Posted February 1st, 2013, 01:31 PM
Hi! Your kids will be a little older and ages more spread apart than mine but I can share my thoughts:
Our experience may bring a different perspective as both our cruises to date were on Holland America.. HA is known for their older clientele and not for being kid centric but our girls (11 and 9 on the Westerdam & 12 and 10 on the Nieuw Amsterdam) LOVED the Club HAL on both trips.
First cruise was in mid January, southern Caribbean and only 50 children total were on the ship. The attention they received from the fun and inventive staff was great. The counselors knew my kids names and made them feel they were there for them. Each day they were excited to have their own time away from Mom and Dad and even got to walk up and back from Club HAL on their own... the ship was the perfect size and easy for them to navigate. This was a great way for them to feel a bit of independence and they LOVED it. Would we have done this on a mega ship, probably not.
Second cruise, sailed over Christmas Eastern Caribbean, bigger ship (same general layout) and now some 300 kids on board. This was a little different experience as they bonded with other kids more so than with the counselors but wow, did they make friends and the independence given grew a bit more. They would check the daily events and let us know when they would be joining us
The activities are more group based and they were encouraged to interact. There were no Ziplines, Surf machines or swirly slides but they did not miss something they never had before. They felt like they belonged on the cruise and not that they were just tagging along with mom & dad.
So, my point, even a cruise line that is not known for being awesome for kids, CAN BE awesome for kids. Would mine have liked Club HAL just as much had they been on a ship with all the "bells and whistles" for kids, not sure but they were disappointed that the next cruise will be on Celebrity and not HAL again.
The key is to know what your kids like & they should feel the cruise if for them just as much as the adults. My kids like making friends and they like attention so that combination worked great on a ship where they were a minority. The extra attention from the staff and the focus on group activities really worked for us. Also, the size of the ships paired with them being close in age, they enjoyed the adventure together! My girls fight & bicker constantly at home but when a vacation comes along, they are inseparable!
We were fortunate enough to get cruises that treated the kids just as wonderful as the adults! Couldn't loose! I believe Celebrity will be very much the same!