Kids and teens won't have a chance to be bored on Imagination's four-night sailings, which are jam-packed with water slides, Dr. Seuss-themed activities, dedicated kids' clubs and a towel animal theater show that we thoroughly enjoyed, even as adults. When the brood isn't relishing the time with their new friends, there are ample opportunities for families to spend time together, as well. Hasbro, The Game Show is held twice per sailing and incorporates trivia and your family's favorite board games into a live-action contest for all ages. Even the comedy and theater performances offer early, family-friendly show times.
The partnership with Dr. Seuss is ingenious in the sense that classic characters like The Cat in the Hat appeal to the child in many of us, across generational gaps. Dine on green eggs and ham (or let the little ones go crazy with a sugar rush a la cereal-coated French toast) and get some fun family photos with Thing 1 and Thing 2, and of course, Sam I Am at the Green Eggs and Ham breakfast. The breakfast is followed up with Dr. Seuss trivia, an interactive parade and a Story Time, later that day.
Camp Ocean (Deck 11 forward) has replaced Camp Carnival as the kids' club for those aged 2 to 11. The club, with an aquatic motif, is supervised by about 13 dedicated youth staff, and the junior cruisers are divided into three age groups: Penguins (2 to 5), Stingrays (6 to 8) and Sharks (9 to 11). Open house and registration was 12:30 to 4 p.m. on embarkation day, followed by icebreakers from 8 to 9 p.m. Activity hours ran 8 to 10 p.m. our first night onboard, then from morning (7:30, 8 or 10 a.m.) to 3 or 5 p.m. on the following days. After the dinner break, the club reopens from 6 to 10 p.m., nightly. Dedicated family play time is available most nights from about 5:15 to 6:45 p.m. The club is open on port days.
Penguin activities might include Play-Doh creations/kitchen corner, silly songs and a Royal Gala story time; activities for Stingrays might include Steal the Bacon, volcano-making or sand art; and activities for the Sharks group could be a scavenger hunt, video game play or ocean-themed bingo.
Night Owls, an after-hours program, runs nightly from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and includes babysitting for tots less than 2 years old, in addition to children up to 11. The program includes video games, movies and other activities, and costs $6.75 per hour per child, plus a 15-percent gratuity per child. Owl Jams, a once-per-cruise party for children up to the age of 11, took place on our third night and advertised additional activities like crafts and music. The party is a flat fee of $15 per child, plus a 15-percent gratuity, and ran from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
In the interest of doing good and having a good time in the process, a Beary Cuddly Workshop ($19.99 per bear) is offered on the sea day in Camp Ocean, and requires kids to team up with a parent to help design a bear for the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. Groove for St. Jude ($10 donation each) also brings family and friends together to dance the night away -- T-shirts included.
We didn't see many teens loitering around the stairwells or in the hot tubs. Instead they all seemed to be engaged and having a genuinely good time interacting with their peers. Each teen club has its own director, and activities are loosely organized so teens can come and go without feeling too scheduled on their vacation. Teens also meet to attend theater shows or shipwide parties together in a group.
Circle C (Deck 8 forward) is the dedicated space for teens ages 12 to 14, and stands for "cruise, chill, connect." It's not very big but has a space age-looking green couch and blue cushions fit into the windows, which we honestly wish we'd had in our room. Circle C activities include mini-golf and Ping-Pong play, trivia, foosball competitions and a teens-only deck party.
Club O2 (Deck 9 forward) is for teens 15 to 17 only. Our first day onboard, we mistook the slick red-and-white space with its bumping bass and a DJ booth for an actual club. Air hockey, Wii competitions, Hasbro game play and a Dress to Impress party are a few of the activities that older teens can do together to pass the time.
Hours for Circle C and Club O2 are 4 to 6 p.m. nightly and then 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. (hours can vary).