You’ve been on cruises in the past, but now it’s time to bring the kids along. If you are used to going on a cruise with friends or with your partner, know that family cruises are a whole different experience.
There is a lot more to consider (and a lot more to pack!) when your children are coming to enjoy the cruise with you.
Take some time to research the cruise lines, and find one that fits your family’s needs. The extra preparation will be worth it once you hop on board. Use these tips from our cruise experts to help you get started.
Three Key Considerations When Choosing the Right Family Cruise
When in doubt, look for the cruise lines that cater to families. (Disney Cruise Line is often the top option, but there are many others to choose from.) All-inclusive packages just may be the trick to keeping everyone in your family entertained.
Whatever cruise lines and packages you’re eyeing, there are three key considerations when initially choosing the right family cruise.
Check the Menus
Cruise ships have plenty of options for feeding your family, but be sure to take a close look at dining options and what packages suit your family’s diet and schedule. Pay attention specifically to when food is offered onboard.
Some cruise ships are more flexible than others. There are ships that limit when your children can grab food and charge for room service outside of those periods, for instance.
Register for Activities Ahead of Time
Cruises are self-contained, but it’s unwise to think that you can just let your children “run free.” Even on the smaller ships, your kids could run into trouble or get hurt. Slipping near the pool or interacting with the wrong guest could result in injury.
Plan to keep your kids close by during your trip. If you do want to have some free time without them, look for cruise lines with “kids clubs” or “teen clubs.” These clubs offer age-appropriate activities run by professionals onboard.
Still, be sure to set aside some time to talk to your kids about these activities and what is and is not allowed on the ship. Parents often find it helps set the tone for a safe and fun-filled trip!
Other On-Board Childcare Services
Many cruise lines offer an onsite nursery or babysitting services, too. Staff can easily take young children off of your hands for a night or even just an evening so you can enjoy a date or party with your adult friends.
Quick Tips for Taking a Family Cruise
Once you’ve found the perfect cruise ship for your family, it’s time to pack and plan. We’ve got three quick tips to help make your trip run more smoothly: book early, pack light, and bring cash.
Book Your Sail Date Early
If you plan on going on a cruise during the summer, you’re not alone. Book your dates early to get the best spot during the busy season for families. Signing up for alerts from the lines you’re interested in can also help you take advantage of the best deals and timing.
Pack as Light as You Can
Unless you upgrade to a family cabin, you might find yourself in close quarters. Extra suitcases lying in the middle of your cabin might be a trip hazard or just a stressful sight. Don’t pack more than one outfit for each activity or dinner.
Bring Cash — You’ll Save a Ton
Your kids will want to buy souvenirs and you’ll want to tip staff extra for dealing with your whole family. Take out a hefty amount of cash before you go. Plan for exchanging some cash at international ports to avoid credit card fees.
The Most Important Advice: Keep Your Kids Sailing Safely
This is a completely new and exciting experience for your family. So, as you probably know from experience, all of the excitement can prevent children from remembering the rules and staying safe onboard. Go over the basics with your children and give them a plan if an emergency happens during your vacation. Remember to stress the following:
- Stay safe in swim areas. Look out for signs that say things like “no running” and “no diving” — and adhere to them!
- In fact, regardless of signage, make it a point: no running or screaming This can increase the risk of injury and make you “that family.”
- Should a staff member make you uncomfortable in any way at all, tell someone immediately.
- Don’t talk to strange guests or even official-looking staff members that you’ve never met while with your parents and/or that you don’t know.
If your children can’t give staff members your name, contact information, and a place where you have all agreed to meet on the ship, give them a card to carry during your vacation in case you get separated.
Cruise vacations can be a great way to see the world, try something new, and create a closer bond with your family. Choose well, prepare ahead of time, and most importantly – have fun!
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.