While Crown Princess' kids programs won't touch anything you'd find on Royal Caribbean or Disney ships, the blend of innovative activities (Wii on the big-screen by the pool) and traditional offerings (pizza and ice cream parties) are more than enough to keep the kids occupied. Located up on Deck 17, the Fun Zone is divided into two groups -- Princess Pelicans for the 3- to 7-year-olds and Shockwaves for the 8- to 12-year-olds. Activities include arts and crafts in conjunction with Klutz, a company known for its funky toy and how-to book combos (juggling, bubble blowing, etc.); video games (PS3, Wii); karaoke; shipboard Olympics; kids-only dining; and scavenger hunts. Port-day supervision is available, as is group kid-sitting (from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., $5 per hour, per kid). Some of the really cool new programs include Jr. Chef@Sea for the Shockwaves group; they get lessons in the ship's main galley on making sushi and fruit pizza, along with cake-decorating. Parents are required to participate, making for a nice family bonding exercise. Teens can take part in a makeover program at the spa.
When Crown Princess debuted in 2006, it marked a new interest by Princess in teen cruisers. The venue called Remix is hip and edgy, featuring Playstation 3's, movies and music, karaoke, giant-screen TV's, card games, board games and air hockey and foosball tables. Teens also have a separate Jacuzzi and sunbathing area. They can even mix their own dance tracks and take hip-hop dance lessons. On our cruise, an early November Caribbean sailing, there were very few teens signed up -- so the area was often empty. It's definitely busier during family travel seasons.
One of the most unusual aspect of Princess' youth program is a Youth Security Program, which comes into effect when there is a large number of young passengers onboard, usually during peak holiday seasons. Young folks (early 20's) wearing bright yellow -- and instantly identifiable -- polo shirts, patrol the ship (and even are waiting at embarkation) with the purpose of discouraging outrageous behavior before it has a chance to occur. What's more, these staffers, just slightly older than the kids they oversee, are of the same generation and come across as cool and hip. The teens look up to them. As an onboard staffer explained, "they come across as teen-friendly and are not perceived as a police force."