We never thought we’d be a cruising family. We are more of a “road trip to see national parks and cram all 5 of us into a budget hotel” kind of family. But I’ve always loved boats, and the ocean was calling my name. My husband finally agreed a few years ago to a cruise, and we celebrated his 50th birthday aboard. We’ve been hooked ever since.
Why should you consider a cruise with your kids? Here are 6 of our favorite reasons:
You can spend a lot on a cruise, but if you are a budget shopper like I am, and you have some flexibility on dates, you can find great deals.
- Our 7-day cruise last year was under $2000 for all 5 of us (kids are often cheaper than adults). That includes your room (we choose a small cabin, as we spend most of our time on deck and in port), all meals and snacks, trip insurance (travelling with kids and grandparents we always purchase it), tax and all gratuities.
- That doesn’t include alcohol (which can really add up), transportation to the cruise (we drive to port to save money) and excursions. There is so much included, it’s really not necessary to spend money on the ship, but course there are lots of ways to spend more.
- We have found Carnival to by far be the cheapest cruise line, and their super helpful website gives you all the prices by date. There are 4 day specials right now for $149/person! Can’t you just feel that sunshine?
The Food (my favorite part!)
My least favorite part of a traditional vacation is dragging three hungry kids around a strange city looking for a place that isn’t too expensive and might not be a total disaster. Cruising has saved me from this, and for that alone I am so grateful.
- There are buffets and made to order cuisine with all the favorites and some fun new things to try. We choose to make dinner a sit down multi-course affair in the fancy dining room. The kids enjoy dressing up as much as we do (though not required) and can order WHATEVER they want off the menu (Want to try lobster? Sure! Fruit soup? Of course!).
- This year our 11 year old ate ESCARGOT and our picky 6 year old munched away on salmon, stuffed mushrooms and kale, because it was all included. They can always order something experimental, and a traditional kid favorite too!
- The best part? After each meal, they bring us an array of desserts including chocolate lava cake – every day! Need I say more? Oh, and there’s 24-hour snacks and ice cream. Good thing we walk a lot!
- A vacation where no one is whining because they are hungry or thirsty? A winner in my book for sure.
We have been fortunate on all three of our cruises to take my parents. It’s one of the few vacations where everyone can find exactly the activity they want. Grandpa can watch live music, grandma can stroll the deck and my husband and I can even find a little time to ourselves while the kids are hanging with their grandparents! Which brings me to…
Even if you don’t have the luxury of travelling with grandparents, you can find some alone time while the kids enjoy the Kids’ Clubs.
- Kids’ Clubs offer free activities all day and evening for kids age 2 and up (also note kids under 2 are not allowed in the ship pools).
- Some families even have their kids in The Club while they do adult activities on shore (snorkeling, etc.). While we chose to take our kids on all port adventures, the kids did enjoy scavenger hunts, trivia contests and met some great friends they still keep in touch with.
There is always something free to do. When we aren’t eating (which really isn’t that often!), there are comedy shows, mini-golf, outdoor movies, pools, hot tubs, waterslides, a walking track, ping pong, craft classes (our kids are excellent towel animal creators – life skills!) , and live music. My favorite activity though is finding the perfect chair in the sun and actually relaxing for more than five minutes without anyone saying “I’m bored”.
Our cruises have taken us to the Bahamas, Belize, Honduras and Mexico. Without cruising, these are likely locations we never would have travelled with our kids (they have never even been on an airplane!).
- We were grateful we could show the kids the beauty of these countries, find out more about the unique cultures and hopefully whet their appetites for future travel.
- At each port you can spend some extra money to zipline, snorkel, swim with dolphins (a first for us on this trip) or tour the islands.
- You also can just take a cheap taxi to the local beach and spend the day playing with the kids in the sapphire blue warm water of the Caribbean sipping coconut drinks. Now that’s a vacation!
For more on what to expect from cruising with your kids, check out Cruise Critic.