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What's New For Kids At Sea

(May 2, 2003)

As cruise lines continue to see greater numbers of family cruisers, they are investing heavily in more family-friendly features and unique innovations with their youth programs. Carnival Cruise Lines alone is expected to carry 400,000 children this year -- an increase of 300 percent from just seven years ago. New offerings this year include dinosaur waterslides, hip teen centers, magic carpet rides, environmental education, and would you believe charm school?

Here's the latest on what's new in family cruising:

After Hours Care

Kid's centers on ships generally stay open until 10 p.m. After that, there's usually some form of group babysitting until 1 a.m at a price.

Carnival offers babysitting from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. for $6 per hour for the first child and $4 per hour for each additional child.

With 24-hours' notice, guests on Royal Caribbean ships also can arrange for in-cabin babysitting for $8 per hour, per child.

There's no charge for babysitting services on Disney ships for children ages 3-12; kids programs run until midnight or 1 a.m.   However, kids from 12 weeks to three years can partake in group babysitting in Flounder's Reef Nursery. There is a fee of $6 per child per hour, and $5 per additional child per hour, 2-hour minimum required.

Carnival Cruise Line

"Camp Carnival" offers a full schedule of fun, morning-til-night activities, the program features such amenities as expansive indoor play areas - some as large as 4,200 square feet -- stocked with a wide variety of games and toys. Arts and crafts centers along with computer labs are also featured on several vessels. Additionally, outdoor play areas with mini basketball hoops, jungle gyms and other playground equipment, as well as game rooms offering the latest video and arcade games, are available fleetwide. Kids who like to have "fun in the sun" also enjoy acres of deck space for Carnival's outdoor games and activities such as ping-pong, volleyball and shuffleboard, along with multiple swimming options, including children's wading pools and main Lido deck pools offering cascading water slides.

Carnival Conquest the new 2,974-passenger SuperLiner - the largest "Fun Ship" ever constructed offers on-board science education program offering kids an opportunity to partake in fun, hands-on science projects and experiments. In addition, Conquest is the first Carnival ship to feature a new teen recreation area including a state-of-the-art game room with the latest video and arcade games, and a "mocktail" lounge where teens can relax, socialize and enjoy smoothies, specialty coffees and other non-alcoholic beverages. "Action Alley" also houses a teen dance club with a "video wall" continuously displaying music videos and a DJ spinning the latest hits. Carnival has also added a new teen shore excursion program, providing teenagers an opportunity to enjoy a variety of fun and exciting on-shore activities - everything from cave tubing and mountain biking to swimming with dolphins and stingrays - with other teens.

Crystal Cruises

Well-known for its pampering service, fine dining, sophisticated entertainment and enrichment roster, Crystal Cruises surprises many with its supervised Junior Activities Program offered on summer and holiday sailings. Also, would you believe charm school at sea?

During the 2003 summer Alaska season aboard Crystal Harmony, the entire state of Alaska serves as an enormous environmental classroom. Naturalists will add a special dimension to kids' understanding of indigenous wildlife, glaciers, and other natural attractions. The highly qualified staff of Junior Activities Directors includes grade school, high school, and physical education teachers on summer holiday, and seasoned camp counselors. A variety of age-appropriate activities tiered for toddlers through teens, ranging from arts and crafts, backstage tours, dancing, games, and storytelling. For example, younger kids display their handcrafted creations, such as frosted sugar cube igloos, in an Alaska Art Expo open for viewing by all guests. For their older brothers and sisters, one high point is a 'teens only' disco night for which they get their own personal invitations. Young athletes can take advantage of the ship's paddle tennis court, golf-driving nets, and putting greens, and can even compete in their own mini-Olympics.

Also offered aboard Harmony's Alaska sailings is Crystal's exclusive Etiquette Training for Juniors program. Young cruisers will not only learn the proper way to handle themselves in a variety of social situations they will also learn the ins and outs of social etiquette, poise, ballroom dancing and public speaking. The program will be run by Gollatz Cotillion, a California-based etiquette training school. The program is all about fun and will offer prizes and games. A variety of dance nights - Swing, Salsa, Latin and Ballroom - will be offered, but the music will be contemporary, and kids can expect to dance to U2 rather than the Benny Goodman Band.

Disney Cruise Line

An extensive collection of children's programs, the largest dedicated kid-friendly spaces at sea, and a diverse staff of children's counselors offers families an array of the most exciting adventures at sea. Aboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, young cruisers explore magical destinations without ever leaving the ship.

There's non-stop fun each day from 9 a.m. to midnight for five distinct age groups. Kids can now treat their imaginations to flying carpets, magic lamps and genies in the newest children's programming at sea themed after the Disney's animated feature, Aladdin. Aladdin's Fun Adventures is designed for three and four year olds, one of the five different age sets in the most extensive children's programming operation at sea. Common Grounds, for the teens with a New York-style coffee house theme, accommodating ages 13-17. Activities offered include games and beach parties. Plus, kids will love the water slide at Mickey's Pool.

Holland America

Holland America's first Vista-class ship, the ms Zuiderdam enhances cruising for families. Launched in December, the Zuiderdam offers the fleet's largest Club HAL facilities: "WaveRunner" for teens and "KidZone" for children ages five to 12.

KidZone is a children's facility with inside play areas, complete with safety matting. Professional youth coordinators supervise daily activities such as games, arts and crafts, computer fun, candy-bar bingo, movies and special kids-only parties. WaveRunner is a place for teenagers, complete with a dance floor where they can dance to a booming sound system and special lighting effects. In an area 50 percent larger than those on other Holland America ships, teens enjoy their own game room to play video games, watch movies on big-screen TV, compete in team games for cool prizes or just hang out with friends their own age. Both areas offer juice and sodas.

At Half Moon Cay, kids delight in a variety of activities through its shore-side Club HAL program ranging from sand castle building to treasure hunts. Teens enjoy swimming, snorkeling and sailing, plus volleyball and Frisbee on its white sand beaches.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

Building on the success of NCL's popular "Kid's Crew" program, which provides a wide variety of activities for children and teens, NCL's newest ship, Norwegian Dawn is constructed with families in mind and features expanded offerings.

Dawn offers kids have plenty of room to maneuver, as the ship offers one of the biggest facilities for kids (almost 5,500 square feet). The ship features the T-Rex Childcare Center, a supervised facility for children which includes: a jungle gym; a children's playroom; Flicks Movie Theater, for kids who love the silver screen; Clicks, a computer learning center equipped with five terminals; Doodles arts and crafts area, to help young ones explore their artistic talents; and Snoozes sleeping area -- ready to accommodate a quick nap in between all the excitement. Another highlight is the T-Rex Pool, a Jurassic-themed children's pool featuring dino-riffic water slides and their very own hot tub. A paddling/wading pool is perfect for the little ones.

Teenagers will be happy to find that they're not bit players with shipboard amenities created specifically for them. The Teen Club features a disco strictly for teens with a video wall showing the latest music video hits, a cinema and Video Zone -- a huge arcade with 25 of the latest video games.

Princess Cruises

"Princess Kids" program offers the perfect answer, with state-of-the-art children's facilities and an array of entertaining choices for junior cruisers. Princess Kids offers a wide range of fun activities for children between the ages of 3 and 17. While youth facilities vary by vessel, children are welcomed with a myriad of games and activities on all Princess ships, and are supervised by a dedicated staff of youth activity professionals. Three distinct, age-specific programs have been created: Princess Pelicans for ages 3 to 7, Princess Pirateers for ages 8 to 12, and Off Limits for ages 13 to 17. Each group features age-appropriate activities, often with separate facilities.

New this year is Princess' partnership with the prestigious Miami Seaquarium, which expands the line's educational partnerships that combine fun and learning for junior cruisers. Young passengers participating in the onboard program during Caribbean sailings can now watch a specially produced series of videos designed to be both fun and educational, plus participate in a number of fun activities designed by the Seaquarium's education department to reinforce the video messages. The four titles give kids insight into such topics as "Baby Animals," "Whales, Dolphins and Training," "Fun Fishy Facts," and "Aquatic Alert." The Miami Seaquarium partnership joins other unique Princess Kids programs including Glacier Bay National Park Service Junior Rangers, California Coastal Commission's Save Our Seas, and California Science Center activities on select voyages.

Royal Caribbean

Adventure Ocean Youth Program offers specially-designed programs for kids from 3 to 11, teens from 12 - 14 and guests 15 to 17. Deemed as "Edu-tainment", Adventure Ocean blends educational activities, daily itineraries, ports of call, games, individual and team sports, art, performance and a general good time into a unique onboard experience for children, teens and parents.

New this year is Adventure Art by Crayola® where kids can experience first-hand how closely Crayola crayon colors like Caribbean green and sunset orange compare to their natural namesakes. This program provides children the opportunity to exercise their creativity with crafts such as cultural masks and pottery, while learning about the art, history and culture of the regions they visit on vacation. Projects vary according to cruise destination, sharing information on the history, traditions, aquatic habitats and animals indigenous to the Caribbean, South America, Alaska, Europe or Australia. For example, kids traveling to the Caribbean create a Mexican Huichol Mask, while those traveling to Europe make a Greek Theater Mask. Alaska cruisers create an Eskimo oil lamp, while South Pacific explorers design Great Barrier Reef aquatic dioramas. Each project is age-specific and supported by a selection of historical and illustrative books to help kids learn while they play. Upon completion of each activity, children write letters to their parents about what they learned and the books they read - encouraging further exploration and inspiring self-discovery even after the cruise ends.

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