While not quite at Disney or Royal Caribbean levels, the ship's programming for kids shines with three supervised lounges (aft on Deck 17) and three small pools.
Through the Pete's Pals program, Princess teaches children about local endangered animals wherever it sails. Participants receive limited-edition plush animal souvenirs. Alaskan routes take this up a notch with National Park Service Junior Ranger programs onboard, offering insights about glaciers, as well as wildlife.
Little scooters, 3 to 7 years old, flock to Princess Pelicans, a buzzer-entry play space. Daytime activities include magic tricks, modeling clay craft time and a royal parade, along with a highlight for many: coloring T-shirts. In the evening, kids can enjoy everything from a disco to a pajama party and pirate face painting. Toddlers younger than 3 can join in the fun, provided a parent supervises them at all times.
Children ages 8 to 12 have a more techie environment at Shockwaves, where Wiis, PlayStations and karaoke machines rule. Learning programs -- like the Discovery Channel's shark relay races and California Science Center workshops (squid dissection, rollercoaster-building and chemistry experiments, etc.) -- keep their neurons firing amid the crafting and pizza parties. The JrCHEF@Sea class is a particular hit: Kids receive take-home hats and aprons before digging into styling cakes or cupcakes under the guidance of the ship's pastry maestro ($25).
Children-only dinners allow parents to dine solo on several evenings. Group babysitting is also available from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. ($5 per hour for ages 3 to 12, free for teens).
Teens (13 to 17) have an edgier lounge called Remix, which adds foosball and air hockey to the video game systems found in Shockwaves. Participants can take hip-hop dance classes; learn to make mocktails; and design t-shirts, teddy bears and even backpacks. On one formal night, Crown Princess hosts a teens-only dinner.