Carnival Spirit for Families
The line's complimentary children's programmes cater to all ages, from 2-year-olds to teenagers in five separate age groups with different hangouts on different decks.
Camp Carnival offers activities for children, ages 2 to 5; juniors from 6 to 8; and kids from 9 to 11 in a large space at the bow of the ship. Circle C is for 12- to 14-year-olds, while Club O2 is for those of ages 15 to 17 and is located at the top of the ship on Deck 10. Fun activities and facilities include big-screen TV's for movies or Nintendo Wii play, video game stations, toys and games, and materials for arts and crafts projects. The younger kids have toys and games galore, along with arts and crafts. There may be magic shows, face-painting and pizza-making on offer, along with the ever-popular scavenger hunts.
The ship offers late night baby-sitting in Camp Carnival, and a Night Owls programme (late-night parties for kids) is run at least once on each cruise. There is no in-cabin baby-sitting. Group baby-sitting is offered every night from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. and is designed as a fun-filled slumber party. Kids can enjoy a variety of activities and light snacks, with pillows and blankets provided when the little ones get sleepy. The cost is A$8 per hour, per child.
The Night Owls programme is divided into three categories: Owl Jams, a night of high-energy fun that runs from 10 p.m. until midnight for 2 to 11-year-olds; Fun 'Til One, an action-packed night catering for 6 to 8-year-olds from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m. and Fun at Sea, 'Til 3:00, which offers late-night activities throughout the ship from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. for kids from ages 9 to 11. The fee is A$8 per hour, per child.
Accessible only via stairs down from Camp Carnival or up from the Jungle Walk, the Circle C hangout for 12- to 14-year-olds is located on Deck 4. The tweens certainly have a real hideaway; it took me half the cruise to figure out how to get there! The lounge features game consoles and a dance floor, and supervised activities include games like charades and Apple to Apples, themed dance parties and sports competitions. Next door, a video arcade is open to kids and adults alike, but many adults never find it. Kids have reserved arcade hours when all games are free and no parents are allowed.
The teen lounge is also tricky to find; it's outside the aerobics studio on Deck 10. Club O2 also has TV's for movie-watching and video-game play, as well as a dance area and a "mocktail" bar that serves up sodas and nonalcoholic smoothies and fruit drinks. Teen activities include movie trivia, Guitar Hero rock-offs, hot tub hangouts and late-night parties.
The almost-hidden location of Camp Carnival is fairly unusual; while some cruise ships will try to corral the kids into one section of the ship, we've never needed a detailed map to find the kids' areas before. However, we found many of the kids onboard our cruise to be rowdy and running amok.
Babies and toddlers, aged 6 months to 2 years, cannot participate in Camp Carnival activities, but they do have additional baby-sitting hours (fees apply) on port days, with hours varying from port to port. On sea days, parents can drop toddlers off from noon to 2 p.m. for a fee or use the facilities for parent-child playtime for no extra charge. The regular late-night baby-sitting is available for children younger than 2, as well. Camp Carnival counsellors do change nappies.
Children of all ages can use the onboard pools, including nontoilet-trained kids in swim diapers. A children's wading pool, complete with nearby mini-slides, is located on Deck 11 by the waterslide. Waterslides are subject to a height and weight restrictions.
Children's menus are featured in the main dining room, and kids aged 2 to 11 can dine with the counsellors on the Lido Deck most nights. A Fountain Fun card, good for unlimited soft drinks, costs around A$37 for eight-day voyages. (Adults can also choose a soda package for around A$50.)