Looking for a Cruise for the Kids? Here is Your Plan for an Enjoyable Vacation!
So you're looking for a cruise for the kids but aren't quite sure about how to ensure an enjoyable trip for all? Here are the must do's and tips to help ensure everyone enjoys a 'Trip of a Lifetime'!
Haven't cruised with the kids before? Stop fretting and go for it. With the proper planning, research and following the tips below, parents and kids can all enjoy a memorable vacation. But there is one prerequisite when planning the family cruise, "The Kids Come First".
If you are looking for a vacation for some significant mom and dad along time, a family cruise may not be the best choice. Remember, for much of your vacation you will be in a confined area with predefined activities and schedules already determined for you. However, you can find cruises and cruise lines that cater to your family and this will make your vacation a much more enjoyable time for the entire family.
The first step in planning a family cruise is to understand what your children enjoy and find a cruise line that provides kids activities that your children enjoy.
It goes without saying that a high-end luxury cruise may not be the best for your family as these types of cruises often don't cater to the young or very-young. There is a reason that Disney cruises are so popular with families. Disney cruises cater to the kids. When on a cruise, if the kids are happy, mom and dad can better enjoy their vacation as well.
Whether booking online or with a travel agent in person, don't sign up for a cruise until you have researched the potential cruise line yourself. As an example, in a recent article in a local newspaper, a traveler and her family booked with Royal Caribbean after assurances from the on-line booking agent that the cruise did offer baby-sitting. Not until the family got onboard did they realize that there is no guaranteed baby-sitting and any baby-sitting provided was done by the crew on their off-time, and only if the crew felt like earning some extra money. Some cruise lines also have age boundaries for baby-sitting eligibility. If you are looking for baby-sitting onboard, make absolutely sure that the cruise lines offers a guaranteed baby-sitting service and make sure your kids are eligible.
OK. Enough of the general tidbits. Here are the planning tips that can help help you research your cruise for the kids and make your cruise a positive, memorable vacation:
Scheduled Kids Activities
If your children aren't quite ready to spend long periods of time aware from mom and dad, take this into consideration when looking for that perfect cruise. In general, the well organized kids programs provide an excellent way for the kids to have a great time and to provide mom and dad some time to explore the ship activities on their own. Make sure you understand the schedules available for kid related activities. If you have a family that doesn't enjoy getting up in the mornings on vacation, and all of the kids activities are scheduled for early mornings, keep this in mind during your research.
Take the time to find internet reviews for the ships that you are considering that offer kid focused activities. In general, you will find that picking the right ship was the single most important decision when ensuring that both the kids and mom and dad have a great time.
Consider the location of the stateroom in relation to the elevators, stairs and the size of the ship. If you are looking to cruise on a large ship, a room nearer the elevators and/or in the middle of the ship can help make the navigation of the large vessel much easier when you have several little ones in tow.
Also, generally the storage available in a cruise stateroom is minimal so pack as lightly as possible. Often the only place to put unpacked luggage is a tiny closet or on a spare chair. Again, check into the cruise line and stateroom you are considering. Some rooms do offer under-bed storage plus other cabin amenities that aren't available on other cruise lines.
Lastly, realize that depending on the cruise line and stateroom you choose, you may only have a shower in the bathroom. If you youngsters are use to taking a bath and have never taken a shower, take this into consideration when planning and preparing for the trip.
Want to Dine Early? Then Book Early!
If you are traveling with kids that like or need to eat early, be aware that the early seatings on ships that have multiple dinner times often fill up very quickly and far in advance of the actual departure date. Often these early seatings are filled 2-3 months in advance, or more, of the actual cruise so be aware of your dining preferences. If you need to ensure that you have an early dining time available for your family, check on the specific cruise sailing that you are investigating to ensure space is available.
There is More on the Menu Than Just the Kids Options
Many cruises also offer dining options that serve up mega, buffet-style dining in a very casual atmosphere. Here, the kids can sample from a variety of items they tend to enjoy while the adults can usually find hot or cold entrees that also please their pallet.
Stay Casual With Kids
Most cruises are casual, but often even the casual cruise can have one or two formal nights. Of course, you always have the option to skip the formal nights, but if your kids enjoy that type of thing, it may be fun for everyone to dress up once for a more 'formal' dinner.
However, if you kids are like mine, the more basic the dress, the better. In fact, most cruises are intended to be casual so let the kids have fun with their clothes. Here are a few tips to ensure that you have the right attire. First, know the dress code for the cruise and cruise line that you will be taking. Usually a simple wardrobe will suffice. For example, on a warm climate cruise, casual collared shirts and khaki shorts will do fine. The kids can hang out in swim suits and tee shirts around the pool but they will need something in addition to this for eating and gaming. Don't forget about the evenings, however, as any warm climate cruise may still have cool evenings on the ocean. In this case, one light jacket or sweater for each family member would suffice.
If you are taking a cruise in a colder climate you will obviously need a different type of wardrobe, but again, keep it simple and let the kids have fun in choosing their clothes to bring along.
Find the Water and Lemonade and Skip the 'All You Can Drink' Soda Cup
If the Kids are Diapered, Bring the Bag
Don't Forget to Bring the Kids Medications
To Car Seat or Not To Car Seat
Seasickness, No Fun!
If you are very concerned about the possibility of becoming seasick, check with your doctor as there are prescriptions available to help prevent the normal feeling of seasickness. There are pills you can take or anti-motion sickness patches that you can wear. Many cruisers wear these patches so don't hesitate to do so yourself or have your kids wear one. Also, the larger the ship, generally the less motion you will feel. If you want to do all you can to prevent the possibility of seasickness, sail on the largest ship you can find.
Cabins more in the middle of the ship and lower in the ship will sometimes help reduce the amount of bouncing and swaying you may feel. Of course this is no guarantee. Check with the cruise line or your travel agent to help find the best cabin location for your circumstance.
Dry Skin Alert
Go For It!
If you are researching any cruise in the Asia or Pacific region, www.asia-cruise-info.com has all of the information you need for kids and adults.
Enjoy the Journey!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Bechel is the owner of Asia Cruise Info - http://www.asia-cruise-info.com - the largest dedicated web site for cruising in the Asia and South Pacific regions. Paul has worked with the largest travel companies in the world for years and brings the highest level of customer service to his customers.