June 13, 2021

Kids On-Board – making the most of a family cruise

Kids love cruise ships, and it’s not just for the food!


Going on a cruise vacation might not be your first thought for a family trip. But think about it: accommodation, buffet meals, tons of activities and multiple destinations all wrapped up in one package with the added bonus of only having to unpack once! This means convenience for parents and unlimited fun for kids, so it it unsurprising to see that family cruise vacations are on the rise and the industry in general is one of the fastest developing areas of the travel sector. Having said that, all parents will be aware that when kids are involved no vacation is ever straightforward and like any trip there needs to be a lot of forward planning and considerations made. Here are some tips to ensure that your little sailors are safe and happy on the high seas.

Pick your liner wisely

There are numerous family-friendly cruise liners out there now but doing a little research and seeing what each one has to offer could mean the difference between a good vacation and an amazing vacation for your little ones. One popular choice for families is Disney Cruise Lines who are famous for their large productions, roaming characters and magical wildlife experiences. Others include Norwegian Cruise Line, which takes a more educational approach, and Carnival Cruise Lines, which provides a summer camp experience at sea and highly regarded for their staff. Do be sure to check age restrictions too – even family-friendly ships tend not to allow babies under 12 weeks old to sail and many other liners have age restrictions of 6 months.

Safety

Cruise liners are very safe environments and accidents are rare. Having said that, it is still beneficial for your children to be made aware of the dangers of the sea, slippery decks and anything else you consider to be a potential risk. Children who are old enough may benefit from attending the muster drill and young children and toddlers should not be left unattended on balconies. Small babies may require different safety-wear/life jackets so ask a steward about this when you are on board. When it comes to supervising your older children on board the ship, some liners allow school age children to sign up for their own activities and roam the ship unsupervised. Many parents are happy to give their children a bit of freedom and allow them to take part in kids clubs while they relax.

Accommodation

Your choice of cabin will impact massively on your trip so it is important to find something that is cost effective, safe and practical for the whole family. Interior cabins are usually recommended for families with small children to keep them away from the balconies. Family suites are generally large, will have all you need and often come with extra services such as a butler but this comes at a cost. If you have older children it could be cheaper to book two adjoining cabins but again it is up to you to decide if your kids are responsible enough for this sort of freedom. Before booking, check that your cabin has all you need. Travel cots and high chairs are often available on request but baths do not come as standard in many cabins so if you need one for babies and smaller children do make sure you ask the question before you book.

Packing

If you have been on vacation with your little ones before you will already know how this works; aside from remembering tickets, passports and changing your currency you need to pack for every eventuality and include spares just in case! If you are travelling with babies or toddlers, a well-stocked changing bag is essential as you may be separated from your luggage on embarkation days. Also look into whether or not your ship has laundry services – if so, you don’t have to worry about packing too many spare clothes. Think about your destinations and any excursions you have planned and consider the varying conditions you could be travelling through – this could be the type of holiday where you’re packing sunscreen and sweaters together! Some important extras for the kids can include a cheap camera so they can document their journey, some sea bands to reduce the chance of their getting seasick and a pair of binoculars so they can spend time perusing the ocean and shorelines.

Schedules and routines

Any holiday is bound to disrupt your child’s routine and this can be upsetting, especially for young children. They may cope with the change better if you spend some time in the weeks before your trip telling them about where you’ll be going, showing them brochures and preparing them for the vacation. When on board try to keep bedtimes, nap times and mealtimes as near to they are at home as possible. Of course there will be a little flexibility but tired children are grumpy children. And don’t feel pressured to overdo it in terms of activities and excursions. Of course you’ll want to experience many of the things on offer but if you feel that the kids are becoming tired, then opt out of a stop-off and enjoy some leisure time on the ship. With everyone else onshore the kids will love having the facilities to themselves.