Cruising with your family is the best experience ever. Visiting a new port every day, lots of new and exciting things to see to keep you all busy and entertained.
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But not all ships are for families. It is important to find the right cruise line, ship and itinerary.
If you get it right a family cruise will be an experience you will want to keep repeating year on year.
When Travel Planners asked my why I loved family cruising, and what are my top tips for families taking their first cruise. I thought I would put together a few tips to help families choose the right cruise line and ship for the best family cruise ever.
Start with identifying the best ship for your child’s age.
Kids clubs on cruise ships are incredible, however, some do not have nurseries. If you have tiny people check out which ships have on board crèches (not all do). And some ships will not allow babies in swimming nappies in the pools. We cruised when Joe was in nappies and it can be hit and miss so check before you book. However, don’t let this put you off; cruising with a toddler is incredible and some ships have baby pools.
For older kids the club facilities are incredible, so much fun you have to beg them to stay with you and not go in the club. And if you are worried about leaving them you can take a pager. But trust me they won’t look back; ours never do.
Do your children love characters?
And do they want to meet and greet characters on board? If so, many cruise companies offer this. You can meet anyone from Mickey Mouse at sea; this is a fun addition to cruising. Likewise, I have friends whose children are terrified of characters. Now you can avoid these on character cruises as it is highlighted where the characters will always be in your cruise news. Or you could opt for a character-free cruise.
Does the ship have a great kids pool?
Some kid’s pools at sea are just incredible with water slides and fountains to make the fussiest of kids whoop with delight. Cruise companies put a lot of effort into ensuring their pool facilities are second to none. There are also adult-only pools for a little peace if our little angels want an hour in the kids club.
Look at the sports facilities on cruise ships.
Our two are mega sporty so one of our main focuses is finding a ship with football courts and any extra sports they can try out to keep them busy when on-board. They particularly love surfing and climbing and yes you can do both a sea. I kid you not! Royal Caribbean Ships do this very well.
What are the dining options on cruises for families?
There are so many options, my favourite being the main restaurant however should you want a chilled-out dinner and the kids want to hit the kids club at a time right in the middle of dinner you have several options. Choose an early dining time so you can all dine together. And on some ships, you can dine later but the kids club crew will collect the kids from the dining room allowing you the time to finish your meal at a leisurely pace.
This works for us; the boys will have their main whilst we eat a starter, and dessert as we eat the main and then get collected. Giving us the time to enjoy our wine, dessert and coffee.
Failing that, take them to the buffet restaurant pre-dinner or check out the speciality restaurants on board. Our two love the themed American diners many ships offer.
What About Cruise Drinks Packages?
Drinks packages are such a great way to save money and budget your drinks on your cruise; check out this Ultimate Drinks Package Guide which covers everything you need to know.
Also, check out our post on Cruising With Kids to see that the best drinks packages are on Royal Caribbean. This is a great guide for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks packages.
What cabin is best for families?
Inside cabins are a more affordable option to keep costs down. Or you can opt for an outside cabin to get a great view. If you are doing this look for one with a huge sit-in window, our boys used to spend hours sitting colouring looking out to sea.
If you want something bigger to avoid bunk beds, go for a large family cabin. These are generally at the forward of the ship. They offer a slightly larger cabin with two beds that can convert to a double and a double sleeper sofa and have large porthole windows.
If you are desperate for a balcony but worried about the kiddies falling overboard, most ships do have tiered balcony cabins, such a RCC aft cabins. We love these; it feels a little safer with climbing kids. Of course, the key is not to climb and have the rule that you only go on the balcony with an adult. However, it is better safe than sorry with little people and climbers.
Check out my extensive post and cruise cabin tours on Cruising With Kids for more cruise cabin inspiration for families.
Hope those tips help, cruising is the most wonderful and luxurious way to see the world. And it is all in the planning. Once you do your first family cruise you will never look back. And if you are a little unsure why not have the best of both worlds and start with a cruise and stay holiday. And to help kids navigate around the cruise ship check out my post on how to remember port and starboard.
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