Cruising with Kids

Last month my family went on our first ever cruise to Bermuda.  Our kiddies are aged 2, 5 & 8.  All three of them had an amazing time – we all did!!  There are many different styles of cruises out there to choose from.  A lot cater to cruising with kids.  Be sure to research the boat carefully to see what amenities they have for kids before making a reservation.  If the kids aren’t happy, no one is going to enjoy the week!

We cruised on the Norwegian Breakaway.  It’s relatively new & it’s huge! It’s packed with things to do for everyone from babies to retirees.  There was a meet & greet with Dora, a DJ at the adult pool, bingo downstairs & so much more – all happening at the same time.  Check out my tips for cruising on the Breakaway if you are considering that ship.  They are 15 things I’d do if I cruise the Breakaway again!

The good news is that all of the following kids activities are included in the cost of your cruise (except the one I marked as extra)!  It’s a huge relief to allow the kiddies to play as many times as they want without paying more.

Cruising with Kids on the Breakaway:

1.  Kids Club – The clubs are divided by age:  6mo – 2yrs, 3 – 5, 6 – 9, 10 – 12 & teens.

For under 3’s there’s a play room with toys.  You can go in & play during the day, there is no counselor there.  Once a day there is a program for under 3’s with a counselor. It lasted 1/2hr and a parent stays with the child.  Our 2-year-old loved the class she attended, especially the bubbles at the end.My boys were welcome to stay & play too.

For 5 – 12 yr olds there’s a drop-off service where you sign your child into the club & pick them up later.

Sea Days – they are quite strict.  You cannot leave siblings together unless they fall within the same age group.  My boys didn’t want to be separated.  My 5-year-old turns 6 in a months time but he wasn’t allowed to attend the 6-9-year-old group.

Port Days – all kids are together.  So our boys went to kids club for a couple hours on two of the port days.  They really enjoyed it!  I was impressed with the kids club counselors & felt comfortable leaving the boys there, although we only left them twice.

After boarding the boat, head over t0 the kids club to register your children.   You can have up to 3 adults with the authority to pick up your kids.   In order to pick up or drop off, you must have the child’s room card & your own.  You will receive the schedule of events for the week.  There is a separate schedule for each age group.  Here’s part of the schedule for the Turtles, aged 3 – 5 years old:

cruising with kids club

2.  Arts & Crafts – there was family arts & crafts every day.  They are listed in the Freestyle Daily which is a newsletter that is delivered to your stateroom every evening, listing the next day’s events.  I was amazed by how few families attended (which was great for us).  We went to two – Sponge Bob t-shirt painting & badge making.  They were both excellent. The kids loved them! They are included in the cost of your cruise.  The councilors were wonderful with the children. And, it’s a nice break from the afternoon heat.

cruising with kids

3.  Nickelodeon Fun – the Breakaway has a Nickelodeon theme throughout the kids activities on the boat including:

  • The Kids Pool.

  • Meet Dora, Sponge Bob & other characters.  Meeting Sponge Bob was a serious highlight & showing him the t-shirts the boys painted!

  • Kids Club walls were decorated with Nickelodeon characters.

  • Nickelodeon channel in your stateroom.

  • Option to have a Nickelodeon-themed breakfast (for an extra charge – we didn’t attend).

  • Nickelodeon silly slime one day at the pool.

Here, a kid’s club counsellor is getting the boys ready for a photo with Sponge Bob & Patrick.

A kids club counselor getting the boys ready for a photo with Sponge Bob & Patrick.

4.    Kids Pool – a highlight of the cruise.  Nickelodeon favourites were all around the pool which made it really exciting & colourful.  There are several places where water shoots up in the air, an island slide, a mini waterslide, a boat & a main pool area.  The pool itself is quite shallow & I was comfortable with my 2-year-old splashing around safely.

Note:  Getting a lounge chair near the kid's pool on sea days is impossible unless you are willing to get up at 6am to reserve one – which I was not.  For peace at the pool, consider staying on the boat during a port day & have the place to yourself! More tips.

cruising with kids 8
cruising with kids 9

5.  Water Slides – another highlight for the kids (and me too).  I’m proud to report that I went on all the slides!

Mini slide in the kiddie pool.

An open top slide that you can sit up on – great for getting used to water slides.

Two closed slides that loop around, you can race your friend to see who gets to the bottom first (image below).

Two free-fall slides that are quite terrifying.  You stand in a chamber & the attendant closes the door around you.  A voice countdowns, 3 – 2- 1, then the floor drops out and you fall straight down.  That’s the fun part! THEN, the slide loops up so that your feet are heading up above your head & this is when my sinuses were thoroughly cleaned out with pool water.

 They advise you to keep your hands behind your head for safety so you have no defence! lol I didn’t go a second time but was glad I tried it once. Height & weight restrictions apply.

cruising with kids 1

6.  Miniature Golf – it’s self-service for clubs & balls. We played several times, but it is very hot on the top deck in the afternoon so we stuck with mornings & evenings.

cruising with kids 5

7.  Basketball Court – there are two basketball nets & in the centre there are two soccer goals.  Plenty of space for a few different games to be played simultaneously.

View up to the Basketball Court from the Twisty Slide.

8.  Twisty Slide & Trampoline (Breakaway Bounce) – these are only open for a couple hours a day only so check the Freestyle Daily for the times.  It was very challenging for the boys to climb to the top of the slide because the mesh pushes down with each step.  Our 8-year-old made it to the top after a half-hour of hard work, but our 5-year-old gave up.  The trampoline has a harness for high bounces & flips.

cruising with kids 2

9.  More Fun:

Ropes Course – we didn’t try it but it was very popular with a long line most days.  The course is above everything else & you look out over the ocean.

Climbing Wall

Ping Pong

Unlimited ice cream from soft serve machines (self-serve). My kids favorite was the swirl – a combination of vanilla & chocolate.

Check out the Freestyle Daily each day to see what’s happening & what’s fun for your family to attend. Here’s part of the schedule from Day 1.  Every evening I’d read through & circle what we might like to do the next day.

cruising with kids daily

10.  Family Stateroom – our room accommodated everyone comfortably.  We stayed in a Mini-Suite on deck 9. Our room steward arranged the kids stuffed animals every day & made lovely towel animals.  The kiddies loved coming back to the room to see how things were organized.  The couch converted into a bed.  A second bed dropped from the ceiling & NCL provided a travel cot /pack n’ play for our daughter.

cruising with hkids 6
cruising with kids 7

Tips for Cruising with Kids:

1.  Pack snacks & drinks.

They are so handy for when you are waiting around to get on the boat.

Also, it’s great to have some in your room.  We asked our room steward to empty the mini fridge & stocked it with bottles of water & juice boxes instead.

2.  Avoid the afternoon sun.  It’s the hottest time of the day.  We would spend the morning outside until around 12:30, then head in for lunch.  We’d enjoy arts & crafts & other activities for the afternoon then head out again in the evening.

3.  Don’t over pack toys.  There’s so much to do on the boat, the toys will just sit in the room.  The kids tablets came in handy after dinner & for chill out time in the afternoon.

4.  Be sure to have a child-sized life jacket for each child.  Your room steward should give them to you before the ship sets sail.

5.  Keep the balcony door locked unless you are sitting out there.

Safety Concern – Our balcony door had a double lock to open it.  First, you had to turn a nob that was ceiling height.  Second, the handle itself had to be turned 180 degrees to open it.  The balcony was very secure when locked.  I felt comfortable that my kids would not be able to open the door themselves.

Air Conditioning – it turns off when the balcony door is open.

6.  If you are concerned about travel sickness, try sea bands. They work by pressing an acupressure point on the wrist.  My daughter is prone to car sickness.  Her & myself wore them for the trip, the boys didn’t seem to need them.  No one was sick!   The boat is very smooth.

Final Thoughts:

Our cruise was a trip of a lifetime.  We all enjoyed it so much.  The staff were all very accommodating & welcoming to children.  They brought their meals first in the restaurant & catered specially to their needs.  I’d definitely recommend cruising with kids but do your research first & be sure to choose a boat that has lots of fun activities for the family.

Read More Cruise Posts:

Top tips for Cruising on Norwegian Breakaway  |  Dining on NCL Breakaway  |  Breakaway Mini Suite Review  |  Tips for Flying with Kids

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