Just returned from a great voyage on the Explorer of the Seas. In traveling with a 5 and 7 year old, I was really looking for some tips and information prior to my trip. I will share with you what I wish someone shared with me....
Adventure Ocean is incredible. My kids are shy and were concerned about being left in a new environment. That lasted only a day or two before they were BEGGING to go back!! I have heard many times about the program and how great it is, but I had to see it for myself to believe it.
They will offer dining on 4 of the 9 nights at Johnny Rockets. This is a great perk since they charge $4.95 per person for passengers and the kids eat free when they go with Adventure Ocean. However, they accept sign-ups at 9:00am on the day of the dining, and you need to get there pronto to avoid being shut out.
If you choose to eat in the dining room with your children, they will offer kid-friendly choices. The fries are awesome! I brought Legos and other small toys to keep my kids occupied while they waited.
My 5 year old wanted to be with his brother in the 6-8 year group. Adventure Ocean requires the child to complete 1 or 2 days in their appropriate age group before they will move a child up. We were able to move my son up with no problem - he thrived in the older group.
Please know that the pools on the main deck are deep - over 5 feet deep. So if your child does not swim, they will have to hang onto the edge. They have a slide in the back of the pool that requires you to be 46" tall. My 5 year old was tall enough to ride and loved it. My 7 year old thought it was too babyish.
The Adventure Ocean is open most days from 9:00 to 12:00. They close from 12 to 2 but you have the option of keeping them enrolled for $7.95. I thought that was quite steep and took my kids out for lunch each day (they loved the buffet in the Windjammer). They can go back from 2:00 to 5:00 and then can either go back at 6:00 on Johnny Rockets nights, or they can go back at 7:00. They can stay from 7:00 until 10:00 at no cost - and at 10:00, the cost is $5.00 per hour.
The hours for Adventure Ocean vary on Port Days - they open very early and the kids can usually stay through lunch (pizza at Portofino) at no cost on those days. The day we were in St. Maarten until 8:00pm, they were able to stay past 5:00, go directly to Johnny Rockets and remain until 10:00. That was nice since we didn't have the hassle of picking them up at 5:00 and then dropping them back off.
Please note that the Adventure Ocean has a strange turquoise carpet that ruined my kids socks! So send them in old socks since it's a shoe-free environment.
And the best part is that while they are learning science, playing ball games and making friends - Mom & Dad are on their own to relax by the pool, have a drink, see the Casino or attend a show.
It was a wonderful voyage and we can't wait to go back!