Our First Cruise: Cruising with Young Children

by | Nov 30, 2004 | Family & Friends, Travel

We chose the Carnival Cruise Line for our anniversary getaway because it was the least expensive and their children’s program takes children at age 2, and they do not need to be potty trained.

Our First Cruise: Cruising with Young Children

I read many reviews and it seemed Carnival was one of the best cruises for children.

To their credit, the program was organized and they had many fun things planned. It was safe, the parent who signed in the kids was the only one who could sign them out. They did not allow parents beyond the gated sign-in point (which proved to be a big issue for us), and they gave out beepers to reach you at any time (proved to be an issue once more!).

They emphasized at the orientation that their program was NOT a childcare program.

Sure wish that was better communicated on the website. It touted all the experience and education the workers had. However, the website did not highlight that one should sign-up your child(ren) according to the different activities planned. They encourage parents to only bring their children according to the themes each child would be interested in. Which… I figured since they touted the program as a perfect and amazing fit for children – why wouldn’t kids be interested in all of it?

Because it was “program” based rather than “childcare” it proved difficult for them to comfort the child that needed some “encouragement” (like mine needed).

They said that they had a program to run and didn’t have the resources to comfort or help a child adjust (despite having 3-4 adults for 12 kids – good ratio, and the cruise had very low attendance for kids). 

To make matters worse, the policy was to not allow parents past the gate — safety. Alrighty, but how many 2 year olds just let ya pass ’em over, no questions asked – especially in a new, strange place??? We were finally allowed 2 times, and it was helpful in getting Livi “warmed up”.

Our overall experience with Carnival Cruise Line’s “Camp Carnival” — we were made to feel like we were “bad parents” for wanting to leave our kids in their very special, highly acclaimed kids’ program.

We almost felt like they discouraged us from leaving our children. On the flip side, the promotional material communicated the opposite. They tell the story of many parents leaving their children for hours on end, and the kids not wanting to return. The picture they paint online is a very different picture once they take your money and lock you on the ship.

We just wanted a nice balance of family time and down time. We ended up getting some of both, but we really could have used a bit more down time… with a lot less guilt.

Do I recommend  “Camp Carnival”? I felt the staff were good people, and felt my kids were cared for, but I do feel they promote a program that does not exist. 

Families cannot use the children’s area during camp hours, so if your children do not like the program they are running at that time, they cannot be in camp using the most child-friendly area… nor can the family use the child-friendly area. It is just not well designed and not a good cruise for families.

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