Cruises, which once seemed to only have options for adults or couples, are now becoming increasingly popular with families. Most cruise lines now offer special activities and programs that are geared specifically for children. With on-board programs for children and adults, as well as entertaining excursions when the ship is at port, a cruise can be enjoyed by the entire family. Follow a few tips to make your next cruise a memorable holiday that will delight the whole family.
Choose the Right Cabin
A cabin for two people would become increasingly cramped during a cruise with a large family. Although you may participate in numerous activities throughout the day, you will still need a comfortable place to sleep at night. Traveling with children requires extra space for your entire luggage, extra beds to sleep in and enough extra space to perform daily activities. Most inner cabins only have a small shower in the bathroom. If you have young children, consider asking the cruise line if they offer suites with bathtubs and if they offer cribs or bed-rails for infants and toddlers. Two types of cabins that are ideal for families include:
- Family Suites: Usually, a family suite can accommodate four to eight people. There may be pull out beds, bunk beds or sofa sleepers. The main sleeping area will usually be separated by a curtain and sometimes there is extra space for sitting and relaxing. This type of room is perfect for families with younger children, as the child sleeps in the same room as the parents.
- Connecting Rooms: Two rooms that are connected by a door can be rented for a family. The separated rooms offer added privacy and plenty of space for families with teenagers.
Learn About the Programs
Children will be kept entertained all day long with the activities and programs available on a family-friendly cruise. This allows parents the chance to sit back and relax, without having to hear complaints of boredom. A cruise line may offer children’s programs that are separated by ages, such as toddlers, pre-schoolers or school-age. Each group of children will have access to a special play room and activities designated for their age group. Some cruise lines may have a minimum age requirement or request that children be potty trained before joining a group. For teens, there may be discos, arcades or shore excursions. Other activities that may be offered include slumber parties, art classes, magic shows, children’s pools, water slides, golf and video games.
Ask About Babysitting Services
Many cruises now offer babysitting services to families. This gives adults the chance to have a romantic dinner, attend adult only shows, or gamble in the casino. Babysitting services will vary depending upon the cruise line. The youth staff will plan educational and engaging activities for children and may also change nappies and offer meals or snacks. While some cruise lines will allow infants in the nursery, others require a parent be present at all times for children under the age of two. Check with your cruise line for fees and restrictions on babysitting services.
Pack the Right Items
While many cruise lines will have some items such as toiletries already in your cabin, it is useful to pack a few key items to make your holiday relaxing and stress-free.
- First-Aid kit
- Ginger candy for motion sickness
- Extra clothing, hats, and shoes
- Disposable and swim nappies
- Small stuffed animals, board games, or toys
- Formula or baby food
- Portable DVD player, game system, or music player
- Digital or disposable camera
- Sanitizing lotions or soaps for children with sensitive skin
- Inflatable swim aids
For families that want to try something exciting on their next holiday or those who just want to do something different, a cruise may be the perfect choice. By preparing for the trip and checking with the cruise line about special activities, you will have an enjoyable holiday where the whole family has plenty of fun.