Disney Cruise Line sailings over the holiday season are getting even more festive with additional holiday-themed parties on select cruises, plus enhanced decor and added live entertainment. From September 2 through October 31, Halloween on the High Seas programming will take place on most sailings onboard Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Magic. There will be The Pumpkin Tree, which will magically transform throughout each cruise; Mickey’s Mouse-querade Party, a costume bash for cruisers and characters; and a Nightmare Before Christmas Sing and Scream event, featuring an interactive screening of the film and character meet-and-greets. Mask-making and themed drinks and treats in various dining rooms will add to the haunted vibe of the itineraries. Starting in early November, the Mickey’s Tree-Lighting Magic event will take place on the first night of each cruise. A three-deck-tall tree will shine brightly while bedazzled characters sing holiday carols in the atrium. Even Santa and Mrs. Claus are invited to the party. Other themed additions to these itineraries include gingerbread-house-making sessions; holiday craft- and card-making; stocking decorating; festive deck parties and Charles Dickens-inspired carolers wandering the ship. If your family sails the exact day of each holiday you will be privy to one-time special events. On Thanksgiving, expect a celebratory feast, as well as visits from Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse adorned in traditional Thanksgiving attire. Live broadcasts of NFL football games will be on televisions around the ship, including the jumbo FunnelVision screen above the family pool. On Christmas morning, your family will want to head to the atrium lobby tree to see what Santa Claus and his elves have left for you. There will also be a special musical performance and traditional holiday dinner in the dining rooms that evening. A midnight mass will be held onboard on Christmas Eve, and additional services on Christmas day. Hanukkah services will be held daily from December 24, 2016, to January 1, 2017. Voyages that extend over the New Year holiday will offer a deck party with music, a countdown and toasts and treats at midnight.
How about Tahiti this winter break? Paul Gauguin Cruises will once again offer the Ambassadors of the
Environment Family Program for free, a value of $329 per child, on their December 21, 2016, 7-night Tahiti & The Society Islands holiday voyage. Also, the third guest in a cabin sails for free! Jean-Michel Cousteau and his Ocean Futures Society created the program which introduces young travelers (ages 9-17) to the extraordinary natural wonders of French Polynesia through direct, hands-on, interactive learning. Under the guidance of expert Ocean Futures Society naturalists, this flexible program lets parents and children alike pick and choose from a suite of onboard activities and daily excursions on land and sea. Adults are encouraged to join in for the additional cost of the excursions. This voyage features complimentary access to Paul Gauguin Cruises’ two exclusive retreats—Motu Mahana, an islet off the coast of Taha’a, and a private beach in Bora Bora. At Motu Mahana, guests enjoy a day of watersports, Polynesian activities, a barbecue feast, and cocktails from full-service and floating bars. In Bora Bora, guests can relax on a white-sand beach and enjoy refreshments, a game of volleyball, and snorkeling in crystal-clear waters.
Disney Cruise Line announced that it is building two new ships to be completed in 2021 and 2023. They will be the largest in the fleet with about 1,250 guest staterooms. In addition, the Disney Wonder is undergoing renovation and will receive several new and exciting attractions. As part of Disney’s Oceaneer Club kids program, the new Marvel Super Hero Academy is designed to teach kids teamwork, bravery and problem-solving through hands-on play and programs. The club, for ages 3-12, will also showcase Frozen Adventures. A digital Olaf will lead many of the games, and your children will prepare for a regal coronation and receive an in-person visit from Anna and Elsa. Other areas of the ship are being modernized, including the Senses Spa & Salon, which will receive a new Chill Teen Spa space. The outdoor decks will also receive new features including the Twist ‘n’ Spout water slide, a Dory’s Reef splash zone for toddlers, and the AquaLab pool and interactive water play area for kids. The first sailing after the renovations is scheduled for November 10 out of Galveston. The ship will operate Bahamas and Caribbean sailings from Galveston through January 2017, when it will move to Port Canaveral (via two short sailings to and then from San Juan) to homeport for the spring.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises will bolster its reputation as the most inclusive cruise line by adding complimentary business-class air, starting in 2017. The offer is available from 26 North American gateways and it will apply to all European, Asian and South American voyages where you need an intercontinental flight in order to board, or return home from a Regent ship. Every class of cabin on Regent ships will be included! The offer makes Regent the only cruise line to offer business-class air to every passenger on every intercontinental flight. It’s actually not really “free” because if you opt out you will get a credit instead (just like Regent’s other so-called freebies), but often times the amount is much better than getting business class air on your own. Families also save on Regent as children age 17 or younger sail for free or from as little as $999 on select voyages!
Adventures by Disney has announced that it will expand its river cruise program through 2017 with more Danube River and new Rhine River cruises in its continuing partnership with AmaWaterways. Rhine river cruises will sail aboard the new AmaKristina which will be customized with family accommodations such as connecting cabins. The 7-night Rhine itinerary will visit France, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands and highlight experiences such as a toboggan ride in the Black Forest, horseback riding in the Alsace Region, clog painting in Holland and biking in Germany. Book early for the best cabin availability!
This summer children sail free on Fathom’s Dominican Republic cruises in June, July and August. The cruise is all about public service and a great opportunity for families with children ages 8 and older to connect, grow and serve together in a variety of volunteer projects. And also get needed service hours. The Dominican Republic is a country of great beauty, but it’s also a country of great need with 40% of the population living below the poverty line. This summer two full fare adults automatically earns two free sailings for children aged 17 and under. The sailings are also available for student groups. Students must be at least 12 years old and you must have one chaperone over age 25 for every five group members who are under age 21. Your impact experience includes on-ground activities and related supplies, onboard programs, daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner and a comfortable stateroom for a good night’s sleep. There will be a few select impact activities that will have an incremental cost due to materials and supplies.
Children age 16 and under travel free with Mountain Travel Sobek in December on their Chile & Argentina: Cruise Cape Horn and Patagonia tour. The five-day luxury cruise sails to the “End of the Earth” which is brimming with adventure and natural wonders. As you cruise through the Strait of Magellan and Beagle Channel aboard a small luxury expedition ship, you’ll explore two of the most untouched places on the planet: Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. These areas are abundant with fjords and calving glaciers. You’ll tour the massive Pia Glacier and Glacier Alley, board Zodiac boats for close-up views of Magellanic penguins, and visit mythical Cape Horn at the rugged southernmost tip of South America. Expert guides and naturalists lead interpretative seminars on land. The Family Traveler can organize trip extensions to nearby regions including Buenos Aires, Santiago, the Atacama Desert and more for an amazing South American experience.
Tauck is introducing a fourth family-friendly river cruise. The upscale tour operator’s new eight-day Family Fun Along the Seine: Paris to Normandy trip will debut in 2017 (now is a great time to book!) and double the company’s family river cruising capacity. On this trip, your family will participate in a scavenger hunt through the Louvre, dine inside the Eiffel Tower and bike past the Tuileries Garden and Musee d’Orsay during your stay in the City of Lights. Onboard Tauck’s MS Sapphire, you will stop at artist Claude Monet’s house in Giverny, visit Versailles and learn about World War II in Normandy. Tauck is also enhancing its other family river cruises.
Norwegian based cruise line and freight shipper, Hurtigruten, has announced a new educational program designed for children traveling to Antarctica from November 2016-March 2107 aboard the Midnatsol. The Young Explorers Program is complimentary and is best suited for ages 7-13. Each young explorer will receive a field note workbook containing chapters focusing on science, polar history, photography and nautical studies. Science lessons will take place in the science center (which is also open to adults), where children will look into the biology and geology of the Southern Ocean through real field samples. Polar history activities include a re-creation of the Amundsen party reaching the South Pole, while photography professionals give lessons to encourage young travelers to capture the majesty of Antarctica. Navigation officers are on hand to help teach nautical basics which culminates with an exclusive meeting with the Captain. Each lesson completed in the workbook earns the young explorer one stamp; completing the workbook earns a prize and an official certificate. In addition, children will be introduced to EcoChains, a new environmental card game which will be incorporated into the program for play during the voyage. On one Antarctica landing during the voyage, your children are invited to help the staff set up the landing site before passengers go ashore which may involve digging snow steps, carrying emergency equipment from the boat, placing flags and cones for path making, or standing post by a penguin colony with Expedition Team members. Explorers are accompanied by a staff member at all times. The program is available on all six Antarctica itineraries. The ship is a purpose-built ice class 1X ship with open seas stabilizers, forward-scanning sonar, ice radar, and a range of safety equipment.
Tall ship sailing specialist, Star Clippers, looks forward to welcoming aboard the entire family this summer with their Kids Sail Free Offer from June to August. The promo is available on select departures for children ages 3 to 17 traveling with one or two adults in the same cabin. Larger families will be accommodated in two cabins and port charges are additional. Cruises range from 5-11 nights on all three ships. Your family will love exploring a wide variety of ports throughout Italy, Croatia, Greece, Malta and Montenegro. Your family can fill your day with all sorts of shore excursions on land and sea, relaxing time reconnecting with each other or meeting new friends. The Captain’s daily briefing on deck is wonderfully informative and a chance to hear some great story telling. In addition, there are events and activities on board for the whole family such as knot tying, navigation classes, water sports, lounging on the bowsprit and climbing the mast. Your family will enjoy the thrill of sailing on an authentic tall ship and to exotic destinations that the large cruise ships can’t reach. The ships’ smaller size — either 170 or 227 passengers — means families can also have an intimate vacation experience without long lines and large crowds.