Think family vacation — on steroids. Think every kind of food and entertainment you could want aboard some of the world’s biggest ships (Oasis and Allure of the Seas) and on its most innovative, Quantum of the Seas. There is a skydiving simulator, a 300-foot-tall observation pod craning above the deck, bumper cars and basketball, rock walls, indoor lap pools, remarkable digital and live entertainment, teen spa treatments, Nickelodeon character breakfasts, a Flywheel Sports spin studio, room service, and a phone app to control your dinner reservations. And that’s only the beginning — this is not the cruise line for couch potato relaxation.
What’s new: This April, expect Anthem of the Seas to arrive in New York harbor to begin a Caribbean route. She is expected to be outfitted like her older sister, Quantum, who will make Shanghai her new Asia homeport in May. Meanwhile, the lightning speed WiFi delivered by middle-orbiting satellites to the Quantum class ships will be rolled out across many of the fleet’s newer ships, powering new onboard services. More celebrity “experience advisors” will be touting the trendiest in food, fitness and design for cruisers. Using recently developed technology from the Quantum class ships, the company will add exhaust scrubbers to the engines of 13 Royal Caribbean and six Celebrity ships (a sister company.)
For babies: Aboard select ships, the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery for toddlers 6-36 months old offers parents childcare drop-off options in the daytime ($6/hour) and evening ($8/hour). On all ships, free-time play is also offered daily, with a variety of developmental toys from Fisher Price in exclusive, specially-designed programs. Parents and children can enjoy unique age-appropriate art activities that feature the Crayola Beginnings line of toddler art tools. The Babies 2 Go program also allows parents to order Gerber organic baby food and diapers, wipes and creams by Huggies for delivery to their staterooms upon arrival.
For kids: The Adventure Ocean programs are available for kids ages 3-11. Activities vary by age and range from art workshops, parades and ice cream parties to scavenger hunts, theater games, and sports tournaments. Kids love the complimentary Barbie programming (ages 4-11) where they’ll enjoy Barbie movie nights, story time, and more. In the Adventure Science program, kids enjoy hands-on science experiments led by trained staff. For 2015, Royal Caribbean is proud to announce their designation as an “autism-friendly ship” where staff has been trained to accept, work with, and facilitate the cruise experience for passengers on the spectrum.
For teens: Tweens and teens (12-14 and 15-17) have their own separate activities, including everything from DJ training to movie nights and arcade games. There is a teens-only lounge, nightclub, and spa offering facials, hair treatments, pedicures, and more on each ship.
Around the ship: Families love to splash around the H2O Zone with pools, waterfalls, a Flowrider surfing simulator and more. The DreamWorks Experience features parades, themed activities and character breakfasts with DreamWorks Animation’s popular feature-film characters, including Po of “Kung Fu Panda”; Shrek, Fiona and Puss In Boots of “Shrek”; and Alex the Lion and Gloria the Hippo from “Madagascar.” For entertainment lovers, on select cruises there are performances of Hairspray and Mamma Mia!, an ice-skating spectacular, movie theater, and AquaTheater dive shows, as well as live jazz and CW.
Also look for zip lines, mini-golf, pool scuba diving (select cruises), and much more. Adventure Family is a free, onboard program that allows children and their parents to participate in planned activities within a structured environment to spend quality time together. Activities depend on the length of the cruise and can range from family discos to talent shows and scavenger hunts. In-room sitters are available ($19/hour for up to three kids) and come equipped with books and toys. There is also late-night group babysitting until 2 am ($6/hour per child). On shore days, children’s activities are ongoing.