Are you new to family travel and looking for something manageable? Or are you maybe just wanting a vacation where you are completely spoiled? Either way, a family cruise is the way to go.
It can be an intimidating change, going from childless travel to traveling with children. Some parents can jump in headfirst but if you’re the type that needs a bit more coaxing, we have the perfect solution for you… book one of the many family cruises that the internet offers. You won’t regret it.
Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a newbie, an off the beaten path adventurer or a tour connoisseur, it turns out that a cruise is a perfect way to gently introduce your family to traveling, and still get a bit of adult time with your friends, family or significant other.
We just went on our first cruise. I’m an avid traveler and typically take my son with me all over the world but my husband… he doesn’t get out and travel often. (Yes, I’m ridiculously lucky that he doesn’t mind my son and me taking off all the time.) So after 9 years and a 3-year old together, we finally decided to take the big plunge and book and international trip together… as a family. Wow! I was pretty excited but knew I needed something to ease my hubby into traveling and leave a good impression… something that would make him more open to traveling in the future.
So even though I am an off the beaten path kinda traveler, and had rejected the idea of a cruise for almost 20 years, I tamed things down and booked a Southern Caribbean cruise for the 3 of us. I expected the worse so I buffered it with 6 days in Puerto Rico, thinking of it as my consolidation prize. In all honestly though, this family cruise was amazing. We all enjoyed it and here’s why…
- No Stress – a cruise is seriously, no stress. Everything is taken care of for you… you don’t ever have to lift a finger if you don’t want to. Our room was cleaned 100 times a day…. ok ok, like 2-3 times a day. The crew was so kind and gracious, everyone had tiptop manner and smiles for you. They remembered your name and preferences… it was very impressive. You go out if you want, stay in if you don’t. You are really treated like royalty on a cruise… spoiled rotten.
FOOD, Food, food – there’s food everywhere. Buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner, PLUS formal dining and little café like spots that had varieties of food such as a Mongolian Wok, Deli Sandwiches and Wraps, Mexican Bar, 24-hour pizza and ice cream… I could go on and on. It was crazy. I gained 2 lbs in 8 days. Haha The best part was though, that we tend to get hungry at different times and there was always something available. And the last day they had a chocolate explosion buffet… it was amaaaaaazing.
Activities – if you book with a cruise line that specializes in family cruises, there is always something planned or somewhere to go… if you want. Dance parties, charity drives, trivia, yoga, comedy clubs, Vegas-style shows, the casino, many choices of live music all the time, teen activities, photo booths, the arcade, a gym (yeah, right), multiple pools for both adults and kids-only, a water slide, hot tubs, a spa, adult-only areas, a kids club, shopping, a piano bar, a cigar bar, bingo, meet-n-greets for singles, veterans, and more, outdoor movies on the deck, and occasional fireworks… I could go on and on here, too. This doesn’t even include the island stops and excursions.
The Islands – wow wow wow… the Southern Caribbean is amazing. I’ve never seen cleaner, bluer water. Even in the boat ports, the water was see-to-the-bottom crystal blues and spotless. Our favorite island was Barbados. I’ve never seen sand like the Barbados beaches offered (and I’ve seen a lot of beaches). The further south from Puerto Rico you sailed, the nicer the beaches and water was. I’ll definitely be back. Having to get back on the ship in Barbados was the hardest part for me. I normally make my own schedules so I had to mentally reset and look at the daily stops like a ‘cursory view’ of the islands. I kept track so I’ll know which ones to return to. Of our 5 stops, the only one we didn’t care much for was St Maarten but… a lot of people love that island, too. We felt the locals too rude and money motivated there, which surprisingly, wasn’t too obvious in islands… even in the port businesses.
- The Shore Excursions – though we only went on 1 shore excursion, we were impressed with the overall pricing and variety. Carnival cruise lines offer the best pricing for everything from horseback riding to ziplining to scuba, snorkel, ATVs, beaches and more. The only thing that was a bit of a downer was that there were so few shore excursions that 3-year olds could go on. No worries, we were happy just going to the beaches. And that helps bring up my next point…
The Kids Club – now I’m not sure about all cruise ships but we took a Carnival Cruise and we didn’t know this in advance but… there’s FREE CHILDCARE! Yes, we couldn’t believe it, either. The kids club is open from oh-my-gosh it’s early in the morning to 10pm at night. Now, please don’t leave your child in there all day but, this amazing kids club allows mom and dad to be able to go out on an excursion or dance the night away for a night or two of the cruise. The one day we left our little guy, we took him to Barbados and then back on the ship before our Shipwreck and Turtle Snorkel. We had an amazing day and he had a blast. We let him go back for 2 nights, also, so my husband and I could enjoy some dancing and the piano bar… we loved the piano bar! The kids club was open until 1am, which was only 9pm California time, but has a small charge per hour after 10pm… $6 an hour (what a deal!). Best of all, our son loved it and we kept meeting his ‘friends’ when we’d go around on the ship.
Really, the cruise was more than I’d ever thought it could be. I had to switch off my normal travel mode but as soon as I did, I realized the food was good, people were amazing and it was super relaxing to be in a contained environment (for once). My husband loved it and has already promised to travel with our son and me again soon. Haha It’s a little sad that my boy already has almost 20 countries under his belt and daddy only has a handful. We are looking forward to more family trips but now… I have to think on where to take daddy next. Any suggestions?
For a final note, I’d just like to add how impressed I was with the cultural and lifestyle understanding expressed on our cruise. We went right before Christmas and there were Christmas shows but also a Hanukkah celebration. The chefs onboard could adapt to any diet requirement and there were always vegetarian options available. And of course, announcements were often done in more than one language… Spanish, mostly… since our main port of call was Puerto Rico!
Do you like family cruises? We’d love to hear your experience in the comments below. Please add what cruise line you were on!
(I was in no way compensated for mentioning Carnival Cruise Lines… I just wanted to share our great experience and let others know that family cruises are so much fun.)