The internet is littered with info about the top-ten family cruises, excellent cruise activities, the latest in accommodations, extravagant shipboard amenities and more. But before you even get there, let’s take a look at the most common mistakes cruise-planning families make and how to avoid them. After all, why take the vacation of a lifetime if you’re not going to do it right? Let’s chat about how to steer clear of these family cruise failures and how to find the very best cruise experience for your deserving family.
Family Cruise Mistake #1: Choosing the Wrong Cruise Line
With the plethora of shiny cruise ships on the high seas, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with choices. The upside is that out of all of these cruise lines, there are plenty that are geared specifically to families. Think family-friendly accommodations, limitless family activities (think climbing walls, mystery dinner theater and bowling), gigantic water slides and entertainment for all ages (family Lego nights and game show evenings). Ask about mealtimes with kids, childcare services and special amenities for little ones (those tiny bathrobes and slippers go a long way in delighting the preschool set). A few ideas to get you started: Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line.
Family Cruise Mistake #2: Setting Yourself Up for Hangry Kids
Do not, we repeat, do not wait too long to solidify your dinner plans on your chosen cruise ship. You know your kids and their culinary inclinations (and patience) best, so give this some serious thought (again, we can help). Dinner is included, but you’ll need to decide where on the ship you’ll want to dine each evening. If you’re choosing an early fixed-time seating in the main dining room, you’ll be guaranteed dinner at a certain time each night, without any waiting. There are bound to be other options as well, such as flexible seating, specialty restaurants and one or more buffets, so it’s fun to sprinkle those in as well. We can assist in making reservations at the earliest opportunity so all you’ll need to do is show up.
Family Cruise Mistake #3: Forgetting In-Room Entertainment
Depending on how on-the-go your family is, you’ll be spending a lot or a little amount of time in your room. Even if it’s just transition time, from pool time to dinnertime (witching hour, anyone?), the youngest in your group will do well to have something to entertain them. There are likely to be times when the kids didn’t get their regular nap and are overtired or are just antsy to get back out there where all the fun is. Plan for low-key activities like books, crayons and paper, puzzles, small floor toys or a child-friendly tablet. Don’t rely on the television in your room because the viewing selection can be limited and not necessarily kid friendly.
Family Cruise Mistake #4: Poorly Planned Shore Activities
Your family cruise is likely to be in a destination you’re excited to explore - think the Caribbean or Alaska. So, in addition to thinking about what you’ll be doing on the ship, you’ll want to give a lot of forethought into what you’ll be doing off the ship. Consider the ages of your children, and their varied interests. Are there activities that are good for all ages? Or particular versions of a shore excursion that are tailored toward families traveling with children?
Read through detailed shore excursion descriptions, paying attention to how you’ll travel, how much physical activity is required and the total length of time you’ll be away from the ship. Is a long bus ride part of the day? Will there be uneven ground not conducive to pushing a stroller or little feet? We can help you parse out the options, keeping in mind that sometimes, it might be best to plan a shore excursion with an independent, local company. These shore tours often offer more flexibility, key to families traveling with kids.
Now that you know what not to do, let’s chat about what to do when it comes to planning your family’s memorable cruise vacation. I can’t wait to meet you.