We're cruising on Celebrity in March with our daughter who will be 2 mos shy of 4 yrs old. She's cruised a number of times before, twice with Carnival and was was old enough to use their kids program. On the first occassion, she liked the idea of going but hated it once she got there. I could actually feel her tense up as she entered the room and heard other children crying. The counselors did not want me to stay to ease her anxiety and told me she'd be fine once I left. She didn't enjoy herself and each night would have a tantrum when we tried to send her there so we could have a quiet dinner. For the second Carnival cruise I made sure to introduce her to the counselors and some similarly aged kids at the camp carnival informational meeting. (I thought this would help to ease the transition). Again, she was fine until we went up to the room. We had the same bad experience.
My daughter is not shy. She loves playing with other kids, including ones she's just met and does fine at daycare.
I don't intend to ship my daughter off to the kids program for the whole cruise but would like her to have some fun with other kids and, yes, give her parents a break for a quiet dinner each evening if possible. Please, any tips on getting her to enjoy rather than dread her time there?
Gosh not much direct advice I can give here , except that time has passed may-be it was just a phase she was going through and now she'll be fine. I would hang tough , she is in a daycare at home so she knows you'll always come back for her, plus she is getiing a touch older now, so I'd leave her regardless ( but not for long periods) tantrum or not. I also am a big believer that parents can make the seperation worse by hanging around and "comforting the child" I've seen kids who stop crying soon as mommy goes, so I understand the staffs desire for parents to just go. Be loving ( which I.m sure you are) and don't present it like an option, " mommy and daddy are going somewhere you can't come so you will have to play here and we will come back in an hour to get you"
Also liked your idea of introcucing her to another child , in the long run I think that will help!
Just don't leave her too often, she may just seeking some more time and attention from you, so give it to her when you can! I totally understand about needing a break once in awhile, and a formal dinner is much nicer with just the two of you, so good luck!!
We were on Celebrity Millenium last year. Our oldest 2 children were 3 and 5 yrs old at the time. They absolutely loved the kids program on Celebrity. Had been on the Disney Cruise the year before and they enjoyed Celebrity just as much if not more. Perhaps being nonchalant about the kids program may help. Sometimes kids act up if they know they are going to get a reaction from you. Hope she (and you) both a great time. We loved Celebrity-found it quite kid-friendly.
I am worried about the exact same thing - my daughter will be 3 yrs and 4 months when we cruise on the RCCL Brilliance next year. She also does fine in daycare but does get nervous in new situations (which is normal) so I am not sure how she is going to handle this. I think it is eaiser when you have 2 children and they go together, but we will not have this either.
My plan is to just have her dad drop her off! Ha, just kidding. I decided there is nothing I can do, if she hates it we will just not take her or take advantage of the in-room babysitting, maybe she will like the babysitter better.
My daughter does better if she meets another child and becomes friends with them. She then looks forward to going to the kids' program and maybe they'll even play in the pool together, etc. Part of that means that you have to be a bit involved in seeing if she hooks up with any child and then following up with that child's parents for some fun outside of the kids' program.
Hope this helps.
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Family Cruise Editor
We just returned from the Century, and overall the kids program was great. My 5 yr-old LOVED it, and couldn't get enough of it. My 3-1/2 yr-old was quite happy at first, but he had his brother there with him, so that helped. They also had a ball-pit in the Fun Factory, and that was a huge selling point. It was all great until the first formal night when they were there for the pizza party and slumber party, and there was an Alien theme which scared my younger son. He didn't want to return to the program then, but changed his mind the last few days when he was finally convinced that the aliens were gone. Just pay attention to the theme of the activities and assess how your child may react to them. The counselors were really good with the kids, and my boys still recite little songs and things that they learned while they were there.
I guess we were lucky, we took our 2 sons on 2 cruises (Carnival) when they were 4 and 2 years old. They loved the kids program so much they begged to go there whenever they could. However, since they are boys they fight with each other. My older son doesn't like loud music, one night they took the kids to the disco then to dinner. My son wanted to go even though I explained to him what would happen. So off he went. My husband and I discretely walked by the disco to find him sitting on one of the counselor's laps. So even though he didn't like that part, they took very good care of him, and he thoroughly loved the rest of the evening.
So, I'd have to agree with the other posters, be firm but loving, take her to the children's program when you need to, check with the counselors to see how she does after you leave. I usually called them about 1/2 hour after dropping the kids off and the counselors told me they were happy. It could be your daughter is just nervous at first, and once she starts having fun it will be ok. I always play up the toys and activities which are way more fun than hanging out with mom and dad.