Princess has great facilities and amenities for kids and their parents, but it's not a line that's completely gung-ho about only catering to families -- and therein lies a big advantage: Princess ships aren't overrun with children, typically carrying 20% to 50% fewer than you'll often see on the biggest Carnival, NCL, and Royal Caribbean ships, and way less than Disney.
Princess's Princess Kids program has activities year-round for three age groups: Princess Pelicans (ages 3-7), Shockwaves (8-12), and Remix (13-17), supervised by a counseling staff whose size varies depending upon the number of children aboard. Each ship has a spacious indoor/outdoor children's playroom with a splash pool, an arts-and-crafts corner, game tables, and computers or game consoles, plus a teen center with computers, video games, a dance floor, and a music system. The two-story playrooms on Golden and Grand have a large, fenced-in outside deck dedicated to kids only and featuring a teen section with a hot tub and private sunbathing area. The rest of the Grand-class ships have a great fenced-in outdoor play space for toddlers, and the Coral, Island, Diamond, and Sapphire Princess have a small swimming pool for adults adjacent to the outdoor Kids' Deck, allowing parents to relax while their kids play.
Traditional kids' activities include arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, game tournaments, spelling bees, movies and videos, coloring contests, pizza and ice-cream parties, karaoke, dancing, tours of the galley or behind the scenes at the theater, hula parties (complete with grass skirts!), and teen versions of The Dating Game.
Learning activities may include environmental education programs developed by the California Science Center, which teach about oceans and marine life through printed materials and specially created films. The kids' equivalent of an onboard guest lecturer program is also offered occasionally, allowing children to go stargazing with an astronomer, learn drawing skills from an animator, and so on.
Children must be at least 6 months of age to sail. Kids must be at least age 3 to register for the youth programs, but kids under 3 can still use the youth centers if accompanied and supervised by a parent.
When kids are registered in the youth program, their parents are given pagers so that they can be contacted if their children need them. Parents may also rent walkie-talkies through the purser's desk if they want two-way communication with their kids. Two parent "date nights" let adults have a calm evening while kids dine with counselors in a separate restaurant. Teens have their own group night in one of the main dining rooms, complete with photographs and an after-dinner show. Younger kids can then be taken straight to group babysitting in the children's center (available nightly 10pm-1am for kids ages 3-12; $5 per hour, per child). Princess does not provide private in-cabin babysitting.
On days in port, Princess offers children's center activities straight through from 8am to 5pm (on sea days, the center closes for lunch), allowing parents to explore the port while their kids do their own thing. On Princess's private Bahamas beach, Princess Cays, kids can be checked in at a play area supervised by the shipboard youth staff. In Alaska, kids ages 6 to 12 and teens ages 13 to 17 can participate in the Junior Ranger and Teen Explorer program, a joint effort between Princess and the National Parks Service that uses interactive projects to teach kids about Glacier Bay's natural and cultural history.
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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.