Last updated: 04:15 PM ET, Fri March 25 2016

Oceans Of Opportunity


Vacation Agent | Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Janeen Christoff

Oceans Of Opportunity

PHOTO: Young explorers on Lindblad cruises learn about the wildlife in the Galapagos thanks to onboard naturalists.

Cruise lines have become a haven for multigenerational travelers, with modern ships serving as self-contained entertainment centers.  Guests can keep busy day in and day out without ever leaving the ship.  According to CLIA’s 2016 State of the Industry survey, intergenerational cruising is increasing in popularity, thanks in part to cruise amenities designed to satisfy the whole family – from temperamental tweens to seasoned seniors.

Cruise lines are wooing families with a variety of amusements, from adrenalinepumping waterslides to teen centers that give kids access to the latest in gaming technology.  But one of the biggest trends for family cruising is a focus on onboard and onshore learning – and the best part is that kids don’t even know it’s educational because it’s so much fun.

The Family Travel Association’s 2015 survey found that families are traveling more and place a high value on the education and emotional benefits of travel.  These days, parents are focused on raising children to become global citizens, and they are increasingly looking for travel to be – at least in part – a learning experience.  The more you highlight the educational benefits of travel to your family clients the more likely they are going to book with you.


Paul Gauguin Cruises offers the Ambassadors of the Environment Family Program on select sailings of the Paul Gauguin during school holidays. It is run by Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Futures Society, a nonprofit marine conservation and education organization.  The program offers kids the chance to explore coral reefs, snorkel at night and swim with sharks and rays.

Through a partnership with National Geographic, Lindblad Expeditions provides junior explorers a hands-on learning experience with onboard naturalists who are trained to work with and engage children of all ages in far-flung destinations such as the Galapagos, Alaska and the Arctic.  Kids are able to participate in science experiments, conservation projects and nature lessons.

During the holidays, Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) offers a family cruise adventure in conjunction with Ponant on board the Le Boréal to Antarctica.  The cruise includes A&K’s new Young Explorers program featuring hands-on workshops designed to inspire and challenge the minds of younger guests.  Activities include marine mammal identification, squid biology, charting the ship’s course, fish of the southern ocean, drawing penguins, and more.


Princess Cruises has launched Science on the Seas, a program certified by the California Science Center that is available on most sailings.  The program teaches children about sharks and marine biology, and gives them the opportunity to build roller coasters, do chemistry experiments, perform a squid dissection and more.  Princess also offers the Wizard Academy; yoga for kids; junior ranger and teen explorer programs developed with the U.S. National Parks Service; Pete’s Pals, which teaches children about endangered species; Klutz Grouptivities, where children build their own storybooks; and the Jr. CHEF@Sea Program, where kids can discover their inner chefs.

Carnival Cruise Line has made a splash with small children with the launch of its Seuss at Sea program. Dr. Seuss leaps off the page and into real life on board, telling timeless stories in several interactive ways.  There is a character parade, story time, the Dr. Seuss Bookville family reading space, Seuss-related arts and crafts, and character dining – all designed to bring Seuss’s books to life and inspire a love of reading.

Families sailing aboard Royal Caribbean International ships can take advantage of the line’s Adventure Ocean program, featuring Edu-tainment programming.  Adventure Science includes hands-on experiments that offer an element of silliness like Fossil Fever and the Wacky Water Workshop.  Adventure Art by Crayola lets children exercise their creativity while providing an element of learning.  Royal Caribbean also offers Sail into Story Time reading adventures and Adventure Family, enabling families to participate together in educational activities.

Kids can put their STEM skills to work on board the MSC Cruises’ MSC Armonia and MSC Sinfonia in new play areas designed by Lego.  They can play solo or work in teams to build Lego creations or participate in team competitions.  The Lego Tech Experience enables kids to play Lego games on Wii, Playstation and Xbox – and there’s also an entire day devoted to Lego play called the Lego Experience On Board.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s interactive workshops help kids get in touch with their creative side – especially those always-finicky teens and tweens.  The ships’ Entourage area gives older kids the chance to be themselves and choose from a variety of activities, including improv classes, juggling, dancing, singing and art.

Disney Cruise Line offers children a learning experience through its Oceaneer Lab.  The program blends high-tech and high-touch activities in a workshop and laboratory setting that is connected to Disney’s Oceaneer Club.  Kids can conduct experiments, create interactive stories, develop culinary skills and more.

In the end, the biggest problem parents will have – and this is true for any of these programs – is convincing their little ones to leave.

Learning Opportunities at Sea

   Abercrombie & Kent/Ponant

   Young Explorers

   Carnival Cruise Line

   Seuss at Sea

   Disney Cruise Line

   Oceaneer Lab

   Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic

   Hands-on Learning

   MSC Cruises

   Lego Experience On Board

   Norwegian Cruise Line


   Paul Gauguin Cruises

   Ambassadors of the Environment Family Program 

   Princess Cruises

   Science on the Seas

   Royal Caribbean International

   Adventure Ocean 


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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the March 2016 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.


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