With an all-inclusive and affordable price, it’s little wonder why cruising has become increasingly popular with families.
I was hesitant prior to my first cruise in 2014. All I could think of was sea sickness and sharing small spaces with thousands of people. But I can honestly say that cruising can be one of the easiest and most enjoyable holidays for families.
First of all, you don’t realise how many passengers are actually onboard – the ships are huge! Secondly, it’s a one-stop-shop – a floating resort with everything you need.
You can relax, experience different cultures, feast as much or as little as you like, dance the night away (OK, maybe not with kids!) and make memories with family and friends.
Do as little or as much as you please.
Why I love cruising
Our first cruise was to the beautiful South Pacific. My eldest was 4 at the time and spent more time in the Kids’ Club than with us (by choice!). Our most recent cruise, a few months ago, was with both kids and my parents to North Queensland.
Travelling with a toddler certainly changed the routine, but with plenty of planning and help from the Grandparents, we all managed to have a fun and memorable holiday.
While I love cruising for the convenience, it is not everyone’s style. The most important thing when planning a family cruise is choosing the right ship.
Here are just a few of the reasons why I love it:
Waking up in a different place nearly every day is what cruising is all about. Experience different cultures without stress or fuss.
You board, you unpack and that’s it! You can visit multiple places on one trip without having to check in and out of hotels every few days. No flight delays, train schedules or packing and unpacking. Just sit back and let the floating resort do the work.
Value for money
You can’t beat it. Your cruise fare includes accommodation, meals, daily onboard activities and entertainment. A lot of cruise travel agents offer onboard credit so it pays to do your research before booking. Extra expenses to factor in include alcohol, internet, shore tours, speciality restaurants and spa treatments.
One of the great aspects of cruising is the free kids’ club. However, depending on the ship, it is usually for 3 years and up. So if you’re like us, you’ll still have a toddler to entertain!
While small, I found the cabins comfortable and well designed, with plenty of storage and luggage space. We stayed in interior cabins on both ships and they suited us fine. Although, I’m sure a balcony would be bliss. Maybe next time.
The days at sea did not disappoint. We filled them swimming, eating and enjoying the abundance of free onboard activities. All ages are catered for with everything from pool sports, golf, fitness classes to trivia, bingo and art auctions. Or if the kids allow it, you can find a quiet deck and enjoy a cocktail by the sea – absolute heaven.
Each night, the ship’s theatre features production shows such as laser shows, musicals, comedians and magicians. Outdoor movies on the pool deck were a favourite for us. We loved it because the kids could run around and be crazy – as they do.
Food food food
Cruises are renowned for their delectable dining – and I understand why. There is a variety of eateries available such as self-serve buffets, fine dining restaurants and casual cafes.
I personally like shore tours when travelling with kids because it’s all organised. We’re told a time and a place and the rest is taken care of. The itinerary is created by people in the know on what is good for families and children.
In saying that, I know a lot of people who prefer to explore the ports on their own. This is also a great option and often much cheaper.
Top 10 tips:
- When looking at shore tours offered on your cruise, be sure to check the minimum age. There often isn’t all of the information available on the ship’s website.
- Have essentials with you when you check in. You may not have access to your luggage for several hours after you board.
- Pack a multi-outlet power strip as power outlets are few and far between.
- Read the daily newsletter for a schedule of the next day’s activities, movies and shows.
- Some cruise lines cap the number of children onboard so book ahead. School holidays book up quickly.
- If you have younger children, consider booking outside of school holidays as they are cheaper.
- Find the best deals. Compare prices and special deals with onboard credit and room upgrades. These deals are usually found through a travel agent.
- Research your options. Where do you want to go? Different ships have different rules when it comes to kids. Many ships don’t allow kids who aren’t toilet trained to swim in the pool.
- Research the ports of call. Check message boards for other travellers’ tips.
- Try and book a room mid ship where there is less motion.
If you’re still unsure, why not do a sampler cruise. 2-3 nights around your city to get the feel of it.