Freestyle Family Fun (Part 4)

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013

NCL's youth programs offer lots of options for the younger set, so that they can have their very own customized vacation experience apart from mom and dad's.

NCL Kids' Crew Highlights NCL presents all age groups -- those from two to 17 -- with age appropriate Officer Snook programming. Officer Snook is the line's environmental education mascot. For those two to five years, they are given things found in the sea (ranging from metal cans to fake fish) and have to decide if they belong in the ocean or the garbage can. The older children view an educational film about Inky the Whale which is a true story about a whale who ate pollution. Afterwards, they draw group posters regarding saving the seas. Teen involvement counts as volunteer credits that can be applied at students' schools at home.

For specific age groups, there are plenty of activities all day long that are age appropriate. According to Cornish, when there are large numbers of children -- as was on our cruise with about 700 children and teens aboard -- the programming is more geared towards group games. When there are less children aboard, such as during back to school time in early fall, one-on-one activities are added to the mix such as crafts and art.

Some of the highlights of the youth programming include: Un-Birthday Party which features cupcake decorating (and eating!), balloon games, and pin the nose on the clown; Super Heroes, where children design their own super hero and have to face physical and mental challenges/games; Rocket Science, whereby counselors give kids supplies to create their own rockets to see which go the furthest; Great Egg Drop, in which youngsters play games in order to earn points to shop for supplies to protect their egg prior to the Great Egg Drop; and Olympics/Crazy Sports out on deck.

There is a mini-jungle gym for the two to five year olds, which is filled with lots of soft sculpture for climbing. In addition, there is the huge jungle gym which is a series of padded levels and rope netting for the six to nine year olds. This is a wonderful way for the kids to blow off steam. Cornish noted that children are broken into groups daily and given time to play on the jungle gyms.

click on pictures below for larger images:

Jungle Gym in Youth Room   Little Kids' Jungle Gym

Caring and Fun Atmosphere There was an international group of fun counselors on board, headed by Cornish who hails from Canada. Cornish has a background in special needs/children with autism and thus was very hands on in allowing an autistic child to participate in the programming during our cruise.

"While we can't provide special needs children with one-on-one support, we will try our best to make that child happy," Cornish said.

And indeed, that child was very happy. One of the times I was observing the youth programming, there were about 50 kids participating in freeze dancing which was set to fast-paced music. At one point, my son and another boy started a conga line around the room with the special needs child right smack between them with a huge smile on his face. Now that speaks volumes for the caring and lively atmosphere nurtured in the youth rooms aboard NCL ships.

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