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Celebrity Cruises for Families

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Celebrity Cruise Line
Celebrity Cruises offers a range of kid-friendly amenities distinctive from other cruise lines. From flexible eating times to diverse youth programs to an expansive grass lawn on the highest deck, there’s something for every family member. Celebrity also provides a personalized experience where staff members address you by name and personal concierges attend to your every need.

Ship Specifics
Celebrity was founded and marketed as a big-ship operator in 1989 by the Chandris Group in Greece. In 1997, the cruise line was acquired by Royal Caribbean and now operates as a sister company. With 10 ships in total, the former small-ship cruise line continues to offer personalized service on their new, larger ships. Since 2008, Celebrity has produced ships that weigh 122,000 tons — larger than all of Carnival’s fleet, except Carnival Dream. These ships carry 2,850 passengers, while others in the fleet offer less than 2,000 spaces. Due to its interior designing, even ships occupied to full capacity feel half empty. Passengers rarely experience lines or excessive crowding.

Celebrity spans the whole gamut of ships. Celebrity Xpedition is in class of itself. It is a smaller ship of 2,329 tons that holds only 98 passengers. Recently, Celebrity Century, one of the first ships, was rereleased from a major renovation that included the addition of 314 verandahs, 14 suits and 10 staterooms. Celebrity Silhouette is expected in fall 2011 and Celebrity Reflection in 2012.

Ports and Destinations
A worldwide cruise line, Celebrity has 190 ports across the globe. The only place Celebrity does not venture, as of yet, is Asia. Itineraries include Europe, Alaska, the Panama Canal, South America, Hawaii, the Caribbean, Canada and New England. Antarctica “drive-bys” are also available. Homeports in the U.S. are in New York, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, San Diego and Seattle. Canada also has a main port in Vancouver.

Caribbean tours are most popular among families, and are shorter in length, usually running between four to seven days. In the Caribbean, Celebrity stops at over 35 ports, including Shangri-La, Antigua and Paradise Beach in Cozumel Island. Forty-two itineraries offer a wide variety of trips that you can tailor with specific excursions. At port, families can snorkel with stingrays, parasail above the beaches, sail in glass-bottom kayaks or simply make sandcastles. The top ships going to the Caribbean are Celebrity Solstice, Silhouette, Equinox, Eclipse and Millennium.

Another family favorite, Alaska’s Inside Passage is best seen by cruise ship. Sailing the Prince William Sound offers striking views of the glaciers. Cruises stop at Denali State Park and Brooke Falls to get passengers up close and personal with bears and bald eagles. Passengers receive ample time on land with a tour director that explains the natural wonders of the state. Celebrity Century, Infinity and Millennium travel to Alaska between May and September. Normally, cruises depart from the west coast, namely Seattle or Vancouver.

The Celebrity Xpedition ship offers a remarkable Galapagos Island tours. Celebrity is the only big-ship line to run trips to the islands year round. Transatlantic voyages also travel to Israel via Celebrity Equinox. Celebrity is one of the few cruise lines to travel to these two exotic destinations.

Celebrity Cruise Line Staterooms
Staterooms feature telephones, safes, hair dryers, mini-bars and convertible twin-to-queen beds. A television in each room offers closed-circuit movies and Sony video games. Families who want balconies can find them. If this is important to you, check out the Millennium-class ships, which offer them in 56 percent of their rooms. Family Oceanview Staterooms feature floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, second bedrooms with a small bed for kids, sitting areas with sofa convertible trundle beds and veranda seating. Unfortunately, family rooms do not come with bathtubs and cribs are not available. Complimentary beach towels and 24-hour room service are provided. Laundry service is also available for an extra fee. Suites are equipped with DVD players, whirlpool baths and also come with private butler service. Though all rooms feature bathrobes, only suites have bathtubs. For a real splurge, the Concierge-class units offer priority luggage service, upgraded bed coverings and furnished balconies.

Celebrity Cruises Dining
In 2007, Celebrity developed new twists on traditional culinary favorites. This gastronomic overhaul improved the quality and diversity of dining options on each ship. Nowadays, Celebrity is known for its delicious culinary options and ships typically host at least 10 high-quality restaurants with options for everyone in the family. Kids can choose what food they want to eat. Casual dining often appeals to families and is offered at Cafe al Bacio & Gelateria, Outdoor Grill and International Marketplace. The Marketplace has a pasta station, a pizza area that stays open late and a dessert station. It is a kid’s buffet dream. The newer ships, Solstice and Equinox, also offer theme dining concepts, like an Asian-fusion restaurant and an Italian steakhouse. Slower to catch on than other cruise lines, in 2010 Celebrity unveiled a flexible dining program that allows passengers to reserve dining times online before or during their cruise. Traditional dining is also offered for the more conservative families who want to dress for dinner. One to three formal dinners are presented per trip, depending on the length of voyage.

Room service is available. Breakfast served on your stateroom’s expansive verandah over the waves is offered from 6:30 to 10 a.m. Celebrity also accommodates families with special culinary needs, like vegetarian, kosher or food allergy diets. Low-sugar or gluten-free dishes can also be arranged.

Celebrity Cruises Activities
A Lawn Club perches on the highest deck, flaunting a half acre of real grass and a country-club ambience. The area is perfect for family picnics, and Croquet and Bocce ball are some of the games on the green. A popular draw, few other cruises offer such a unique environment, and it is nice to visit when you’ve been at sea a little too long.

Trivia contests will excite families who enjoy game shows, and interactive video games are also available. Sports competitions focus on basketball, ping-pong and golf. Celebrity also offers unique demonstrations and shows. Smithsonian experts give lectures, the Corning Museum of Glass staff performs the first at-sea glassblowing demonstrations and art auctions are held throughout the trip. Onboard boutiques offer a place to peruse for souvenirs, too.

Kids’ Clubs
The Fun Factory offers a safe haven of toys and activities for kids’ up to age 11. The children’s center is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. Toddler Time is offered for children under age three; however supervision is not provided for this age group. Though the Fun Factory is at their disposal, parents must accompany children while they play with toys and meet other kids. Toddlers must be fully potty trained to participate in this program, as supervision is not available for children under age three.

For supervised groups, children are split into four age groups. Ship Mates (3 to 5) hosts theme parties, treasure hunts, crafts and musical games. Celebrity Cadets (6 to 8) also offers relay races, trivia competitions and talent shows. Ensigns (9 to 11) plans pool games, karaoke, scavenger hunts and video games.

Admiral Teens (12 to 17) offers teens the opportunity to make new friends. A teen center is equipped with video game consoles. The hangout serves as a venue for late-night dance parties for teens-only, sport events and other social activities.

For Mom and Dad
Parents can enjoy a romantic evening together due to Celebrity’s babysitting services. For $6/hour kids can attend an Afternoon Party from noon to 2 p.m. or a Dinner Party from 5 to 7 p.m. on port days. A Slumber Party is another option, running from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. These two events take place in the Fun Factory. For $8/hour for up to two children per family, private in-room babysitting is provided (subject to availability). This service must be arranged in advance.

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