Cruises are a great option when it comes to travel time with the whole family, not only in convenience (unpack once to see the world!) but also value and adventure. There’s something-for-everyone with diverse options aplenty for the whole family. The key to make the most of the at-sea getaway with the brood and be stress-free is to properly prepare and plan before you travel.
Here are a few before-you-go tips for a cruise with the family:
A cruise that caters to the whole family.
Several major cruise lines have made excellent business out of not just tolerating, but wholeheartedly catering to families with kids in tow. Opt for one of them, and you’ll be tasked less when it comes to organizing friendly activities, excursions, accommodations and dining options.
Look for big ships brimming with bells and whistles to wow people of all ages without busting your budget. Carnival, Disney, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean International cruise lines are a few of the industry’s very best bets.
But there are several other under-the-radar options that are equally impressive. You can consider the voyages from Lindblad Expeditions (in partnership with National Geographic) or European river cruises aboard AmaWaterways that are equally active and adventure-driven expeditions.
Remember that there’s a wide range of appeal and preferences related to pricing across cruise lines. Do enough research beforehand to ensure that the ship you finally pick is a good match for your family’s ages and interests — and for your budget, too!
Test the waters with a shorter itinerary
A long cherished dream of a two-week-long Panama Canal crossing or expedition to Antarctica is probably not best suited for a family outing. It’s better to play it safe and test the waters on your first family sailing in a voyage that’s of shorter duration.
Most major cruise lines offer three- to five-night cruises to destinations such as the Bahamas, Caribbean, Bermuda and Mexico. Short-and-sweet and fun-in-the-sun, yet perfect if any family member ends up being seasick or overwhelmed and you have to jump ship sooner than later.In addition, these quickie cruises leave from close-to-home ports, easy-access, such as Los Angeles, Miami or New York. This can potentially save a lot on expensive airfare for the whole family.
Scheduling your trip (Or Not)
Embracing flexibility is the key. Have a loose itinerary and factor in lots of downtime. Resist over-scheduling your cruise vacation with a million plans that a tired-out posse might ultimately lay waste.
Most importantly try and forgo the regular at-home routine and deviate from their normal schedules. Instead be flexible enough to favor napping when you’re tired, eat when you’re hungry and getting off the ship when you’re ready.
If you sign up for group shore excursions when traveling to some interesting new places try to opt for those that are family oriented. For instance, selecting shorter ones can help avert meltdowns. You can opt to stay on the ship while it’s in port. It’s a great chance to enjoy the facilities while everyone else is off exploring leaving you lots of elbow room to spare.