ABOARD THE CARIBBEAN PRINCESS -- Princess Cruises will create a small waterpark on the Caribbean Princess during a June drydock, the first time the line has offered such a feature on one of its ships, Princess officials confirmed.

As such, it represents a small nod to the competition in the Caribbean, where the upper decks of contemporary cruise ships are becoming more like theme parks, with everything from go-karts to roller coasters.

But the Reef Family Splash Zone will be a kinder, gentler version of a waterpark, with no waterslides and a whale that drizzles rain from its flukes as the centerpiece.

"A waterslide at this point is not part of our DNA," said Gordon Ho, senior vice president of global marketing and North American sales at Princess.

The Splash Zone will be built on Deck 17 beneath the ramp that leads to the Skywalkers disco at the back of the ship. Currently, that space holds a small pool, a hot tub and a kids pool.

Those will be updated to match the newly designed space featuring new sign-age and contemporary artwork.

Princess will add a splash pool with assorted sprays and showers. A Game Zone will feature oversize backyard games, comfy sectionals and a kid-friendly bar setting. Games include Connect Four, Jenga and cornhole, Princess said. 

For adults, there will be new patio furniture, from single sun loungers to sectional chairs and couches with tables. Canvas canopies and breeze panels will provide protection from the sun and wind.

Ho said the area was conceived in keeping with Princess' philosophy concerning the family market, which emphasizes togetherness and joint activities over sheer thrills and chills for kids alone.

"A lot of people, if they are looking for a relaxing experience but they have kids, travel agents will recommend Princess," Ho said.

He said guests were telling Princess they wanted an area "above and beyond [what's now available] where we can hang out as a family beyond the clubs for kids."

In contrast to the high-octane rides on other lines, the Reef Family Splash Zone will be "kind of secluded and quiet," Ho added. He said that before going ahead with the project, "We asked our core guests, 'Are you OK with this?' And they said yes."

The Splash Zone fits other family activities such as the stargazing and shark awareness programs that are run through Princess' Discovery at Sea partnership with the Discovery Channel, Ho said.

"That's our sweet spot," Ho said.

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