Top Kids Clubs on Cruises and How to Prepare Your Child
It’s almost that time of year again! Winter is coming to an end, and you can start planning all the fun family activities to enjoy in the sun. And nothing says, “bye bye, winter” better than a cruise.
But when it comes to counting down the days before a cruise, many of us would probably like to skip the planning part.
It was hard enough choosing a destination and must-do activities when it was just you and your spouse. Now that your kids are in the equation, you’ve got even more voices chiming in on where to go, what to do, and what to eat — both on- and off-board.
The good news is that many cruise lines understand the challenge of booking activities for the whole family, especially with so many options to choose from. That’s where kids cubs come in.
Kids clubs ensure your kids can be entertained throughout the day and make new friends their age, freeing up some time for you and your spouse to do the same!
But whether you’ve got a bashful 5-year old or a shy preteen, your kid may not be quite ready to spend the day away from their parents. How can you make sure your cruise offers the right types of clubs for your kids, and what can you do to help your child be prepared to have fun?
Below we highlight some of the most fun kids clubs across cruise lines, and how you can help prepare your kid to have a blast.
Disney Cruise Lines Youth Clubs
Whether it be an amusement park, a movie or a cruise, anything with a Disney stamp has been a go-to resource for families for decades for a reason.
They’ve mastered the art of creating magic for all ages to enjoy. And their cruise youth clubs are no exception.
Disney cruises offer 5 different youth clubs divided by age:
It’s a Small World Nursery: 6 months-3 years old
The “It’s a Small World” nursery is a Disney-themed daycare inspired by the Disney parks attraction of the same name.
Children ages 6 months through 3 years old are welcome, and you can rest assured knowing they’re with trained and experienced childcare professionals.
Time will fly for your little ones as they do crafts, play games, and explore the whimsical setting complete with a play place filled with hidden activities.
How to Prepare Your Child
Spots are limited, so be sure to book your child’s spot up to 75 days before your cruise. If you’re a part of a club, you can book even further ahead of time:
- Concierge and Platinum Club: up to 120 days
- Gold Castaway Club: up to 105 days
- Silver Castaway Club: up to 90 days
Be sure your toddler has all the essentials packed, including diapers, wipes and spare clothing as well as some familiar comfort items like a pacifier and baby blanket.
Disney’s Oceaneer Lab: Ages 3-12
Got a pair of siblings who would prefer to stick together?
Disney’s Oceaneer Lab is for ages 3-12, which is the perfect setup to keep your kids close while enjoying all the club has to offer. Not only that, but this club makes scheduling for multiple kids that much easier.
In this interactive land, kids of all ages get to do science experiments, hang out with Disney characters, and play tons of games. There’s even a dine-and-play option that includes meals.
How to Prepare your Kids
Pack your children a change of clothes in case things get messy, and help get them excited about making new friends.
Let them know big groups of different ages can be overwhelming, and that’s why the staff makes sure to have a nice balance of organized activities and free time.
Once you’re both nice and excited, go ahead and pre-register. Once you’ve arrived, be sure to check in your kids to get their Oceaneer wristbands.
Edge: Tweens 11-14
Tweens get their own fun zone as well! Edge is for ages 11-14, and is open every day from 10am to 1am. So go ahead and plan that late night of dancing — your tween will be having plenty of fun on their own.
In addition to high tech LED screens with cool movie and video game selections, your tweens can enjoy daily activities organized by counselors:
- That’s Hilarious: Participants learn about improv and create a comedy show.
- Heroes and Villains: Your tween will embark on a ship-wide expedition with a team to complete challenges and solve puzzles.
- Crowning of the Couch Potato: Put your trivia pros to the test.
- A Pirate’s Life for Me: Physical challenges for the sports lovers.
- Descendent’s Den DJ Spin Off: Photo booth, DJ lessons and dance parties.
How to Prepare your Tween
Like teens, tweens get to choose their own activities. Take a browse around the site with them, and see what sticks out.
After you’ve picked out the most exciting activities, decide on which days they’ll be at Edge, and which days you’d like to spend as a family.
Once you’ve arrived, make sure your tween has all the comforts they need, but encourage them to leave their gaming devices and technology at home as there will be bigger, better options available.
Vibe: 14-17 years old
Your teens will be glad to find a hip lounge full of peers from around the world.
Vibe is for teens ages 14-17, and includes the stuff dreams are made of — like a smoothie bar, karaoke, video games, tanning on the outdoor deck…the list goes on!
Teens will be supervised by trained counselors who know exactly how to make sure everything is running safely and smoothly without getting in your teen’s way of having fun.
How to Prepare your Teen
Get your teen pumped up about Vibe’s amazing space by showing them the photo gallery. Once they lay eyes on this night club/urban loft inspired setting with an outdoor deck, chances are they’ll be sold.
From there, you’ll want to review the activity options, as teens choose which ones they’ll participate in at the beginning of the cruise.
Princess Cruise Lines Kids Clubs
Princess also offers fun activities and social opportunities for your kiddos thanks to their youth and teen centers.
These centers are packed with activities — let your kid take their pick from scavenger hunts and ice cream parties to disco nights and sports tournaments.
Plus, teens get their own space so they can have fun without feeling like babysitters.
How to Prepare
You know your child best. If they’re naturally nervous or introverted, give them a rundown of what’s ahead — activities they can choose from, where you’ll be, and how to contact you if needed.
You can even go with them to introduce them to the counselors who are pros at comforting all different personality types.
Highlight the fun group activities that can help them feel more comfortable with other kids like the pizza party, movie nights and more.
If your child’s still nervous, consider the Personal Choice Dining option. This option allows you to hang out with your kid as they have an early dinner at one of the delicious children’s only restaurants before to get them acclimated before you head off to a dinner of your own.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian Cruise Lines hosts a variety of youth programs to choose from, each tailored to different age levels.
Guppies Nursery: 6 months-3 years old
The Guppies Nursery offers drop off services for ages 6 months for 3 years old. The expansive club room has a plethora of sensory-focused activities so your little one can stay entertained and learn, too. The trained staff will ensure your child is safe along the way.
How to Prepare your Child
Once you have your schedule and have boarded your ship, register the desired slots you need with the onboard Nursery Attendant.
Be sure to pack a diaper bag with everything your toddler typically needs throughout the day including diapers and wipes, spare clothes, and things to make them feel at home.
For older toddlers, it helps to explain that they’re there to play and have fun and that you’ll be back for them so you can continue the cruise as a family.
Port Play/Late Night
Port Play is available for free except during mealtime hours, when there’s a small fee. Kids will enjoy free play, snacks, and friends.
You can also leave your kids at the Late Night Fun Zone any time between 10:30pm and 1:30am. An hour or two at this epic play place might even help them sleep in a bit later than usual the next morning.
How to Prepare Your Kids
If you know you’re going out that night and plan on dropping your children off, it may be a good idea to find a way to let them nap during the day to avoid extra nervousness or exhaustion later.
As with any kids clubs, let your kids know what to expect, so they feel more confident entering. Make sure they’re fed, rested and comfortable — then enjoy your big night out!
For any cruise, it helps to give your kids some autonomy in the activities they can do. This keeps them excited about what’s to come and helps you stay more at ease about leaving them.
Chat with them about your fun vacation ahead, and watch their eyes light up as they learn to create an itinerary of their own.
Once you’ve completed your first steps toward keeping your kids entertained, you can tackle your grown-up plans. What a relief.
If you’re not exactly feeling ready for the grown-up part either, we’ve got you covered. Let us help you build your dream vacation today »
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