Family Cruising: The Ultimate Vacation for Kids with Benefits

Family Cruising: Cruising as a family is a convenient way to vacation with your kids because it allows you to spend valuable time together and much-needed time apart. Another benefit of family travel is that it gives your children practical experience while you visit different ports throughout the world. When organizing a cruise for children, keep the following in mind:

Tips for selecting the best family cruise

1. Make a thoughtful selection for your week

An off-season cruise is your best option if you have young children who are not yet enrolled in school, as these families are unable to travel at that time. Rates are cheaper and the kid-friendly areas are less busy during these calmer sailings.

If your kids are gregarious, though, sailing during peak hours can be well worth the extra cost, as there will probably be more kids their age on board to socialize with at the youth centre and pool.

2. Search for family-friendly offers

Some cruise lines offer special “kids sail free” promotions. Both the luxurious Crystal Cruises and the more affordable MSC Cruises have previously provided these promotions. To make sure you don’t miss out on a sale fare, sign up for the promotional email newsletters from specific lines.

3. Family Cruise Programs: Select Your Kids’ Best Cruise Youth Program

Kids Club on Holland America Line, Holland America Line, Kids Club Holland America Line
(Credit: The Points Guy)

Family-friendly cruise lines put a lot of effort into providing imaginative kids’ programs that go above and beyond babysitting. For instance, children can learn tumbling, juggling, spinning, and other circus skills at Norway’s Splash Academy. The program culminates in a circus act presentation for parents.

Disney has attractions like Marvel Super Hero Academy and a Star Wars play area with a Millennium Falcon theme, while Carnival’s Camp Ocean has a marine theme.

While some cruise companies use alternative methods for age groupings, such as forming age groups that are more personality-driven, all cruise lines offer youth programs that separate children into age-appropriate groups. Kids are free to associate with the age group in which they feel most at ease, regardless of whether that group consists of classmates who are older or younger.

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Make sure the youth program on your cruise liner closely corresponds to the interests and needs of your child. Make sure you carefully sort through the possibilities to locate something they would appreciate.

For families taking a trip with teenagers, many cruise ships also include teen programs. Programs for teenagers divide them into age-appropriate divisions, including 12 to 14 and 15 to 17.

There’s plenty of time for teenagers to establish friends and explore the ship without the presence of parents, even though they meet at supervised events and engage in enjoyable activities with the committed youth staff.

Discuss with your teenagers before you go on a cruise about the ship’s regulations and what’s expected of them. They will know what they can and cannot do in this way, and there’s a far greater chance that your family cruise will go off without a hitch.

4. Fun Family Cruises: Cartoon Characters on Board Can Make Your Kids’ Vacation

Disney Cruise Pirate Night
(Credit: Bright Color mom)

Story Time with Seuss-A-Palooza on Carnival SunshineStory Time Seuss-A-Palooza on Carnival Sunshine
Which youngster doesn’t adore and respect cartoons? There are countless cruises with these well-known characters on board, whether your youngster is a fan of Marvel Avengers or Disney princesses.

On Disney cruises, princesses and superheroes from Star Wars and Marvel join Mickey, Minnie, and Jack Sparrow for character brunches and other events.

However, other lines may bring movies and books to life.

Carnival is offering Seuss at Sea, which will feature appearances by Thing 1 and Thing 2, the Cat in the Hat, and Green Eggs and Ham Breakfasts. Along with a relationship with Lego, MSC Cruises has its own mascot family consisting of Doremi, Mila, Dorebro, and Dorebaby.

To make your board experience even better and more unforgettable, look for such endearing characters on the cruises you have in mind and select one with their favourite amiable faces.

4. When on a family cruise with a baby, look for an onboard nursery

For the majority of popular cruises, the minimum age to sail is typically six months; for longer or more adventurous voyages, it is a year. Make sure to confirm before making a reservation that children are permitted on several premium and expedition cruise lines.

Many cruise companies have play places for young children to enjoy with a parent or guardian, as well as hourly drop-off nurseries for children under three.

Little ones can enjoy age-appropriate toys, soft play areas, and cribs and cots for sleeping on some ships. In addition to hosting interactive playgroups for 18- to 36-month-old infants and their parents, certain nurseries also cater to 6- to 18-month-olds.

Along with parent-led or staff-led parent-tot activities in specified areas, drop-off nurseries are also a popular choice. For this reason, if you are considering a nursery for your child, carefully consider all of your alternatives to choose which is best for you and your family.

5. Family Cruise with Parents Alone Time: Look for Onboard and In-Port Youth Programs watching children

Best Family cruises, family cruises, best cruises for family
(Credit: Sunweb)

A family cruise does not preclude you from making use of the spa or stopping by a winery while in port. When the ship is in port, take into consideration lines that provide drop-off activities onboard. This allows your youngster to play contentedly with friends while you go shopping, diving, golfing, or visiting museums.

Verify again whether there are any port-day fees and whether you can leave the ship while your kids are at the youth club (some ships need one parent or guardian to stay onboard). For instance, Norwegian levies a price to watch children during meals while their parents disembark.

When making your choices, bear in mind that most lines charge for evening group babysitting in the kid’s clubs. For instance, Norwegian’s Late Night Fun Zone is open from 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. and charges an hourly rate per child. Late-night programming is also available from Carnival, Disney, Holland America, Celebrity, MSC, Princess, and Royal Caribbean.

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6. Family Cruise Fun: Take Advantage of Several Pools and Water Play Areas

Splashing and swimming are big family cruise activities. All family-friendly ships have pools; however, some have more areas set aside for aquatic activities than others. Seek for ships that have a water park or several pools. Compared to their elder fleetmates, newer ships typically contain more water-based “wow” elements.

On its most recent and renovated ships, Carnival amps up the excitement with longer slides that twist, snake, and even “flush” patrons. Splash zones and kiddie slides are further features of its WaterWorks play facilities.

Royal Caribbean’s mild H2O Zone is another highlight for young children, as it features miniature pools, water cannons, and geysers that are sure to make them grin. The FlowRider surf simulator is a great way for adults, teenagers, and tweens to practice their surfing techniques.

7. Family Cruise Activities: Don’t Pass Up the Greatest Family-Friendly Onboard Events

Disney cruise
(Credit: The points guy)

The best family-friendly cruise lines have activities and events that both parents and children may enjoy, in addition to kid-friendly clubs and swimming areas.

Athletic pursuits are available on many lines, but Royal Caribbean sports—which include ice skating, rock climbing, ziplining, and surfing—are exceptional. In addition to the SeaPlex, an interior amusement area featuring bumper cars and roller skating, Anthem of the Seas features a deckside version of skydiving called RipCord by iFLY.

Family-friendly events abound on MSC Grandiosa, such as a drone relay race, a dancing contest, and a shipwide espionage experience. Everyone enjoys themselves in the 4D cinemas on many ships and the F1 racing car simulators.

When making your reservation, look through the available activities and select ones that you will love as well as ones that your child or children will appreciate.

8. Family Cruise Entertainment: Acrobats, Ice Shows, and Other Events

Family-friendly evening entertainment is a well-known feature of cruise lines. Not only do entertainment selections vary greatly amongst cruise lines, but they also differ greatly amongst individual ships.

With Princess Cruises, Movies Under the Stars is a concept where movies are screened on deck as you unwind in a lounge chair covered in a blanket. There are outdoor cinema options from Carnival and other lines. Disney thrills both children and adults with its first-run films in its indoor theatre and its stage productions with Disney themes.

Older children like Broadway musicals like “Grease,” “Mamma Mia,” and “Saturday Night Fever” which are now showing on Royal Caribbean. Family-friendly activities, including ice skating, acrobatics, and diving displays, are available aboard some ships.

Whatever the special hobbies of your family or the ages of your kids, there are plenty of entertainment options to choose from. Make sure you select shows or other fun events that will perfectly suit your family’s needs.

9. Family Cruise Dining: Look Into Onboard Family-Friendly Dining Selections

Can You Bring Food on a Cruise ship, are food allowed on Cruise ship, beverage on cruise, snacks on cruise
(Credit: Cruisewatch)

On a cruise ship, nobody goes hungry. Kids of all ages (and their tummies) are pleased with the family-friendly cruise companies’ extended-hour pizza, sumptuous dinner buffets, specialty casual restaurants, and room service. Select onboard dining options that will appeal to the interests of your cruise ship’s family and that are tailored to your dietary requirements.

Does your child have a food allergy or is he or she lactose intolerant? Notify the cruise line in advance of your embarkation day, and while on board, speak with the head waiter. The cruise line can arrange to eat your child’s meals.

For lunch and dinner, most lines include kid-friendly menus. For instance, young cruisers can have mac and cheese, hot dogs, spaghetti and meatballs, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in Carnival’s dining rooms.

Carnival’s kid-friendly dining options include Guy’s Burger Joint, Pizza Pirate, Cucina del Capitano, and SeaDogs on Carnival Breeze and Magic, in addition to their signature restaurants catering to teens and adults.

10. family-friendly cruise accommodations: select family-friendly cruise ship cabins

Think about alternatives for connected cabins, several beds in one cabin, and family-oriented accommodations when selecting a cruise ship and cabin category. Select the layout of the cabin that will work best for you and your family.

For instance, the cabins in Carnival Vista’s Family Harbor range from inside staterooms to suites. The Family Harbor Lounge, which features a breakfast buffet, afternoon snacks, soft serve ice cream, TVs, computer stations, and board games, is free to enter for all guests. If that interests both you and your children, then this could be the best choice for you.

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Choose unique rooms and suites that sleep more than four people if you’re travelling with a large party and are willing to spend more money. Norwegian Cruise Line offers a 500+ square foot, two-bedroom villa in The Haven that sleeps six people on a number of their ships. Benefits from Haven, such as a private pool and sun decks, dining options, and lounges, are available to residents.

11. Cruise Ships for Families: Select the Right Size for Yourself and Your Group

Cruise Secrets, cruise line secrets, Cruise tips
(Credit: The Disney cruise line blog)

The optimum size for you will depend on the ages of your children and the makeup of your family. Larger ships typically have the most lavish amenities for children and teenagers, a wide variety of dining options, and extravagant attractions.

However, during peak seasons, large cruise ships might feel more crowded and be difficult for younger children to manage. This may entail making reservations in advance for specialty restaurants and performances, standing in line at restaurants and elevators, and navigating crowded passageways.

In addition, the smaller ships are typically the older ones, with fewer family-friendly staterooms and balcony cabins, as well as fewer dining options and glitzy upper-deck entertainment. But the majority of lines have modernized their older vessels.

Another thing to think about is that older, smaller ships typically cost less, whereas the large, glamorous new ships tend to book at the top prices.

Not sure which cruise size is best for you? See What’s the Best Cruise Ship Size for You? for more information.

12. Plan a Family Cruise: Choose Locations and Activities You’ll All Enjoy

Since everyone enjoys the beach, cruises to the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico are suitable for travellers of all ages. With its fly fishing, rafting, dog sledging, and kayaking, Alaska tends to draw older children and teenagers more than younger ones.

In the middle, depending on how you arrange your days, are European cruises. Provided your itinerary includes both parks and palaces, small children may be okay—that is, provided you can survive the international travel and the jet lag.

Even teenagers may become bored with a lot of museums and historical locations when they are little children. When planning an itinerary for active teens, make sure there are lots of opportunities for bike excursions, hiking, and water activities.

You might also choose to leave from a nearby port. You will automatically save on the expense of travel and the inconveniences of flying if you drive on your cruise. Additionally, you can bring as much luggage as you can (this is useful when travelling with strollers and diapers).

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