Carnival Gets Teens With At-Sea Programs - My Family Travels

Carnival Cruise Lines has expanded its program offerings and facilities for that hard-to-please teenage market.

Since the millennium, teens have been sought out by the cruise companies, who see every young sailor as a potential life-long cruiser. Carnival, a leader in the family cruise market, has pioneered teens lounges, teen treatments at Y-Spas, teen shore excursions and other perks.

As the first dedicated lounge for 16- to 18-year-olds back in 2002, the Backstreet Club on Carnival’s Fun Ship Fascination was aimed at what a Carnival Cruises spokesperson called “a significant portion” of the hundreds of thousands of cruisers under 18 hosted on Carnival ships each year. A few years later, it has evolved into the “Club O2” lounge with lots of new onboard programming just for this age group.

Because they offer the short three and four-day Caribbean itineraries most popular with families, Carnival has invested continuously in family programs. When it comes to shore excursions, Carnival wasn’t the first, but they have caught on to the trend of special shore programs designed just for teens. Kids 12- to 15-years can choose from a selection of recommended tours and go ashore as a group with a Camp Carnival chaperone.

Back onboard, three pools (one with water slide), a video arcade and daily counselor-led Camp Carnival programs keep kids ranging in age from toddling siblings (age 2) through teens busy. The 12 to15 year-old young adults can choose from their own free CD jukebox, Sony PS2 machines, karaoke set-up and library, or pull out their Carnival charge card to use Internet-connected iMacs and order frozen drinks sans alcohol.

The supervised Camp Carnival schedule for this older age group, on every ship, provides several social events, like dances, talent contests and sports tournaments. Every evening, registered campers can meet at the shipboard dance club from 9:30-10:45pm. After 11pm, teens 15 and under are then returned to the youth staff for late night movies, karaoke or group games.

In partnership with Coca-Cola, activities for the tougher-to-please 15 to 17-year-old group begin shortly after they board. At their age-specific Welcome Aboard party, teens receive a complete listing of the voyage’s activities, as well as a variety of promotional materials, including a mesh Club O2 bag.

The program is chaperoned by teen directors aboard each ship and takes place in teen clubs (with dance floors and DJs, some with multimedia libraries) on most of the company’s 21 Fun Ships.

Among teen director-led activities like games based on “The Bachelor/Bachelorette,” “Fear Factor” and “Survivor,” are Karaoke, themed parties, late-night movies, video game contests, basketball, ping-pong and other sporting events. In addition to 24-hour pizza and ice cream venues, the ships will have a “Coke-tail” lounge where guests can enjoy Coca-Cola products and non-alcoholic specialty drinks.

How structured is it? According to Gulliksen, the on-site Teen Club Manager just “lets teens pick what they want to do.” Sounds to FTF’s staff like Carnival management have teens of their own!

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