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Category : My Family Travels

By Kimberly Milnes

Lake Placid – A Gold Medal Family Vacation

Since our boys were in summer school this year we needed to stay close to home.  But still wanting to get away, we decided to hit the road and take a long weekend up in Lake Placid. We had never been this far north, so we were excited to check out a new destination close to home.   Read more

By Kimberly Milnes

Nickelodeon Fun Aboard the Norwegian Breakaway

Along with the fantastic Kids Club – Splash Academy and the Teen Club – Entourage, there is even more family fun with all the Nickelodeon activities, characters and fun on board the ship. Team Nick are your hosts and oversee all the Nickelodeon activities on the ship.

First up is the Nick Live Poolside. This is a fun interactive game show that gets the kids and parents involved.  You and the kids will battle another team to a victory of pie and slime.  If the Nick team is involved you can always count on a pie in the face or slime for someone.  The kids got a kick out of seeing the parents get “pied”.

Arts and Crafts with Team Nick is a time to create Nickelodeon themed crafts.  This happens several days during your cruise and usually in the afternoon.  The kids get to decorate Dora bags one day and a Spongebob t-shirt on a different day. It is was nice to be able to get a souvenir that is FREE.

There are several chances to start your day off at the Nickelodeon Pajama Jam. This is a fun character breakfast, with singing, dancing, bacon and of course being able to meet and get your picture taken with your favorite Nickelodeon characters.   This event does cost extra, $20 for adults/ $20 for kids. But you do receive a free 8×10 photo, cool cup and sparkle waver.  I thought the food was good, even the pancake syrup was slime green, and the event was well organized. Especially, with the photo lines, which went very fast.

The Nick Live Team are the hosts of the breakfast.  Along with the singing and dancing, you can do the conga line as well as limbo with all the kids. It was cute that all the characters were in their Pj’s.  We got to see Spongebob and Patrick, Cosmo and Wanda, Dora and Diego and Ang, the Avatar. Also my boys loved it because they got to wear their pj’s to breakfast.

Know Your Nick Trivia is a fun event where you get to go up against other families to see who knows the most about all things Nickelodeon.  I have to say we did pretty well, not sure if that is a good or bad thing.  But we did not win.  The winner was lucky enough to win a pie in the face.

If you did not get a chance to visit all the characters at the Pajama Jam there are other Character Meet & Greet times throughout the week. You can take your own photos or get a photo taken by the ships photographer.  As well one night you can dance the night away at the Boot’s Family Dance Party.

On the next to last day you can enjoy the Nickelodeon Name That Game Show. Hosted by Team Nick, kids are brought up on stage to go head to head and get a chance to play some of Nickelodeon’s most famous game shows.

It is a fun show with of course lots of games, pies and slime.  In the pictures above, you can even see my husband got in the act.  Yes, that is him going through the wringer.    I think the kids get a big kick out of seeing the parents participate.

So as you can see there are A LOT great Nickelodeon themed fun on board the ship. Even better with the exception of the Pajama Jam it is ALL Included in your cruise fare.  So with the great kids club and the Nickelodeon activities there is certainly a lot to keep the kids and parents entertained.  But, there is EVEN MORE fun for the family in all the other shows and activities on board the ship.  Stay tuned for more reviews to come.

 

By Kimberly Milnes

Norwegian Breakaway – Kids and Teen Clubs/Activities

Last month, my family and I were lucky enough to sail away on the Inaugural Cruise of the NEW Norwegian Breakaway.  We sailed out of Pier 88 in NYC on a 7 day cruise to Bermuda.  We have been on several cruises as a family, but I was excited to experience this amazing new ship and all it had to offer for families.

I have a lot to share with you all so I am going to break up my review.  Since at Adventures By Kim our mission is to help families relax, reconnect and make memories to last forever. I am going to start with one of the top attractions for kids and for my boys, that means the Kids Club, Splash Academy

Splash Academy

Norwegian has recently updated and revamped their entire youth program. I have to say my boys had a great time and really wanted to spend most of their time here.  As well, the staff was great and very interactive with the kids. Splash Academy, is divided in to 4 age groups. Guppies 6 months to 2, Turtles ages 3-5, Seals ages 6-9 and Dolphins 10-12.

The academy had organized and planned activities through out the day.  The club does close for about an hour during lunch and dinner, but is open until 10:30 pm every night. Since my boys are 4 and 6 they were in different groups, though there was “free” play times when they could play together. However, most of every day is highly organized with games and different activities.  As well, every night was a different theme.  We saw a circus and pirate theme, spy night, survivor night, and more. As well all the staff would be dressed up and the academy was decorated for that nights theme.

These photos are of the 1st floor of Splash Academy which is dedicated to kids 3-5.

These photos are of the 2nd floor which is for the kdis ages 6-9 and 10-12.

Splash Academy is actually 2 floors and is located on decks 12 and 13.  Norwegian was smart to locate many of the Family Balcony cabins on these floors. It is nice to be close to the club.   Also, you can feel that your kids are safe and will not be wandering the ship as there is great security as well as a very secure check-in and out process.

On the first day you can visit the Academy to register your child and get their bracelet. Each child must have their bracelet to get in to the Academy. I recommend registering earlier in the day so you do not have to wait in a long line later when the Academy officially opens.  Splash Academy has the e-Youth tablet-based electronic registration system which makes check in and out very fast and easy.  To check the kids in and out you will use your key card, along with your child’s key card and a personalized password to check the kids in and out.

On the final day of the cruise the kids put on a show with the Splash Academy Counselors. It was very cute.  Norwegian has a partnership with Hilario Productions Cirque du Jour, so they kids learn tricks they perform in the show.  As well there is a Family Circus Night which is a lot of  fun.

The kids have a parade in to the main theatre       Some of the kids learned rope tricks

The little ones pretended to be animals in the circus,
sang a song. Here they are getting ready to jump through the hoop. So cute

Entourage

Entourage is located on Deck 16 and this this the “teen” club for kids 13-17.  This is an area for the kids to hang out and enjoy air hockey, foosball, as well as WiiU and Playstation. In talking to the staff there is talk of breaking up the kids in to groups 13-15 and 16-17.  I think this is a good idea.   As well at night, Entourage transitions in to a dance party. As well it is located right next to the Video Arcade and the Uptown Grill which offers sandwichs’, burgers, etc. Up a few stairs and they have access to the sports complex, with mini-golf, basketball and the ropes course.  Norwegian did a great job of having so many options for the kids in this one area of the ship.

Guppies

Located on deck 16 is the Guppies Under 2 Zoo, this is a play area for Mom and Dad to bring the little ones.  It is a nice playroom with toys, mats on the floor and more.  I have to say I think NCL missed the boat in offering more for the kids under 2. There is no babysitting or supervised time for kids 2 and under.  So it is a consideration when cruising with little ones.

Overall, I have to say I was very impressed with Splash Academy and all the kids activities opportunities the ship has to offer.  A great kids club program is one of the reasons I think cruising is a great vacation option for families.  The kids have a great time and it offers Mom and Dad an opportunity to have some alone time to relax as well.

Check back for additional blogs on all the other great entertainment, dining and activities that are available on the Norwegian Breakaway.

By Kimberly Milnes

A Day at Field Station Dinosauar

Last summer the boys and I decided to check out the newest attraction in our area Field Station: Dinosaurs. The boys really love dinosaurs and they had a blast. It was nice that it was close and that the park is really not too big. It makes for a great day trip

I have to say, I was impressed by the dinosaurs. There is a lot of attention to detail.  They are big, moved and roared.  The boys thought they were “cool”. There is a nice selection of dinosaurs, in all different shapes and sizes.

What Is There To Do: Of course, you are going to see the dinosaurs, but they also had a lot of other fun activities for the kids.   When you enter the park you are given your Credentials. When you visit different areas and activities through out the park the Park Rangers will stamp your credentials. This added to the adventure for my boys as they were on a search to see where they could get their stamps. It is also a nice FREE souvenir.

  • LEGOS : There was an area where the kids could build and play with Legos. Of course, my boys did not want to leave this area. It was a bit crowded, but they have a few tables and different Lego pieces so everyone had a chance to play.
  • The Dig: This is an area where you get to be a Paleontologist.  The park provides shovels, brushes and other tools for the kids to dig and discover dinosaur bones. All the kids were having a lot of fun and were so excited when they found some bones. But on a hot, sunny day it would be nice if it was a little more covered. Though, they did have a covered area for the parents to sit.

    • Crayola Art Area: This was an area sponsored by Crayola. They had crayons, markers and activities for the kids. The kids got to color dinosaur pictures and other related crafts.
    • Shows and Games: They have the Dinosaur Meet and Greet, where you meet the dinosaur babies.  This was really cute. There is also an amazing dinosaur puppet.  The show has “handlers” to teach you about the dinosaur and even try to feed it.  It is as if it is all “real”.   There are also games shows like Raptor Feud and T-Rex Games.  They are educating the kids about dinosaurs, but in a game setting that I thought really kept the kids engaged.   The park had something to see about every 30 minutes which I thought was great.  They have also announced 2 new shows and a Dinosaur Dance Party for their 2nd Season.  I look forward to seeing them.

    • Dinosaurs: Well, we can’t forget the main attraction. There are 31 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, in different areas of the park.  The areas are Base Camp, The Quarry, The Plateau and The Lookout. Each dinosaur also has a sign that has the name and information about that dinosaur.  I liked how they were displayed each in a different setting.  Example, the Velociraptors were a bit hidden in the reeds, but you could here them. I felt like I was in the “Jurassic Park” Movie.

    Where is it: The park is located at 1 Dinosaur Way, Secaucus, NJ, right off Interstate 95, Exit 15X.  You can drive or even take the NJ Transit Train. If you take the train, the park is a short 10 minute walk from the train station. Also, during the summer there is a free shuttle from the train station to the park  You just have to confirm the pick up times.  If you drive, parking is $10.

    Hours: The park is open April through the beginning of November.  Opening day this year is April 5th.  Every day, during the summer, starting after Memorial Day.  Check their website for exact hours and days it is open in the other months.

    Tickets: There are 3 different levels of tickets:

    • Commander’s Pass which included admission to the Commander’s Tent with special programming and the 3D Movie Dinosaur’s Alive!   Adults $35 and Children (ages 3-12)  $30.00,  Ages 2 and under Free.
    • Explorer’s Pass which includes the 3D Movie Dinosaur’s Alive! Adults  $23.00 and and Children (ages 3-12)  $20.50,   Ages 2 and under Free.
    • Day Pass Adults $20.00 Children (ages 3-12)  $17.50.00,  Ages 2 and under Free.

    Overall, Field Station: Dinosaurs is a fun day. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes as you will be doing some walking. The trails are smooth and OK for a stroller, but it can be a bit bumpy. You can bring snacks and drinks in to the park, but they also have a snack bar as well.  Beware when you are leaving the park as they make you go through the merchandise tent.  Needless to say, I did not get out of there without opening my wallet. But I know the boys and I will be headed back there again.

     

    By Kimberly Milnes

    Why I Do It!

    “And what do you do?”  that infamous question. We have all been asked it so many times. It is that one go to question we use when meeting new people. For many years my answer was, “I work for Miramax Films” or “I work for the Walt Disney Company.” Today, I might say, “I am a Family Travel Expert.” Yes, it is a part of who I am today, but the real answer is, “I create amazing family vacations that help families relax and reconnect and most importantly create memories to last a lifetime.” It really is the reason I created Adventures By Kim. It is my passion, my joy and what I truly love; helping families. 

    I read this quote last  week, “You might only have 18 summers with your children, make memories now!”  It really resonated with me. I want to be able to take advantage of those years with my family. Even more, I want to help families not miss one more summer or holiday they could be spending with their family.  As parents we are always saying  “Where did the years go?” or “They grow up so fast?” I know I hear myself saying this all the time.  It is one of the reasons why I think traveling with your kids when they are young is so important.

    When you travel you are creating unforgettable family memories and traditions. It is easy to let our busy schedules take over.  Our kids are involved in so many activities and it only gets more time consuming as they get older.   Take advantage of the time you have while they are young and actually want to be around you.  Lord, knows those teen years will be here soon enough and they will want nothing do to with us.

    I was in Atlantis this summer and I saw a Mom taking a photo of her 2 kids. They were hugging each other while playing in the kids pool and giving her a great big smile for the camera, so cute.  I knew that photo was going to be a keeper. She then turned around and walked a few steps to her husband to give him a kiss. I thought to myself those are what vacations are about, those special family moments.  Those moments where our crazy, busy lives melt away to seeing the pure joy on our kid’s faces.

    I love nothing more than helping families plan the perfect vacation. Even more, I can’t wait to see the photos and hear about how much fun they had on their trip.  I feel blessed to be able to be even a small part of helping them get away, relax and reconnect as a family.

    So, that is why I do what I do.

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    Lake Placid – A Gold Medal Family Vacation