You heard me right, my friends. In my opinion, one of the best family vacations with kids is a luxury cruise.
1. One of the best facts is that some cruise lines let young kids go free or for reduced rates. Between January 22 and May 28, kids sail free on most of Disney Cruise Line’s 3-night cruises when accompanied by two full-fare paying adults. Such lines as Norwegian and Carnival also offer shorter cruises with kids going free or with deep discounts.
2. Typically, for many cruise lines, 10-day cruises or longer attract an older crowd, 2-3-day cruises attract party-hearty adults, and 6-7-day cruises include more kids and kid friendly programs. So choose accordingly (unless, of course, you cruise on Disney).
3. Most cruise lines have children’s/teen programs to offer. The lines include Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, Celebrity and Cunard. Check with other cruise lines regarding their offerings. Most ships, thus, offer a parent/child orientation with the youth supervisors on the first day of the cruise. Take advantage of the crucial information they offer. Program quality may differ to some extent, and it may be important to ask exactly what each program actually offers and whether it keeps kids busy all day as well as evenings. (Also, if you have kids in diapers or newly potty trained, make sure in advance the ship offers a program for them).
4. What about lodging arrangements? Some cruises have cabins that are large enough to sleep five; others have adjoining cabins. But, if not, be aware that cell phones do not work on the ships. If your cruise line does not offer larger or adjoining cabins, it is probably crucial that you buy walkie-talkies your family can use. The walkie-talkies can also be extremely handy whether in the cabin, separated on ship, or engaging in shore excursions.
5. Ocean liners are even larger than you probably imagine, so walk the entire ship with your kids when you board so they can become even a little more comfortable. Take your younger kids to the children’s program each day and pick them up when it’s over. There’s a really good chance they’ll get hopelessly lost if they try to navigate the ship alone. Also, it’s a good idea, if your older kids are wandering the ship, that they write on a pad in the room where they are at any given time.
6. Show a little consideration. Don’t allow your children to shriek, run, slam doors, jump on the beds, pound on the walls, etc. Other guests deserve to enjoy their cruise too.
7. Some on-shore excursions may bore the kids to tears (or pouts). Children usually love fish and animals. A visit to an aquarium, underwater sightseeing exhibit, wildlife park, or even a submarine ride will be fun. And you might want to insist that everyone gets together for dinner. Besides possible excursions, it may be about the only time the family is all together.
In view of programs offered for all ages, a cruise may be one of the best family vacations you will ever enjoy.