Cruise Tips / 6 Waves to Family Cruises

ShipsAhoy provides 6 tips to keep in mind for your next family cruise vacation!

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By: Ilona Kauremszky

Family cruising doesn’t have to have hiccups and nightmares. With blended families, single parents, and the trend of grandparents opting to take their grandchildren to sail the high seas, there’s a roster of cruise companies with family-themes.

Matthew Phillips, director of Travel for AARP Services, recommends traditional ocean cruises as a safe bet when it comes to multigenerational travel. “Megaships are full of activities,” he says.

Here are 6 ways to smooth sailing with the Fam.

1. Roomy Rooms

Families never seem to have enough space. Ditto on ships. Request for connecting rooms so you have access to your kids without making an unnecessary jaunt down the ship’s hallway or request for those “Special Access” rooms. These cabins will be typically at the end of the ship and offer more space than a standard room.

2. Food

Every parent’s nightmare, “What’s there to eat that my child will enjoy?” which is generally followed by, “Where should we eat tonight?” Try to eat at the same restaurant. The staff will get to know your kids preferences. Familiarity means more details will be satisfied, leaving everyone a happy diner.

3. Strollers 

Some ships have them, some don’t. Collapsible strollers like the BabyZen YOYO make good travel buddies for parents with toddlers. They fit in the overhead storage on a plane and they will easily fit inside your cabin closet or under the bed.

4. Kids Programs

Here’s a shout out to cruises with Kids Programs. While on the pricier side most parents are familiar with the Disney brand and its cruises. However, many ships do offer some kind of child-friendly component. Royal Caribbean has Adventure Ocean Youth Programs, Baby Splash Zones and sports like ice skating, rock climbing and ziplines. Norwegian Cruise Lines has the Splash Academy and Entourage plus activities like water slides, Wii Wall and a rock wall.

5. Packing

A parent’s worst nightmare: not having luggage arrive on the cruise departure day due to some airline mix-up. So there you are left without all the necessary accoutrements. Consider distributing family clothing evenly so you have some of everyone’s clothes in each bag. For those messy surprises that inevitably will occur pack a small Ziploc of laundry detergent powder. For Instagram parents Jonathan and Sascha of The Yes Family travelling with their two infant children, they often delay laundry until the ship announces a special ‘fill the bag’ rate midway through the cruise. “If you can hold off until then you can get a better deal, and that’s how we do laundry on a cruise ship.”

6. Pricing

Who doesn’t want to save loonies booking a family cruise? Here are a few workarounds. Ask what kind of ‘specials’ or offers cruise lines offer families. Maybe it’s Wi-Fi minutes or other options. Watch for promos like “Kids Sail Free,” and 2-for-1 deals. Keep dates flexible. Off-peak cruises will get the best deal possible but do some homework. The Caribbean, for instance, has off-season cruises in hurricane season. I once endured a rocky Caribbean cruise then. Couples hit the dance floor as the kids danced the Macarena. Each swell felt like a new dance move.

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