A Cunard cruise is more than high tea and stiff upper lips. Finger paints and cartoons are just as much a part of the ship's activities as ballroom dancing and quoits. Though you might not expect it from a grand liner that (one imagines) is filled with sophisticated seniors, QM2 especially has great digs for kids; the QV also has a decent kids' program, though not quite as impressive as the QM2's. Called the Zone on both ships, it's open to kids ages 1 and up -- an extraordinarily young minimum age shared only by Disney's ships. (Most ships with kids' programming welcome kids ages 3 and up, a few ages 2 and up.) The ages 1-to-6 set occupies half of a bright, cheery, and roomy area with lots of toys, arts and crafts, a play gym and ball pit, and big-screen TVs (and the staff do change diapers). On the QM2, there's also a separate nursery with 10 crib/toddler-bed combos for napping tots. Bring a stroller if your kids are young: Remember, the QM2 is really long, so getting from one end of a deck to the other is a hike.
Both ships also have an outdoor play area just outside the playroom, along with a wading pool and a regular pool. The other half of the play area is reserved for kids ages 7 to 17, with the ages 7-to-12 crowd usually occupying a play area with beanbag chairs, lots of board games, TVs, and a number of Xbox video-game systems.
Activities for teens
including ship tours, movies and production shows in the theaters, and pizza parties -- are usually held elsewhere.
The kids' program is staffed by certified British nannies, plus a handful of other qualified activity counselors. The best part? Aside from 2 hours at lunchtime and an hour or two in the afternoon, the playrooms provide complimentary supervised activities and care from 9am to midnight, so you have ample time to enjoy adult company and know that your offspring are being well cared for (on other lines, you must generally pay an hourly fee after 10pm). On Queen Mary 2, you can take your kids to eat earlier in the Chef's Galley, a special section of the King's Court buffet-style restaurant, reserved for a children's tea daily from 5 to 6pm (of course, it's not really tea that's served, but the standard kiddie favorites of pasta, chicken fingers, and the like).
Though the ships' kids' program is awesome, there are rarely more than 250 kids aboard any given sailing and usually fewer (compared to the 800-1,200 kids and teens typically aboard similar-size ships). This is a plus: Fewer kids means more attention and space for the ones who are there. Keep in mind, though, if a sailing is especially full, the counselors reserve the right to limit participation and will ask parents to choose either the morning or the afternoon session; everyone can be accommodated during evenings.
On top of everything else, the ships have impressive medical centers, which came in handy when Heidi's son got an ear infection on a QM2 crossing.
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.