We were a group of 11, including 5 kids ages 3-11, celebrating my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful and memorable time! This review will focus on our cruise experience with the kids:
KIDS' CLUB: The Adventure Ocean Club is the kids' club and it is wonderful. The rooms are clean, colorful and inviting. The staff is very safety conscious. The club is divided into age groups. Our 8 yr old son wanted to be with his 11 yr old cousin, but the age group was 6-8 and 9-11. After observing him for a couple hours in his own age group, they allowed him to move up to be with his cousin - very accommodating! There is a Science Lab, arts and crafts and games. All the kids had a blast at the kids' club and the staff was great. Our kids went there once for about 2 hours during the day and 2-5 hours almost every night after dinner. Surprisingly, for the 3 yr old, they did not give us some kind of pager in case he cried or had a difficult time. They are very strict on who picks up your child and their name must match on the computer. We used the "babysitting" services, which are from 10pm-2am. They charge $6 an hour per child. We found that very reasonable and it gave my husband and I time to have "date nights" every night. One night, my 8 yr old son was practically in tears when we picked him up at 12:30am! He didn't want to leave and wanted to stay and play with his new friends. The kids were always excited to go to the kid's club. Don't miss the black light puppet show. The 3-5 yr olds really enjoyed it and it was very unique.
DINING: We had early seating at 6pm in the main dining room. There is a kid's menu with a variety of choices and the wait staff always had their drinks and fruit cup at the table before we arrived. Typical kids food: chicken nuggets, pasta, burger, mac and cheese but they also offered steak with a baked potato and veggies, which my 11 yr old niece had every night! We did not purchase the juice package. Kids drank milk, water, flavored water or lemonade (free). The Adventure Ocean Club offers a service where they will pick up your kids at 6:45pm and take them to the kids club so the adults can relax and enjoy dinner. We never took advantage of that option. Wish we did! The kid's club does allow free drop-off from 5-7pm where they will take your kids to the Windjammer to eat dinner in a secluded section and then take them back to the kids' club so you can have an adults-only dinner. That was a great option I wish we did more often!
DREAMWORKS: Dreamworks, including Madagascar characters were everywhere on the ship! They announced time and location on the daily Compass. Do not miss the Dreamworks Character Breakfast (reservations required but otherwise free), Dreamworks Parade (twice) and the Dreamworks sailing off and farewell show at the Aqua Theater. The Parade is the same both times but so much fun. Get there early and stand by Sorrento's Pizza as most of the characters stop right in front of that area to dance. There is also a How to Save Your Dragon Ice Skating Show (no reservations required) They also showed Dreamworks movies in the cabin and at their theater. We watched the latest Madagascar movie in 3D on the ship - the same movie currently out in the theaters - fun!
LOTS TO DO: There is so much to do with the kids on the ship that we couldn't do it all. We never found the time to go ice skating or play miniature golf. Kids loved the splash area of the kid's pool. Note: there are no lifeguards. The frozen yogurt machines are right by the kid's pool but the lines weren't bad. Face painting and balloon animals are available on sea days; non-stop donuts, cookies, yogurt - a kids' dream! The 8 and 11 yr old spent most afternoons at sea at the Flowrider for boogie boarding. They also tried rock climbing. We all enjoyed riding the carousel almost every day. Kids also made cupcakes at the cupcake shop. It was $15 and don't think it was worth it. We brought walkie-talkies but rarely used them. They worked fine.
SHOWS: Kid-friendly shows: Ocean Aria (amazing!), Blue Planet, and How to Train Your Dragon Ice Skating Show. We had reservations to the other ice skating show with the kids but never made it. Reserve the shows and the character breakfast on-line before you board.
ADULT DINNER: We had dinner at one of the specialty restaurants to celebrate my parents' 50th anniversary. It was at 150 Central Park. It was incredible and I would highly recommend it. The dining experience was innovative, fun and adventurous. Service was impeccable. One of the highlights of our trip.
PORTS: 8yr old and 11 yr old went snorkeling in the Bahamas through a ship excursion. In St. Thomas, we hired a taxi and went to Megan's Bay. Perfect place for the kids. Bathrooms, food, water toys rentals and showers all readily available. Beautiful, calm water so kids can play safely. Can get crowded. They charged $9 per person to get there (about 20 minute ride from port). Went to butterfly garden in St. Maarten. My 8 yr old son loved it.
This was such a great family vacation and the ship was amazing! There were 6200 people on our cruise but it rarely felt that way. Tons of lounge chairs available by the pool and many times we found ourselves exploring quiet and uncrowded areas. We are already talking about going again in a couple years. As my 5 yr old recently said, "I miss the cruise. I want to go again." We all do!