Carnival Cruise Lines took a step to secure its base of family cruisers, announcing it will launch a new program for young children called Camp Ocean, starting in May on the Carnival Freedom.
Camp Ocean will be more themed than the current Camp Carnival, which it replaces. It will feature 200 marine-related activities for kids, ranging from assembling ocean artifact trays to creating aquariums.
The program was developed with input from a panel comprising experts in child development, toys, play and children’s media, as well as a mom who is a frequent Carnival guest.
“While our current children’s program consistently gets very high marks, we’ve challenged ourselves to exceed expectations with a truly dynamic and diverse program for our youngest guests,” said Mark Tamis, senior vice president of guest operations. He added that Club Ocean will give travel agents “an exceptionally family-friendly feature” to market.
The camp is designed for children ages 2 to 11 and is divided into three age categories, with kids 2 to 5 called Penguins, those in the 6-to-8 range dubbed Stingrays and 9- to 11-year-olds designated as Sharks.
Each group will have its own blue-and-white colored play area with custom-tailored features and activities. Penguins, for example, will be able to play in miniature igloo structures.
There will also be a new “badge challenge” program in which kids get to enjoy adventures and gain a sense of accomplishment. After completing tasks such as trying a new food or making a towel animal, kids can earn a Camp Ocean badge.
Camp Ocean is one of a steady stream of product changes designed in part to redirect the conversation about Carnival after the fire on the Carnival Triumph last year.
In other changes, it has redesigned the main dining room, added a series of live concerts with widely known acts and licensed Dr. Seuss characters specifically targeting families and children.
With its 24 ships, Carnival carries more than 700,000 children annually, a greater number than any other cruise line.
Carnival said that on two ships, the Freedom and the Vista, due in 2016, there will be a common play area for all children ages 2 to 11 called Party Reef, along with Creative Cove, a breakout room for arts and crafts.
Camp Ocean will be expanded to the Carnival Magic, Carnival Breeze and Carnival Triumph later this year, with the balance of the fleet getting the program by 2016.
Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly.