THE FACTS: 6 Kids with us : Boys, 14, 12, 10, 8 Girls, 11, 6
Approx. 800 kids on our particular sailing
Our kids are: sports/game oriented, fairly outgoing,
rookies at cruising
Adventure Ocean (A.O.) is divided by ages 3-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-14 15-17. We did not have anyone in the 3-5 or the 15-17 age groups.
Before you board, in the terminal, you will be asked if your child's seapass can be activated for charging. You decide this - one time - I don't believe you can change it later.
Upon boarding the ship, anyone with kids was directed to a seperate table where a counselor provided any child 11 and under with a plastic wrist band with their muster station # on it. This way, in an emergency, a counselor will bring your child to his designated area.
The first evening on board, I think around 8pm - there is a A.O. show in Studio B. At this time the counselors introduce themselves and explain the program in a "stage show" format. The highlight here is a short ice show by the skating performers. This is not mandatory. You can register any time.
Afterward, we all headed to Deck 12 to A.O. and registered our kids. Here you decide if your child can have the privledge of signing themselves in/out. Anyone 9-11 can do this with parents approval. We decided to let our 9 & 11 yr. olds sign themselves out AND the ability to sign out (and pick up) our 6 & 8 yr. old. It became apparent VERY QUICKLY that they never wanted to leave. Worrying about them signing out and roaming the ship became a non-issue.
The first time we went to A.O., there were several parents that couldn't find the door. It's kinda confusing! You have to go OUTSIDE, thru a gate that says " Adventure Ocean" and then each section (age group) has their own sliding door entrance. It's basically 3 rooms that connect w/ doorways. The 9-11 room being the largest, is used for Late Nite Party Zone (more on that later!).
Each kid receives a RCL landyard for signing up (a 3.95 value in the ship gift store). So don't bring one with you. Most nights they also give out prizes like small stuff animals (beanie baby-like), visors, RCL metals, etc.
Each room has T.V.'s, computers, portable B-Ball nets,... The 9-11 has a seperate area with approx. 15 Play Station 2 systems.
Each age group has organized events as well as free time to play. Every night, your cabin attendent will leave an itinerary for your kids A.O. group on your bed. That became our families new daytimer.
Snacks like fruit, brownies, cookies, cupcakes and donuts were served every day and night. Water is available for self serve.
Counselors would take them to the sports deck for organized games like octupus tag, knock out and relay races. Here's just some thing they did: Pirates Night (make-up on faces, search for treasury on the ship), made silly putty, science experiments, human bingo, Circus Day (dress up as a circus person, taught them circus acts to perform in the promenade for general public), talent show, endless songs with coordinating hand gestures, hoola hoop contest. etc, etc etc...
Gaga ball deserves a section of its own! It's a tame version of Dodge ball. My kids loved this game and could have played it endlessly.
At 10pm A.O. had Late Nite Party Zone. The only changes were they combined 6-11 together and you were charged $5 per hour for each kid there. The nightly gaga ball tournament would start at 10:30 and end at 11:30. Picking up the kids BEFORE this event ended could induce tears and screams of major magnitude! Also, any children still in A.O. at 1am gets their picture taken and put on the Wall of Fame. Another incentive to stay! (mine only made it Once!)
Almost everynight they offered a Johnny Rockets dinner at 6pm - FREE! This means no cover charge for entering. You could sign them up in the morning or afternoon but they only take 15 per age group. After dinner they will bring them to A.O. for the nights events. So basically your free from 6 until whenever?!? Beware! On our 2nd formal night, the kids DID NOT want to dress up AGAIN. The Johnny Rockets dinner sign up sheet filled up very very fast. Clearly there were other kids who felt the same way about those fancy clothes.
The 12- 14 yr. olds had a blast as well but this is run slightly different and I think this is one area that RCL could improve. For example, their meeting room is in the Optix Teen Disco. While all our younger kids could be in A.o. until 1am our 12-14 got "kicked out" of Optix at 11pm so that the 16+ crowd could enter. There was no organized activities for them and no place to go. Of course, I realize at this age, they often don't want organized activties. However, I could see how "trouble" could occurr.
12-14 y.o. do not have the "sign in/out" system. They did do organized activities - capture the flag, savenger hunts, rock climbing, water slide. But much of their time was spent sitting in Optix listening to music. Erin, the counselor, was always in attendence. This group was also given FREE play time in the arcade (during limited times) - NICE!
900 kids on the ship? I never saw more than 15 or 20 in A.O. at one time.
We thought the arcade (which is big and very nice) would be where our kids would spend most of their allowances. HA! It was never even used!
A.O. HOURS: (it varies a little) 9-12, 2-5, 7-1am
We gave some of our kids (under 11) walkie talkies. They kept them in their shoes on the shelf. They could not hear us call them but if they wanted out they could get it and call us. Of course, they never did.
In the begining, an adult would check on the kids in the club every hour or so. But soon we realized they thought we were coming to get them and they'd start begging to stay. I knew then that, THIS KIDS CLUB WAS AS GREAT AS I'D READ ON THESE THREADS.
We printed business cards on our computer for our older kids. Ya know, name address, email. to give to their new friends. BIG HIT!
One night 6-11 y.o. have a Pajama party and decorate pillowcases. make sure they all pack P.J.'s (naturally they can wear anything they want).
TIPPING: The purser's desk guy told us that they don't really do anything for the couneslors. But these 14 counselors made our kids vacation more memorable then anything in their lives (except maybe Xmas). They pool their tips together and divide it up. There biggest pleasure is going off the ship in port and eating in a restaurant. They don't eat the same food the passengers get and its the same stuff week after week, after week. I think these people should NOT be over looked...just my opinion.
Our kids were asking us 'when are we were going on another cruise?' before we even hit land in Miami. This was their first experience on a cruise ship and we're a little worried that anything else just won't do. We set the bar for vacations way too high!