Youth Program: Policies and Details
It also helped that children over six years old can sign themselves in and out of Adventure Ocean with parental permission. Despite the huge size of the ship (138,000 tons, 15 decks, and a passenger capacity of over 3,100), Alex is great with directions and enjoyed the responsibility of getting herself to and from the youth room.
Although the youth program starts for those over age three, children must be fully potty-trained to participate in Adventure Ocean activities. Royal Caribbean won't allow those who are not potty trained to come to the youth facilities even if accompanied by a parent. Nor are non-toilet-trained tots allowed to use the great Adventure Beach pool and slide facilities. Royal Caribbean is one of the few lines that still offer private baby-sitting, but tots must be at least one year old to use the service.
For youngsters under 12, there are activities from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. with an hour break for dinner. On port days, counselors are available half an hour prior to the first shore excursion in case parents want to go ashore solo. Counselors will take children to lunch on most days too. On three of the seven nights, counselors take the kids to the buffet dinner or Johnny Rockets hamburger restaurant as a group at 6 p.m. Make sure you sign up for this free option by noon on the day of the dinner. Generally the counselors take the kids to eat on the two formal nights as well as an additional evening.
While the Navigators (age 12-14) and Teens share the Optix Teen Club, they do split for many Teens-only options. The Navigators program lasts until about midnight or 12:30 a.m. nightly, while the Teens program goes until about 2 or 3 a.m. and often includes a Teens-only disco.Youth Program: Oceans of Fun
We could tell that it would be a lively cruise since the first-night informational meeting for kids and parents was held in the ice rink as some of the counselors skated. They also tossed to the audience some of the logo items kids can earn by attending the Adventure Ocean program. Each time a youngster attends an Adventure Ocean session, he receives a coupon. On the last day of the cruise, they can be cashed in for prizes like visors, CD cases, t-shirts, and more. While Alex enjoyed attending the kids' program, we found the coupons were a great incentive for her to participate.
Royal Caribbean has a number of successful trademark activities in its fleet-wide Adventure Ocean program. Most impressive are the Adventure Science activities--fun yet educational sessions where kids really get their hands wet (literally). Some of them include making space mud, learning about the stars, and talking about outer space as well as talking like aliens from outer space!
Some lines place more emphasis on crafts than on active games, but not Royal Caribbean. A few Adventure Art projects were offered, such as making a metal Mexican hanging trinket. Although Alex is generally very into making crafts and artwork, she did not seem to miss them on this cruise.
On the last formal night, we enjoyed the Pirate Parade, which was also presented by the two youngest age groups. The kids had their faces painted, put on bandannas and fake hooks (a la Captain Hook), and paraded around the ship with the counselors. The counselors would yell out funny lines such as, "The Captain wants it quiet," and the kids would reply "Let's start a riot!" The children even paraded into the three-level dining room to entertain the second-seating adults. At the end, the ship's photographer took a great picture of the dozens of little pirates.
The line's activities wouldn't be half as fun for the kids if not for the enthusiastic counselors. I found them to be entertaining, yet firm and personal with the kids--a perfect combination for bonding with the youngsters yet remaining in control. All the counselors had nicknames that the children loved and were easy to remember, ranging from Ketchup to Ice Cream, and even Monkey Breath!
The line has a "three strikes you're out" behavior policy for unruly kids and teens. According to Clarke, if youngsters are warned three times about disruptive behavior, they cannot return to the youth program.Sample of Activities
The room for three to five year olds is furnished with a small slide, a ball pit, and lots of Lego building blocks. Activities offered during our cruise for this age group included design your own surfboard; paw-print art; story time; freeze dancing; balloon volleyball; and much more.
The nine to 12 year olds had a large room for group activities and a smaller room filled with 14 Game Boys, called the "Virtual Sub Station". Activities for this age group included Adventure Science forensics and H2O thunder races; Survivor night; soak your youth staff; and Name that Tune.
The Navigators (12-14) and Teens (15-17) shared the Optix teen room, which had state of the art lighting and a dance floor for teen discos. Other activities for Navigators are: late night karaoke; Playstation 2 time; DJ training; late night skate; and The Weakest Link game show. Some of the teen activities are Fuel disco parties; man hunt; pool parties; arcade challenge; and Battle of the Sexes.
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