I’ve recently been hearing a lot about family cruises, and it sparked my curiosity. I’ve actually never considered one up until now, but I can certainly see the appeal. Visiting several countries during one trip, amazing ships to cater to your every whim and dedicated kids’ clubs for all ages. Family cruises are not only child friendly on-board but the destinations and tours are often especially designed for families too.
Tips for Cruising with Kids
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Lisa Jane from Travel Loving Family has not only worked on cruise ships in the past but has taken her own family on a cruise recently. She describes why she thinks cruises are great for families.
“From working onboard P&O Cruises for three years managing the shore excursions programme I was very aware of how well the cruise industry caters for children – family friendly shore excursions, kids’ clubs, family entertainment onboard etc.
It wasn’t until we recently cruised as a family for the first time that I appreciated quite how well cruising works for families.
My husband and I particularly loved that we could travel from Southampton port, avoiding jet lag and long flights. We unpacked once and settled our kids into one cabin and yet explored five ports in different countries. T
he evening night nursery and kids buffet dinner also meant that we enjoyed child free quality time together every evening! We will definitely be cruising as a family again.”
Family friendly cruise companies
There are many cruise deals out there to choose from and some amazing deals to be had. Look out for money saving deals such as 25% off all cruises, 25% for children and free money to spend.
There really are cruises for children of all ages, including family orientated Disney cruises which sail away to lush warm destinations, (for Disney cruise price information see here.) P&O cruises provide great value for money and Royal Caribbean offer some more action packed entertainment.
Some other well known companies which provide family cruises include Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian Cruise Line, Thomson, MSC and Princess.
Frequently Asked Questions About Family Cruises.
What age can I travel with my baby on a cruise?
Many companies state that a baby must be over 6 months and some holidays or cruises may have a minimum requirement of 12 months. Always check with your company before you book to find out the best cruises for babies.
What facilities do family-friendly cruise ships have?
These vary from cruise ship to cruise ship. P&O family-friendly ships for example have extensive children’s facilities including various kids clubs for ages from 2-17, a complimentary night nursery, family cabins with a refrigerator, special children’s tea every night.
Princess family cruises offer youth centres from ages 3-12 with fun activities such as t-shirt colouring, art projects, ice-cream and pizza parties. Older teens are well looked after with PS and Wii games, mocktail competitions, dance parties, DJ workshops to include just a few of the many activities.
For all children on a Princess cruise, kids clubs are also included and additionally, some educational and fun activities such as whale watching, chemistry experiments and squid dissection. Fridges are also supplied in every room.
What destinations do family cruises visit?
The world is your oyster! You can find cruises which explore all over the world. Cruise packages range from exploring Europe and stopping at places such as the Canary Islands, Lisbon, Madeira, Gibraltar, Barcelona, Corsica, Cannes, Marseille, Corfu, Athens, Venice, Florence, Croatia, Norway. This list is by no means exhaustive! If the Caribbean is more appealing, you can visit some stunning places including the Bahamas, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, St Kitts, Honduras, Jamaica, Grand Cayman to name a few.
Can I mix up a cruise with flights and/or a stay?
Yes, you can pretty much find a deal to suit the needs of your family. For example you could fly to Orlando and visit all the attractions there, and then board a cruise at Port Canaveral and cruise the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands.
How much do cruises cost?
Cruise packages obviously vary depending on the length of cruise,the location of the cruise, the cabin type, the star rating of the ship etc. An additional cost to consider are also the tips- check whether they are included in the price.
An example of a cruise which involves flying from the UK to the USA for an Orlando, Nassau, Bahamas, St Maarten, Philipsburg, Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas trip for a family of 4 for 9 nights, including flights, all accommodation, all meals on-board, kids activities on a 5 star ship costs from £5,802. (Prices correct as of Nov 2016)
An example of a mediterranean family cruise leaving from Tilbury UK, calling at Gibraltar, Arrecife, Lanzarote, Las Palmas, Santa Cruz Tenerife, Funchal, Madeira, Lisbon for 14 nights for a family of four costs from £2,599. (Prices correct as of Nov 2016)
What else should I consider before booking my family cruise?
- Be aware that only certain pools on-board will be suitable for use if your child is wearing swim nappies.
- Plan where you would like your cabin to be. if you have young children, a cabin nearer the kids’ club, pool etc may prove helpful!
- Check how kid-friendly the excursions are before you book.
- Confirm the opening hours of the kids’ club and babysitting facilities.
- Confirm meal times and options available if you can’t make those times.
- Unless you have a balcony, the windows don’t usually open. So if you fancy some fresh air in your room, consider one of these cabins.
- For a full review of what a kids club on a cruise is like- read Yorkshire Wonders experience of the Emerald Princess on Princess Cruises.
- For some excellent tips for first timers see here.
- For a packing list specific for cruises try Tapped Out Travellers guide.
- For some further specific tips for taking a baby or toddler on a cruise, have a look at Tinbox Traveller’s post.
- For some great information regarding the food you can expect- read Zena’s informative post here.
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