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February 2, 2009

Our special correspondent, Cynthia Boal Janssens, is sailing on Holland America's brand new ship, the Eurodam, on Feb. 14...what a lovely way to celebrate Valentine's Day! Fresh off the inaugural of the Princess Lines' Ruby Princess, Janssens is going to review the new ship for CruiseCompete readers and tell you how Princess and Holland America, both members of the Carnival family, are alike and how they are different so you will be even better informed when making your next booking!

Family Cruising
Families are taking to the sea in droves and one of the most appealing features of a cruise is the all-inclusive pricing. So many fun activities are included for children, tween agers and teen-agers. Here's a look at the youth programs and tween / teen amenities available on several cruise lines:

Be sure to check out the soda packages for your kiddos, for example:
Princess Cruises offers Soda cards at $9.00 per person per day. Unlimited soda's plus hot chocolate, mocktails, and specialty ice creams are now included.

Carnival Cruise Line:
Camp Carnival is for children 2-11, with age-appropriate family-oriented activities ranging from puppet shows for preschoolers to pool parties and dance contests for older children.

The Circle C club is exclusively for 12-14 year-olds and features a dance floor, monster plasma televisions, gaming centers and more.

Club O2 is popular with older teens up to 17, with a pulsating dance floor and the latest music hits, teen-oriented library and non-alcoholic specialty drinks.

Celebrity Cruises
The Celebrity X-Club supervised youth programming includes the Fun Factory for kid's ages 3-11 and Teen Entertainment for tween and teens up to age 17. A broad range of age-appropriate activities, from arts and crafts and storytelling to pool games, sports tournaments, dancing and karaoke contests are designed to assure children enjoy their cruise vacation as much as their parents. There also are plenty of family-oriented events.

Disney Cruise Line
Disney's magic at sea spreads beyond entertaining young children and makes cruise vacations memorable for teens, too.

The Aloft lounge on the Disney Wonder and The Stack on the Disney Magic are teen-only hangouts featuring music, dancing, video games, Internet cafe and plenty of other activities. The H2O Splashdown and Party in Paradise farewell bash also are exclusively for teen guests.

Holland America Line
Club HAL offers a variety of age-appropriate activities for kids age 3-17. Younger children enjoy games, arts and crafts, ice cream and pizza parties, pirate treasure hunts and indoor games. Tweens up to 12 years-old have on-board sporting contests, as well as special disco and themed parties. They participate in the cruise line's award-winning National Park Service Jr. Ranger Program on Alaska cruises. Teenagers enjoy the Loft, a special lounge area resembling a New York artist's studio. A secluded passageway takes them to the Oasis, a teens-only sundeck with a nine-foot waterfall and cooling cave.

Princess Cruises
Junior cruisers ages 3-17 have a boatload of organized activities available to them on a Princess cruise. There is plenty of fun for Princess Pelicans up to age 7 and Shockwaves, 8-12. Activities vary by ship, but generally include sports activities, deck parties, arts and crafts, edutainment events, special parties and scavenger hunts. The cruise line's Grand Class ships have the largest facilities for teenagers, including the Off Limits teen center with dance parties, casino nights, karaoke, talent show, movie festivals and more.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
The cruise line's Adventure Ocean youth program offers a variety of activities for children ages 3-17. The fun ranges from age-appropriate pool and beach parties, to hands-on science experiments and art projects to sports tournaments, talent shows and music festivities.

Voyager Class ships are a floating paradise for teens. The Living Room is a special hangout during the day and the Back Deck provides teens with their own place to sunbathe and eat. Fuel, a teens-only disco, provides a great place to mingle and meet new friends.

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