As a parent I quickly discovered that my vacation experience would always be directly tied to my son’s vacation experience. That is to say, whether he was three years old or thirteen years old, if he was kept busy, engaged in age appropriate activities, and having fun with new friends, then it would be a great vacation for all of us! These days, children’s programs no longer concern me personally, as my son is now a young adult. However, as a cruise consultant, I am always happy to see cruise lines improving their programs for children, and that’s why I’m so excited about the enhanced youth and teen curriculum aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, particularly the soon to sail Norwegian Breakaway.
Splash Academy, the name for the Norwegian Cruise Line youth program, is divided into four age groups. Guppies are age 2 and under, 3-5 year olds are called Turtles, Seals are 6-9 and Dolphins are 10-12. Entourage is the name of the new teen program for the 13-17 year old crowd. The program concentrates on creative and unique activities that focus on team building and assisting in developing children’s interpersonal and confidence building skills.
Both Splash Academy and Entourage will feature a different theme every day. It could be ocean-related, pirates, space, or jungle fever, to name a few. Creative arts, theater, improvisational acting classes, and participation in puppet shows are all available. Through the partnership with Hilario Productions Cirque du Jour (established by a team of performers from the famed Ringling Brothers), Norwegian is offering circus workshops for the whole family teaching a variety of skills such as balancing feathers, juggling, plate spinning and even stilt walking. There is also a family circus school performed in a circus ring, hosted by a ringmaster!
More sports activities are being incorporated into the program at all levels, including sports court fun, workshops designed to improve soccer skills, and assorted physical challenges. Teens will enjoy participating in bowling tournaments, basketball, soccer challenges, tug-of-wars, ultimate Frisbee and dodge ball. Pool parties, movie nights, dance parties, Wii and Playstation 3 will keep teens busy, day into night!
The soon to sail Norwegian Breakaway will host all of these activities in the largest youth and teen dedicated facilities in the fleet! Splash Academy will span decks 12 and 13 and is conveniently located adjacent to the family-friendly staterooms. As parents enter, they will utilize Norwegian's e-Youth tablet-based electronic registration, which allows them to swipe their keycard and input a password to sign in their children.
On Deck 13 of the Breakaway, the 10 to 12 year olds will have their own space. It will include a multipurpose visual dance space with a touch screen jukebox, plenty of moveable tables for activities and comfortable beanbags for lounging. An activity zone will include everything needed for arts and crafts and more. There is also a ""hang out"" area with dedicated gaming stations that will feature the latest video games. Rounding out the space will be a cool and comfortable lounge area furnished with sofas and chairs.
Entourage is located on Deck 16 of the Breakaway. This hip area was designed to give teens their own funky space that includes air hockey, foosball, and an arcade center with five separate areas featuring large screens to play the latest video games while lounging on comfy sofas. In the evening, Entourage transitions into a teens-only nightclub with a dance floor, large screen television and music, including a video jukebox. Entourage has the advantage of being located next to the video arcade and a step away from an outdoor eatery and refreshment area to round out the teens' experience.
Splash Academy and Entourage are currently available on Norwegian Gem and are rolling out to all of Norwegian's ships. Launch dates are as follows: Norwegian Jewel on April 21; Norwegian Star on May 6; Norwegian Dawn on May 25; Norwegian Epic on May 27; Norwegian Pearl on June 17; Norwegian Jade on June 30; Norwegian Sky on July 16; Norwegian Sun on July 24; Norwegian Spirit on August 14 and Pride of America on August 25.
The Norwegian Breakaway enters service in April 2013. She will sail from her year-round homeport of New York City to Bermuda in the summer and the Bahamas & Florida and the Caribbean in the winter.