
Carnival is expanding its fleet to keep up with the ever-growing number of passengers each year. Carnival Sunshine will join the fleet in 2013 and will offer the largest selection of onboard activities and features, earning itself the nickname "Carnival Everything." The ship will be the first to feature every activity offered through Fun Ship 2.0, Carnival's revamped line-up of specialty bars, celebrity-chef endorsed restaurants, and George Lopez-sponsored comedy clubs.
For trip planning and booking information, visit Carnival Cruise Lines Family Cruises.