Daughter is 9 and son is 8. both are good responsible kids. Typically we don't let them out of our sight but will give them a little bit of freedom to poke about in a familiar environment. On a cruise there may be opportunity for them to do things like getting thier own ice cream or soda, going to the arcade, checking themsleves out of the kids program, going to the cabin to get something, getting a snack, etc..
Given the family atmosphere of most cruises, how much freedom do you give your kids on a cruise ?
We are taking our 10 yr old daughter on her first cruise in March. I have asked myself about that type of things many times. She is VERY independent. I have taught her about strangers, being alert, taking care of herself however I realize she is only 10 and can't fend for herself completely. I would never leave her alone in the pool either even though she can swim. There are just things you as a parent have to decide for your child. Your child may be more mature then anothers and vice versa. Jessica, our daughter, does alot of stuff without us but most with. I don't think I'd like her wandering around a ship with total strangers by herself. She is excited about Camp Carnival too. I dont' know their policy as far as signing in and out. What age is old enough to be able to sign yourself in/out? Anybody know?
I say just play it by ear and what you feel is safe for your child. This being her 1st cruise I don't think I'll let her roam around too much on her own until she gets the hang of it.
I think you you will be surprised at how many children you will see roaming on their own. Meeting new friends and going to explore with them. Remember that alot of the floors are cabins only and the kids don't go there anyway. I have found through the years that many parents who never thought they would let their children roam, do. Mine children and grandchildren love cruising.
My 10 year old has been on 15 cruises and she gets lots more freedom at sea than she does at home. We leave near NYC, so in comparison, I feel that the ship environments are relatively safe. However, you should talk to them about safety issues before allowing them to roam the ship without you. My daughter recently discovered the public phones on the ships and she uses them to check in with us if we're in the cabin with her toddler brother. Also, she wears a watch and we make specific meeting times and places which she has been very good about honoring.
My best piece of advice, though, is to PURCHASE WALKIE TALKIES! We finally did this and on our last cruise, it gave my daughter some freedom without me feeling too uncomfortable. We bought a pair at Toys R Us for $30 and they have a 2 mile range. I did not experience too much interference while using them. Make sure you bring the charger with you or plenty of batteries!
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Family Cruise Editor
I'm so glad this question was asked, because I have a very mature 9 year old but I'm nervous about how much freedom to give him. I let him walk around our neighborhood but he always carries his cell phone, so I'll defintly bring our walkie talkies and give him a little room to explore. We have 2 days at sea back to back so freedom for him would be nice, I like the point that was made about most activities are only on select decks (I never thought of that) so it's not like he'll be ALL over the ship. Anyway thanks for asking the question....
One thing I would add is that for the "only " children I would feel more comfortable if they had a "buddy " to roam around with.. hopefully they would meet someone in Camp/. I just think any child is safer when not ALONE.
We just got back from the Triumph. My son is 10 and loved Camp Carnival. At 10 they are able to sign themselves in and out. After we signed him up the first night, he had a list of activities mapped out for each day. He was able to pick and choose the one's he wanted to attend. Basically he was gone for the entire day. Camp Carnival does close between Noon and 2:00 p.m. We all ate breakfast together in the morning and then off he would go. If he didn't have an activity he wanted to attend, he would check in with us before Noon. Otherwise we spent from Noon to 2:00 p.m. together. Then he would have to meet us back at the cabin in time to wash and change for dinner. We ate in the dining room every night, and he loved it. After dinner it was back to camp. We had the early seating dinner which we liked so we could attend the 8:30 shows. He went to the show and watched with his friends, and then we took him back to the room for bed. He would watch some TV and then go to sleep. He and my daughter who is 14 shared a room down the hall from us. He was very responsible about checking in at the time specified, etc. The only thing we told him was that he could not go into the cabins of any of the friends he made. We explained that even though he was hanging around with them at Camp, they still we strangers and all the danger that goes with that. Even with the warning, he ended up spending several hours playing gameboy in one of his friends cabins. We thought about bringing the walkie talkies so that either of the kids could find us since the ship is so big and we didn't want to have to be so structured ourselves. We didn't bring them because I didn't want to have to carry it around. Next time though I think it will be worth it.
My kids are 17 and 18. We cruise at least once every year and they have to check in with me constantly. They have been cruising sincee they were 8 and 9.They always have their own cabin and if they are out late after we go to bed they have to be in by midnight and come and knock on my door to let us know they are back or call my room and ask to stay out later. They just roll their eyes and do what I ask. We did the Adventures this summer and I had not problem keeping up with them. We have never had any kind of problem with someone bothering them but I make them stay together.
My 13 yo and I had a system - we met back at certain places (the cabin, the pool, whatever) at designated times. He wasn't much interested in the Camp Carnival program (which I believe you need to be 11 to sign yourself out of, BTW), so was pretty much on his own, or with a few friends he met when we weren't together.
What we actually found was that we both were interested in the same things, so were together a lot. He went to the arcade a good bit (I was in the casino!!), sat on deck, ate 50,000 gallons of ice cream and shopped - all alone. It feels like a pretty safe enviornment, all in all.
That being said....there *were* lots of kids wandering around (younger kids, not teenagers) and low and behold, when they were without parental supervision they were the ones pushing all the elevator buttons, running into you (with no apologies), butting in line at the ice cream machine, etc. I doubt these were horrlble kids, just enjoying the freedom of no Mom and Dad and therefore not on their best behavior.
I've never met a parent who didn't think *their* children were always polite, but be warned.....without a watchful parental eye, ALL kids tend to misbehave in some way. Think of the other passengers and set some guidelines for your kids.
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I agree with Dorothy's comment about kids behaving differently when they're not with you. I posted on the "roaming the ship" thread that we tried an experiment of letting our 11 (almost 12) year old son eat alone in the buffet with his 9 year old brother and an 8 year old friend. Although they are "good" boys and had done fine with being on their own for short periods of time, the experience of eating alone brought out sibling rivalry, silliness, etc. The children themselves reported that it "didn't go well." So, we didn't try that again! They ate with us, which was fun, and on formal nights they ate with the children's program because they didn't want to dress up.
We allowed these boys some freedom during the day with frequent check-in times (we didn't have walkie talkies). We also made sure they understood the rules about entering other cabins, charging, etc. I think the freedom was one of the highlights of the trip for my kids, though as someone mentioned in another post, we often all ended up together anyway -- at the pool or game room!
On port days and for meals, we all stayed together.
Our son is 17 and fairly responsible. We set-up specific times and places that we will all meet, and check-in. He is not allowed in any one elses's cabin unless a parent is on site. We sit down with the daily activities schedule either the night before or at breakfast and plan from there.
We just got back from the last week. My 9 year old ended up with alot more freedom than I was expecting before we left. Nearly everyday the kids club had some kind of unsuperivsed scavenger hunt. This was the 9 to 11 age group. So with a buddy she was off all over the ship hunting for "things". From that experience she had no problem meeting friends at night etc. I was surprised that she could sign herself in and out from kids clup but it turned out fine. Except for the night went to bed and locked the rest of us out of the room by turning the dead bolt. Lol