Resorts at Sea: 2018’s New Cruise Ships

image of Norwegian Bliss one of Norwegian's cruise ships

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

 In 2018, several cruise lines will introduce new cruise ships with features that make them resorts at sea, appealing to the child in all of us. While most cruise ships have been family-friendly for several years, the new ships bring activities  to cruising only seen before in land resorts and amusement parks. 

Here’s a peak at what these new resorts at sea cruise ships will be offering:

Carnival Horizon cruise ship will sail out of Miami to ports in the Eastern and Western Caribbean, and feature a Dr. Seuss water park; the Sky Ride where you strap in and zip safely around a suspended two-lane bike course high above the deck of the ship, and an IMAX Theatre .

Celebrity Edge, the latest of the Celebrity cruise ships will sail to the Eastern and Western Caribbean out of Port Everglades starting in December 2018. It’s most amazing amenity, the  Magic Carpet, is the world’s first cantilevered, a floating platform that reaches heights of 13 stories above sea level, so passengers can soar over the open ocean.

ms Nieuw Statendam, the newest member of the Holland America cruise ships will  have a 270 degree LED screen in the theater as well musical themes such as Billboard Onboard, Lincoln Center Stage, and B.B. King’s Blues Club.

Norwegian Bliss,will sail to Alaska and the Caribbean The Observation Lounge will be the perfect spot to watch bald eagles soar over glaciers or dolphins splashing in the Caribbean. The  Bliss will offer the largest race track at sea, and water slides that round the side of the ship.

Symphony of the Seas,  one of the Royal Caribbean cruise ships will be the largest cruise ship ever built when it goes into service in the spring of 2018. and will accommodate 6,000 guests.  It will feature a 10 story slide, robot bartenders, an ice skating rink, an aqua theater, and have 20 restaurants on board. It will sail to the Caribbean from Miami, Florida after a season in the Mediterranean.

Viking Spirit – Viking’s fifth ocean cruise ship will have an aft infinity pool, thermal suite with snow room (complimentary),and  two story explorer’s lounge. Every stateroom will have a private veranda. Wi-Fi, specialty restaurants, thermal suite, laundry room, and 24/7 room service will all be complimentary.

Each of these new cruise ships will feature a number of new amenities in addition to the ones described above, as well as all the family-friendly amenities described in detail in our fist cruise article, What Makes a Cruise Family-friendly?

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A Family-Friendly Cruise Includes Youth Programs

Splash Academy Youth ProgramsIf you are thinking about  taking a family cruise, you need to know more about the ship than if it has laundry services, kid-friendly meals, and on board medical care; you need to think about the availability of youth programs that are age appropriate, interesting, and well supervised by staff that are experienced in caring for and recreating children.

During the December holidays, I took a cruise on the Norwegian Breakaway that I would describe, not only as kid-friendly, but family friendly as well. Each morning, before I got on an elevator near my cabin, I caught a brief glimpse of young children making their way into one of the youth programs sites for a day of learning activities, games, crafts, and free play with new friends.

The Breakaway’s Splash Academy hosts complimentary youth programs that provide children with fun-filled days at sea. Programs give parents the opportunity to enjoy a variety of cruise activities knowing their children are well supervised, and enjoy meeting and playing with others their own age.

Given my years of running a preschool and  seasonal day camps, I was interested in learning more about the Splash Academy and its youth programs while at sea, and when in ports of call. I was given permission to meet with the manager of the youth programs, Carlos Perez. Carlos gave me a tour of the several large, well-maintained and colorfully decorated recreation rooms that are home to the Splash Academy on the 12th floor of the ship.

As Carlos described the youth programs, children are grouped by age and activities as follows:

  • Guppies – ages 6 months to 2 years. Parents participate in the activities, which take place in the Guppies Playroom and are hosted by a certified staff. Activities include, but are not limited to, sensory play, music and movement, ball play and building with blocks.
  • Turtles – Ages 3-5 years. Programs take place in the main Splash Academy recreation areas and include: Arts and crafts, painting, games, sensory play, storytelling, developmental activities, parades and treasure hunts.
  • Seals – Ages 6-9 years. Programs are held in the Splash Academy recreation areas and include: Circus Skills and Show (Scarf Juggling, Plate Spinning, Devil Sticks, and Rope Spinning) theme nights, painting, sports and games, parades, treasure hunts, and video games
  • Dolphins – Ages 10-12 years. Programs are in Splash Academy recreation areas and include: Entourage Takeover, Circus skills and Show (Stilts, Ball Juggling, Chinese Yo-Yo, Plate Spinner and Devil Sticks) scavenger hunts, sports and team building, theme nights, and video games.
  • Entourage – Teens get to hang out and play video games, see movies, enjoy music and sports with others their own age in supervised teen centers around the ship.

During days at sea, Splash Academy is open from 9am to noon and 2pm to 5pm and 7pm until 10:30 pm.

Carlos shared that Splash Academy has a staff of over 25+ men and women experienced in providing youth programs for children. During my tour, I was impressed to see the modern equipment, and well maintained play areas. The kitchen area and bathroom facilities are sized appropriately for young children.

On the last day of the trip, the children who participated in the youth programs, put on a production for their families and other shipboard guests.

Norwegian Breakaway delivered a cruise experience for the whole family. Thanks to Splash Academy, parents had free time to enjoy shipboard activities. In addition, kid friendly meals, pool time fun as a family, and other shared activities made for a family-friendly cruise.

Not every cruise line offers youth programs, and not all youth programs are created equal; make sure you pick a cruise that has youth programs that will interest each of your children.

 

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