By Gerry Barker
ABOARD CARIBBEAN PRINCESS_"There she blows!"
There was much anticipation as invited media, guests and Princess personnel stood in front of the big blue whale on Deck 17 of Caribbean Princess, docked at Port Everglades.
We were all there for the debut of The Reef Family Splash Zone, a major new feature added after the ship completed a recent drydock.
Of course, we couldn't attend without bringing along an expert in the field to offer her own assessment, and no one is better qualified than our six-year-old granddaughter, Catherine.
So as we all stood and they began the countdown, Cate and the other children present cheered as the first spout of water erupted from the whate's head.
The whale and surrounding splashpad offer a number of water features, including a slide in the shape of the whale's tongue, water cannons and sprays. Cate wasted little time trying it all out.
Princess didn't forget the adults, either. Adjacent to the splash area are loungers, couches and chairs, including shaded sections for those who want to escape the sun. It's just the ticket for sipping a beverage while the kids play.
Speaking of beverages, there's a bar where you get order up a cocktail, or the kids can get a lookalike "mocktail," complete with chocolate sprinkles on the rim and chocolate "straws."
There's also the Game Zone – where kids and their parents can try their hand at Connect Four, Jenga or Cornhole. We've found we are better at sipping beverages than playing games.
While she was sad to leave the Splash Zone, the fun wasn't over yet. One deck down is the Camp Discovery area. Through a partnership with Discovery Consumer Brands, Princess offers a wide array of activities that are both fun and educational through their Discovery at Sea program.
At Camp Discovery -- an area set aside for their young guests -- they have added an outdoor interactive water table, themed around world landmarks, such as the Gold Gate Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and the Panama Canal.
Needless to say, by the end of the event, Cate had given both the Splash Zone and Camp Discovery the Catherine Barker Seal of Approval. For families looking at a vacation that offers something for everyone, it's hard to beat what you'll find on Caribbean Princess.
(Gerry Barker is a freelance travel writer who has covered the cruise industry for 10 years, formerly with The Palm Beach Post. He and his wife Pam maintain a Cruise Blog on NorthPalmBeachLife.com)