Are we there yet? Cruising with Kids

Family holidays are no longer driving long distances with kids in the back of the car infuriatingly asking, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” This is only during a domestic road trip, imagine travelling further afield, to Europe or the US for instance, the complaining will be even worse. Not only do you have to keep them quiet for 24 hours on a plane there and back; they need constant entertainment the entire time you are away.

Cruise ships have come to the party! Kids clubs make a family holiday enjoyable for kids and parents alike. Each day of the cruise your children will be occupied and having a blast for little or no cost depending on the age of your child. Instead of, “are we there yet?” it is, “I’m not leaving, we have not finished making our movie”, or “the dance party has not finished!”

Most cruise ships offer a Kids Club and age appropriate activities for all children to enjoy. Kids clubs are not just for the little ones, there are teen areas for the older kids to hang, without feeling like being in childcare. Kids clubs have been described as an incredibly fun and totally edu-taining adventure. Careful you may not see the kids for the whole holiday.

We are going to look at three of the most common cruise lines that offer family holidays. The three are P&O Australia, Carnival Australia and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. These all offer kids clubs but there are some differences that you should know before booking the cruise. These three cruise lines inform us that all their staff are trained and experience child care professionals. This is to ensure the safety of your children as well as enjoying their time in the clubs.

All cruise lines require the kids to be toilet trained and nappy free to attend the club. All clubs are broken into age groups so all age groups do not feel overwhelmed by older or younger children.

Royal Caribbean’s – Adventure Ocean Kids Club

The four ships in Australia from Royal Caribbean are; Ovation, Explorer, Voyager and Radiance of the Seas.

  • All four have the Adventure Ocean kids club for ages 3-17yrs old
  • Only Ovation and Radiance of the Seas also have a dedicated nursery for those from 6-36 months. The cost is $6USd per hour during the day and $8USD per hour at night.
  • You can also pre-order huggies nappies, baby wipes and cream, along with Gerber organic baby food.
  • Babysitting available in cabin for an hourly rate for children 1 yrs and above.

The four age groups for Royal Caribbean are:

  • Aquanauts (3-5 yrs) – The highlight activity is the pirate party parade for the kids. Parents can have the comfort of a pager to be alerted if the little one is upset.
  • Explorers (6-8 yrs) – This age groups highlight activity is the dance and ice cream party, both at the same time, and adventure theatre.
  • Voyagers (9-11 yrs) – These guys do some awesome things such as the hilarious talent show and the very competitive sports tournament.
  • Teens (12 – 14 yrs) –There is a range of organised team activities for this age group. Most popular are the scavenger hunts, arcade challenges and rock climbing competitions. They also have time in the evening for the moonlight cinema and pool parties.
  • Teens (15 – 17 yrs) – This is more like a chill zone than organised activities. Those that want it can attend the teen spa, pool party and teen dinners.

Don’t forget for the whole family is Family time dining. The whole family go to dinner together, kids are served first so they don’t miss out on any of the fun! Parents are left to enjoy the rest of their dinner at leisure, DATE NIGHT! On Ovation of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas make sure you check out one of the Dreamworks shows. Have your photo taken with Shrek, dance with Melman the Giraffe, or share some ninja moves with Po the Kung Fu Panda.


Carnival Cruise Lines – Camp Ocean Kids Club

The three ships in Australian waters are the Carnival Spirit, Legend and Splendour has a minimum age of 2 years.

Carnival also has their own take on the kids club:

  • Penguin Colony (2-5 yrs) – They have activities like an ocean themed take on musical chairs with musical icebergs.
  • Stingrays (6-8 yrs) – These kids attend the pirate game night in their favourite pirate outfit and feed their artistic side with sea salt art.
  • Sharks (9-11 yrs) – They create a giant ocean mural and play a very competitive game of ocean soccer and ocean volleyball.
  • Nightowl (2-11 yrs) – For a small fee the kids can have a late night play with friends while you have some parent time.
  • Circle C (12 – 14 yrs) – They are still at an age where the dance parties are fun and inclusive, there is also outdoor movies for the kids.
  • Club O2 (15 – 17 yrs) – These guys have their own non-alcoholic bar. Dance floor and laze about area. Some ships and destinations have teen shore excursions as well.

For the family there is the Dr Seuss Character parade.

Photo from carnival

P&O Australia – Kids Club

P&O does not have a specific name for their kids club but all the ships in Australia have the club on board. The minimum age on the Pacific Dawn, Explorer, Aria, Eden and Jewel have a minimum age for the kids club of 2 yrs.

  • P&O do not have a pre-booked baby food or nappy service. They can store formula and baby food for you.
  • There is no in room child minding service or one on one supervision available on board.
  • There is group child minding for ages 2 – 12 yrs in Turtle Cove from 10.30pm to 1 am.
  • Kids club is not guaranteed but is first come first served.

P&O Kids Club

  • Turtle Cove (2-6 yrs) – The little ones can play with the Duplo play centre, create arts and crafts and theme nights.
  • Shark Shack (7-10 yrs) – The kids will make you a keepsake jewellery item, search for gold in the scavenger hunt and build on their dance skills with the dance lessons.
  • HQ (11 – 14 yrs) – Budding filmmakers and actors will enjoy the club learning how to make films and the talent show.
  • HQ+ (15-17 yrs) – This amazing zone is very private from the stresses of little brothers and sisters or those worrisome parents. This is a hangout place with movie making and other activities for the older teen.

For the family there is the Nickelodeon movie nights in the youth centre or zap the kids at laser tag.

If the kids are being entertained this allows the parents to have a holiday as well. Many parents will say my kids will not go to the kids club, give a try if it is not for them it has cost you nothing.