10 Tips for Safe and Fun Family Cruising

Colorful waterslides. Dancing cartoon characters. All-you-can-eat-pizza and ice-cream. What may sound like a description of kid’s wildest dream is actually a list of the amenities featured on common cruise lines like Carnival, Disney, and Norwegian. With oodles of kid-friendly features offered alongside luxurious spa facilities, fine dining, and interesting activities, cruises are an attractive choice when vacationing with kids.

 

Colorful waterslides. Dancing cartoon characters. All-you-can-eat-pizza and ice-cream. What may sound like a description of kid’s wildest dream is actually a list of the amenities featured on common cruise lines like Carnival, Disney, and Norwegian. With oodles of kid-friendly features offered alongside luxurious spa facilities, fine dining, and interesting activities, cruises are an attractive choice when vacationing with kids.

 

Here are ten tips for ensuring your family cruise is safe and worry-free as well as fun and memorable.

 

Involve your kids in the planning.

 

If this is your children’s first cruise, it’s important to help them understand what to expect. Keep in mind that cruise ships are a new and oftentimes overwhelming experience for kids, and the disruption from daily routines can be upsetting—particularly for very young ones. Prepare your children for the adventure by showing them pictures of the ship and its destinations. Get them excited for the trip with tales of the cruise’s kid-friendly amenities, and plan what activities and excursions you’d like to do together as a family.

 

Double-check age restrictions.

 

Most cruise lines—including Carnival Cruise Lines and Azamara Club Cruises— require passengers to be at least six months old before setting sail. Some exceptions include Disney Cruise Line, which allows children as young as 12 weeks aboard, and MSC Cruises, which opens its decks to all ages.

 

Onboard, many ships restrict their kids’ clubs and other supervised activities to children over the age of three, and most ships require that little ones be potty-trained to swim in the pool. Visit your cruise line’s website to check out its particular age restrictions.

 

Book the right cabin for your family.

 

To choose an appropriate cabin for your family, compare the floor plans of the various options. Many ships feature family cabins that sleep up to four, complete with pull-down bunk beds and pull-out sofas. These standard family rooms do not usually come with a bathtub (with the notable exception of Disney cabins, which are equipped with a convenient full bathroom and a half).

 

Consider upgrading to a suite or higher cabin type if a bathtub is important to your family. Such rooms often come with luxuries such as a separate kids’ room, expedited boarding, and more space for a crib or playpen.

 

Alternatively, if you have teenagers and older kids, booking adjoining cabins might be an appealing and economical option.

 

Pack wisely.

 

Make sure you pack all the basics, including toiletries, swim suits, and active-wear. As a parent, you are probably familiar with your child’s unique needs—bring along any beloved toys, special formulas, and plenty of diapers. Other useful items include antibacterial wipes, seasick medication, and bug spray. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun hats are particularly important. The last thing you want is your little one holed up in the cabin for most of the trip – and you stuck with them – because they suffered a bad sunburn.

 

Though your kids might want to bring along their iPods and video game players, it’s wise to leave valuables at home in order to avoid cruise-related theft. Remember, there will be plenty of fun activities onboard.

 

Supervise kids closely around the pool.

 

10 Tips for Safe and Fun Family Cruising - Supervise Kids Closely Around the Pool

 

Most cruise lines do not provide lifeguards for their swimming pools and water parks. To ensure safe swimming, discuss water safety tips and pool rules with your family beforehand. Never leave your children unsupervised in or around the water—young ones should always be within arm’s reach. Don’t rely on flotation devices or older siblings as replacements for parental supervision. You may feel like nothing can happen to your child in a cruise’s pool or waterpark area because it’s enclosed, but accidents and even drowning deaths can and do happen.

 

Supervise kids closely around the buffet.

 

Cruise ship buffets abound with kid-friendly dishes and treats, from chicken fingers to make-your-own sundaes. With so many temptations available around the clock, kids are likely to overindulge without the guidance of their parents. Help your kids to make smart meal choices and you won’t have to worry about dealing with sugar crashes and stomach aches.

 

You should also talk to them about avoiding any foods that look older or otherwise slightly off. No parent wants their child to get food poisoning – especially when you’re in the unfamiliar confines of a cruise ship. And if your youngsters have any food allergies, be sure to advise the cruise line in advance, and remind the service and childcare staff once onboard.

Choose age-appropriate shore excursions.

 

Though they might sound appealing to you, not all kids will enjoy a day-long hike through the mountains or a tour of a history museum. Some safe bets for family-friendly excursions include trips to the beach, kayaking, and swimming with dolphins. Talk to your kids to decide on the best activities for your family.

 

Arrange a babysitter.

 

Alternatively, many cruises offer babysitting and supervised-activities onboard while the ship is in port. Though such programs may charge a fee, they enable you to enjoy adult-friendly excursions such as wine-tasting and golf while your kids play safely and contentedly onboard. Some ships also offer teen excursions, where teens can sightsee and explore in the company of their peers under the supervision of qualified staff. Similarly, many ships offer babysitting services and supervised “kid parties” at night, so parents can share a romantic dinner or enjoy an evening of dancing on their own.

 

10 Tips for Safe and Fun Family Cruising - Arrange a Babysitter

 

Follow these tips and you and your little ones should be able to have a trip that’s unforgettable for all the right reasons. But if you or your child does get injured or sick due to the negligence of the cruise line, you shouldn’t have to pay for their mistake. Talk to an experienced cruise line injury lawyer as soon as possible to go over your options.

 

About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”