Norwegian Pearl Family
First of all, if we were traveling with toddlers, we'd pick an NCL cruise over any other. Why? Freestyle dining means that the kids don't have to wait for a set dining time. That's one reason. And the Kid's Crew clubs are always terrific, but on Pearl there's an element that makes it even more special. The Aqua Kids Club is located on Deck 12 adjacent to the pool area, and in fact, the outside part extends onto the pool deck. It's surrounded by a glass wall, which means that mom and dad can actually see their kids playing when they are out there, bouncing on the colorful balls or interacting with other children in the same age group.
Kids from six months are allowed in, and get this: They don't have to be potty trained! Parents are given a beeper and paged when a diaper needs changing. (It doesn't work ashore, so you can't leave the ship while your child is in the center.) The center itself features a little movie theatre, a computer center, an outdoor play area, an arts and crafts room, a nursery and sleep room.
Teens have their own space, Metro Center, a "New York subway-themed" club with computers, plasma TV's, cozy seating areas, and (of course) it's adjacent to the well-equipped video arcade.
NCL's new agreement with Nintendo means that both centers now have Nintendo Wii's available for use.
The Garden Cafe has a special kid-sized buffet section, with kid-styled food (hot dogs, fries, chicken fingers) and the room service menu also has great kid's options, like a melt-in-your-mouth grilled cheese sandwich (Yes! We tried it!), and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Not limited to kids, of course, is the fabulous bright yellow corkscrew slide at the pool complex.
Group babysitting is offered during the evenings and on port days for a nominal fee of $5 per hour for the first child, and an additional $3 per hour for each sibling; there is no individual or in-room sitting.