10 Fun Things for Kids & Teens on Princess Cruises
When you think of taking the kids on a cruise, you probably think of one of the big lines with lots of bells and whistles and family-friendly entertainment, such as Royal Caribbean or Disney Cruise Line. There’s no doubt, those lines are absolutely excellent choices for families. But what if you want to take a laid-back voyage that has a heavier focus on the destinations? Princess Cruises fits that bill nicely, and you don’t have to worry about what your children will do onboard. There’s plenty to choose from!
1. Dedicated Spaces
All Princess ships have a youth program with dedicated spaces for kids and teens. On all but two ships (Pacific and Diamond Princess), this program is called Camp Discovery and encompasses three separate clubs. Many organized activities take place within these spaces, but they also utilize various venues around the ship as well.
- The Treehouse (ages 3-7) - Little kids have a bright, supervised forest-themed space where they enjoy toys, a kids’ fun fair, t-shirt coloring, crafts, movies, a talent show, and more. Kids can also do fun science experiments and learn about a variety of topics through the California Science Center’s “Science on the Seas” program.
- The Lodge (ages 8-12) - Inspired by the great outdoors, this cozy, supervised center is filled with comfortable hangout spots and table games. Kids can participate in video game and sports tournaments, watch movies, show off their talent in a talent show, do crafts, and more. And like the younger kids, The Lodge-aged kids can participate in “Science on the Seas” activities.
- The Beach House (ages 13-17) - In this modern, beach-themed lounge, teens can hang out and meet new friends, participate in sports and video game competitions, perform in a talent show, watch late-night movies, learn how to do makeovers, bust a move during dance parties, and more.
Insider Tip: Will you be traveling with a young adult who is too old for the youth programming, but still wants their own activities where they don’t have to watch people drink cocktails they can’t yet order? Princess actually has an answer for that, which is extra special because it’s not common in the cruise industry: Club 1820. Passengers ages 18 to 20 learn the secret handshake and are granted a special code word to unlock an exclusive list of Club 1820 events made just for them. The best part? No younger siblings, no parents, and not even an official host.
2. Discovery at Sea
The youth program is called Camp Discovery due to Princess’ partnership with Discovery, but the partnership encompasses a lot more than that! Kids can participate in hands-on “Mythbusters” themed science activities and presentations, and create a solar system or “stomp rocket” inspired by the Science Channel. They can learn quid anatomy and the secrets of sharks in Shark Attack, and during a special day themed around Shark Week, do crafts, play games, and even investigate the mysterious sea creatures during an interactive scavenger hunt. With both Discovery and Princess’ emphasis on Alaska, it’s no surprise that there are lots of activities themed to this stunning region. Kids can invent tools to survive the harsh environment of Alaska through Survive Alaska and, inspired by “Deadliest Catch,” build their own invention to help explore the ocean. Discovery at Sea programs also help inspire a love for nature and learning through Animal Planet Endangered Species activities and the line’s Glacier Bay Jr. Ranger program available on Alaska itineraries.
Discovery at Sea isn’t just for kids! The program includes a lot of activities for passengers of all ages. On all cruises except those in Alaska (due to the midnight sun), families can head out to the upper deck to go stargazing. On select nights, expert astronomers will be on hand to demonstrate points of interest in the night sky. A few ships even have a pop-up planetarium, which runs shows about the planets and stars. During the High Seas Heist cruise-long mystery game, guests receive video assistance from “Investigation Discovery”’s Joe Kenda, who challenges cruisers to find clues and solve puzzles to determine who stole priceless jewelry. Travelers can also attend presentations onboard through Encounter with Discovery at Sea, where they gain insight on local nature, culture, history, and pastimes through destination specialists. And speaking of destinations, Princess Cruises offers a selection of shore excursions designed with — and inspired by — Discovery, Discovery Family, and Animal Planet.
3. Arts & Crafts
Alongside all of the other activities available for kids on Princess are art and craft projects. Kids can join in on a LEGO boat-building competition or — through Princess’ partnership with Klutz — participate in a paper airplane challenge and do projects such as bracelet making, velvet art, creating paper flowers, and thumbprint art. The line also has crafts through their partnership with Discovery where kids can create animal puppets, masks, and paintings inspired by wildlife in the region where they’re sailing.
4. Kid-Friendly Dining
Nearly every sit-down restaurant across Princess Cruises’ fleet has a children’s menu filled with kid-approved favorites such as chicken fingers, spaghetti and meatballs, burgers, and fish sticks, and dessert options that include fruit salad and ice cream sundaes. As part of the youth and teen programming, young passengers are also able to participate in two special dinners during the cruise. Kids join youth counselors and their new friends for a fun meal in one of the ship’s many restaurants. As for the teens, one of their two special dinners includes a formal get-together with their peers in one of the main dining rooms, complete with photographs and a group night out to see the evening’s stage production in the main theater. Throughout the cruise, kids’ pizza and ice cream parties are also held — as well as mocktail socials.
5. Stanley the Bear
Several years ago, Princess Cruises introduced Stanley the bear to passengers aboard their ships. According to the line’s website, his story goes like this: “A curious young bear wandered aboard a Princess ship in Alaska. As he explored the ship he accidentally stepped in fresh paint and found a little ‘princess’ on his paw. The ship began to pull away from shore and his eyes welled up with tears as he saw his home disappearing into the distance. At that moment a small child gave him a big, warm hug and asked if they could travel the world together. The crew named the bear Stanley in recognition of Princess Cruises’ founder Stanley B. McDonald.” Throughout the voyage, kids can interact with Stanley through photo ops, storytimes, and bear-themed crafts and games. Plush Stanleys are available to purchase in the ship’s shop so kids can always remember the fun they had onboard with him.
6. Themed Parties & Activities
On Princess, kids can enjoy parties in the youth clubs with themes including pirate night, a Mexican fiesta, pajama party, and birthday celebrations. These fun nights might feature themed games, music, dancing, crafts, and more. Themed evenings for teens include dance parties, casino night, and scary movie night. There might even be a teens-only deck party. Teens can also get all dressed up for the Rock the Boat Party, where they will stroll down the red carpet, flash their VIP badge, and enjoy an evening of mocktails, awards, and celebrating with friends.
Princess also hosts celebrations for the whole family, themed to the destination where the ship is sailing. For example, the Extreme Sea Carnival event during Caribbean voyages includes Caribbean music, dance, trivia, and crafts. On Alaskan sailings, the Wild Alaska Festival celebrates local nature and culture with similar activities and entertainment.
7. Meeting Local Animals
During select cruises, Princess invites local animals onboard for passengers to meet through their partnership with Discovery’s Animal Planet. With the line’s North to Alaska program on Alaska voyages, guests can meet some of Skagway’s newest sled dogs during Puppies in the Piazza. Families can take pictures and interact with these lovable canines and meet their handlers, who will be training them for a life of dog mushing (pulling a sled). On Caribbean voyages, passengers can meet parrots and macaws in the piazza through the Rhythms of the Caribbean program. This activity is perfect for animal-lovers of all ages!
Kids ages 8-12 can become chefs-in-training with one of the line’s Jr.Chef@SEA workshops. Junior cruisers go behind the scenes into one of the ship’s galleys with Princess chefs to learn how to decorate cakes or make a fruit pizza. Kids suit up in mini chef hats and aprons, and receive a special certificate and photo at the end to display their culinary achievement. Parents are welcome to attend with their kids, though it isn’t required. And the best part is — kids and their families get to eat the fruits of their labor later that evening. A nominal fee for Jr.Chef@SEA does apply.
A variety of sports competitions and classes for kids and teens are available on Princess Cruises. There are basketball and dodgeball tournaments; table games such as foosball, air hockey, and ping pong; a mini golf course at the top of the ship; and video game competitions. Kids can even participate in a miniature Olympics championship. Teens that want to move it and shake it can attend dance classes with one of the resident crew dancers, and then show off their moves during a dance competition. And, for the first time at sea, yoga isn’t just an activity for adults. Three year olds all the way to teenagers can join a yoga class just for them, which promotes building coordination, breathing, and balance with an element of play incorporating music, games, and singing. Classes are complimentary, and parents are welcome to join.
10. Movies Under the Stars
Princess Cruises is known for Movies Under the Stars, where passengers can bundle up under blankets and enjoy popcorn, chocolate chip cookies, pizza, and other snacks on the upper pool deck while watching a movie, quite literally, under the stars. Many of the films shown during a cruise are family-friendly, such as recent Disney movies and family comedies. Some nights two films are shown; the first for families and the second geared more towards adults. This complimentary event might just be the most unique family movie night you’ve ever had!
Tip: Some Princess ships have an island area on the deck, which becomes the stage for a colorful water fountain show set to music. This dazzling evening show often happens just before the movie, so be sure to check whether your ship offers this and what time the water show starts!
BONUS: Reef Splash Zone
We’re including this as a bonus because it’s only available on one ship, but we still had to mention it! The Reef Splash Zone is a water play area on Caribbean Princess that includes a giant whale that “rains” from its fluke along with water showers, sprayers, and a splash pool. This area of the ship also includes a Game Zone with oversized backyard games, comfy shaded sectionals, and a kid-friendly bar complete with yummy mocktails (and cocktails for the grown-ups!).
Join the discussion
Have you ever taken your kids on a Princess cruise? How was their experience?