So you're looking for a cruise for kids but aren't quite sure about how to ensure an enjoyable trip for all? Here are must do's and tips to help ensure everyone enjoys a 'Trip of a Lifetime'!
Haven't cruised with kids before? Stop fretting and go for it. With proper planning, research and following tips below, parents and kids can all enjoy a memorable vacation. But there is one prerequisite when planning family cruise, "The Kids Come First".
If you are looking for a vacation for some significant mom and dad along time, a family cruise may not be best choice. Remember, for much of your vacation you will be in a confined area with predefined activities and schedules already determined for you. However, you can find cruises and cruise lines that cater to your family and this will make your vacation a much more enjoyable time for entire family.
The first step in planning a family cruise is to understand what your children enjoy and find a cruise line that provides kids activities that your children enjoy.
It goes without saying that a high-end luxury cruise may not be best for your family as these types of cruises often don't cater to young or very-young. There is a reason that Disney cruises are so popular with families. Disney cruises cater to kids. When on a cruise, if kids are happy, mom and dad can better enjoy their vacation as well.
Whether booking online or with a travel agent in person, don't sign up for a cruise until you have researched potential cruise line yourself. As an example, in a recent article in a local newspaper, a traveler and her family booked with Royal Caribbean after assurances from on-line booking agent that cruise did offer baby-sitting. Not until family got onboard did they realize that there is no guaranteed baby-sitting and any baby-sitting provided was done by crew on their off-time, and only if crew felt like earning some extra money. Some cruise lines also have age boundaries for baby-sitting eligibility. If you are looking for baby-sitting onboard, make absolutely sure that cruise lines offers a guaranteed baby-sitting service and make sure your kids are eligible.
OK. Enough of general tidbits. Here are planning tips that can help help you research your cruise for kids and make your cruise a positive, memorable vacation:
Scheduled Kids Activities If you are looking for a cruise or cruise line that understands cruising with family, find a cruise line that has excellent scheduled kids activities and you will find a cruise line that understands cruising with kids. Some cruise lines offer non-stop activities for kids from early morning to late evening. Many cruise lines break up kids into age appropriate groups and targets agendas for those age groups.
If your children aren't quite ready to spend long periods of time aware from mom and dad, take this into consideration when looking for that perfect cruise. In general, well organized kids programs provide an excellent way for kids to have a great time and to provide mom and dad some time to explore ship activities on their own. Make sure you understand schedules available for kid related activities. If you have a family that doesn't enjoy getting up in mornings on vacation, and all of kids activities are scheduled for early mornings, keep this in mind during your research.
Take time to find internet reviews for ships that you are considering that offer kid focused activities. In general, you will find that picking right ship was single most important decision when ensuring that both kids and mom and dad have a great time.
Staterooms As most experienced cruisers are aware, not all staterooms are made alike. Do research and find out size and configuration of your planned stateroom. Some points to consider with kids along. A nice view (not a port hole) to ocean can help kids enjoy views, pass some time and provide for a more open sense in what will probably be a fairly crowded space. A picture window or a balcony does cost more, but views to entertain kids can be well worth it!
Consider location of stateroom in relation to elevators, stairs and size of ship. If you are looking to cruise on a large ship, a room nearer elevators and/or in middle of ship can help make navigation of large vessel much easier when you have several little ones in tow.
Also, generally storage available in a cruise stateroom is minimal so pack as lightly as possible. Often only place to put unpacked luggage is a tiny closet or on a spare chair. Again, check into cruise line and stateroom you are considering. Some rooms do offer under-bed storage plus other cabin amenities that aren't available on other cruise lines.
Lastly, realize that depending on cruise line and stateroom you choose, you may only have a shower in bathroom. If you youngsters are use to taking a bath and have never taken a shower, take this into consideration when planning and preparing for trip.
Want to Dine Early? Then Book Early! Depending on cruise line, there may be open seating for dining or scheduled dinner seating times. An open seating for dining is often found on smaller, luxury oriented cruise lines and this is really best cruise dining options available. You can choose where to eat, when to eat and with whom to eat. However, this is not usually dining options on larger, family oriented cruises. Most of larger ships schedule one or two dining times and you are assigned a time, table and dining guests. Again, make sure you are aware of what is provided for dining options on cruises you are researching.
If you are traveling with kids that like or need to eat early, be aware that early seatings on ships that have multiple dinner times often fill up very quickly and far in advance of actual departure date. Often these early seatings are filled 2-3 months in advance, or more, of actual cruise so be aware of your dining preferences. If you need to ensure that you have an early dining time available for your family, check on specific cruise sailing that you are investigating to ensure space is available.
There is More on Menu Than Just Kids Options For vast majority of cruises that you will investigate, all of food at meal times (and often outside of meal times as well) is included in your ticket price. So if kids would like a steak, or fish, or lobster, go ahead and order it for them. The kids are not restricted to items on kids menu.