When we travel with family friendly providers, we always get asked lots of questions about childcare on holiday. Whether your children simply dabble for an afternoon, or are in and out all week, being able to prepare yourself, and your kids for any childcare opportunities when away from home can be the key to a truly relaxing, educational and exciting break for all.
We have a series running on SIYC where we chat to childcare professionals from some of the best family holiday providers. Today we are chatting to Caroline Lombardi, Director of Youth, Family and Outer Decks at Carnival Cruise Lines. Carnival sail in the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bermuda, Alaska, Canada, Hawaii, Mexico, and from 2016 their incredible new ship Vista will set sail in the Med once more. Penny has sailed with Carnival twice as Carnival’s funnest family, so she shares her family’s verdict on childcare on holiday too below.
- As parents to young children, we often feel nervous about leaving our children in childcare on holiday, especially for the first time. What is the best thing you can say to reassure someone who potentially could be feeling a little apprehensive about leaving their children at Camp Ocean?
[CAROLINE] Carnival Cruise Line is the leader in family cruising, hosting more than 700,000 children each a year which to me is a wonderful validation of our efforts at providing families with a fun and safe environment for creating a lifetime of wonderful memories. Families can trust that their children will be cared for by experienced professionals. In addition to having years of experience working with kids on land and/or having years of formal academic experience in education or childdevelopment, our highly trained staff passes very thorough and regular background checks.
The staff is trained in first aid and CPR and our onboard medical team is on call for any emergencies. We have phones that we rent out to parents of the younger kids or special needs children to help them feel more connected. When kids come into Camp Ocean, they are warmly welcomed and included in the group. Our staff knows how to engage and entertain kids quickly – pretty soon they often forget that their parents aren’t around! We often find that parents complain their kids want to spend all their time in Camp Ocean, which we take as a great complement!
2. Can you describe to us a typical day at Camp Ocean?
[CAROLINE] The hours depend on the ship’s itinerary, but generally we’re open from 9am until 1am. We have lunch and dinner options so parents don’t have to pick their kids up for meals if they are off the ship or are enjoying some alone time. We divide children by age: 2-5 year olds are called Penguins, 6-8 year olds are called Stingrays and 9-11 year olds are called Sharks. Each day is unique as we host different games and activities that appeal to a broad range of play styles. We know that kids play differently and we offer something for every type of kid – sports, arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, karaoke, video gaming, obstacle courses, board games, dance parties, theme nights and more!
3. What’s your favourite part of your job?
[CAROLINE] I love helping children and families connect and make memories on our ships – it’s the laughter and the smiles that are really powerful. I realize that in today’s busy world, it’s hard to really unwind and enjoy moments as a family. So when I see a family totally relaxed and really in the moment enjoying each other’s company and finding out more about each other, it’s so rewarding. When you sail with Carnival, we inspire children and their families through activities and experiences to make lifetime memories. What’s more powerful than that?
4. Can you give us a top tip when it comes to leaving our little ones in a cruise childcaresetting?
[CAROLINE] Parents set the tone for the experience, so create some build up and excitement for what awaits the kids onboard. Simply by telling your kids, “You’re going to have so much fun! There’s a whole playroom filled with toys and games! You can play as much as you want and you’re going to meet a lot of other kids your age who want to play too!” you can help them envision the great experience they’ll have.
5. What do you do to ensure that both children and parents are happy and enjoy their time at Camp Ocean?
[CAROLINE] For the kids, we draw them in through warm, friendly, outgoing staff and engage them in fun activities and games. If a childis not adjusting well, we take the time to calm them, find something that interests them and ultimately include them in the group. Our kid-centric approach appeals to parents who can have peace of mind knowing that we’re taking great care of their children. When a child gets picked up by a parent and can’t stop talking about all the excitement from the day, we ensure that the parents will have a good experience as well! When the kids are happy, the parents are happy – it’s a win, win!
Penny has travelled twice with Carnival, as their funnest family, on Carnival Sunshine and Breeze, you can find out more here:
‘As an ex-teacher and parent to a then 4 and 6 year old, I loved the bright, spacious, clean, well organised and exceptionally well resourced childcare areas.
I was surprised to find the programme was educational as well as great fun, with craft, science and art activities linking to the culture of each port we visited. My daughter’s light up model of Mount Etna, which we also climbed, and drawing of a Venetian Gondolier are treasured souvenirs.
My son loved playing in the outside area which had a pirate ship. My children begged to go at every opportunity, loved the parties and were happy to fall asleep watching movies with a pillow and blanket, meaning we also had some evenings as a couple, and chance to chill out in the adult sun lounging area.’
Find out more about a Carnival cruise, here.
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