A vacation is supposed to be a relaxing break from the everyday grind of life. We leave behind school, work, and household responsibilities for a weekend, a week, or even two weeks to relax and be entertained.
Going on a cruise is one of the most popular vacation choices among travelers, but what about families? It is always a greater challenge for families to take a vacation, and a cruise cannot possibly be ideal for a family can it?
Going on a cruise is easier than you might think for families. Whether you have toddlers, school-age children, or teens a cruise is a great option. The following tips will help you get your cruise started on the right foot and discover the cruise lines that are family friendly.
The best way to feel empowered is to feel prepared. When you are going on vacation, packing all the right stuff will leave you prepared to tackle anything that might come up on your trip. Start off by packing light on clothes.
Why? Many cruise ships offer laundry services, and if you pack light on clothes you’ll have plenty of room for your toddlers favorite toys, “lovies”, diapers, bottles, and formula. This ensures you’ll have lightweight baggage with you, but still have all the tools you need for a successful trip for Mom, Dad, and toddler.
Secure Proper Arrangements
If at all possible, request that the cruise line provides you with the best possible room for your family. An example of a good cabin for a family with a toddler is one that has a balcony attached. This allows Mom and Dad a little space to escape to while the toddler takes a mid-day nap to recharge their battery.
Also, try to request a room near the laundry room on the ship. This will make it easier to run down to the laundry and get some clothes washed without have to traverse the entire ship in the process.
Take Time to Explore
A cruise is a great escape for couples, but everyone needs alone time too. Don’t be afraid to explore all the amenities your cruise line has to offer. Take turns having “Mommy” or “Daddy” time with your toddler to give your spouse some time to just sit and relax, go lay by the pool, or take a nap.
It doesn’t have to be long, an hour or two at most, and it will help everyone remain fresh and energized throughout the trip.
Now that you have an idea what the cruise experience itself will be like, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the cruise lines that are particularly family-friendly. Some cruise lines have a target market (singles, couples, families), while others do not. The following are five of the best cruise lines for families with toddlers.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines have a minimum age to sail set at six months for most cruises. Their transatlantic, Hawaii, and South American courses have a minimum age of 12 months.
Family friendly features include Camp Carnival for kids to play while Mom and Dad explore, pagers to ensure parents can be contacted immediately, and family play times available in play areas.
The cruises even offer babysitting services for children younger than two during certain hours of the day. The cost is $6 for the first child, $4 for the second.
The minimum age to sail on Cunard differs by route. Children have to be at least 12 months old for Atlantic crossings and certain exotic itineraries, but there are routes where six months is the minimum age.
Cunard offers complimentary babysitting services, including late night babysitting so Mom and Dad can go on a date. The nurseries on board have everything needed to care for toddlers, and preschool aged children have access to activities such as pajama parties, treasure hunts, and Minnow and Splash pools to enjoy the water safely.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
The minimum age to set sail with NCL is six months old and your toddler will find no shortage of fun-filled kiddy activities once on board. All NCL ships have a Kid’s Crew play area with ball pits, tunnels, and jungle gyms to get lost in.
The cruise line also offers nighttime babysitting rooms specifically for two to five year olds, removing rowdy older kids from the room to allow a quiet sleeping space for toddlers. There is also group babysitting available on NCL ships. Babysitting services are not complimentary though and cost $6 per hour for the first child and $4 per hour for the second.
The minimum age to sail on Royal Caribbean is six months for many itineraries, but transatlantic, transpacific, Hawaiian, and South American routes have a minimum age of 12 months. There are two 45 minute group sessions for children available on all ships, Royal Babies (six to 18 months) and Royal Tots (18 to 36 months).
There are also in-cabin babysitting services available on all ships. The cost is $10 per hour for two children, $15 per hour for three children, and the service is dependent upon availability.
Disney Cruise Line
Last, but certainly not least, is the top family cruise line out there. Disney’s minimum age to set sail is just 12 weeks old. Disney offers daycare services for children of any age on board its ships. Nurseries are available for the youngest sailors, play areas for toddlers, and babysitting services so Mom and Dad can relax alone.
Disney’s childcare services book up quickly though and travelers are encouraged to book hours online before their cruise. Parents can book up to 10 hours of daycare in advance and 15 hours in total on a given cruise.