A Breakdown of the Best Kids’ Clubs on Cruises

See recent posts by Jason Leppert

There’s no doubt cruise ships are family-friendly, with extensive facilities for kids all ages, from babies to teens. Kids’ clubs, specifically, have transformed from rooms tucked aside with hardly any amenities into well-designed venues with full-blown programming on par with the best adult features at sea. Below, we looked at the top kids’ clubs on mainstream cruise lines. Keep in mind that facilities may vary from ship to ship, so it’s always a good idea to verify that your chosen vessel has the club you want prior to sailing.

Carnival Cruise Line

Dr. Seuss Bookville on Carnival Vista/Oyster

Dr. Seuss Bookville on Carnival Vista/Oyster

Most Carnival Cruise Line vessels have colorful interiors, creating a fun atmosphere throughout. Depending on the ship, Camp Carnival or Camp Ocean is the place to be for kids ages two to 11, Circle C is perfect for tweens ages 12 to 14 years old, and Club O2 is great for the 13- to 17-year-old set. While there are no dedicated nurseries, the Night Owls program provides babysitting services for little ones who are six months to 11 years old.

Popular partnership programs include Seuss at Sea and Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sea. That means kids can hang out with Cat in the Hat at Dr. Seuss Bookville, participate in a Seuss-a-Palooza Parade and Seuss-a-Palooza Story Time, or even enjoy a Green Eggs and Ham breakfast. Meanwhile, Build-A-Bear brings the experience of crafting new stuffed animal friends to the Carnival ships. Elsewhere, arcades, mini-golf courses, ropes courses, and a water park also keep children entertained.

Disney Cruise Line

Disney's Oceaneer Club on Disney Dream/Jason Leppert

Disney’s Oceaneer Club on Disney Dream/Jason Leppert

Disney Cruise Line has some remarkable kid-focused facilities. As you’d imagine, the kids’ clubs here spotlight scores of Marvel, Pixar, and “Star Wars” features. Its ships do have dedicated nurseries for kids who are six months to three years old. Three- to 12-year-olds can get into Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab. Each venue offers different activities. At the Club, young guests will find a replica of Andy’s Room from “Toy Story,” Marvel Super Hero Academy, Pixie Hollow, a copy of the Millennium Falcon from “Star Wars,” and more. On the other hand, Edge is designed for tweens (11 to 14 years old), and Vibe is perfect for teens (14 to 17 years old). 

Of course, the entirety of each Disney vessel is kid-friendly, down to the character meet-and-greets with Mickey Mouse and the gang. The AquaLab water park, AquaDuck and AquaDunk waterslides, Buena Vista Theatre, and Walt Disney Theatre shows don’t hurt either.

MSC Cruises

Junior Club on MSC Seaside/Oyster

Junior Club on MSC Seaside/Oyster

MSC Cruises also offers a range of kid-oriented facilities, from nurseries to teen clubs. The Mini Club takes care of babies and toddlers (one to three years old) with babysitting services, as well as provides programming for kids up to six years old. The Juniors Club is for seven- to 11-year-olds, and other kids’ clubs for tweens and teens are also available.

The cruise line’s mascot, Doremi, and his family (sister Mila, brother Dorebro, and baby brother Dorebaby) are also present for character gatherings. Partnerships with Chicco and Lego make for excellent amenities and activities, too. The former brings branded toys, while the latter offers the Lego Experience for a complete day of brick-building fun. Aside from the clubs, video arcades, bowling alleys, F1 simulators, 4D interactive cinemas, zip lines, and water parks add to the excitement.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Guppies Nursery on Norwegian Escape/Oyster

Guppies Nursery on Norwegian Escape/Oyster

Norwegian Cruise Line used to have more in the way of branding (most notably with Nickelodeon), but has eased up on its collaborations. Now, the company offers a more generic lineup of nurseries and clubs that remain engaging nonetheless.

The vibrant Splash Academy is divided by age group (little ones between six months and three years old count as Guppies, three- to five-year-olds are considered Turtles, six- to nine-year-olds fall under Seals, and 10- to 12-year-olds are Dolphins). For teens, Entourage is the place to be. Activities here run the gamut, from arts and crafts to circus school.

Beyond the clubs, Norwegian offers thrilling water parks and waterslides (picture free-fall varieties cantilevered over the side of the ship in a figure-eight). Video arcades, sports courts, pop-up escape rooms, laser tag, ropes courses, and multi-deck go-kart racing round out the offerings.

Princess Cruises

Movies Under The Stars on Regal Princess/Oyster

Movies Under The Stars on Regal Princess/Oyster

Princess Cruises ups the ante with Camp Discovery, Discovery Channel-branded kids’ and teens’ clubs. This includes The Treehouse, a forest- and animal-themed play area for kids ages three to seven; The Lodge, an activity center and hangout for kids ages eight to 12; and The Beach House, a contemporary beach-themed lounge for teens ages 13 to 17. 

The network’s popular “MythBusters” TV show, along with Animal Planet’s “Shark Hunters,” feature heavily in the programming here. Educational, destination-themed activities are also added to the mix with the aim to teach kids about the areas they’re visiting on their sailings. Plus, while the cruise line doesn’t have nurseries, it does cater to an often-overlooked demographic. Club 1820 provides events for young adults who are sandwiched between early maturity and the drinking age. There are also sports courts, pools, and Princess’ signature poolside cinemas to enjoy as well.

Royal Caribbean International

Puzzle Break on Harmony of the Seas/Oyster

Puzzle Break on Harmony of the Seas/Oyster

Royal Caribbean International also has its own set of kids facilities, covering toddlers to teens, with DreamWorks branding. The Adventure Ocean youth program is broken down by age as well — Aquanauts (ages three to five), Explorers (ages six to eight) and Voyagers (ages nine to 11). The Living Room and Fuel Teen Club are for tweens and teens, and the Royal Babies program (six to 18 months) and Royal Tots program (18 to 36 months) handle nursery time.

Select ships elevate the fun with the DreamWorks Experience (think meet-and-greets and character breakfasts with friends from “Madagascar,” “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda,” and “How to Train Your Dragon;” plus parades and film screenings). 

Royal Caribbean’s own water parks and wet and dry slides range from tame to extreme. Consider the 10-deck Ultimate Abyss for a thrilling 13.14-second swirling descent. There are also carousels, video arcades, rock climbing walls, zip lines, sports courts, mini-golf courses, and themed escape rooms.

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