How to Plan a Family Cruise
I’ll never forget the first time I set out to plan a family cruise. We were invited by Carnival to enjoy their new ship, the Carnival Breeze. My youngest was nearly 19 months and the oldest was 6. Making the decision on taking the family on the cruise was difficult. I had no idea what to expect when traveling with a toddler on a cruise and beyond. We have since been on 3 family cruises and each of them have been fun and some of our greatest travel experiences.
Plan a Family Cruise
When it comes to taking a vacation many families opt to travel by plane. The reason for this is mostly for the convenience of getting to point B in a quick and timely matter. However, more and more people are starting to discover the tranquility of taking a family vacation on board a cruise ship. During a family cruise vacation, you have the opportunity to visit a variety of different countries and experience different cultures. In an easier format, a family can experience far more on a 7-night cruise than a 7-night road trip. If you happen to live driving distance to a major port, getting to the cruise ship doesn’t require the cost of air flights, making it even more affordable. Here are some tips on planning a family cruise.
Family Cruise Planning Tips
- Choose an Appropriate Itinerary- Before actually booking a family cruise; choose an itinerary that has something for everyone. Cruises to Caribbean islands seem to be a favorite of many. The distance to the ports is typically not more than one day at sea away. Plus, the ports tend to be friendly to kids of all ages – 0 to 100! Give a young child a bucket and some sand and they will enjoy playing in the beach sand for hours.
In Grand Turk we enjoyed the beach alongside the port. While in Curaçao we enjoyed a Dolphin Encounter at the Curaçao Sea Aquarium. Also, take note of any restrictions with ports with great excursions. At times there may be age and size limits that may deter your entire family from being able to enjoy a specific excursion. Those with children that are history buffs or are into architecture might enjoy the European cruises more because of the vast array of castles, historical buildings, museums, and so forth. You know your kids. You know what they will best enjoy and be able to endure. We are hoping to plan at least one cruise per year. The kids are anxious to do a Disney Cruise. Tom and I want to plan an Alaskan Cruise and a European River Cruise in the coming years!
- Kid-Friendly-ness – Not all cruise lines are the same. And not even all cruise ships within a fleet are the same. The newer the cruise ship, such as the Carnival Vista that will be at sea in 2016, the more likely it will be to have the greatest variety of activities for older kids such as water sports, music, and food, to the little ones, and of course mom & dad. Do your research on the kid activities and programs available on the specific ship you want to sail. Verify that the programs are operational and will be functional during your sailing. You don’t want to get aboard the ship to learn it’s under construction.
- Be Well-Informed of Pricing- Make sure that you are well informed as to what the price your family cruise will cost you. At one time, shore tours and drinks were the only extra expenditure in the cost of your cabin. This has since changed. Therefore, make sure that you are aware of any additional charges that you may have to endure in order to enjoy your family cruise to the fullest. Also keep in mind the extra cash you’ll want to have for when you visit ports. There are many ways to save money for the cruise and all the fun excursions you want to enjoy.
- Location, Location, Location- To some people the location of the stateroom is of the utmost importance. Some cruise lines offer discounts on inside cabins and even the cost of a deluxe cabin can be severely discounted. This is due to the volume of passengers, and the amount of unfilled bookings. I highly recommend staterooms with a balcony. The additional space works as an extra room. I use the balcony to enjoy my morning coffee as the kids are still sleeping.
- Discuss Your Travel Plans and Budget- To avoid any arguments during your travels, make sure that you thoroughly discuss what the family is going to partake in while on a family cruise. Clearly define any extras that you are willing to pay for so that there will be no misunderstandings on your family cruise. I typically give my children $20 to spend as they wish during the cruise.
Careful planning and budgeting will make your family cruise become a reality. Follow the above tips to plan a family cruise and ensure that you get the most out of your family vacation.
I really look forward to learning about the family cruise you ultimately book. Please post any questions you may have about family cruising. I would love to offer any additional guidance that you might need.
Other Cruising Resources for Families
- Cruise Direct – The place where cruisers go to book their vacation.
- Speciality Dining Review – Learn the details about dining on cruise ships.
- How to Surprise Kids for a Cruise Vacation – We did it! We filmed the surprise, too! It’s a must see!
- Room Service on a Cruise – Not all cruises lines offer this luxury. Carnival does. See how and why parents need to use this each morning of their family cruise.
- Do This, Not That on the Carnival Vista – We sailed this ship and learned so much. Please read through our advice before you set sail.
- Carnival Vista Dining Options – This ship is full of new and traditional dining options. In this post I explain it all.
- Brewery at Sea – The Carnival Vista has a brewery at sea! We enjoyed a background tour. See the details.
- Guys Pig & Anchor BBQ – On select ships, including the Vista, this latest Guy Fieri dining spot is full of traditional BBQ fare. So goo buy long wait. Get more details.
- Cruising the Carnival Breeze – We’ve sailed this ship twice and see just might be our favorite. Find out why!
- Cruising the Carnival Freedom – This ship is filled with FUN! See how we enjoyed our 8-night sailing.
- Key West Aquarium – Wondering what to do with the kids in Key West. We loved the Key West Aquarium. See why.
- Hasbro the Game Show – We’ve enjoyed this life-sized game on several Carnival ships. You’ve got to see how fun it is!
- Warm Melting Chocolate Cake Recipe by Carnival – If you’ve ever sailed a Carnival ship, you know how deliciousness of their warm melting chocolate cake!