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.
Due to popularity Abercrombie and Kent is adding an another family departure to Antarctica, South Georgiaand the Falkland Islands this year. The trip will begin on December 19 when your family will board the all-balcony ship, Le Boreal. Also new on this year’s trip is an adjustment to the Young Explorers program. Now the program will have two distinct groups for younger and older children (Young Explorers and Senior Explorers), meaning stimulating, age-appropriate activities for everyone. Your family will gain a deep understanding of the region through a variety of experts, visit an active research station, set off on exciting shore excursions in Zodiac boats to witness wildlife and amazing biodiversity and more. Tip: On day five and six, of this 17-day journey, get the children excited, because the ship will approach South Georgia where whales and other sea life becomes abundant. This journey will end on January 4, 2017.
Two years ago, Royal Caribbean became the first cruise line to earn Autism Friendly Certification from Autism on the Seas, the leading developmental disability service provider for the cruise industry. The program originally included priority check-in, boarding and departure; special dietary accommodations; and autism-specific staff training within Adventure Ocean, the cruise line’s children’s program. As the partnership became more developed, however, so did the services offered to families. This past year saw the addition of sensory-friendly movies, a toy-lending program and the launch of a on-line guide to cruising to help prepare families for the experience. And, most recently, the cruise line celebrated the addition of The Autism Channel onboard Quantum-, Oasis-, Freedom-, Voyager- and Radiance-class ships, free to stream on LED, flat-panel smart televisions in all staterooms. Currently, Royal Caribbean holds Silver-level Autism Friendly Certification (the stages of certification include Bronze, Silver, Gold and Diamond levels). This year will bring with it Gold-level certification training fleet-wide.