When we first booked our recent trip with Carnival, we were not expecting the cruise to focus on family friendly activities. We were on an older ship in the middle of the school year, and the cruise initially struck us as an adult getaway. To our pleasant surprise, we couldn’t have been more wrong. This cruise aboard the Carnival Imagination featured plenty of great family friendly activities and options.
One of the most exciting features of this cruise was its Dr. Seuss themed activities. We enjoyed a green eggs and ham breakfast, a small meal well priced at five bucks per person. Kids and adults will get a kick out of the items offered, mainly the green eggs.
During the breakfast, several characters will make an appearance. Spoiler alert: The Cat in the Hat arrives last. Thing One and Thing Two as well as Sam from Green Eggs and Ham all showed up to take pictures with the guests.
Like on other ships, kids could get their selfies with their favorite character. Aboard the Imagination, they had Dr Suess characters.Official photos varied in price from fifteen to twenty dollars, depending on the day and location, per photo. However, parents are allowed to use their cell phones instead.
Parade and Story Time
The Suess parade was cute, featuring costumed characters, staff, and kids holding banners and adults cheering them on as they walked along deck nine toward the Dynasty Lounge, also known as the ship’s theater. The story time was held in the Dynasty Lounge under a giant brightly colored tent. The event was highly interactive – the staff chose kids and adults from the audience to play different characters. Silliness and inclusion were strongly encouraged so there was no worry over making a mistake.
Build a Bear at Sea
This event was also held in the Dynasty Lounge. We found it to be well organized. Unlike in the mall stores where these are typically crowded with loud music, this Build a Bear was a quiet environment with a short wait line.
Passengers could choose from six to eight stuffed animals. Apart from the usual clothes, one could get some different Carnival themed clothes like the blue T-shirt and shorts. After building their bear, kids could enjoy themed cookies, and a get a photo with their bear in front of Carnival exclusive banners.
For a total of twenty-six dollars, as well as getting to pick and stuff their bear kids could get a Carnival shirt, birth certificate, and a small red backpack for their toy.
Hasbro Game Night
Carnival also hosted a Hasbro themed game night show on the very first cruise night. We found this to be highly entertaining for the entire family.
The show is interactive by nature. Players get randomly split into two teams, red vs. blue, and play group games on stage while the audience watches. The games played included Monopoly, Operation, Yahtzee with a bowling ball, and Connect Four. The winner gets a gift card for Hasbro games while the runner-ups get one Monopoly game.
Our son was one of the finalists, and he had such a great time he didn’t mind missing out on first place.
Carnival offered an arcade on deck eight to amuse kids of all ages. The arcade featured plenty of electronic games and claw machines to pass a couple of hours on rainy days when the outdoor areas are unusable. It is a bit of a money pit, however.
High Seas Karaoke
Anyone with kids who love singing in front of a live audience should take them here. Everyone is in a good mood and cheers no matter how bad the singing.
Naturally, Carnival had a pool for guests to enjoy. The slide area was fun, especially on a sunny day. The slide also isn’t too high up or twirly so even younger kids could enjoy it. The youngest ones could play in a separate small water fountain splash dome.
Guests could also enjoy a few rounds of mini golf. The course was small, but everyone including adults enjoyed the experience.Our favorite was the ping pong table. Though this Carnival vessel only had one, nobody used it, so we got to use it quite a bit. Other family friendly games we saw were oversized chess pieces, bean bag toss, and of course Shuffleboard.
Towel Animal Demonstration
Kids who like origami will be mesmerized by this show. Talented room stewards show off their skills by creating different animals out of guest towels. They also decorated the animals with accessories like eyes, glasses, and even canes.
Groove for St. Jude
We love volunteering and giving back. Carnival has teamed up with Memphis Hospital to give its guests an opportunity to donate money to a worthy cause by partaking in a dancing activity and purchasing tee-shirts.
Mardi Gras Celebration
Like many cruise lines, Carnival celebrates all festivals and holidays. It was Mardi Gras during our cruise so we got to celebrate it onboard.
The fun started in the afternoon with passengers were encouraged to create masks with beads, glitter, and feathers. As we walked around the two lounges on the ninth deck, we saw entire families working.
In the evening, the staff threw a massive parade that culminated in the center of the atrium. The best masks were chosen, and the king and queen of mardi gras were thus crowned.
Overall, we were surprised by how family friendly the sailing was, even without stepping into a kid’s club. Cruises are no longer just for adults. There are many opportunities for children of all ages to partake and enjoy different activities and for families to bond and create lifetime memories.
Autism Travel Tips:
- During the breakfast, parents should make sure they are not seated next to a loudspeaker if anyone in the family is noise sensitive.
- The Build a Bear at Sea event featured short wait lines, perfect for kids with autism who might have difficulty waiting.
- Parents who want their child to partake in the Hasbro game night should have them sit in the first two rows for the best chances. The kids acting the most excited about the show are typically the ones picked.