Cruise Lines Find New Ways to Entertain Kids on Embarkation Day

October 21, 2009
Carnival Fun Zone Cruise Terminal "I'm bored." "This line's too long." "When can we get on the ship and play?"

Heard this before? If you cruise with kids, these statements may be all too familiar. Embarkation day lines in dull, warehouse-like cruise terminals can turn even the sweetest little angel into a whiny, frustrated and loud little devil … adults included! That's why several cruise lines are adding kids' play areas to their embarkation terminals.

The latest line to cater to the kiddies is Carnival Cruise Lines, which has added a Fun Zone at the Port of Miami cruise terminal. The play area features an indoor playground, video games, board games, coloring books and other toys. The Fun Zone is not supervised like Carnival's onboard kids' clubs, but parents can either keep an eye on their kids from their spot in line or join their kids for some pre-boarding play. Carnival reps say the line intends to add Fun Zones to additional ports in the future, but we don't know where or when at this point.

Although the Miami Fun Zone is new for Carnival, it's not the only line finding ways to entertain kids on embarkation day. Costa Cruises has a VIP area for kids and teens at its Savona and Barcelona cruise terminals, complete with age-appropriate games, toys and TV. Royal Caribbean is adding a special play area for kids in its new Terminal 18 at Port Everglades (where Oasis of the Seas will dock).

So now that the kids are happy, what about the parents? Carnival's testing out new self-service cruise check-in kiosks at the Port of Miami as well, which should streamline the check-in process; Costa already has them. Still, unless you show up late to embarkation when lines are shorter, at least one adult in your party is going to have to hold a space in line. But please, no whining -- after all, you are going on a cruise!

Have you tried any in-port kids' facilities? Tell us about it!

--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor