Theme parks might be good for a thrill, but experts say the best kid-oriented trips pair entertainment with enrichment — and bring school work to life while keeping parents and kids happy.
Princess Cruises' newly redesigned Camp Discovery youth and teen centers aim to do just that.
The updated centers, which are being done in conjunction with Discovery Communications, combine education with fun.
Eventually, all the ships in Princess' fleet will have the new facilities, with the beefed-up youth program currently available on Grand Princess, Caribbean Princess, Majestic Princess and Regal Princess.
Grand Princess, which sails year round from San Francisco, was the site of a celebration recently when its completed youth centers were introduced to the public. The event featured Discovery at Sea activities and programming, including special appearances by Science Channel host Hakeem Oluseyi and "Mythbusters'" Tory Belleci.
Oluseyi, an astrophysicist, inventor and educator, is a frequent contributor to the Science Channel, where he hosts "Outrageous Acts of Science" TV show.
He also cruised the Mediterranean on Island Princess, filming a series of lectures: "Celestial Events, Are We Alone?" and "How the Universe Is Made." The lectures are available on stateroom programming across the Princess Cruises fleet.
The cruise line introduced Discovery at Sea in 2015, adding programming such as Shark Week and "MythBusters," plus interactive experiences designed to compliment the regions visited. Activities include stargazing, Discovery and "Animal Planet" shore excursions and various on-board activities.
Now Princess is adding new texture to the programming with its updated youth and teen centers.
The program, catering to specific age groups, features three themes:
--the Treehouse, which serves ages 3 to 7 year olds,
--the Lodge, geared to kids 8 to12 year olds, and
--the Beach House, for teens.
Among the activities are indoor and outdoor gaming, sports and physical activities such as basketball, dancing, yoga and mini-Olympics.
There are also educational programs focusing on sharks, Alaskan explorers, "MythBusters'" science activities, "Animal Planet" and Science Channel activities.
In addition, a family fair in the Piazza features carnival-like booths and activities, family trivia, stargazing and family game night.