In the summer months we like to travel as a family; it’s the ideal time when the kids are on their school break and not involved in sports activities. Last fall my husband and I went on our first couples cruise, partially to reconnect and partially to explore the opportunities available to families. We ended our first cruise knowing we had to bring the kids back and 9 reasons and first family cruise tips on the Carnival Magic.
First Family Cruise Tips and Reasons
1. Waterworks, Pools and Hot Tubs
It doesn’t matter the age, my kids love playing in the water. The Carnival Magic Waterworks is built for the water enthusiast. With waterslides for big a little ones, races are a must in our family. Anytime we can participate in a friendly family competition, it’s on. I think the kids really enjoyed spraying sliders as they arrive at the end of the DrainPipe, maybe a little too much; I’m not sure what gave it away, the smiles are the head thrown back laugh.
On port days, we enjoyed cooling off in the pools and in the evenings, the hot tubs were a relaxing treat before bedtime. I’m not a big hot tub person but my teens didn’t seem to mind the heat, even in the daytime; strange.
The Carnival Magic has a large sports themed area, called SportsSquare, where all ages can enjoy various games in friendly family competition. From basketball and volleyball to Mini Golf, foosball to Pool or the SkyCourse for the big kids, there is enough reasons to have nothing but fun.
For older kids, Circle “C” and Club O2 offered organized sports activities and teams that my girls really enjoyed.
3. Food and Drinks for Kids
From my kids point of view, each had their favourite food and drink on the ship but Guy’s Burger Joint, SeaDogs and Strawberry Smoothies were the most sought after. I don’t think there was a single day where the whole family didn’t hit up the Swirls ice cream station and by the end of the cruise we’d master the swirl.
4. Camp Ocean, Circle “C” and Club O2
My younger kids don’t go to daycare so I was unsure of how our 3-year-old would take to Camp Ocean and had many unsure questions running through my mind. I’d hoped that our 6-year-old would be in the same group so she could help keep him settled, if the need arise. I also didn’t know would happen if they needed to reach me somewhere on the ship but my mind was put at ease within hours of our first night.
If you haven’t already registered your children for the kids club programs online through the check-in process, you are invited to the kids club where your children can register and receive a schedule of camp and club activities. On the first night, all age groups are invited to participate in a meet and greet to make it a bit easier for the kids to feel comfortable.
Parents are offered an on-ship phone for the two younger Camp Ocean age groups at club check-in; this allows the staff to call you in the event your child becomes ill or upset and just wants mommy and daddy. These two group rooms are beside each other, making it easy for our 6-year-old to help settle our 3-year-old before returning to her group activities. When that didn’t work, they would call us to come get our little guy. It took some time for him to feel comfortable but it wasn’t long before it was hard to get the kids to leave because they were having so much fun.
*For security purposes, only the parents can check out the children from Camp Ocean with ship ID, unless you have other adults authorized to do so. When the parents have two children in the two younger age groups, each parent is provided a phone, allowing you to call between phones or receive calls from phones located at various locations on the ship. This worked well for us when the teens also wanted to reach us.
Circle “C” and Club O2
The teens were in different age groups but because they were on the cusp of the separation, they had the opportunity to choose which club they felt most comfortable in, Circle “C” or Club O2, and could stay together. They made several new friends in Club O2 and really enjoyed themselves with their newly discovered independence.
- Night Owls – On formal nights, you have the option to pay $15/child, or per hour if the child is picked up early, in the younger programs for Night Owls. This program allows your Club Ocean aged children to be cared for until 1am for a little uninterrupted adult fun. We were concerned about the lateness of this program but they provide a fun party with games, dancing, snacks, movie time and a place to lay their sleepy heads until you pick them up.
- Build-A-Bear Workshop at Sea – This program is optional at an added charge of $20/bear. If you sign your child up to participate, they will build their creative Build-A-Bear and choose the clothing for their masterpiece to take home.
- Wifi – For contact purposes, and because teens can’t truly be unplugged, a social wifi package is available for a fee. This allows you to have the ability to message each other via smartphones. Each device requires a package but is optional.
5. Seuss-a-Palooza Parade and Story Time
When your little ones need a break from the sun, you have to try the Seuss-a-Palooza Parade to shake all their sillies our as they parade through the ship. My daughters favourite was the Seuss-a-Palooza Story Time, starting directly after the parade. My 6-year-old absolutely loved this and although she had the opportunity to go sit onstage with the rest of the kids, she decided to take it all in from a distance. Volunteer members of the crowd were pulled in to participate for extra laughs.
To continue on the Dr. Seuss theme, your family will have photo opportunities throughout the cruise and the ability to take the sillies to breakfast for a small additional fee at the Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast. We didn’t participate in this on this cruise but we know for next time it’s something the younger kids would really enjoy.
6. Warehouse Arcade
The Warehouse arcade is located beside Club O2 for an extra place to have fun. This is at an added cost but what we did was we preloaded each of the children’s ship ID cards with their arcade budget and let them play until it ran out. The majority of the games are oriented for older kids but our little ones had fun trying a few as well and in the end won enough tickets to choose a few smaller toys. Parent win moment.
7. Cherry on Top
If you ask my kids, buying candy is an activity all on its own. As a treat, we allowed the kids to choose a few candies at the Cherry on Top candy store. Their eyes were big as they tried to take all the colourful candy displays in the store but with a quick sweep through the store, they chose their items, we were gone and I was the best mother ever. A tip from one parent to another, set a time limit and a budget for the candy selection and you should make it in and out relatively unscathed. I may have bought a few candies for myself too. Smirk.
Each night Dive-in-Movies are played on the jumbo screen on the Lido deck of the ship. Earlier in the evening, family movies are played so you can snuggle in with your littles enjoying popcorn and lounging under the stars. My teens may not have snuggled but they were within a few lounge chairs of the family; that’s saying something. Of course they preferred the older movies played later in the evening but I caught them deep into ZooTopia with their younger siblings as well.
I think it’s fair to say that we will always be kids at heart and my favourite of all first family cruise tips; reconnecting with all ages of the family is sometimes hard to do but the Carnival Magic makes it easier in a fun environment.
9. Enjoy the Sunrise and Sunset Together
It’s not often you can get a teen to stop and take in the moment but cruises have the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets and nobody can resist them. My teens are polar opposites in many ways, one is an early riser and the other a night owl and both were equally in awe at the sight of the orange glow over the ocean. For a moment, I saw a glimmer of the little girls they used to be and really bonded in these moments.
If you’re considering a family cruise and feel leery about it, let these 9 reasons and first family cruise tips guide you.
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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was provided with accommodation but all opinions are 100% my own.