Kids enjoy some splashtastic fun on Freedom of the Seas' Flowrider. Photo: Morgan Rousseau/Metro
The idea of a family vacation often evokes anxious visions straight out of a "National Lampoon" flick, but not all jaunts with the kids have to put stress on parents — and they don't have to cater only to the little critters, either.
As part of Royal Caribbean International’s collaboration with Universal Orlando Resort, vacationers of all ages can spend 10 days getting the best adventures of both land and sea.
The 10-day land and sea cruise package starts off with a few days at Universal Studios Orlando, followed by a week of island hopping through the Caribbean aboard the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship.
Thrill rides like Transformers: The Ride-3D, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, The Simpsons Ride and King Kong 360 3-D are just a few of the ways to keep the adrenaline going during your time at Universal, which has big news on the horizon.
This summer, the park will open its long-awaited expansion to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, which will bring even more of the boy wizard's adventures to life inside a new, whimsically themed world that will double the size of the sweeping area already dedicated to Potter’s bewitching adventures. The new park will expand across both Universal theme parks – Universal Parks & Resorts, and Islands of Adventure.
The Hogwarts Express will link Hogsmeade at Islands of Adventure with the new expansion to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. Credit: Universal Orlando Resort
Just like in the books and films, guests will be able to travel between the two areas aboard the iconic Hogwarts Express.
Included in the package and just steps from the park, Loew’s Royal Pacific Resort offers a lavish but family-friendly option for on-land accommodations in a lush, South Seas-themed environment that really prepares sea-bound travelers for the next leg of the journey.
The vacation then sweeps guest to Freedom of the Seas, a luxurious ship that departs from Port Canaveral and offers a plethora of pools, bars, restaurants, theater, casinos, shopping and, perhaps most importantly, well-managed child care.
Daycare and nursery center Adventure Ocean keeps kids of all ages amused with games, crafts and activities from early morning into the evening, and is included in the cost of the cruise.
Make a splash! Freedom of the Seas makes a stop in CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island destination featuring one of the largest Aqua Parks in the Bahamas. Daredevils can brave a 40-story drop on one of the world’s largest inflatable water slides.
While any cruiser hopes for a week of smooth sailing and sunny skies, the sea sometimes has a different plan. That’s why Freedom offers a variety of indoor activities for all ages, including a 3-D movie theater, indoor skating rink Studio B, and the Arcadia Theater, which shows musicals, comedy and magic shows — all included in cruise fare.
Family-friendly discos evolve into adult-only venues late night, and the On Air Club karaoke bar gives any songbird’s voice a chance to soar.
Guests enjoy a Tiki Limbo contest during a glass bottom harbor cruise in St. Thomas. Credit: Morgan Rousseau/Metro
A Jaunt in St. Thomas Freedom also stops in balmy St. Thomas, but because cruisers only get one day on the island any excursions should be planned ahead of time. The glass bottom Kon Tiki Sightseeing and Beach Cruise is a must for anyone looking to get a glimpse of historic St. Thomas Harbor. With a stop over a coral reef, the excursion peaks with a swimming stop at a white sand beach and winds down with dancing, party games and a limbo contest. There beach cruise offers onboard lunch options and plenty of island-inspired rum drinks for the grown-ups.
The cruise wraps up with a stop in colorful St. Maarten, which has no shortage of gift shops and eateries just steps from the ship.
Overall, the action-packed vacation is sure to send a jolt of sunny adrenaline to the hearts of youngsters and kids-at-heart as they escape the occasional humdrum of real life.