There is a lot packed into the phrase “family cruise package.” Obviously, someone looking for family cruise packages is considering (or at least researching) family cruises, but they could also be hunting for some sort of discount or other deal, as the word “package” seems to suggest. (When someone books a fight-and-hotel package, for instance, they often do so for the savings.) So, we have two questions to address: can booking a family cruise package save you money, and why might you want to take a family cruise?
The hope that booking a cruise as a family will save you money is probably tied to the belief that the more people you take on a cruise, the cheaper that cruise will be for each vacationer. As our recent article about group cruises explains, though, this is only true to an extent. Generally, a cruise line will offer something like one free cruise for every 15 that are purchased. So, out of a group of 16 people, one person could cruise free. Sometimes this is the person who takes the time to organize the trip, but the discount can also be split among the group members. As you can see, this isn’t a large discount – it is less than seven percent off if 16 people split the savings of the free ticket – and it requires a lot of people, certainly more than the average family. So, it might be difficult to reap the savings associated with group cruises if you are taking a family cruise.
There are, however, occasional discounts for families, although these tend to be based on the type of room you get, which can of course be booked even if you aren’t with your family. At the moment, for example, Carnival is advertising a “Friends and Families Sale,” but all this sale means is that certain rooms that can accommodate more people are discounted. And even if the room isn’t officially discounted, you and your family are getting a “discount” in the sense that two people who share a room get a discount: you are only booking one room, as opposed to rooms for every individual. But this is obvious, and when people are looking for family cruises packages, this probably isn’t what they have in mind.
A group cruise packaged needn’t necessarily be conceived of as a cruise deal at all, though. It could just as easily refer to a standard family vacation that just so happens to be a cruise. Indeed, cruises are quite popular with families because ships have so many different activities for different age levels and interests. There are lots of supervised activities for kids on cruises (movies, live shows, sports tournaments) so parents can safely split from their kids when they wish to go to the spa or dinner, for instance. Some cruise lines are basically built for families, like the Disney Cruise Line. Moreover, a cruise is less travel intensive than many vacations. It might take some effort to get to the port, but once you’re there, everything else is basically taken care of.
So, there are plenty of reasons to look into family cruise packages, but these packages, if they can even be conceived of as a “package,” will often not entail any sort of discount. Occasionally you’ll find discounts on larger rooms, however, and in any case a family cruise is a pretty manageable way to take your kids for a vacation.