If you’ve set your sights on a family cruise this year, Princess Cruises just rolled out its MedallionClass Vacations that not only offer some of the best programming for kids at sea, but a variety of features specifically designed to enhance your family’s vacation experience. From an expedited ship to shore experience, to onboard on-demand delivery service and real-time navigation, cruising with kids has never been easier! We recently sailed aboard the Caribbean Princess, the first MedallionClass ship enabled by OceanMedallion, and came back with plenty to report. Scroll down to see what we discovered.
It All Begins With an OceanMedallion
The OceanMedallion is a first-of-its-kind wearable device that elevates every moment of your cruise experience—from the time you receive it at home, throughout the trip and even after your cruise. The Medallion, which is the size of a quarter and can be worn as a wristband, necklace or bracelet, serves as an access point to information about you, so you can personalize your onboard experience.
As you prepare for your cruise, you will be asked to fill out your family’s info online, download the OceanReady app, upload your security photos and scan your passports. Once this process is complete, you will be considered “OceanReady.” You can then choose to have your OceanMedallions shipped directly to your home. Each Medallion will come laser-etched with your name, the name of the ship you’re sailing on and the date of the sailing.
Psst! Having your OceanMedallions in hand when you arrive at the cruise terminal will cut your family’s embarkation time down to just minutes. What parent doesn’t want to hear that?
How to Use Your OceanMedallion
Once on board, your OceanMedallion will be scanned by thousands of sensors on the ship. Use your OceanMedallion to unlock your cabin door, pay for purchases, order food and drink and much more. It also interacts with the ship’s custom entertainment and smart navigation system.
OceanMedallions work in partnership with six different apps that can be installed on your phone or smart device. We recommend installing the OceanNow app which will allow you to order food, drink and retail items to your exact location on the ship (think of it as Uber Eats and Amazon Prime right at your fingertips!) and the OceanCompass app which will allow you to quickly and easily locate your family’s whereabouts. Interactive wall portals, found on every floor, also recognize cruisers OceanMedallions and can offer real-time location services as well as provide access to games and your OceanTagalong, a digital companion you can create and interact with on the portals.
Psst! All MedallionClass ships are enabled with MedallionNet, a state-of-the-art WiFi system that has been designed to withstand inclement weather and maintain service even in areas of spotty connectivity.
Brand-New Family Offerings Aboard the Caribbean Princess
In addition to the new MedallionClass features, families who cruise on the Caribbean Princess will be one of the first to experience The Reef Family Splash Zone. This new, whale-themed sprayground offers an interactive, yet relaxing area for adults and kids to gather and play together. At The Reef, families can also take advantage of the new Game Zone filled with oversized backyard games, comfy lounge sectionals and a kid-friendly bar. Grab a cocktail for you and some delish mocktails for the kids and go head to head in a game of Connect Four, Jenga or Cornhole. A variety of new seating and lounging options, from single sun loungers to sectional chairs and couches with tables to a shade canopy and wind panels, make The Reef an ideal place to spend the afternoon at sea.
Your Kids Are Going to Love the Kids Clubs
In between your trips to the pool and visits to The Reef, you’ll want to carve out some time for your kids to experience one of the best Kids Clubs at sea. Camp Discovery, as it is called, features three spaces designed for kids of three different age groups. The Treehouse, which is a bright, whimsical forest and animal-themed space, is designed for children ages three to seven and features lots of hands-on activities, including an outdoor destination-themed water table. The Lodge, for ages eight to 12, is a cozy center inspired by the great outdoors that offers sports activities, games and a place for kids to hang out and lounge. For teens, ages 13-17, The Beach House offers a contemporary surf-themed lounge for hanging and socializing.
Discovery-Themed Programming for the Whole Family
Daily Kids Club activities are not only limited to little cruisers; parents can get in on the Kids Club action and Discovery-themed programming, too. Some of the activities you can experience aboard the Caribbean Princess include Stargazing with Discovery at Sea, Family Fun Fairs featuring an assortment of games and challenges (and tickets that can be redeemed for prizes!), Movie Time, Breakfast with Stanley (the ship’s adorable bear mascot), Family Pajama Parties in the ship’s dance club and the Junior Chef at Sea program.
Book an Excursion
With hundreds of destinations worldwide, there’s no shortage of fun things to do when the ship is in port. Excursions range from laid-back catamaran cruises, to guided snorkeling excursions, to extreme zip lining tours. While sailing on the Caribbean Princess in the Eastern Caribbean we suggest dune buggy excursions, kayaking, snorkeling or sting ray beach encounters at Princess Cays; zip lining down the Flying Dutchman (the world’s steepest zip line) or visiting Maho Beach in St. Maarten; snorkeling with turtles in St. Thomas; and catamaran/snorkeling excursions from St. Thomas and St. Maarten.
Stay on the Ship
Each evening you’ll receive a Princess Patter, a daily planner in your room which details the port stop for the next day, the dinner dress code, the big events or deals that are happening and an hourly rundown of everything you can do aboard the Caribbean Princess. Want to play in the Hole in One Golf Challenge? Head to the Deck 5. Feel like painting with watercolors? Head to Deck 7. There are also Movies Under the Stars which takes place on Deck 15 and include comfy seats, blankets and popcorn. Other family offerings include ping-pong competitions, dance classes and culinary demonstrations. A variety of live entertainment is staged throughout the cruise as well, including magicians, stand-up comics and Broadway-style shows. For those wishing to do some performing themselves, “Voice of the Ocean” is a competition that takes place during the cruise, with the winner receiving a trophy and bottle of bubbly (if he or she is of age) on the last night of the cruise.
Where to Indulge Your Taste Buds
There is one thing for certain while on a cruise…you will never go hungry. On the Caribbean Princess, there are lots of ways to satisfy your hunger, including three dining rooms, pizza by the slice, ice cream and coffee on the go and a buffet restaurant for casual dining and breakfast fare that can’t be beat. Planning to be poolside for the day? The Salty Dog (a new hamburger and hot dog grill) is the place to go for burgers, dogs, street tacos and tasty fries loaded with all the fixings. The ship’s specialty restaurants—Crown Grill, Steamer’s Seafood, Planks BBQ and Sabatini’s—are not part of the all-inclusive meal plans but are nice for an upscale dining experience ($29 per person). If you have to choose one, dine at Sabatini’s which specializes in Italian fare and serves to-die-for handmade pasta. And of course, if you don’t want to leave the comforts of your cabin, the Caribbean Princess does offers 24-hour room service. Need we say more?
Coming to a Port Near You
We sailed on the Caribbean Princess, the first MedallionClass ship enabled by OceanMedallion, which leaves from Fort Lauderdale. MedallionClass Vacations are currently available on Caribbean Princess, Regal Princess and Royal Princess, with Crown Princess starting July 24 and Sky Princess beginning October 12, 2019 when the newest ship in the Princess fleet departs the shipyard as the first to be built from the ground up with the Ocean® Guest Experience Platform. In 2020, Princess Cruises will add its MedallionClass Vacations to six additional ships—the Ruby Princess (January 27), Grand Princess (March 29), Enchanted Princess (June 15), Emerald Princess (August 16), Coral Princess (October 16) and Island Princess (December 20)—bringing the enhanced and personalized cruise vacation experience to Australia, New Zealand and a World Cruise for the first time.
—Kristina Moy (all photos courtesy of the author)
This trip was paid for by Princess Cruises, but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.