Can kids have fun on a cruise ship? Aren’t they full of old people and shuffleboard?
I had a horribly misguided view of what cruise ship activities are all about before I went aboard the Carnival Breeze.
If your kids say even ONCE “I’m bored!” on this cruise, they have issues.
I can’t even begin to cover everything that they offer for kids, but this post will hopefully be a good overview.
All I can say is Best.Idea.Ever on a cruise ship.
Why didn’t they think of this before?
WaterWorks is not your run of the mill prissy local park splash pad with a couple of squirters shooting water out of the ground.
This is a water park that means business, y’all. Game ON. Tons of ramps, stairs, toddler slides, shooter guns, and one of those super-huge-giant buckety things that fills up and then dumps a gazillion gallons of water on everybody standing underneath it.
And also? Two BIG water slides: the Twister and the Drainpipe. You go to the top of the ship…annnnddd then you keep climbing. And climbing.
Fun fact about me. I don’t swim. I like the water, but I don’t LOVE it. And also? I don’t love heights. So, when my kids convinced me that I HAD to go on the water slide, I was scared to DEATH.
You’re up high, the water is rushing fast, and these slides are LONG.
Did I mention you’re up maybe, I don’t know, 35 to 50 feet above the top of the ship?
I did it. It was SUPER fun. ::patting self on back::
Here’s Little CEO on Twister.
My kids lived at WaterWorks. It’s a Godsend.
Camp Carnival is the Center of All Things Fun and Kiddly-ish on board the Breeze. Open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at no charge (for real), Camp Carnival offers all sorts of crafts, sports, dance contests, video game tournaments and other fun activities for kids. The camp is divided up by age group, so kids can hang with peeps their own age.
We took advantage of Camp Carnival a few times on board the ship. Both kids had a lot of fun. However, Boy Wonder was kind of okay doing his own thing, so we were okay with that, too. By the third day, we were comfortable letting our kids explore the ship together a bit on their own. For example, we’d be on the upper Lido deck and they’d go to WaterWorks right next door and we’d check in every 45 minutes or so. This was a huge confidence builder for both kids and worked well for us.
If we just had Little CEO with us, I think we’d have used Camp Carnival more than we did. For people who want MORE of a kid-free vacation and lots of adult time, it is a fabulous service and the staff is amazing – they know the kids by name after the first day. We liked hanging with our kids quite a bit on this trip and so some occasional use of Camp Carnival was great for us.
There’s ANOTHER great program that runs after 10 p.m. at Camp Carnival, too. “Night Owls” is an upcharge babysitting service where the same fun activities continue. They also offer “Fun Til One” stay-up-late parties for the 6-to-8 set and party til 3 a.m. fun for the 9-11 set.
My kids, being on California time all week, really wanted to participate in those, but were just.too.tired .
You can also do Beary Cuddly, which is Carnival’s version of Build-A-Bear. The bears and outfits are reasonably priced. Little CEO and I had fun building her bear, now called Reminisce or “Remi” for short.
Camp Carnival also offers separate camps for kids ages 12-15 and 16-18 that have their own private clubs and stuff, where hormonal teens can sit around and be moody and talk about whatever teens talk about. Happily, I’m blissfully ignorant of that stage. So far.
If WaterWorks, Camp Carnival and the Thrill Theater aren’t enough for your kids, take ‘em on the Sky Course: a ropes course situated under the shadow of Carnival’s iconic whale tail on top of Deck 11.
It was my first time doing a ropes course (did I mention that height thing?) and it was exhilarating to look out over the ship and see nothing but ocean while teetering on a thin piece of rope with nothing but a harness to save me from certain death. Seriously. I had a lot of fun, and so did the kids. Note: Sky Course is closed on windy days, so take advantage of it when it’s open!
Sky Course is actually part of a larger fun zone aboard the Carnival Breeze called Sports Square. You want it? They’ve got it (okay, they’re missing a tennis court).
Basketball, foosball, a 9-hole mini golf course, ping-pong, a giant chess set, a running track, exercise equipment – it’s all here.
Boy Wonder and I suck at foosball, by the way. And I really need to get my kids some golf lessons.
Pool and Seaside Theater
If your family wants to be Where The Party Is, the Lido Deck is where it’s at. There are all sorts of fun activities going on throughout the day, from dance contests to ice sculptures to bingo. The deck got a bit crowded for us during the day so we’d grab a chair one level up where we could still SEE all the fun but not be in the mix of it all. However, at night, the pool area empties out and they utilize the big screen above Lido Deck to show movies and concerts under the stars. The Seaside Theater is a great way to have a chill night.
We all grabbed blankets from the towel service one night and watched The Odd Life of Timothy Green. You can get popcorn from the Red Frog Bar and it almost feels like a drive-in!
I would’ve been thrilled to have no access to video games on our 8 day cruise, but I like that the option is available for rainy days or when the fam has 30 minutes to kill. The games in the good-sized arcade are pretty up-to-date, but they’re expensive – between $1 and $2.50 for one play (gulp). You can authorize your kid’s Sail and Sign account to give them free reign at the arcade. But what parent would do that? Not me!
We actually put a little money on both of our kids’s accounts on two separate days and told them they could use it in the arcade. You use your Sail and Sign card to “swipe” and play the video games. It also keeps track of how many electronic “tickets” you win on each game which can them be redeemed for prizes via an electronic vending machine.
I REALLY appreciated Carnival thinking about reducing the waste of paper tickets on this one!
Shows and Entertainment
There are a bunch of family-friendly live shows in the Ovation Theater aboard the Breeze. The ship was having some technical difficulties with their normal stage shows the week we traveled, but they did a fantastic job of improvising and bringing a magician and a juggler aboard for two different shows to replace the ones on the schedule. Both were super entertaining and the kids loved them!
But hands down, the marquee show of the Carnival Breeze is Hasbro: The Game Show. This show brings all the fun of watching a game show being taped live to a cruise ship.
Think about how the audience goes nuts on The Price of Right, and that was the scene at the Ovation Theater. CRAZY! I got picked to be a competitor but alas, our team lost. My kids were stoked to see Mom on stage, though.
So much so that I had to go back for the late Hasbro show. And return again for the encore show on Saturday. THEY.LOVE.THIS.SHOW. I can’t say enough how much fun it is with all of the audience participation going on!!!
Imagine being able to go to your local theater, hand over $15 and have them tell you “your kid can see as many movies as they want for the next 8 days.”
A total value, right?
That’s exactly what Carnival has on board with its Thrill Theater – a 4-D mini-movie theater that shows 5 to 7 features over the course of the cruise. They show at different times and many all family-friendly titles that kids recognize, like Spongebob and Ice Age. Now, these are not full-length movies – they’re 20 to 30 minutes, but packed with fun, because you’re getting squirted with water, or your legs get tickled by strings under the seats.
My kids probably went to Thrill Theater 20 times over 8 days and had a BLAST. Admission for one show is $7.95 and the unlimited pass is $14.95. It was a no-brainer to do the unlimited pass.
Conclusion: there is no excuse for boredom aboard the Carnival Breeze. My kids are still talking about all of the fun they had. They’ve got memories that will truly last a lifetime.