For travelers with children ages 3 to 11, Costa Mediterranea can be a great deal, due to the free, all-day kids' club. There are also organized activities for teens, but no childcare for those under 3 or in diapers. However, if there's space available in the club, children under 3 can come there to play if accompanied by an adult.
The ship also has the option for connecting cabins, and can accommodate up to four people in some of its regular cabins in every class. Cribs or cots, baby baths and bottle warmers are available on request, as are pureed foods. There is a kids' menu in the dining room, and high chairs are available. Families also receive priority boarding.
There is a kiddie pool on Deck 11, as well as a waterslide. Aside from the kids' club space, this is the only area onboard designated for children.
Mediterranea's free children's program is the Squok Club, a cozy hideaway located at the front of the ship on Deck 5. Children ages 3 (including those turning 3 during the cruise) to 11 are eligible for Squok Club, but they must be potty-trained. There's an orientation and sign-up meeting for parents on embarkation day.
The hours of planned activities generally run from 9 a.m. to midnight, but free group babysitting is available from 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. (24-hour advance sign-up required). On port days, the club opens 15 minutes before shore excursion departures begin but, if you're leaving your child while going ashore, 24-hour advance sign-up is required.
Kids ages 3 to 6 are registered in the Mini Club. They must be signed in and out every day by an adult, using the child's ship card. Kids ages 7 to 11 are in the Maxi Club and, with parents' permission, those over 8 can sign themselves in and out. At times when there are large numbers of children onboard, each age group has its own area and activities; otherwise, the age groups are combined.
The Squok Club space is decorated in blues and oranges, with bright-colored fish-shaped light fixtures overhead. Underfoot, the carpet is decorated with kites and stars. In the Mini Club area, there are adorable tot-sized tables and chairs with backs shaped like hearts and flowers. Equipment includes activity benches, kid-sized basketball hoops and an art area. The Maxi Club is similar, but with larger furnishings, plus shelves of books and games. The "secret clubhouse" atmosphere was so inviting when we dropped by, we wished we could hang out and play!
In terms of activities, most days are themed (Spy Day, Jungle Day, Smurfs Day, Pirates Day, etc.). Parents receive a schedule of daily activities for the entire cruise. Activities include games related to the daily theme (for example, a treasure map and hunt on Pirates Day), coloring, bingo, crafts, aquatic games at the kiddie pool, dances from around the world, movie nights (movies presented in the majority language of kids watching) and daily snacks at 4:30 p.m., plus events like Donut Night or an ice cream party at 10:30 p.m. There are also opportunities for kids to learn to count and say hello in other languages, led by the multilingual staff. Although there was a variety of nationalities among the kids when we visited the club, everyone seemed to be engaged, getting along and having fun together.
Kids can participate in the daily Squok Club lunch, served in the buffet restaurant, but parents are required to book it in advance by 10 a.m. that day. Dinners are organized on only two nights per cruise, and have a special theme, like "Dinner in the Jungle."
There's a Teen Zone hangout area, located on the Lido Deck, with Ping-Pong, foosball and air hockey tables. Kids 12 to 17 are welcome to participate in activities, which include organized sports, crafts, treasure hunts and nighttime events in the disco, like speed dating, Mr. or Miss Teen Zone, musical bingo and SMS Night. This program is much more casual than the kids' club, with one mid-morning activity, one late-afternoon activity and one or two night activities on sea days; the morning activity is eliminated on port days.