Guest post by Kevin Weisner of CruiseDeals.com.
Most people think of cruises as the quintessential couples’ vacation, but these all-in-one adventures can also be a natural fit for families as well. The key to finding the perfect family cruise to enjoy with your kids is deciding what you want out of your cruise experience, as there are a number of different cruise lines that cater to families with kids both young and old.
Whether you’re looking to experience some family togetherness or some alone time as mom and dad, there is a ship out there for you.
1. Set the budget – While it may seem like a good idea to book either the least or most expensive cruise deal you can find (depending on the size of your wallet), most families should steer clear of both ultra upscale or ultra cheap cruises. Midscale cruises often offer the best kids ‘programs and activities. Look for a larger, modern ship, as these are usually designed with kids in mind.
2. Ask about room size – Many ships offer large, family-friendly staterooms that can accommodate up to eight people, and others offer deals on adjoining teens’ cabins. Whatever you choose, make sure that your room or rooms can comfortably fit your entire family, and if you are traveling with a baby or toddler, be aware that most cabins do not have a bathtub.
3. Check out the itinerary – For families, shorter cruises—3, 4, or 7 days—are a good idea. This length of time gives you just enough time to experience everything, but it’s not so long that your kids will get bored with onboard life. Something else to consider is your destination. Families often choose a Caribbean adventure, but there are plenty of last minute cruises that leave from ports a little closer to home—Philadelphia and New York, for example—that can be just as exciting.
4. What’s on the program – This is one of the most important aspects of deciding on the right cruise for your family—that is, what are their kids’ programs like. Many families choose special kid-catered cruises like Disney or Carnival, but other lines like Royal Caribbean also offer award-winning activities for children of all ages as well as in-cabin babysitting services.
5. Look into amenities – While much of the cruise experience is included with the price, some of it, like shore excursions, are not. Check to see whether there are any costs associated with the activities or food you are interested in, and remember that it is sometimes possible to explore on your own rather than paying for a guided tour.
6. Get the essentials – Be sure to bring things for the kids that your cruise may not provide—in-cabin toys, snacks, and games, for example. Many families also find it helpful to bring walkie talkies aboard so they can still keep in touch when apart.
7. Relax and have fun – The best thing about a family cruise vacation is that much of the stress that comes along with planning, driving, and hotel hopping is eliminated. No matter what cruise you choose, be sure to let yourself have fun and use the experience as a chance to bring your family closer together.