Most folks probably have some great memories of family vacations, and cruising is a fantastic way to spend time together and have new adventures without being cramped in a minivan for hours of travel. But there are likely to also be some moments where you wonder what you were thinking. Consider the following to help you decide if your next family vacation should be a cruise.
Kids Club for Them Means Free Time for You
Just about all of the major cruiselines offer childcare aboard their ships. The hours and any extra fees can vary, but generally, kids clubs are open from early morning until late evening. Kids’ spaces and activities are arranged by age, and go from babies to teenagers. Explore early registration before arriving at the ship; once you’ve set sail, it can be very busy as everyone rushes to sign up their kids on the first day. Leaving your children in the care of responsible adults for a time can offer you a needed break to relax and reconnect with your partner.
No Battling Over Mealtime
Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to fight over a meal? Now imagine that kind of paradise for a whole week. In most cruise ship dining areas, there are kids’ menu options if desired. In addition, the casual service dining areas where buffet options are plentiful have many foods that will be familiar to kids, like the ever-popular chicken fingers, and macaroni and cheese. These buffets are also a great place for kids to try new foods – just a spoonful of jambalaya, southwestern breakfast burritos or vegetable lasagna could sway a kid’s whole palate.
Staterooms are Small
It’s true, the small size of a stateroom is pretty much legendary. One the one hand, kudos to the architect to cram that much into such a small space. On the other hand, did that architect have to spend seven days there with three kids? Chances are good that your family will find a lot to do onboard, actually, and not spend very much time in the stateroom all together except for sleeping. Also, you’ll find that your stateroom attendant is very helpful in setting up the extra bedding (often a drop-down bunk and/or sleeper sofa) and so all anyone will need to do is fall into bed.
For the Littlest Sailors
Unfortunately, nearly all cruise companies restrict sailing to guests age six months or older. This is a pretty rigid rule; even if your baby misses the cut-off by three days and it’s a huge family reunion that you’ll be missing, chances are you’re out of luck. If you do cruise with your baby, make sure to pack swim diapers. They are usually required when small kids use the pool. And call ahead to find out if the pool areas have lifejackets available for kids and if there are lifeguards on duty; some cruise ships have these extras, and some don’t.
There is so much to consider when planning a family vacation on a cruise. It’s a great opportunity for togetherness, and even if it isn’t right for your family right now, it’s always a future possibility.