Allure of the Seas for Families
While Disney certainly competes when it comes to catering to the under-10's, no other line beguiles all children like Royal Caribbean, and Oasis and Allure represent the pinnacle of the line's programming. Through Royal Caribbean's partnership with DeamWorks, trademarked characters materialize for photo-ops, tickle kids during a character breakfast (no extra cost, but reservations required) and perform at the AquaTheater. We spotted Kung Fu Panda in the Royal Promenade, a sweaty Fiona in Central Park and the full DreamWorks army during the mesmerizing "Move It! Move It!" parade in the Royal Promenade.
The epicenter of the youth program is the 29,000-square-foot Youth Zone, an expansive Deck 14 complex split into age-appropriate spaces and rooms dedicated to science experiments (make snow in the Caribbean), theater instruction and arts & crafts.
Children -- ages 3 to 5 (Aquanauts), 6 to 8 (Explorers) and 9 to 11 (Voyagers) -- have their own rooms for playing dodge ball and indoor soccer, participating in Nintendo Wii tournaments and belting out tunes during sing-alongs. Royal Caribbean has partnerships with Crayola and Fisher-Price, which means that the Youth Zone has a slew of very colorful toys, games and supplies. Also in the area is one of Allure's two arcades, which features the typical array of enticements, including first-person shooters and grab-teddy-with-a-claw games. Options are typically overpriced. For instance, it's $1.25 to play Skeeball. Daytime activities in the Youth Zone are free, but after 10 p.m., baby-sitting fees of $19 per hour apply for up to three kids in the same family.
The 12 to 14's and 15 to 17's have their own spaces (including a teens-only nightclub and an arcade) on Deck 15 aft, next to the sport court, Ping-Pong tables, mini-golf course and FlowRiders. The programming is less structured than it is for the under-12's, allowing for freedom to participate in shipwide activities. Teens should expect theme nights ("Industrial"), scratch D.J. Academy classes, mocktail-making demos and grownup-free BBQ's. The teen center is open each night until 2 a.m.
The Royal Tots and Royal Babies program, introduced on Oasis, provides childcare and activities for children from 6 to 36 months old. All parents have an opportunity to reserve spots for their kids at the beginning of each cruise at a cost of $8 per hour, per child. Remaining hours are then opened up on a first-come, first-served basis.
To keep kids and parents connected, RCI offers the "Wow Phone." These are iPhones stripped of their outside calling capabilities. The phones, which are also loaded with deck plans and Cruise Compasses, are $17.50 each for a week. The Wow Phones can be reached from any phone on the ship. The phones also have tracking devices, perfect for locating little Tommy.