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AlexanderIII

Best ship for a very, very active 5-year-old boy?

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We live in Washington, DC and are planning a 7-day (or longer) cruise sometime in the summer of 2020.  Our port choices are: New York/New Jersey and Ft. Lauderdale/Miami.

 

The cruise will largely be focused on the needs and desires of our 5-year-old boy (who will be 6 by then).   He is bursting with energy and likes to run, jump, swim, and play all day long. 

We will be accompanied by an aunt and grandma on the cruise.

 

The dilemma is which ship would offer the largest number of activities for him and best service??  Some of the available activities should include:

 

1. Gentle slide or (preferably) slides

2. Waterworks

3. Carts

4. Tag team 

5. Arcade with air hockey and other "active" games

6. Kid shows, the more spectacular the better

7. Anything else that includes games and physical activity -- jumping, suspended jumping,  trampolines, even air floating and the like.

(I assume wall climbing and especially zip line would be dangerous, even though I know he would like to try these activities).

 

Some ships boast of having school-like activities in confined spaces, but that is not what we are looking for, quite the opposite.

 

It would be optimal if the ship has an itinerary that includes destinations offering colorful kid activities (pools, water and beach games, aviaries, and the like).

 

I would appreciate your suggestions as to the choice of ship and, possibly, destinations.  

 

Thanks in advance for your help.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

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Given your requirements, I think it might be best to contact a travel agent. 

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12 hours ago, AlexanderIII said:

We live in Washington, DC and are planning a 7-day (or longer) cruise sometime in the summer of 2020.  Our port choices are: New York/New Jersey and Ft. Lauderdale/Miami.

 

The cruise will largely be focused on the needs and desires of our 5-year-old boy (who will be 6 by then).   He is bursting with energy and likes to run, jump, swim, and play all day long. 

We will be accompanied by an aunt and grandma on the cruise.

 

The dilemma is which ship would offer the largest number of activities for him and best service??  Some of the available activities should include:

 

1. Gentle slide or (preferably) slides

2. Waterworks

3. Carts

4. Tag team 

5. Arcade with air hockey and other "active" games

6. Kid shows, the more spectacular the better

7. Anything else that includes games and physical activity -- jumping, suspended jumping,  trampolines, even air floating and the like.

(I assume wall climbing and especially zip line would be dangerous, even though I know he would like to try these activities).

 

Some ships boast of having school-like activities in confined spaces, but that is not what we are looking for, quite the opposite.

 

It would be optimal if the ship has an itinerary that includes destinations offering colorful kid activities (pools, water and beach games, aviaries, and the like).

 

I would appreciate your suggestions as to the choice of ship and, possibly, destinations.  

 

Thanks in advance for your help.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

I would choose the newly renovated Oasis of the Seas, August 1st, 2020. The port of calls include Cape Liberty (NJ), Port Canaveral, Miami, Perfect Day at CoCoCay and Nassau Bahamas!

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"Some ships boast of having school-like activities in confined spaces"

 

I'm a little confused - are you referring to the kids clubs with this statement?  They have a schedule, and your son can view it and decide if there are any activities he'd like to try.  They normally take place in confined spaces (although older kids sometimes do scavenger hunts and my kids were taken all over the ship to see the waterfalls as we sailed out of Geiranger) but are mostly games and crafts.  I understand your son wouldn't like crafts, but he might like the games (and the schedules are sometimes posted online by cruise critic members, so you can ask him now if there was anything that sounds interesting for him so you can include that in your planning).  And some kids don't like the kids club, but I was just a bit confused by your description of it.    

 

I was going to suggest the same cruise as the poster above.  Out of NY/NJ, the cruise to Orlando, Bahamas (he might like the Atlantis, which is a big water park), and  a private island on the Bahamas with a beach.  I'm sorry - we choose cruises for itinerary, not ship amenities so I'm not the best person to guide you, but I do believe that Anthem of the Seas is a newer ship from RC and it does this itinerary, so it might help fit your family's needs.  Anthem also does trips to Bermuda, so that would certainly get you to a beach.  And as noted above, Oasis will also be added to the NJ fleet, and is a huge ship.

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I have a VERY active 8 year old son who has been cruising since 15 months and has never been disappointed with a ship.  His most recent age 5 and beyond:

 

Carnival Pride from Baltimore - putt putt, water works with a gentle water slide, table top shuffle board, foosball, kids club was a HUGE hit, Dr, Suess parade and story time, Cat and the Hat character breakfast, arcade.  As for ports - my kid is a total beach bum. Give him a snorkel and he's happy.  But we did a beach break in Freeport that had a aqua obstacle course that he LOVED!

 

Carnival Magic for Port Canaveral - all of the above, but the sports court was added, ropes course was a big hit, and two bigger water slides.  Again, as for ports we did a lot of beach, but we did the forts in San Juan and he loved that.  He also did a dolphin swim in St. Kitts.

 

Carnival Pride again from Pride - Same as the first trip in the Pride, but finally tall enough for the green thunder (drop door slide) which he loved.  I broke my ankle in Grand Turk so we staying on the ship the rest of the trip and 7 year old was perfectly happy having the pool, water park, and rest of the ship to himself pretty much.  Even though I was in pain, the empty ship was great!

 

Carnival Sunshine in 16 day from Charleston - Seems like an ship in between the Pride and the Magic.  A little bit more than the Pride, but not as much as the Magic.

 

Your kid will love any cruise you pick I'm sure.  Like I said, my son is VERY active with pretty significant ADHD and his favorite part of cruising is the ice cream, kids club and the beach -probably in that order!

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don't go on Princess or Celebrity... They have nothing interesting for a kid in terms of fun activities, unless your kid is fine with doing kid's club every day. Some kids do great in kid's club, but DS refuses to go. He started cruising at 3. My friends' kids LOVE kid's club and go every day as soon as they wake up.

 

Look at Carnival (newer ships), Royal Caribbean (AMPED older ships and Oasis class and above), and Norwegian ships Getaway and younger.

Actually, Norwegian Getaway was perfect for our kid. Gentle slides, a ropes course, a spider net, trampoline, the rock climbing wall - it was GREAT. He loved every minute of it, and we tried some of those things as well and love it. We hated the food and the smoke smell, but all this active fun and entertainment are great.

Allure of the Seas (RCI) was great for our 8 yo, but he couldn't do zipline (75# min) and the surf simulator was a bit much for him (he is not very sporty and the long wait in the sun isn't very good for a milky white redhead). Allure doesn't have slides, though. However, DS tried ice skating onboard and fell in love, so he is taking ice skating lessons now. The RCI's food was good, we were happy.

 

On Princess ships our kid is limited to their free on demand movies (on Regal/Royal Princess) and evening shows. We cruise Princess for its better food.

 

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Thank you all.

 

Summing up the suggestions:

 

1. NCL Getaway

2. RCI Oasis of the Seas

3. RCI Allure of the Seas

4. Carnival Pride or Magic

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Many "activités" you list will have age/weight limits, so if he's unable to do them because he's too small, will that create a problem?

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On 8/5/2019 at 4:08 PM, cb at sea said:

Many "activités" you list will have age/weight limits, so if he's unable to do them because he's too small, will that create a problem?

actually, an average 6 yo will be able to do most of the activities on the NCL Getaway (water slides, trampoline, spider net, rock climbing and ropes course). They even had a tiny little bitty ropes course for tiny tots (like 3 yo).

 

My 8 yo was unable to do the zip line on the Allure (75# min) and he was just over the min limit for surfing (DS is 65#) which is not the average weight for a 6 yo. He was fine for a carousel (which he loved), rock climbing and ice skating. He also loved the family party at the very end of the cruise and is still talking about it.

 

We've never been on Carnival, so I can't comment on the minimum requirements.

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On 8/7/2019 at 1:30 PM, Itchy&Scratchy said:

We've never been on Carnival, so I can't comment on the minimum requirements.

 

My son is very tall for his age.  He's always been in the 90th+ percentile for height and weight.  Very well proportioned, but looks like a 5th grader not a third grader.  He did not meet height requirements for the drop door water slide until he was 6 years old.  Same for the ropes course on the Magic. The height requirement for these are both 48 inches.  

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, mom2oneXY said:

 

My son is very tall for his age.  He's always been in the 90th+ percentile for height and weight.  Very well proportioned, but looks like a 5th grader not a third grader.  He did not meet height requirements for the drop door water slide until he was 6 years old.  Same for the ropes course on the Magic. The height requirement for these are both 48 inches.  

The height requirement for the ropes course on Getaway was also 48".

But anyway, my kid is also 90%+ for height so he was able to do a lot of things even some older kids couldn't do.

 

However, there were some max limits on some of the activities as well, like a 120# limit on the spider net and 80# on the trampoline. There was one kid who was about the same height as mine (53-54"), but weighed more than 120# (which he proudly announced), so he couldn't do either of those. The staff does have a scale and they weighed every child before letting them do any of the stuff, and they also measured the height.

Getaway also had 2 small slides for younger kids - not scary or dangerous, and that's what my kid started at, but quickly realized that he was ready for a bigger thrill and could use the other 2 tall slides (also suitable for kids - he was 7 at the time). But not the two adults slides which had a minimum weight limit of over 100#.

 

Oh, here is what I wrote in my Getaway review:

 

The ropes course had a 48" minimum, but on our last day we discovered that Getaway had a tiny little ropes course for young kids right at the entrance to the ropes course. It's not high off the ground like the actual ropes course, and some kiddo that looked about 3 was doing it at the time. It was adorable. Sneakers or other fully closed shoes must be worn. They do check, and fisherman or athletic sandals with a strap in the back are NOT allowed. Dry clothing is a must as well.

 

There was a 30# and 42" minimum for the trampoline (Getaway bounce) and the Spider net. Kids must wear socks and dry clothing.

 

The blue and green water slides had a 100# minimum, and looked too dangerous for a 7 yo anyway. So, DS started with a nice and easy purple slide that all kids could do, and then ventured on his own to the red and orange slides which were quite a bit more adventurous and challenging. But great for a 7 yo!

A bunch of kids were also enjoying the kid's aqua park area which was adorable and fun. I was also surprised by the presence of the life guard on both Jade and Getaway. I've never seen life guards on Princess or RCI.

 

Edited by Itchy&Scratchy

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Posted (edited)

My kids are currently 7 and 9, and like most kids that age, they are full of energy. They started cruising at 13 months of age. While they have a blast on every cruise, even the ones that have little to offer for kids their age, there are some that have been better than others. Here are some of the best that we've been on:

 

  • Allure of the Seas - Probably the best overall experience, not only for the kids but also for the adults. There's so much to do that you'll drop dead if you try to do it all! I place it at the top because it offers so much for everybody, and you don't need to sacrifice adult entertainment at the expense of kid entertainment. The ship is an absolute technological marvel. Kids facilities were wonderful and stage entertainment was professional and varied; probably some of the best I've seen at sea.
  • MSC Meraviglia - A close second. Beautiful ship and wonderful kid facilities. The thing that I liked the most about it was that they schedule activities outside of the kids club so they don't feel confined. They will even take the kids to a dedicated section of the buffet with kid friendly selections if they are at the kids club during meal hours. They also have an awesome indoor sports court where they would schedule some of the kids activities. Also, the water park is excellent. We sailed on this ship in the Mediterranean in the fall, and the water was heated, so you can still use the water park and pools even if its a bit chilly.
  • Disney Fantasy - What else can I say? Its Disney. Probably some of the best kid entertainment at sea. Also, some of the best and most attentive service of any mass market cruise line. The Aquaduck water coaster was lots of fun, even for the adults. Kid facilities and activities extend into their private island, Castaway Cay. Wonderful stage entertainment, movies, activities, and probably some of the most expansive kid facilities on any cruise line. The only reason why I don't place it higher on my list is because my kids did feel that, while the facilities were great, they are enclosed and somewhat claustrophobic (or so my kids said). Also, you sacrifice a lot of adult entertainment at the expense of kid entertainment. Also, if you're not a big Disney fan, it may get on your nerves after a week of nonstop Disney entertainment. You can't escape it. 

 

My kids have also sailed on smaller Royal Caribbean ships, Holland America, and Carnival. Here's a quick rundown about those.

 

  • Holland America:  It's an excellent cruise line, and we had a memorable cruise to Alaska aboard the Westerdam. But its definitely a more adult oriented cruise line and I'd steer clear if kid activities are at the top of the list. This is the only cruise line where my kids refused to go in the Kids Club. 
  • Older, smaller Royal Caribbean ships: Kids still enjoyed sailing on these (Enchantment and Empress). Yes, the kid facilities and attractions pale in comparison, but Royal does a great job with their Adventure Ocean program. These were shorter 4 night sailings.
  • Carnival: Definitely fun, and usually at more affordable prices. The kids program is great, But like with Royal, there's a huge difference between ships in terms of facilities. When we sailed on the Dream, our kids were too young to go to the kids facilities, but on our most recent cruise (aboard the Carnival Fantasy), they attended. Even though the ship was old and small, the kids had an absolute blast. They lived at Waterworks on sea days. The ship was packed with kids, and the club facilities proved to be too small to hold the number of kids in attendance (they had to use a conference room as overflow facilities). My main negative observation about Carnival (not only on this particular sailing but every time we've sailed on them) has to do more with fellow passengers rather than the actual kids program. Needless to say, Carnival offers a very family friendly alternative in terms of facilities, activities, and cost, so you can expect to sail with tons of families. But in terms of behavior, I experience more out of control, poorly behaved, and unsupervised children roaming the ship, even late into the night, taking over hot tubs, elevators, and other facilities than on any cruise line I've ever sailed on. Many times, there's no parent in sight, and if there is one, they don't seem to care that their kid is terrorizing the other passengers. It's a different vibe altogether. For the record, I have truly enjoyed my many cruises on Carnival over the decades, but with small children, I prefer to go somewhere else. 

 

Well, I hope that my observations are helpful. Have a wonderful time deciding. 

Edited by Tapi

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On 8/3/2019 at 1:33 AM, Itchy&Scratchy said:

don't go on Princess or Celebrity... They have nothing interesting for a kid in terms of fun activities, unless your kid is fine with doing kid's club every day. Some kids do great in kid's club, but DS refuses to go. He started cruising at 3. My friends' kids LOVE kid's club and go every day as soon as they wake up.

On Princess ships our kid is limited to their free on demand movies (on Regal/Royal Princess) and evening shows. We cruise Princess for its better food.

 

We are currently on Sapphire princess, there are lots of family activities in addition to the children's club.

There are over 300 children onboard as it's school holiday time in Europe.

We haven't done everything on offer but we have done golf putting in the pool, Wii bowling tournament, family trivia game, close up magic and illusions, family disco, scavenger hunt, basketball and table tennis challenge, mega jenga...... We have found lots to do and the children have enjoyed it.

The weather is very cold and wet so most activity is inside. The indoor pool is popular with the children.

Having said that,  if I had a very very active child I wouldn't choose Princess when there are other cruise lines with much more active options. I don't know if you are restricted to school holidays but out of school holidays the cruise lines don't always offer as many family activities as they do when lots of families are onboard. We have cruised for many years, eldest child who is 12, first cruised under 1 year old.  We like Princess as it suits our needs, our kids like swimming, basketball, table tennis etc  they are active but not sporty.

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6 hours ago, cabin4three said:

We are currently on Sapphire princess, there are lots of family activities in addition to the children's club.

There are over 300 children onboard as it's school holiday time in Europe.

The weather is very cold and wet so most activity is inside. The indoor pool is popular with the children.

 

Princess ships we've been on don't have an indoor pool. A small kiddie pool on Caribbean P was not technically indoors... 
Perhaps, your particular cruise had that many activities indoors because it was sailing in Europe during cold weather. We only go to the Caribbean and it's always warm there, and Princess doesn't really offer much to families with kids compared to RCI and NCL.

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My 8 yo GD is going on her 3rd cruise on NCL.  She would rather cruise than go to Disney.   Loves going to splash academy.  They have various activities and put on a “talent” show and pirate show through the week.  Best part is the little friends she makes.   She never complained saying it was like school.  Staff has been wonderful

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From DC Baltimore has some smaller ships similar to the RCL Enchantment is the Grandeur of the Seas.  They have an itinerary that has some 3 days at sea and others that seem to alternate days, not sure about the summer.  

 

I first ran into Autism at Sea on Celebrity.  If you look them up they have several venues.  We normally don’t see younger children on Celebrity until the gangway!  But I’ve seen tours of quite young, nursery school perhaps.  

 

RCL out of Baltimore seems to depend upon the cruise.  We had 500 kids on one cruise. 

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I would go with one of Royal Caribbean's Oasis class ships.  They have lots of activities for kids including water play area with water slides, several pools, two arcades, ice skating,  rock climbing, mini golf, basketball court, ping pong, etc.  They also have excellent kids clubs with different activities throughout the day.  The kids clubs are divided by age groups with activities geared accordingly.  The diving shows and ice skating shows are great and your son would probably enjoy these shows as well as movies that are available periodically.  As for ports there are any number of excursions you could enjoy with your son at every port or you can just stay on the ship and enjoy all the ship amenities without so many people around.

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