Splendour of the Seas for Families
Splendour has an extensive children's program called "Adventure Ocean," for kids from ages 3 to 17. (Kids must be toilet trained; they will not be allowed in if still wearing diapers or Pull-Ups.) The children are broken up into five age groups: Aquanauts (3 to 5), Explorers (6 to 8), Voyagers (9 to 11) and two groups of Teens (12 to 14 and 15 to 17). In addition, the Royal Babies and Tots program is geared toward the littlest cruisers, ages 6 to 36 months. The three youth lounges -- Nursery, Adventure Ocean and Optix Teen Disco -- are located on Deck 10. An all-ages video arcade is next door.
Adventure Ocean activities for kids, ages 3 to 11, are free of charge and available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. On port days, the center will open a half-hour before the first excursion. Age-appropriate activities might include finger-painting, talent shows, pajama parties, karaoke, sports tournaments and scavenger hunts. Royal Caribbean also offers special kids' programs in science, art, theater and storytelling. Certain events are designated as family activities for parents and kids to do together.
Teen activity hours vary during the day and run from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. for younger teens and from 9 p.m. till late for older teens. Think dances and pool parties, video game play, casino nights and sports. The teen disco has a "mocktail" bar, dance floor and video game area.
Royal Babies and Tots programming is geared to little kids, ages 6 to 36 months, and takes place in the Nursery. The Nursery's main playroom is outfitted with all sorts of Fisher-Price toys, soft climbing structures and interactive play stations lining the walls. A huge flat-screen TV shows Sesame Street, the Wiggles and Thomas the Tank Engine videos nearly nonstop. A back room has several cribs and a changing station. Typically, the Nursery is open from 8 a.m. on port days and 9:30 a.m. on sea days through midnight.
The babies program works differently than Adventure Ocean. Most of its open hours are reserved for drop-off group baby-sitting, day or night, at a rate of $8 per hour, per child. Staff will change diapers, but you're expected to provide supplies (diapers, milk, bottles, sippy cups, etc.). Parents will receive a pager to be buzzed if there's a problem.
During late afternoon open-play sessions, Fisher-Price Playgroups and Crayola Beginnings art time, kids can come for free, but they must be supervised by a parent. The room is a wonderful place for little ones to play, and we discovered that if no tots have been dropped off, the staff will allow parents and kids to come in for additional open play time. Families can also borrow bags of toys for the duration of the cruise -- a neat idea so you don't have to pack your toybox.
In-cabin sitting, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 a.m., is available through the purser's desk and must be booked at least 24 hours in advance. It's based on availability with no guarantee that a sitter will be found. Minimum age is 1 year; the charge is $19 per hour (for two hours or more) for up to three children within the same family.
Group baby-sitting for ages 3 to 11 is available from the youth staff from 10 p.m. through 2 a.m. nightly. The rate is $6 per hour, per child. (Kids must be at least 3 years old and potty-trained.)
Royal Caribbean provides Pack 'n Play porta-cribs on advance request. High chairs with trays are available in both the Windjammer and main dining room, as is whole milk. Royal Caribbean's Babies to Go program allows parents to pre-order jarred Gerber baby food, Huggies diapers and Cotonelle wipes to be delivered to their cabins for exorbitant prices.
The main dining room does offer a kids menu with appetizers, entrees, desserts and even virgin cocktails and frozen drinks. (Specialty drinks cost extra.) The waitstaff is extremely accommodating to children, having fruit salad ready for little ones upon arrival, making animals out of napkins and just dropping by to say hi.
Several family-friendly dining options are also available. Lunch & Play is offered on sea days from noon to 2 p.m., when Adventure Ocean is typically closed. Counselors will supervise a boxed lunch, movie- or cartoon-watching and playtime for a charge of $7.95 per kid. My Family Time Dining is a free service for families with early seating in the dining room. Kids will receive an expedited dinner service so they can be in and out in 45 minutes, when counselors will pick them up and bring them back to Adventure Ocean for evening activities while parents enjoy the rest of their dinner at leisure. And, Adventure Ocean Dining is a program on select nights to allow kids to have dinner in the ship's restaurants with their peers and youth program staff.
Royal Caribbean will not accept pregnant cruisers who have entered their 24th week of pregnancy before or during the cruise. Pregnant women in their first and second trimesters technically need a "fit to travel" note from their physicians.