Family-friendly cruising is nothing new to Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), which was the first line to introduce a kids program in 1999. What is new are NCL’s “Splash Academy” youth program and “Entourage” teen zone, which have been introduced on the Norwegian Gem and eventually will be offered fleet-wide.
What’s newer still is that when she sets sail from New York City to Bermuda during her inaugural summer season next year, the Norwegian Breakaway (a 4,000-passenger ship that will also sail from NYC to ports of call in Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean) will be equipped with the largest dedicated kid zones in the fleet.
How decked out are we talking about? Well, Splash Academy will span two decks (12 and 13, if you want to start mastering the ship’s layout) that will be adjacent to the Breakaway’s “family-friendly staterooms.”
Deck 12, with handy electronic registration enabling parents to swipe their keycards and input a password to sign in their kids, will accommodate children aged 3 to 5 and 6 to 9 in separate areas. The 10 to 12 set will have their own area upstairs on Deck 13. Activity-wise there will be emphasis across the board on sports and crafts as well as diversions for the entire family. The latter might include tug-of-war, dodge ball (yikes!), and, perhaps more benignly, circus workshops.
For those times when you'd rather eschew family togetherness and simply break away (pun intended) an NCL rep confirmed that aboard the Breakaway parents will have the option of dropping off their 3- to 5-year-olds. Further, there will always be Norwegian Youth staff members on duty in the Splash Academy youth areas.
And then, there are the teens, oh-so-appropriately sequestered several decks away from the rest of civilization in the “Entourage” area on Deck 16. Here, 13- to 17-year-olds will have their fill of arcade games, air hockey, and many other amusements. In the evenings the zone will morph into a teen-only nightclub – and yes, NCL confirms, Norwegian Youth staff members will be on hand in this hormone-infused area, too.
As for how late your teens will be permitted to party, as well as at what times you can either co-mingle with or abandon your kin in all these youth areas, stay tuned. NCL says the hours of operation for the various zones have not yet been finalized.
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