“Das a big boat,” my two-year old, Ben, says sagely, as we gaze upon the 4000- passenger Norwegian Breakaway. Yes, Ben, dat is a very big boat. My husband, Jason, Ben and I are here to check out the newest member of the family-friendly Norwegian fleet, and specifically to test their freshly launched Guppies program for the two-and-younger set.
But there was lots of good kiddie fun on the Breakaway — which sails to Bermuda in the spring and the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida in the winter — too. Ben was obsessed with the minigolf course (though he kept calling it “hockey.” Also, he cheats), and he spent hours in the wading pool. The arcade was a hit, and there was a small drop-in playroom, not to mention a full menu of Nickelodeon-themed events.
And while Ben thought it was completely unjust that he was too young for the massive waterslides, he got his ya-yas out by insisting we play “wolf” (i.e. chase) every night in our tiny standard cabin. Turns out that there’s nothing like 207 square feet to foster family togetherness!
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The Guppies program features twice-daily parent-accompanied events in the cheery Splash Academy. Out-of-the-ordinary classes include “messy play” sessions of arts and crafts with spaghetti and paints made from organic veggies, or the baby disco party, where Ben and all the other little ravers shook their diapered booties on a lit-up dance floor. Other activities included tent and tunnel sessions, nursery-rhyme circles and puppet games.
But the best part of the program was that it was the perfect hunting ground for playdates, because you ran into the same families with kids similar in age to yours every day. We made fast friends with a matching trio from San Diego, and it wasn’t long before Ben’s new buddy Mason started wandering the halls calling out his name. Meeting other parents was also handy considering there were no babysitting services available for the under threes, so kid-swapping was the only chance to sneak away.
Loaner iPads so Mom and Dad can get through their fine dining seafood supper at Ocean Blue.
We loved the meat-crazy Brazilian fare at Moderno Churasscaria.
Freshly baked cookies every night at midnight at the Garden Café.
A Breakaway replica keychain, which Ben quickly turned into a toy boat.
A version of this article appeared in our January 2014 issue with the headline "The Norwegian Breakaway", p. 20.