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Old 08-28-2004, 06:58 PM
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Sugar Land, Texas
Posts: 64
Default
I wrote this review 2 weeks ago, to be posted in the main review section as I promised, but the administrators must be on an extended cruise becuase they haven't posted it yet. I have had others ask about it, so here goes:

As promised in my previously posted review, I am writing another commentary about our Alaskan cruise, focusing on kids. After I gave my husband an ultimatum, I booked this cruise, our first, in late January. I selected Princess Cruises for the Alaskan cruise because Princess seemed to cater to kids, the Diamond and Sapphire were brand new ships, and my husband and I are not big partiers. The 10,000 SF kid room that the new ships had was the big seller. My son is an only child, and playing with other kids is very important to him. This monster ship had 2,700 people on board, of which 300 were kids of all ages.

By early March, I discovered the cruise forums on the internet and became devoted to reading everything I could about cruising, the excursions in Alaska, and then about stuff for kids. You can find out anything in the world about cruising by reading a number of websites, but when it comes to kids, there seems to be gaping holes. This review is written in an effort to plug some of those holes.

My 9 year old son didnít even know what a cruise was when I first told him about it. Until he learned about excursions, the thing that he was most excited about was the all-you-can-eat food! So first let me give you an appraisal of the food from a kidís perspective. This will be guessing a bit since my son doesnít really eat like a kid, but here goes:

Food:
The Diamond Princess has 4 Anytime Dining Restaurants on board, 1 extra-charge Italian restaurant that is about 20 courses and takes over 3 hours, the traditional dining room, the 24-hour buffet, and the poolside pizza and hamburger grill. In the 20 meals we had on board, we ate everywhere except Santa Fe Mexican and Sabatiniís. I seriously doubt Sabatiniís would be appropriate for a kid (especially at $20).

The burger grill had hot dogs, knockwurst, burgers, grilled chicken, and fries. We only ate there once, but the food was fairly good, and always busy. On the other end of the bar was the pizza counter. My son didnít care for the cheese pizza, I thought it was okay, but I frequently saw kids with plates full heading for their stateroom, and I heard other adults swear by it. It was definitely a popular place. There is a sundae bar opposite the burger grill around the pool on deck 14. Here you can purchase Hagen Dazs ice cream and bars during the day. But after the first day, we found out that every restaurant every night has a ďmake your own sundaeĒ dessert, which is also Hagen Dazs. Save your money.

Eating in the 4 Anytime Dining Restaurants was hit and miss for kids. Each restaurant has a very limited list of items specifically for that restaurant, then the 5 things that are in every restaurant every night (like Shrimp cocktail, Fettuccini Alfredo and Caesar Salad). In the Vivaldi dining room (no charge) the limited menu just didnít have any entree that appealed to Josh. But we talked to the waiter, and they arranged to put some pasta together for him without all the specialty sauces, with grilled chicken on top. They were very gracious and accommodating, and we saw small children eating in the restaurant as well. In the Sterling Steak House (no charge) he ate a steak (no burgers available); the Pacific Moon (Asian, no charge) had pot stickers all the time, so he was happy, but I donít think most kids will eat sushi, which is abundant. The buffet had food to fit every taste and culture. Breakfast included everything from cereal to scrambled eggs with additions that changed daily, like crab and shrimp, juices, breakfast meats, fabulous breads, fresh fruit, oatmeal, and dishes for an Asian breakfast (rices and soups) and a Scandinavian breakfast (cold cuts). This is a much better option than the International dining room, where you have a limited selection. Lunch in the buffet had hot entrees as well as cold cuts and some pre-made sandwiches on occasion, like a muffaletta. Dinner in the buffet was just a little heavier than lunch with similar items, but they did alter the theme of the menus during the week. They had everything from leg of lamb to Hungarian goulash. Because of the huge selection, and the speed that you can eat in the buffet, this was the most popular place that kids and their parents ate.

On 2 nights the kids registered in the kid program had a kidsí dinner. They were taken to the buffet by the staff. They took up one side of the Horizon Court and were served pizza, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and fries. The first kid dinner was earlier in the week; the second one was on Thursday, the second formal night. My son opted for lobster over pizza so he didnít join them.

Beverages:
Okay, hereís where Princess really blows it. In the morning only, orange juice, cranberry and grapefruit juice are available. Milk (fat-free and whole only) is served in the 8 oz. cartons in the buffet for breakfast only. After breakfast, if you want a glass of milk in the buffet, you pour it out of the Ĺ gallon pitcher in the self-serve beverage bar. I am sure it is really there for the coffee drinkers, because the other pitcher is half-and-half. At our first lunch in the buffet, I asked a waiter to get me a glass of milk, and he poured it from that pitcher. I was really surprised, but at least you could get milk anytime, day or night.

Iced tea is always available, but not many kids, especially above the Mason-Dixon line, drink iced tea. To my horror and disbelief, lemonade was not available. Nope, none on the ship. For a line that supposedly caters to kids, someone forgot to tell the chef! The soda cards (read comments in Cruise-chat about the soda cards) covered Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Tonic Water and Soda Water. Thatís it. Have you ever seen a kid ask for a glass of Tonic Water?!? No orange soda, no Dr. Pepper, not even Capri Suns, which are about as cheap as you can get. Pathetic.

The Kidís Program:
As I said, we booked this cruise because of the 10,000 SF kidís room. This free program is popular, but of the 300 kids on board, I think only about half used it. For instance, there were 93 kids in the 6-9 range. Only about 20 were in the room at a time. The younger group was fully utilized, however.

When at sea, the rooms are open from 9-12, 2-5 and 7-10. After 10 pm there is a charge of $5 per kid per hour, but you have to pre-warn them. We were never that organized, and always exhausted at the end of the day, so we never used the service.

I was really surprised to see how they had designed the colorful rooms. Because the Diamond is so large, it is laid out differently than what Princess describes on their website. The space, on deck 15 aft, is broken up into 4 rooms: ages 3-5, ages 6-9, ages 10-13, and 14-17. The first evening on board, you register your child (they are expecting you and know which room you belong in from the preboard info.) They also give the child a t-shirt, which will be colored the next day. After that, you check your kid (ages 3-13) in and out every period, 3 periods a day. You get a beeper. To pick him or her up, you need your driverís license. If the child is 9 Ė13, the parent can give permission to let the kid come and go as he pleases, but my 9 year old wasnít ready for this much freedom, and neither were we. Ages 14-17 do not sign in and out.

Ages 3-5: This was a very popular destination, and lots of parents took advantage of it. There is a special playground area and pool just for the little ones. It is covered and completely enclosed with netting. The splash pool is the size of a large hot tub, with dolphin spitting water. It is only 1 foot deep. The only way to get to it is through the kid room. Kids younger than 3 are allowed in this room but must be accompanied at all times by a parent.

Ages 6-9: This room, the largest, has 7 Playstations, large tables for art projects, a tiered TV area for watching movies, a crawling tunnel, and an netted outdoor area with basketball and ping pong. My son was devoted to this place. The days we were at sea, and almost every evening, he was either in the kidís room, or was asking us what time it was so he could go back. From a parentís point of view, it seemed we were always checking him in and out of the room and scheduling which theatre performance to attend based on when the room closed. It made our days a little disjointed, but my son loved it.

The 10-13 year olds had Playstations, a theatre pit, and karaoke. This seemed to be the least popular age group as far as attendance. I guess their independence is just kicking in. We saw lots of kids in this age group in the covered pool on Deck 14 all the time. With all the pools on board, there were never a ton of kids in any one place, plus this was Alaska, so it could get a little chilly. (There are 2 adult-only pools.)

The 14-17 year olds can come and go as they please, and they seemed to use the room as a clubhouse. One afternoon we arrived 10 minutes early and I was shocked to see teens hanging out in the halls, on the stairs, and in the Skywalker's Club on deck 16, waiting for their room to open. They have Playstations and karaoke with a stage, but they also have their own soda bar and the room is decorated like a disco. There is even a teen only dance one night. I heard some younger girls plotting to crash it!

Behavior:
Maybe I should have started with this topic, since people without kids are most interested in this. But then, why would they read this at all?
I am very pleased to report that I did not see one instance of kids playing on the elevators or pushing unnecessary buttons. (I did witness some rude elevator behavior, but the offenders were adults!) Parents always escorted the younger kids, and the older kids were very well behaved.

Attire:
Okay, this was Alaska, not the Caribbean or Mexico. The daytime attire for the kids (and adults) is jeans and t-shirts Ė every day, even at-sea days. If you are going on any excursion where you will be in the wind, bring a parka, gloves and hat. Otherwise, a waterproof jacket will be enough. If you have a balcony and plan to view Tracy Arm from there, or are on the upper decks in the sun, a medium weight jacket is probably okay. We decided to view Tracy Arm from deck 8 at the bow (an extension of the Promenade, deck 7). It is a great location, but man is it cold! The alcoholic coffee stand was hopping.

Evening attire for kids is exactly like adults -- exactly. No jeans were seen anywhere in the evening except at the buffet. Evening attire for men was business casual, (slacks, collared shirts, no athletic shoes) and the sons were dressed just like the dads. On both formal nights, little girls wore church dresses or flower girl dresses, boys wore suits, teen girls wore prom dresses, teen boys complained about wearing suits until the girls started eyeing them.

My son said that he didnít mind getting all dressed up and getting his picture taken, but many of the kids in his age group complained about it. When we were in line for the photographers (7 locations for formal pictures), there was an adorable 3 year old in a suit. The parents had lost the battle over the tie, but the toddler was otherwise dressed as well as almost anyone else on board. (Extremely few tuxes on board, and I saw only one white dinner jacket, but that jacket made him more attractive than any other gentleman on board that night!)

Excursions:
Princess doesnít have excursions specifically for kids, as some other lines do, and at age 9, that was fine with us. We selected our excursions based on what our future veterinarian (our son) would like, so we were after wildlife. See my other review for the description of the excursions we took.
There were so many excursions from which to choose; Iím sure you could find something for everyone. I met a family of 5 that went on a helicopter ride to the glaciers. The kids loved it, and even got to steer the helicopter, but when the dad found out how much mom had paid for all of them to go, he nearly had a stroke! The kid rooms are open from 8 to 5 on port days, and she could have left the kids behind, but she figured that it was their vacation, too. And how often do you get to go dog sledding then play with the puppies?

Some parents with really little kids just shopped in the ports or took hikes. Tell the kids to look for the golf balls in the trees. They will spend the entire walk scanning for the eagles and get very excited when they spot them.
Skagway has a ľ mile walk from the port into the tiny town, but there is a shuttle for $1.50 each way. I saw tired parents and less mobile people taking the shuttle.
The port in Victoria is over a mile from the harbor, which is the city center. Unless you are going to Butchart Gardens, I wouldnít take the kids ashore in Victoria. You are only there from 7 till 11:30.

Other entertainment:
Can your kids live without cartoons?
You know how your parents said that when they were kids they had to walk to school, uphill, in the snow? Well, we told our son that when we were kids there were only 3 TV stations, and cartoons were only on for 4 hours on Saturday morning. He thought we were kidding! Then he was horrified. My son lives for cartoons. I showed him a picture of the stateroom and he studied it for 5 minutes. He finally announced, ďThere it is!Ē He had spotted the TV in the reflection of a mirror in the picture. Okay, he was good to go.
The Diamond has several channels of TV, and at least 2 are cartoons all the time, normal ones like the Flintstones. They also play movies that are appropriate for all ages except the very young, like Cheaper By The Dozen. The kid rooms showed Disney animation movies, and made an event out of it.

There were at least 2 performances in the main theatre that kids would love: a magician and a juggler. There were tons of kids in the audience for the first performances. The ice carving exhibition one morning was fun for everyone to watch, and since they carve 300 pound blocks of ice in about 13 minutes, there isnít even time for the kids to get bored. There is also a miniature golf course on board. My husband and I never played, but the kids made an excursion out of it one sea-day and had their own tournament. It is a difficult course because there are no curbs to the holes, but the kids had fun anyway. The netted tennis court doubles as a basketball court, and it was always busy with all ages. The 2 shuffleboard courts and the giant chess set were in the possession of kids most of the time, but they took turns.

My son had such a great time on the ship that on the last Saturday morning, he actually got depressed, or was it that school was only 4 days away? No, Iím sure we have created another cruising enthusiast!
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 08-28-2004, 06:58 PM
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Sugar Land, Texas
Posts: 64
Default
I wrote this review 2 weeks ago, to be posted in the main review section as I promised, but the administrators must be on an extended cruise becuase they haven't posted it yet. I have had others ask about it, so here goes:

As promised in my previously posted review, I am writing another commentary about our Alaskan cruise, focusing on kids. After I gave my husband an ultimatum, I booked this cruise, our first, in late January. I selected Princess Cruises for the Alaskan cruise because Princess seemed to cater to kids, the Diamond and Sapphire were brand new ships, and my husband and I are not big partiers. The 10,000 SF kid room that the new ships had was the big seller. My son is an only child, and playing with other kids is very important to him. This monster ship had 2,700 people on board, of which 300 were kids of all ages.

By early March, I discovered the cruise forums on the internet and became devoted to reading everything I could about cruising, the excursions in Alaska, and then about stuff for kids. You can find out anything in the world about cruising by reading a number of websites, but when it comes to kids, there seems to be gaping holes. This review is written in an effort to plug some of those holes.

My 9 year old son didnít even know what a cruise was when I first told him about it. Until he learned about excursions, the thing that he was most excited about was the all-you-can-eat food! So first let me give you an appraisal of the food from a kidís perspective. This will be guessing a bit since my son doesnít really eat like a kid, but here goes:

Food:
The Diamond Princess has 4 Anytime Dining Restaurants on board, 1 extra-charge Italian restaurant that is about 20 courses and takes over 3 hours, the traditional dining room, the 24-hour buffet, and the poolside pizza and hamburger grill. In the 20 meals we had on board, we ate everywhere except Santa Fe Mexican and Sabatiniís. I seriously doubt Sabatiniís would be appropriate for a kid (especially at $20).

The burger grill had hot dogs, knockwurst, burgers, grilled chicken, and fries. We only ate there once, but the food was fairly good, and always busy. On the other end of the bar was the pizza counter. My son didnít care for the cheese pizza, I thought it was okay, but I frequently saw kids with plates full heading for their stateroom, and I heard other adults swear by it. It was definitely a popular place. There is a sundae bar opposite the burger grill around the pool on deck 14. Here you can purchase Hagen Dazs ice cream and bars during the day. But after the first day, we found out that every restaurant every night has a ďmake your own sundaeĒ dessert, which is also Hagen Dazs. Save your money.

Eating in the 4 Anytime Dining Restaurants was hit and miss for kids. Each restaurant has a very limited list of items specifically for that restaurant, then the 5 things that are in every restaurant every night (like Shrimp cocktail, Fettuccini Alfredo and Caesar Salad). In the Vivaldi dining room (no charge) the limited menu just didnít have any entree that appealed to Josh. But we talked to the waiter, and they arranged to put some pasta together for him without all the specialty sauces, with grilled chicken on top. They were very gracious and accommodating, and we saw small children eating in the restaurant as well. In the Sterling Steak House (no charge) he ate a steak (no burgers available); the Pacific Moon (Asian, no charge) had pot stickers all the time, so he was happy, but I donít think most kids will eat sushi, which is abundant. The buffet had food to fit every taste and culture. Breakfast included everything from cereal to scrambled eggs with additions that changed daily, like crab and shrimp, juices, breakfast meats, fabulous breads, fresh fruit, oatmeal, and dishes for an Asian breakfast (rices and soups) and a Scandinavian breakfast (cold cuts). This is a much better option than the International dining room, where you have a limited selection. Lunch in the buffet had hot entrees as well as cold cuts and some pre-made sandwiches on occasion, like a muffaletta. Dinner in the buffet was just a little heavier than lunch with similar items, but they did alter the theme of the menus during the week. They had everything from leg of lamb to Hungarian goulash. Because of the huge selection, and the speed that you can eat in the buffet, this was the most popular place that kids and their parents ate.

On 2 nights the kids registered in the kid program had a kidsí dinner. They were taken to the buffet by the staff. They took up one side of the Horizon Court and were served pizza, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and fries. The first kid dinner was earlier in the week; the second one was on Thursday, the second formal night. My son opted for lobster over pizza so he didnít join them.

Beverages:
Okay, hereís where Princess really blows it. In the morning only, orange juice, cranberry and grapefruit juice are available. Milk (fat-free and whole only) is served in the 8 oz. cartons in the buffet for breakfast only. After breakfast, if you want a glass of milk in the buffet, you pour it out of the Ĺ gallon pitcher in the self-serve beverage bar. I am sure it is really there for the coffee drinkers, because the other pitcher is half-and-half. At our first lunch in the buffet, I asked a waiter to get me a glass of milk, and he poured it from that pitcher. I was really surprised, but at least you could get milk anytime, day or night.

Iced tea is always available, but not many kids, especially above the Mason-Dixon line, drink iced tea. To my horror and disbelief, lemonade was not available. Nope, none on the ship. For a line that supposedly caters to kids, someone forgot to tell the chef! The soda cards (read comments in Cruise-chat about the soda cards) covered Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Tonic Water and Soda Water. Thatís it. Have you ever seen a kid ask for a glass of Tonic Water?!? No orange soda, no Dr. Pepper, not even Capri Suns, which are about as cheap as you can get. Pathetic.

The Kidís Program:
As I said, we booked this cruise because of the 10,000 SF kidís room. This free program is popular, but of the 300 kids on board, I think only about half used it. For instance, there were 93 kids in the 6-9 range. Only about 20 were in the room at a time. The younger group was fully utilized, however.

When at sea, the rooms are open from 9-12, 2-5 and 7-10. After 10 pm there is a charge of $5 per kid per hour, but you have to pre-warn them. We were never that organized, and always exhausted at the end of the day, so we never used the service.

I was really surprised to see how they had designed the colorful rooms. Because the Diamond is so large, it is laid out differently than what Princess describes on their website. The space, on deck 15 aft, is broken up into 4 rooms: ages 3-5, ages 6-9, ages 10-13, and 14-17. The first evening on board, you register your child (they are expecting you and know which room you belong in from the preboard info.) They also give the child a t-shirt, which will be colored the next day. After that, you check your kid (ages 3-13) in and out every period, 3 periods a day. You get a beeper. To pick him or her up, you need your driverís license. If the child is 9 Ė13, the parent can give permission to let the kid come and go as he pleases, but my 9 year old wasnít ready for this much freedom, and neither were we. Ages 14-17 do not sign in and out.

Ages 3-5: This was a very popular destination, and lots of parents took advantage of it. There is a special playground area and pool just for the little ones. It is covered and completely enclosed with netting. The splash pool is the size of a large hot tub, with dolphin spitting water. It is only 1 foot deep. The only way to get to it is through the kid room. Kids younger than 3 are allowed in this room but must be accompanied at all times by a parent.

Ages 6-9: This room, the largest, has 7 Playstations, large tables for art projects, a tiered TV area for watching movies, a crawling tunnel, and an netted outdoor area with basketball and ping pong. My son was devoted to this place. The days we were at sea, and almost every evening, he was either in the kidís room, or was asking us what time it was so he could go back. From a parentís point of view, it seemed we were always checking him in and out of the room and scheduling which theatre performance to attend based on when the room closed. It made our days a little disjointed, but my son loved it.

The 10-13 year olds had Playstations, a theatre pit, and karaoke. This seemed to be the least popular age group as far as attendance. I guess their independence is just kicking in. We saw lots of kids in this age group in the covered pool on Deck 14 all the time. With all the pools on board, there were never a ton of kids in any one place, plus this was Alaska, so it could get a little chilly. (There are 2 adult-only pools.)

The 14-17 year olds can come and go as they please, and they seemed to use the room as a clubhouse. One afternoon we arrived 10 minutes early and I was shocked to see teens hanging out in the halls, on the stairs, and in the Skywalker's Club on deck 16, waiting for their room to open. They have Playstations and karaoke with a stage, but they also have their own soda bar and the room is decorated like a disco. There is even a teen only dance one night. I heard some younger girls plotting to crash it!

Behavior:
Maybe I should have started with this topic, since people without kids are most interested in this. But then, why would they read this at all?
I am very pleased to report that I did not see one instance of kids playing on the elevators or pushing unnecessary buttons. (I did witness some rude elevator behavior, but the offenders were adults!) Parents always escorted the younger kids, and the older kids were very well behaved.

Attire:
Okay, this was Alaska, not the Caribbean or Mexico. The daytime attire for the kids (and adults) is jeans and t-shirts Ė every day, even at-sea days. If you are going on any excursion where you will be in the wind, bring a parka, gloves and hat. Otherwise, a waterproof jacket will be enough. If you have a balcony and plan to view Tracy Arm from there, or are on the upper decks in the sun, a medium weight jacket is probably okay. We decided to view Tracy Arm from deck 8 at the bow (an extension of the Promenade, deck 7). It is a great location, but man is it cold! The alcoholic coffee stand was hopping.

Evening attire for kids is exactly like adults -- exactly. No jeans were seen anywhere in the evening except at the buffet. Evening attire for men was business casual, (slacks, collared shirts, no athletic shoes) and the sons were dressed just like the dads. On both formal nights, little girls wore church dresses or flower girl dresses, boys wore suits, teen girls wore prom dresses, teen boys complained about wearing suits until the girls started eyeing them.

My son said that he didnít mind getting all dressed up and getting his picture taken, but many of the kids in his age group complained about it. When we were in line for the photographers (7 locations for formal pictures), there was an adorable 3 year old in a suit. The parents had lost the battle over the tie, but the toddler was otherwise dressed as well as almost anyone else on board. (Extremely few tuxes on board, and I saw only one white dinner jacket, but that jacket made him more attractive than any other gentleman on board that night!)

Excursions:
Princess doesnít have excursions specifically for kids, as some other lines do, and at age 9, that was fine with us. We selected our excursions based on what our future veterinarian (our son) would like, so we were after wildlife. See my other review for the description of the excursions we took.
There were so many excursions from which to choose; Iím sure you could find something for everyone. I met a family of 5 that went on a helicopter ride to the glaciers. The kids loved it, and even got to steer the helicopter, but when the dad found out how much mom had paid for all of them to go, he nearly had a stroke! The kid rooms are open from 8 to 5 on port days, and she could have left the kids behind, but she figured that it was their vacation, too. And how often do you get to go dog sledding then play with the puppies?

Some parents with really little kids just shopped in the ports or took hikes. Tell the kids to look for the golf balls in the trees. They will spend the entire walk scanning for the eagles and get very excited when they spot them.
Skagway has a ľ mile walk from the port into the tiny town, but there is a shuttle for $1.50 each way. I saw tired parents and less mobile people taking the shuttle.
The port in Victoria is over a mile from the harbor, which is the city center. Unless you are going to Butchart Gardens, I wouldnít take the kids ashore in Victoria. You are only there from 7 till 11:30.

Other entertainment:
Can your kids live without cartoons?
You know how your parents said that when they were kids they had to walk to school, uphill, in the snow? Well, we told our son that when we were kids there were only 3 TV stations, and cartoons were only on for 4 hours on Saturday morning. He thought we were kidding! Then he was horrified. My son lives for cartoons. I showed him a picture of the stateroom and he studied it for 5 minutes. He finally announced, ďThere it is!Ē He had spotted the TV in the reflection of a mirror in the picture. Okay, he was good to go.
The Diamond has several channels of TV, and at least 2 are cartoons all the time, normal ones like the Flintstones. They also play movies that are appropriate for all ages except the very young, like Cheaper By The Dozen. The kid rooms showed Disney animation movies, and made an event out of it.

There were at least 2 performances in the main theatre that kids would love: a magician and a juggler. There were tons of kids in the audience for the first performances. The ice carving exhibition one morning was fun for everyone to watch, and since they carve 300 pound blocks of ice in about 13 minutes, there isnít even time for the kids to get bored. There is also a miniature golf course on board. My husband and I never played, but the kids made an excursion out of it one sea-day and had their own tournament. It is a difficult course because there are no curbs to the holes, but the kids had fun anyway. The netted tennis court doubles as a basketball court, and it was always busy with all ages. The 2 shuffleboard courts and the giant chess set were in the possession of kids most of the time, but they took turns.

My son had such a great time on the ship that on the last Saturday morning, he actually got depressed, or was it that school was only 4 days away? No, Iím sure we have created another cruising enthusiast!
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 08-28-2004, 07:53 PM
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 3
Default
Dyxiegirl - Thanks so much for taking the time to post this. You're right, finding kids info is nearly impossible. And what you do find is so general it's not of much use. Your review was great.

I'm glad your son had fun.

Thanks again!

M. Holder
  #4 (permalink)  
Old 09-25-2004, 04:28 PM
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8
Default
Thank you for taking the time to write a wonderful review from your son's point of view. A couple of questions. It says on the Princess.com website that the Off Limits Teen Area is for ages 13-17. You mentioned that 13 year olds were included in the 10-13 group. Is that true? My, very mature, 13 year old daughter will be on this ship for a cruise to the Mexican Riviera in November and is horrified by the thought of not being with the teens. Also, both of my daughters (13 and 5) are not big fans of "kid" food. Did they let your son have a regular menu at dinner? Thank you for your review and your time.
  #5 (permalink)  
Old 09-25-2004, 07:25 PM
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Illinois
Posts: 1,370
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There shouldn't be any problem with the kids being able to choose "grownup" food at dinner. I'm sure they get an option. Should the waiter bring a kids' menu to your 5-year-old, you (or she, if she's outspoken enough) can request an adult one instead.
  #6 (permalink)  
Old 09-27-2004, 07:37 AM
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Sugar Land, Texas
Posts: 64
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There were over 300 kids on board our week in Alaska. That is the only explanation that I have for their change in the grouping of the kids. My son was supposed to be in the 9-12 group, but they changed the groups to 3-5, 6-9, 10-13, and 14-17. There are definitely 4 rooms designed, so this may be permanent for the Diamond. It isdifferent from what the website said as the norm for all the ships.
I was concerned about my 9 year old with the younger kids also (especially since he is already the size of a 13 year old and always plays with older kids) but he didn't mind too much and had a great time anyway. There are more Playstations, etc. for the younger groups. If you are really concerned, I would change his birthdate in the Cruise Personalizer. The counselors already know which group the kids belong in based on that.

As for the food: it is easier for the kids to eat off the adult menu than from a kid menu, as it really doesn't exist. My son had Caesar salad and either steak, crab legs, or lobster all the time in the dining rooms. And there was no problem finding lots of things he liked in the buffet. I suggest that they skip the kid dinners (hot dogs and chicken nuggets) and get dressed up to have their picture taken, then eat the good stuff! We got a great picture of my son and his dad standing at the bottom of the grand staircase on formal night.

Tip: do not buy ANY photos until the end of the trip. They leave all the unsold photos available all the time, so you can wait till Friday night and pick the best ones. The photos are rather expensive, so don't go crazy. Their cost for developing photos and downloading onto a CD from your digital camera, however, is very reasonable. We had our film pictures developed before we got off the ship.
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 09-27-2004, 08:37 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8
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Thank you again for the additional information. My 13 year old daughter is not into Playstation or video games, since we are the last family in the world to not have them. ;-) She is more interested in hanging out in the Off Limits Teen Center since she is almost 14 and wants the 1:00 a.m. curfew as opposed the 10:00 p.m. one for the younger group. I was told that the info on the personalizer must match the birth certificate, so I am not sure what to do. As far as the food, I think both girls will be much happier with the adult menu. The last time we went on a cruise our 5 year old was 6 months old and not eating solid food yet and our 13 year old was 8 and ordered from our menus. Any other help or info on the Diamond would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
  #8 (permalink)  
Old 09-27-2004, 08:55 AM
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Sugar Land, Texas
Posts: 64
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Traycee,
If I were you, I would put her birth year in the Personalizer as one year older. Then when you get in at the port to check in, change the coupons to the real date, saying it must be a typo and you didn't notice till you were in line. By that time, the kid rooms will have their rosters so they will think she is 14 and in the teen hangout, she will be legal as far as the ship and customs are concerned, and only the people reading this will be the wiser!
  #9 (permalink)  
Old 09-27-2004, 07:30 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 8
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Dyxiegirl,
I asked my Travel Agent the age guidelines for the youth programs on the Diamond Princess and she decided to just call Princess. They told her that for the Mexican Riviera cruise on the Diamond the teen group will be age 13-17. They also told her that I wouldn't have a problem getting my 13 into the Off Limits teen center. They did tell her that I would create more problems if I tampered with the birthdate at their website, because it needs to match the date on the birth certificate that we have to present at the time we board the ship. Once again...I really appreciate you taking the time to address my concerns and providing us with children insight into your cruise. THANK YOU!!!
 
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