Next summer is going to offer something great for families; two new Nickelodeon cruise vacations on massive, classy, 4-star Royal Caribbean cruise ships. My children love Nickelodeon, and when I let them watch TV (who am I kidding, this means almost every evening), they usually choose to watch kiddie fare like iCarly, Drake and Josh, and Spongebob Squarepants. A Nickelodeon cruise trip sounds like a perfect way to spend a family vacation at sea.
We have never been on a cruise before, unless kayaking around the Long Island Sound counts (it doesn’t). So when Nickelodeon and Royal Caribbean offered a 2-day, one-night mini-vacation, it seemed like an offer we couldn’t refuse. It’s an easy drive from West LA to the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, and when we pulled into the parking lot, my daughters asked if the massively huge ship we saw docked was ours. No way, I answered, that’s too big a boat. Turns out I was wrong! The Mariner of the Sea is a Voyager class ship, over 1,000 feet long with 15 passenger decks and a capacity of 3,835 guests and over a thousand crew. Wow. It’s the size of a town!
When it’s not hosting a Nick Cruise, the Mariner of the Seas still has a child-friendly deck with rock-climbing, mini golf, 3 pools, a basketball court, a video arcade and many more fun activities. My kids were shocked speechless – and I though they were going to pass out when they realized that all-inclusive meant they could have all the food they wanted. We all overindulged.
But the highlight was beyond a doubt the Nickelodeon portion of the cruise. My kids met “Spongebob,” but it was two of the stars of the Nick show iCarly that got them really excited. Jennette McCurdy, who plays Sam on iCarly, was friendly and sociable. My 9-year old was a little shy, but when Jennette learned that they are both brown belts in karate. She and my daughter had a conversation about the different schools of the martial arts (Jennette McCurdy is a brown belt in Uechi Ryu, and my kid’s a brown belt in Yoshukai karate). My younger daughter had a long talk with another actor on iCarly, Nathan Kress. What a good sport he was, answering a 7-year old’s questions! (Example: “How do you like having adoring fans?” This, said adoringly.) Both Jennette McCurdy and Nathan Kress hung with the group for a couple hours, touring the Mariner of the Seas, trying rock climbing and basketball, and generally being terrific guests.
After Nathan Kress and Jennette McCurdy left – they’re teens, they have to go to school sometime – the Mariner of the Seas was no longer a Nickelodeon cruise, but more of an adult overnight vacation. I didn’t see any other children on the ship. My kids had to do a little of everything, so we went on the rock climbing wall, had some (more) to eat, saw an ice show at the ice skating rink, laughed a lot, and acted silly. We had a wonderful time, and it ended too soon: I had to keep them in our room after dinner, as the other 2,000 or so cruise ship travelers were getting pretty drunk. That all-inclusive includes drinks! Some people so inebriated, they clearly were past the point of having fun. I thought it would be best to shield my kids from all that.
Suffice it to say, a regular, week-long Nick cruise will not be filled with totally drunk adults. It surely will be full of families with children and young teens, and oriented towards a youthful Nickelodeon-themed vacation. The Mariner of the Seas, as partnered with Nickelodeon, will leave the Port of Los Angeles on July 26, and round-trip travel to the Mexican Riviera. Another cruise on the Freedom of the Seas leaves Florida for the Eastern Caribbean on August 9. For children and young teens that enjoy Nick televisions shows – and c’mon, who hasn’t watched Spongebob? – these cruises sound like a terrific way to spend a summer family vacation together.
Right before we disembarked the next morning I asked my kids what they thought of their first cruise travel experience. Did they like it? Their answers speak for themselves.