Cruising out of Boston aboard Carnival Cruise Lines – Part 1

In June of this year, our family went on our very first Carnival Cruise.  Not only was this our first Carnival Cruise, it was also our first trip to Boston and our very first Seminar at Sea.   In January of this year, we purchased a Travel Franchise, CruiseOne, and started our new business, Magnified Vacations CruiseOne, so going on a Carnival Cruise and attending a Seminar at Sea was strategic for our business.  However, we also wanted to make it as much of a vacation as we could, since we have always wanted to go to Boston.

We decided to drive to Boston from Indianapolis, IN instead of flying, since flights would have only added additional expense to of vacations/business travel.  By driving, we thought it would give us an idea as to the feasibility of making Boston a Drive to Port for those that live in Indiana (or target market) in addition to testing Park and Cruise Hotels and then to give a chance to visit Boston itself after the cruise, post cruise.

I would like to break our travel experience into 3 separate posts.   The first one will focus on the actual drive to Boston.  The second one will focus on the cruise itself and how we felt about the Carnival Glory as well as the seminar at sea.  The third and final post will be about Boston and Cape Cod, which we decided to visit after Boston (since we were int he area!).

Drive to Boston

Our initial projections were that the Drive to Boston was going to take about 14 hours.  However, knowing my family, we would want to stop often to eat, we planned 16.  Additionally, we knew that we needed to be in Boston on Sunday morning, so leaving the day before and parking the van at a park and cruise hotel would be the right direction to go.

We left around 8 am on Saturday morning.  The trip went very well, with no issues.  We drove to Columbus and then up around Cleveland.  We then spend a long time in Pennsylvania on our way to the East Coast.  Pennsylvania was a beautiful state.  We did not realize how mountainous it was.  We did end up stopping at a few places to eat.  Our favorite restaurant was in Milford, PA, the Apple Valley Restaurant.  The food and service were excellent.Apple Valley

Since we knew it was going to take about 16 hours, we decided to get a hotel in Providence on Saturday night and then drive to our Park and Cruise Hotel on Sunday morning since they had a shuttle at the hotel in Boston.  So, on Saturday night, around 9pm, we arrived at our hotel in Hartford.  Because it was dark, we did not get to see much of the town of Hartford.

Early the next morning, Sunday morning, we awoke and finished our drive to Boston.  We had to drive through downtown Boston, but because it was early morning, the traffic was not too bad.  It was a good thing, because the traffic pattern in downtown was very different and could have been tough if the traffic was busy.  We finally arrived at our Park and Cruise Hotel, Holiday Inn Express : BOSTON.  This was a GREAT Hotel.  The staff was friendly, and Hotel was clean and the shuttle was prompt and safe.  Since we arrived so early at the Hotel, we were able to get the parking portion checked in, and we were able to eat the free breakfast there and wait for the shuttle.

Source:  Holiday Inn Exprress

Source: Holiday Inn Express

Source:  Holiday Inn Express

Source: Holiday Inn Express

What we Learned about our Drive to Boston

  1. Make sure you leave the day before if you are going to Drive
  2. Take plenty of things to do for the family, we listened to audio books as a family to pass the time.
  3. Pack some snacks and drinks for the travel.  It is cheaper and more convenient.
  4. Make sure you have plenty of gas and food as you travel through Pennsylvanian.  We realized that there are not many exits and the exits are far between on the east side of the state.
  5. Try to drive through Boston early morning during a Sunday, if possible
  6. Pay for a Park and Cruise in Boston….well worth the money.  We strongly recommend the Holiday Inn Boston.  You will find out more on later posts as to why this location was ideal for the time we spend in Boston after the cruise.
  7. Definitely doable drive from Indianapolis with two children.

Next week we talk about the Port of Boston and the Carnival Cruise itself.

 

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Princess Cruise Lines

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I would like to finish my set of articles around Cruising Kids with Princess Cruise Lines.

The goal of the family vacation is simple: find that elusive experience that allows both parents and children to enjoy their favorite activities as well as spend quality time together. Love Boat Kids is Princess’ program for children ages three to 17 years. The Fun Zone accommodates kids 3-7 (Princess Pelicans) and kids 8-12 (Shockwaves) and the Remix Teen Center is perfect for the 13-17 year olds. Photo courtesy of Princess CruisesWhile youth facilities vary by vessel, children are welcomed with a myriad of games and activities on all Princess ships including arts and crafts, pool games, scavenger hunts, deck parties, bridge and galley tours, afternoon ice cream, videos and cartoons. Teens can enjoy dancing in their own private disco, video games, and giant screen TV’s, in addition to murder mystery games, theme parties, shipboard Olympics, karaoke and lip sync shows, hip hop dance classes, pizza parties and movie fests which are supervised by a dedicated staff of youth activity professionals.

The kids program also enables young cruisers to participate in a special environmental program called “Save Our Seas”, created by the California Coastal Commission. Throughout the cruise, children will enjoy activities designed to teach them about the oceans and marine life. On Alaska sailings, the National Park Service teaches kids about glaciers, endangered wildlife & other animals native to the region, allowing kids the opportunity to earn their Junior Ranger badge.

Next week we review the Carnival Glory based upon a recent Family Vacation we took to Canada.  

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Royal Caribbean – Adventure Ocean

Royal Caribbean Adventure Ocean Program logo

With Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean program, the family vacation concept will never be the same again. If you’re a kid, then the Adventure Ocean Youth Program is just for you.  Adventure Ocean is a specially designed complimentary program for infants age 6-36 months (must be accompanied by a parent) kids from 3 to 11 and teens from 12 to 17. Age groups for the kids program include 3-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-14 and 14 to 17.  Photo courtesy Royal Caribbean Cruise LinesRoyal Caribbean ships have great facilities for kids that include separate areas for each age group and a professional staff of youth counselors to make sure there are always fun things to do.

Using what’s known as “Edu-tainment”, Adventure Ocean blends educational activities, daily itineraries, ports of call, games, individual and team sports, art, performance and a general good time into a unique onboard experience for children, teens and parents.  With Adventure Ocean, there are activities for the whole family, plus parents get a bit of free time to themselves. Even on a vacation for the whole family, Royal Caribbean understands that Mom and Dad sometimes need their own time together.  Adventure Ocean will stimulate your kids by day and further entertain them by night with their Late Night Party Zone.  Now, parents can relax during lunchtime with Adventure Ocean’s new Lunch and Play program which provides Adventure Ocean kids with lunch, movies, cartoons and free-play time between noon and 2 p.m. Have younger children and want them cared for in your cabin?  The Sitters at Sea program offers professional individualized childcare in your stateroom at a nominal charge (this is arranged onboard via the Pursers Desk 24 hours in advance).  With Adventure Ocean, kids get some time together to have all kinds of fun.  That fun includes special meals, a TV station with programming dedicated to kids and lots of great play areas.  Royal Caribbean cruises are designed to bring families closer together and for EVERYONE to have the time of their life!

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NCL’s Kid’s Crew

This week I want to share with you about NCL’s Kid’s Crew.

NCL’s Kid’s Crew is a program of things to do, places to go and kids to meet. It’s like recess, only longer.

You can enjoy a massage while they’re on a treasure hunt.  Play roulette while they’re camping out or head for the Chocoholic Buffet while they’re having a pillow fight at a pajama party. Every minute they spend in Kid’s Crew is carefully supervised by a staff of youth counselors from leading universities and organizations.  There are circuses, crafts, parades, sports, games, stories and parties.  Campouts with flashlights and tents and cooking classes where they can make pizza or pancakes with funny faces.  There is T-shirt painting, face painting and poolside root beer floats.  Treasure hunts and sand castle competitions on our private island.  And even shore excursions designed just for families. Of course they promise we’ll give them plenty of time to spend with you, too.

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This week, we continue with another youth program.  This time Camp Carnival, part of the Carnival Cruise Line.

Camp Carnival Logo

On a Carnival “Fun Ship” one low price covers just about everything including their award winning Youth Programs: Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise LinesCamp Carnival for children 2-11, Circle “C” for kids age 12-14 and Club 02 for teens 15-17.  Camp Carnival is further divided into 3 smaller groups Toddlers for little cruisers 2-5 years of age, Juniors for kids 6-8 and Intermediates for those 9-11.  You don’t have to worry about all the expenses which add up when traveling with children.

Carnival’s Youth Programs include specially designed activities for each age group, evening babysitting (for a nominal fee), specially trained staff, youth playrooms including computers, children’s menu and a waterslide and kids wading pool.   Another big plus, from 10 p.m. – 3 a.m. every night Carnival offers great babysitting services! During the cruise, your kids will have tons of fun exploring their Carnival “Fun Ship”, enjoying all kinds of games, parties, talent shows and other fun – all under the friendly supervision of the cruise line’s specially trained staff. This is a family vacation they will never forget!

 

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Last week we talked about how cruise lines have great youth programs.  This week with start with a very popular such youth program, Disney.

 

Disney Cruise Line logo is a trademark of Disney

There is nothing like the Magic and Wonder of a Disney Cruise Line vacation. Adults find excitement and indulgence. Children have the time of their lives. Families unite and everyone makes memories to last a lifetime. There is something special for everyone who boards Disney’s grand ships. The ships were designed with separate areas and themed activities for all age groups so everyone has their own kind of magical experience. The best part is when they all meet up again at the end of the day, they’re renewed and relaxed with lots of adventures to share!

Guided by Disney Counselors, age-specific activities guaranteed to transport young minds to the edge of their imagination. As an added convenience, parents are given pagers so families are always in touch.

Youth programs are available on a Disney Cruise starting a the age of just 3 months. Small children ages 3 months to 3 years receive hands-on care at the onboard Nursery Flounder’s Reef on the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder, as well as It’s a Small World Nursery on the Disney Dream. Age appropriate activities are available for kids of all ages. Disney Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club host several different age groups (with the groups ranging from 3-11 years in age) with appropriate activities for kids in each age group.

Older kids prefer a less structured program and that’s offered in some spaces they can call their own onboard. Edge is an entertainment space just for tweens age 11 to 13 on Disney Dream, where kids can play video games, enjoy music, TV or even surf the internet. Teens have their own spot called Aloft (on Disney Photo courtesy of Disney Cruise LinesWonder and Disney Magic Vibe on Disney Dream), where they can watch TV, listen to music, play video games or just hang out. While there is free time to let teens do what they want, there are also scheduled activities designed to help the teens to get to know each other and to have a good time. Disney has done an outstanding job of making their littlest vacationers want to return to their ships over and over again.

Of course Disney has designed their ships with family travel in mind. In fact, more than 15,000 square feet of space is dedicated to children’s programs. Staterooms are larger than average and have a unique layout that is particularly family friendly. And with ingenious design and a wide variety of activities aboard Disney vessels, there’s truly something for everyone. Spas are open to adults, pool facilities for families and play areas open to children. Disney also has fantastic entertainment that includes special production shows that can only be seen aboard a Disney vessel. It’s a great mix of multigenerational activities that’s uniquely Disney!

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Cruising Kids

Being a kid is all about having fun. Coincidentally, so is a vacation. But kids and parents rarely agree on what is fun.

KidTo parents, fancy dinners, late night shows and reading by the pool are fun. Kids have more fun playing games, doing scavenger hunts and going down watersides  The good news is that all of these activities occur on a cruise, making a cruise the vacation of choice for today’s families.

Under the supervision of the youth staff, kids can play video games, eat pizza and play in a ball pit, while parents relax and have a fabulous five course meal. It is a parent’s and kid’s dream come true!

Over the next several posts, we will share the wonderful youth programs each cruise line has to offer.

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