Camp Carnival is a godsend on Caribbean sailing
The Miracle staff made Alex feel welcome no matter where he decided to eat dinner.
D ES TIN ATIO N S
Carnival Cruise Lines offers supervised child day care services until 10 p.m. daily with its Camp
Carnival program. Above, Camp Carnival aboard the 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle.
By Jerry Limone
Vacationing with a 3-year-old can be a won- derful experience, as you try to see the world through his eyes. I thoroughly enjoy seeing my son Alex’s reaction to new things, such as a glimpse of a white-sand beach in the Carib-
bean or the sight of a ship docked in New York’s cruise
able to read two novels apiece on
a relaxing vacation. (She brought
two with her, and I checked out
two books from the ship’s library.)
Camp Carnival is the cruise
line’s day care service for children ages 2 to 11. Going into the
Camp Carnival orientation on
the first day of the cruise, I expected that the counselors would
keep the kids busy during the day
with varied activities. My expectations were exceeded.
As far as the youngsters are
concerned, the cruise line aims to
live up to its “Fun Ship” reputation at night. I did a double-take
when Vasie, the Camp Carnival
director on the Miracle, informed
parents that the 2-to-5-year-old
group at Camp Carnival could be
supervised and entertained until
It was then that I decided the
counselors at Camp Carnival were
receiving a nice tip at the end of
the cruise. Toddlers are tough
enough to manage during the day,
but they’re cranky and walking
into walls (at least mine is) when
they’re up past their bedtime.
On the cruise’s second day,
the Miracle even had a late-night
party for Camp Carnival participants, offering dancing, games
and a sugar rush from snow
cones to keep them all going.
My wife and I decided to pass
on this option, not because of the
$6 price but because we envisioned
Alex passed out in a corner at 11
p.m. with his face in a snow cone.
So we kept Alex’s Camp Carnival participation restricted to
the daytime and early evening.
My wife and I even got in on the
fun when we participated in a
Camp Carnival gave us a list
of things to find and said we
couldn’t use the ship’s elevator
to locate the items we needed. (I
was glad I had taken advantage
of the Miracle’s cardiovascular
equipment in the fitness room
We found most nearly everything on the list, except a chef’s
hat and one or two other items.
(I wasn’t about to stroll into a
galley to ask for a chef’s hat.) Our
efforts earned us a second-place
Afterward, families convened
at Horatio’s Grill on Deck 9 to
decorate cookies with syrup,
whipped cream and M&M’s.
Messy, but fun.
place where Camp Carnival hosted kids for dinner every night.
On half the days during the
cruise, Alex ate with the Camp
Carnival crew, dining on kid-friendly cuisine such as fries,
chicken nuggets, raw veggies and
macaroni and cheese.
During the other days, he ate
with us in the main Bacchus Restaurant.
Even though finding kid-friendly menu options in the
main dining room was a bit of a
challenge, I think Alex liked being there better. He enjoyed the
nightly dancing and singing of
the Carnival Miracle wait staff
(led by maitre d’ Frankie Van)
just as much as the adults did.
Our waiter, Roberto, made
Alex a pirate’s do rag out of a
table napkin, and when my son
asked for Jell-O for dessert (it
wasn’t on the menu), Roberto
got it for him. The warm Carnival staff made Alex feel welcome
no matter where he decided to
At the end of the meal, it was
time to rush back to the room to
see the nightly towel artistry of
our cabin steward, Hendra. This
was one of the highlights of the
cruise for Alex, and it just goes
to show that little things mean a
When he opened the door one
night and saw a towel dinosaur
on his bed, there was no containing his excitement. Alex ran
into the hallway and animatedly
informed Hendra that there was
a dinosaur in the room, not realizing that it was Hendra who had
made it for him.
Away from ‘the big boat,’
sand, sun on beach days
Those are some special moments. But over the course of
a week, there aren’t going to be
enough of those moments to
make a vacation great, or sane.
Mom and dad also need to
be able to see the world through
their own eyes. And that’s exactly
what a recent eight-day cruise on
the Carnival Miracle enabled us
to do: enjoy Alex and enjoy ourselves, too.
The 2,124-passenger Miracle
certainly had the amenities and
activities to keep both young and
old entertained on an eight-day
Caribbean cruise out of New York
that included four days at sea.
But there’s no way my wife,
Christa, and I would have been
able to fully enjoy them without
Camp Carnival. And for that reason alone, Camp Carnival was my
favorite amenity on the Miracle.
Without Camp Carnival, my
wife and I wouldn’t have been
Little things mean a lot
Horatio’s Grill also was the
The beach is very shallow and
steep — not a great place for
stretching out. The water is full
of rocks, and I had to tell my
son more than once to stop
picking them up and throwing
Plus, the little shopping area
you have to walk through to
beach is a
bit tacky and
Turk a port I
to see again.
we took a
tour boat to
Cay, a little is-
land off Cable
ties such as
Jet Ski riding
Since offshore activity options
are limited for families cruising with small children, we
decided to do beach days at
each port where the Carnival
Miracle stopped: Grand Turk,
Half Moon Cay
Of course, the
water was gorgeous no matter
where we went,
but I wouldn’t
if the Miracle
overnight at Half
Moon. Two days
at Carnival’s private island in the
have been terrific.
T W PHO TO B Y CHRIS TA LIMONE
The sand was
soft and silky at
Travel Weekly.com Web Editor Jerry
Limone and son Alex enjoy the waters
at Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.
Half Moon, and
the island is the closest thing
you’ll get to a Caribbean paradise experience on this cruise,
which some passengers appreciate and some don’t.
I heard some complain that
the facilities were sparse, but
a beautiful beach, crystal-blue water and a cookout was
enough to keep me content.
Grand Turk wasn’t as idyllic.
I just sat under a palm tree,
enjoying a Bahama Mama that
the bartender said was the best
one served in Nassau. I had no
By the time we boarded the
tour boat back to the cruise
port, my son Alex announced
he had had enough of the
“I don’t like this boat,” he
said. “I want the big boat.”