Carnival Cruise Lines is a leader in creating and delivering engaging programs for kids and teens. On our August just-before-school-starts Caribbean sailing, more than 200 children, ages 2 to 17, signed up for Carnival's youth activities.
Camp Carnival, the line's longtime successful program, is currently on Valor. (An updated program, Camp Ocean, is coming by 2016. ) The supervised children's programs utilize age-appropriate divisions, creating activities for ages 2 to 5, 6 to 8 and 9 to 11. Little ones sing silly songs, do sponge painting, have their faces painted and listen to stories. Kids from ages 6 to 8 color T-shirts, create sand art and engage in paper ball wars. The 9- to 11-year-olds go on scavenger hunts, challenge each other in Ping-Pong, and craft bracelets and picture frames. Parents (and grandparents) can join the kids in such daily activities as games, "races" and teddy bear crafting (the latter for an extra fee).
On sea days, Camp Carnival keeps kids busy from 9:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a break for lunch. On port days, the camp starts at 7:45 a.m. to accommodate passengers going ashore. Kids ages 2 to11 can dine nightly from 6 to 6:45 p.m. with their counselors in Rosie's on such kid-pleasing fare as chicken nuggets and mac 'n' cheese. Evening activities run from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Group baby-sitting is available from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at $6.75 per hour, per child, plus a 15 percent gratuity.
Located on Deck 12, Camp Carnival divides its space into three different areas. The sections for ages 2 to 5 and 6 to 8 both feature windows, creating a light and welcoming area. In between is a windowless, uninviting room with a video screen; that's the place for the 9 to 11 set to congregate. They deserve a more engaging space, especially since, starting at age 9, kids can sign themselves in and out of the program with parental consent. A more engaging room might keep kids in the program for longer periods.
Carnival wisely offers separate programs and facilities for younger teens and older ones. At Circle C, a small room in an out-of-the-way space on Deck 4, tweens from ages 12 to 14 play Wii games, go on digital scavenger hunts and congregate at socials. This group also meets around the ship to play Ping-Pong and mini-golf and zip down the waterslide. Club 02 for 15- to 17-year-olds is centrally located on the Deck 5 King Promenade. The room is a large, friendly space divided into a place for hanging out that's complete with a juice bar, as well as an area for video games and a dance floor. On port days, activities for 12- to 17-year-olds start at 7 p.m. and run until 1 a.m. These older teens play midnight volleyball, do Karaoke and dance.
With Camp Carnival's active children's program, families sometimes need to schedule time together. You can team up with your kids for sports trivia, play mini-golf, try shuffleboard, watch movies on deck, and simply hang out together poolside, enjoying the sea breezes.