An overview of family facilities and children's programs on ships introduced in 2008, by our family cruise editor, Luisa Frey Gaynor.MSC CRUISES Poesia -- Delivered Spring of 2008The Poesia, one of MSC's Musica-Class ships, feature very large children's facilities including indoor activity rooms and outside play areas with children's pools and slides. The youth room on Poesia is themed around dinosaurs.
Children participating in MSC Cruises' youth programming are separated into three age groups: Mini Club for those 3 to 8 years old; Juniors Club for those 9 to 12 years; and Teenagers Club for those 13 to 18 years.
The Poesia also includes a games arcade for all ages.
All MSC Cruises ships offer Kids Sail Free rates whereby youngsters aged 17 years or less sail free when sharing a stateroom with two full paying adults. This offer is available on selected Caribbean sailings in 2008/2009.
Fantasia -- Expected Delivery December 2008The line's largest ship, Fantasia, will be a roomy 133,000 tons and will carry 4,000 passengers. The children's area will be a large 4,300 square feet of dedicated space that can be divided into the Mini Club, Juniors Club and Teenagers Club.
Fantasia will also feature a two deck water slide which will be a big hit with families. Near it will be 150 water fountains that light up at night to the rhythm of music. By day, children can run around the fountains for water play.PRINCESS CRUISES Ruby Princess -- Expected Delivery November 2008The 3,000-passenger Ruby Princess is a sister ship to the Crown Princess and Emerald Princess. Thus, its youth and teen rooms will be replicas of Crown and Emerald. Some of the highlights include: unique rooms dedicated to the three following age groups: 3 to 7 years; 8 to 12; and 13 to 17, all together totalling about 5,000 square feet. All three rooms have big screen televisions and PlayStation 3 units with the latest age appropriate video games. The room for the 3 to 7 year olds features a soft play jungle gym for little ones while the older kids' room includes air hockey tables and foosball tables.
The teen center is decorated with bean bag chairs -- conducive to encouraging teens to remain there. Also, the young adult room has a DJ booth, juke boxes and karaoke.
Next to the teen center is a video game arcade for all ages. Adjacent to the youth and teen centers is a family pool/outdoor deck area which includes a pool, hot tub and play area for kids.
While all Princess ships have Nintendo's Wii systems on board for passenger use, the line recently installed WiiFit TM systems fleet wide, including Ruby Princess. There will be family competitions on board ranging from Hula Hoop R, ski jump or heading soccer balls. On ships which are outfitted with the giant Movies Under the Stars screens (this includes Ruby Princess), the competitions will be shown on the larger-than-life movie screens.ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL Independence of the Seas -- Delivered May 2008Like its sister ships Liberty and Freedom of the Seas, which made huge waves when they entered the market, Independence of the Seas weighs in at a hefty 160,000 tons and packs in a lot of family friendly water facilities. The children's favorite spot on Independence is the H2O water play zone where kids of all ages can splash amidst colorful and statuesque water appartus. Nearby is a little circular current pool, a small pool for all ages, and two large pools for swimming laps. FlowRider Surf Park, which made its debut on Freedom, is for older kids, teens and adults who want to catch a wave at sea. Unlike her sister ships, all pools and water play areas on Independence are heated, making it a more pleasant experience in cooler climates.
Other family friendly amenities include a large 43 by 44-foot rock wall with 11 routes -- children must be at least six years old and accompanied by an adult to climb. There is also an outdoor sports deck including basketball courts and nine-hole miniature golf. The "Studio B" ice skating rink offers open skating sessions along with professional skating shows at night. The Royal Promenade is an indoor area full of cafes, shops and street entertainers. During the evening, colorful parades are staged here.
The youth facilities are extensive on Independence. There is a dedicated room for the 3 to 5; 6 to 8 and 9 to 11 year old age groups along with teen facilities. The teen facilities include: The Living Room, an indoor space for young adults to hang out; Fuel nightclub, complete with high-tech lighting and sound systems; and the Back Deck, a small outdoor area for teens to sunbathe. In the same area as the youth and teen rooms is a very extensive video arcade.
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