By Mike Coleman
The high seas are slowly but surely becoming an ocean playground for kids.
According to a National Geographic Kids magazine survey, cruising now ranks as the No. 1 vacation option among youth and rates as the “perfect summer trip”.
The survey revealed that 35 percent of kids said cruises were their most popular vacation choice. Trips to the beach came in second (17 percent) followed by amusement parks (17 percent), big cities (five percent), lakes (three percent) and summer camp (two percent).
The magazine recently polled 401 kids aged 8 to 14.
“More than one million children under the age of 18 took cruises with their families in 2004,” said Terry Dale, president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the cruise industry’s chief marketing organization.
“And, it’s easy to see why cruise vacations appeal to the whole family.”
Dale said the survey results came as no surprise to CLIA whose 19 member lines Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Crystal, Cunard, Disney, Holland America, MSC, Norwegian Coastal Voyages, NCL, Oceania, Orient Lines, Princess, Radisson Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea, Swan Hellenic and Windstar collectively accommodate 95 percent of the North American cruise passenger market.
It’s no wonder that cruising has become so popular with kids. To keep up with the demand for family travel CLIA-member lines continue to add amenities and activities for the family. Most of today’s lines feature extensive and highly-supervised children’s programs where kids are placed in age-appropriate groups. Teen lounges, video arcades, computer learning centers, toddlers’ play areas and even special shore excursions for children.
Cruise industry growth, in fact, shows no signs of abating. In the last 10 years CLIA-member lines added 100 new ships, 62 of which debuted in the last five years alone.
And who sailed on those ships? A record 10.6 million people took a cruise on a CLIA-member line in 2004. Officials predict that more than 11 million travelers will cruise in 2005 including, of course, a record number of kids.