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Shall we take the kids on a cruise?

So you’re wondering about taking the kids on a cruise, but have a few questions?

Will they get bored? What will they do all day? Are the kids programs any good? Is there babysitting for little ones? Will they like the food?

Carnival kids

The kids at their own Hasbro game show

Well here’s the good news: most cruise ships cater for toddlers through to teens with just as much attention as they do the adults.

In this post we’re going to focus on Carnival Cruises


What are the kid programs like?

Camp Carnival

Most parents say their kids don’t want to leave these clubs!

Camp Carnival is their fully staffed kids programs catering for kids from 2-11 years. Pick up your daily program and see what’s happening when.

Ages 2-5 – Toddlers, featuring singalongs, arts and crafts, drawing contests

Ages 6-8 – Juniors, featuring Disney trivia, T-shirt painting, bear making and games

Ages 9-11 – Intermediates, featuring talent shows and scavenger hunts

Circle C (ages 12-14) and Club 02 (ages 15-17) have their own separate spaces for dance and pool parties, outdoor movies, karaoke competitions, PlayStation and Xbox. They can also register for teen-only shore excursions and will meet lots of new friends – to FaceTime when you get home! These programs are really great for when parents want to relax or chat with friends and the kids can go and “be cool” somewhere else.

Carnival cruise mini golf

But parents can also join in


What other activities are onboard?

Carnival ships proudly use the tag line “fun ships” and have rolled out Fun Ship 2.0 across their fleet. This means they all have WaterWorks, an aqua park with a 4-deck high corkscrew water slide, as well as soakers and sprayers. There are two pools for kids plus Sport Square, with mini-golf, rope walking, basketball and foosball tables and themed game shows where the kids can win prizes.

A gigantic 7m outdoor movie screen overlooks the pool area and 3D cinema offers total immersion, heart-thumping movies. And for the adults there’s a designated quite pool area, a spa, gym and the theatre for nightly shows.

Carnival SportsSquare

SportsSquare is where you’ll find the kids – leaving the adults to their own devices


My kids are fussy eaters, will they like the food?

Yes! With several restaurants and food stations serving complimentary food outside the set meal times, there are plenty of options to appease even the fussiest child. But kids menus include spaghetti and meatballs, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, sandwiches, fruit and veges.

There are 24-hour pizza kiosks if your kids haven’t quite caught up with the time zone, plus ice cream machines that you may have to limit for treats!

Older kids will enjoy the poolside burger bar – and you’ll be grateful for SportSquare where they can burn it off.

In the main restaurants there are also kid-friendly dinner options, so family dining is really easy.


Is there babysitting onboard?

There is no in-room babysitting, but aside from the complimentary kids programs during the day for children aged 2-17, babysitting for 0-11 year olds is available for $6 an hour for the first child and $4 per hour for additional kids. Note, there is no crèche or activities available for babies under 2 during the cruise.


Do we need to bring our own pushchair?

There are strollers onboard available for rent, and you can do that through Camp Carnival for your shore days.


What if my child has an emergency? 

Parents of children aged 0-3 are provider with a beeper for the duration of the cruise. For children aged 4-5, parents will be provided with beepers depending on availability.


Tips from parents who’ve cruised with kids: 

“We take two-way radios so can find our kids any time” – Julie

“Take a nanny!” – Emma

“They loved the kids club and wouldn’t come out. But I wish I’d known drinks weren’t included and to do our own shore excursions to save money” – Erin

“Families should get interconnecting rooms so kids can go to bed early and adults get some ‘away’ time” – Kerry

If you have any advice for readers, please add your comments below…

Carnival Water Works

The slides!


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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!