MANY CRUISE LINES are only too happy to keep the whole family entertained these days, as some 42 percent of parties now sail with children under 18. Mid-sized to mega-sized ships offer the widest range of programs and facilities dedicated to kids and teens, although these playgrounds at sea are not the only option. Some all-inclusive luxury liners and smaller expedition ships are also family-friendly.
Among major premium line choices, Disney Cruise Line takes center stage. Not only do Mickey and friends roam the decks, but dashing figures from Star Wars and the superheroes of Marvel Comics also come to life. Especially popular with children ages 4–11, Disney runs programs for every age group, from babies to teens and beyond, capped by its 1820 Society, which sponsors exclusive get-togethers for passengers ages 18–20. Although Disney dedicates nearly a full deck of space exclusively to kids, many onboard activities bring families together, from themed deck parties, Broadway-style musicals and character breakfasts to mother-daughter and father-son spa treatments.
Disney’s top rivals offer plenty of kid-friendly diversions, too. Royal Caribbean International’s big ships feature some spectacular attractions, including bumper cars, zip lines, rock climbing walls and ice rinks. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Splash Academy teaches circus skills, from tumbling to juggling, that children (ages 3–17) then perform in a special show for parents. Holland America Line and Princess Cruises both offer extensive kids’ clubs and slightly lower-key, more “mature” activities. Princess, for example, provides Ping-Pong and bocce as well as family shore excursions with Animal Planet-themed tours focused on whales, sharks and other wild critters.
While high-end, all-inclusive cruise lines lack the full onboard facilities and array of programs for children of the larger mainstream operators, several are quite welcoming to parents with kids, especially on summer and holiday cruises. Celebrity Cruises maintains “fun factories” for children and a GenNXT program for 18- to 20-year-olds. On the final evening of some voyages, Celebrity’s Parents Night Out gives parents a night of dining and entertainment to themselves while children attend a pizza feast and slumber party on their own. Many of Crystal Cruises’ luxury sailings also set aside special spaces with Junior Activities programs for 3- to 17-year-olds that include water polo and teen discos.
A third but rarer option is an expedition cruise designated as a family adventure. Forget water parks and disco parties; instead, these educational cruises focus on parents and children interested in exploring nature, both separately and together. On select Galápagos and Alaska sailings, for example, Lindblad Expeditions’ National Geographic Global Explorers Program enables kids to earn a Zodiac “driver’s license” while recording wildlife sightings and participating in guided field activities on shore.
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
San Antonio celebrated 300 years of progress in May 2018. With a clear vision following that anniversary year, the Texan city set its sights firmly on 300 more. While commemorating this milestone, the city underwent a major overhaul to prepare for the next phase in its history.
Are you looking for a truly unique travel experience and considering a new vehicle? The Volvo Overseas Delivery Program is the perfect solution to create your own refined adventure of a lifetime. You can custom order your new Volvo, tailored to fit your needs and desires. They will fly you to Sweden to pick up your Volvo so you can drive and explore Scandinavia and Europe on your terms for up to two weeks.
When you think of a relaxing spa day, mountains, rivers and view of gorgeous landscapes pop in your head; a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of any city’s booming music and honking taxis. SoJo Spa Club and Hotel gives you the relaxing feeling of being away while still staying close to the busy center of Manhattan.
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Step right up to the greatest show on Earth as FXExpress Publications, Global Traveler, trazeetravel.com and whereverfamily.com celebrate their 2020 award winners! Join the big top on Dec. 14 as we virtually award the winners of the 17th annual GT Tested Reader Survey awards, including the Airline and Hotel of the Year; the 17th annual Wines on the Wing Airline Wine Survey; the eighth annual Leisure Lifestyle Awards; the sixth annual The Trazees; and the third annual Wherever Awards.
Dance the night away with Grand Hotel’s Ballroom Dance offer, available May 16–18. Dancers of all skill levels will experience a diverse range of ballroom dance styles, alongside daily breakfast and dinner, a welcome reception and complimentary golf green fees.