Cruise Vacations with Kids
Finding the Right Cruise Line for Travel with Children
By: Kelby Carr on: Tue 03 of Jul, 2007 [23:28 UTC] (1740 reads)
Cruise vacations with kids can be a wonderful getaway. You have a contained, and rather safe, environment. The parents and kids can see sites and cities with ease. You won't stay in any destination long enough for kids to get bored. Not all cruise lines are created equal when it comes to families. Here are tips to find the perfect cruise vacation with kids.
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While many cruise lines claim to welcome kids, or boast of their activities for kids, parents need to read between the lines and check policies very closely.
No Babies on Board the Cruise Ship
Even some cruise lines with extensive kid programs don't even allow infants and babies on board at all. It is not odd for a cruise line to ban any guests under the age of 1. Those that do aren't necessarily baby-friendly.
Just try to find baby food, formula or diapers on board (you'll have to pack heavily for these, since you can only buy more at ports). You may have to improvise with cruise ship buffet mashed potatoes or some other creative baby dishes. Rooms are already notoriously small on cruise ships. Add a crib, and it can be hard to move. Very few rooms have bathtubs as well.
Some cruise lines claim they have babysitters and nurseries, but they only watch children ages 2 or 3 and over. Many do not change diapers, rendering the services useless to many parents. Be sure you check a cruise line's policies on minimum age for guests and for services before you book.
The Kids on Board Bargain with Cruises
The good news is some of the smallest passengers get a great break on booking prices. In many cruise lines, babies only pay taxes and fees or a small stipend.
The good news is, since they don't require their own rooms or beds (and you already know about the food), they really aren't much of a burden to the cruise line. As children get older and require their own rooms, the bargain aspects disappear.
Kid Activities on a Cruise Vacation
Plenty of cruise lines have extensive programs for children, which is wonderful if your kid qualifies. The problem is, again, there are often minimum age rules and bans on diaper changing.
Be sure your child will be able to participate before you book. You should also examine a schedule of activities for the ship to be sure they are age-appropriate for your children.
The Kid Cruising Time
When we took an 11-day New England and Canada autumn cruise with our daughter, then nine months old, my husband, daughter and I were the three youngest passengers on board (by many decades).
We later learned from other families there are certain tactics to cruise with our fellow families. Even if your children are too young for school, try to travel in summertime when most families cruise.
Avoid the longer cruise itineraries, too, which families tend to avoid and attract more of a senior citizen crowd less confined by vacation time.
Reasons to Cruise with Kids
While cruise lines still haven't caught up to the family demographic, cruising itself is inherently family friendly. You have a confined environment, and can be more relaxed about kids playing and roaming.
You have a mix of downtime on the ship to bond, and off-board time to learn and discover. It is a rare chance to spend quality time with your children.
Just be sure you check first and confirm that cruise line, or cruise itinerary, is truly family friendly. If you don't like a cruise ship's policy, tell them that's why you're booking elsewhere. The more noise we parents make, the more cruise lines will meet families' needs.
Originally published on Suite101 Family Travel.