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When planning a family cruise, consider the activities offered onboard. Most cruise lines have specially designed kids' programs for different age groups. With the exception of daycare/babysitting services, most programs are free.
Disney's themed activities and character interaction make it a popular choice for young children. Programs are grouped by age: under three, 3-7, 8-12 and 13-17. The cruise line also offers age-based suggestion guides for shore excursions.
Holland America's teen space, The Loft, offers music, videos, karaoke and big-screen TV. A teen-only sun deck is outfitted with hammocks, a waterfall and wade pool. Age groups are 3-7, 8-12 and 13-17. The program for tweens allows late-night stays for an extra charge.
Princess Cruises' programs include a science center. Tweens and teens have the opportunity to dress up for special kid-only dinners. Age groupings vary, but generally break out into ages 3-7, 8-12 and 13-17.
Royal Caribbean's programs for children and teens focus on science and art, although they also include movies, sports and games. A parent-child program is offered for the under-threes. Age groups: 3-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-14 and 15-17.
When booking, let the booking agent know of any allergies, dietary or special needs. Ask about vaccination requirements. When cruising with very young children, check the hours and cost of daycare, and request a crib or bunk guardrails. Diapers are very costly onboard, so pack a complete supply. After boarding, register your children with the appropriate program-then relax and let the whole family enjoy their cruise.EnCompass