We were on the new Serenade of the Seas. It had a wonderful children's program. The facilities were lovely. The counselors are all college grads. I had one problem - I couldn't get my daughter to leave! And I encountered some resistance getting her to leave the program to come ashore! There was a wonderful pirate's night. The kids dressed up and appeared in the theater and the dining room. It was so cute! They had a talent show and the 3-5's put on the funniest show. My daughter participated in a jump rope demonstration! RCCL gives out coupons every time the child comes and at the end of the cruise they "buy" gifts. It is a nice way of getting attendance, although there really is no need - the kids have a blast. There are some family events - a very quick Scavenger hunt, bingo. The kids eat dinner together on several occasions. You cant' go wrong.
Our son has been on six cruises so far starting when he was 5 yrs. He is now 12 and getting geared up for his 7th cruise this Thanksgiving on Mariner. He's sailed w/ Carnival, Princess, Celebrity and RCL(3). He has thoroughly enjoyed each trip. RCL has been my personal favorite as their programs and facilities are so impressive...especially on the Voyager Class ships. We feel very comfortable leaving him in the hands of the counselors. They are trained and truly enjoy being w/ kids. When he got to the age where he could check himself in and out of Adventure Ocean, we bought walkie-talkies. We are very conscious of his responsbility to be considerate to adults and not be allowed to have run of the ship. He calls us when he comes/goes to and from our cabin. This has been a real positive and we know where he is at all times. The only problem we've had is that he likes to call us frequently to let us know what he's doing and how much fun he's having!!
Anne....I would have to say Andrew liked Celebrity's Summit the least. This was a 10-night cruise we did this past March. There weren't as many kids his age aboard. He would choose activities he was interested in doing for the day, go there at the specified time and not be able to do them because there weren't enough kids to participate. That was frustrating. He still had a great time as two of his cousins were along as well. They brought their Game Cube and X-Box along and therefore filled in the blank time. He got to spend more time w/ mom and dad too. Or should I say "we" got to spend more time w/ him?!
For Alaska I would do either a Radiance Class or Vision Class ship as there are so many places to watch the scenery from due to all the glass. Andrew loved the Grandeur (March 02). Even though it's half the size of a Voyager Class ship, it was still bunches of fun.
I'm booked for the Grandeur for Easter Break. You said your son loved this ship, but aren't the other ships (Voyageur) have more to offer i.e. inline skating, ice rinks, basketball courts, rock climbing, putt putt. Did Grandeur have any of those? I'm not seeing it in the brochure and thinking maybe I picked the wrong cruise for my boys, ages 13 & 15. Thanks for your comments.
Karen... The Voyager Class does indeed have more in the way of outside activities. Grandeur doesn't have in-line skating, rock-climbing, etc but didn't deter the great time Andrew had. He had his cousin w/ him and they made a couple of new friends and just had a ball. They have a super area for his age group that includes a dance floor, video screens, foosball, etc. The counselors on Grandeur were real nice and full of energy. They had the kids all over the place doing scaveger hunts, pizza parties, pool activities, arts and crafts. The teens have their own place to hang out but I didn't keep up w/ their activities as Andrew wasn't a teen at the time. On the Mariner in Nov., he will be in the 12-14 yr.old group.
Your 13 and 15 yr. olds will have no problem at all finding things to do. I'm sure there will be plenty of other passengers who fit into their age groups.
You could always change your cruise from Grandeur to a Voyager Class ship too. There won't be any penalties to do so.