Cruises are a great travel option for any family. These floating resorts have seemly endless amenities sure to keep all ages entertained. Although just like any other vacation, a cruise can go awry without proper planning. Here we’ll share some expert advice to make cruising with the little ones an enjoyable experience.
1. Book a Family Friendly Cruise
Different cruise lines will appeal to your family depending on your children’s ages and interests. When it comes to kid-friendly cruising, Disney, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Carnival are all leaders in the industry. Each cruise offers varying childcare options, family activities (in port and at sea), dining choices and stateroom layouts. Make sure to consider all your options and choose the ship that best suits you and family’s vacationing needs.
2. Choose the Right Room
You’ll want to research the staterooms available on your ship to ensure your whole family can rest easy at sea. If you’re traveling with young children, keep in mind that standard cabins don’t usually come with bathtubs. You may need to upgrade to a suite or a room designed with families in mind.
3. Research Excursions
There are basically three options for touring port stops: Booking a shore excursion through your cruise line, arranging activities with a local provider, or exploring on your own. Excursions are a convenient way to access the port’s attractions, but they can often be quite expensive and some aren’t particularly kid-friendly. If your children are on the younger side, you’ll need to be aware of age requirements and activity length. Just be sure to learn about everything available in each port so you can make an informed decision on whether to book a tour or go it alone.
4. Pack Smart
If you’re traveling with a baby or a toddler, make sure to bring enough formula, baby food, and diapers aboard as these items will not typically be found for sale on your ship. You’ll also want to pack a carry-on bag stocked with everything you or your family might need on embarkation day. Some of these items include a swimsuit, sunscreen, change of clothes, snacks, etc. It may be a couple hours before you’re reunited with your luggage, so be sure to keep any essentials easily at hand.
5. Bring Toys
Beyond the necessities, you’ll also want to leave a little room for fun in your suitcase. Glow sticks can serve as a colorful night light on board, while blow-up beach balls, sand castle building tools, floats and rafts can make for a great time at the beach. You’ll also want to bring along some in-cabin entertainment in case the kids need to take a break from all the action on deck. A few suggestions include coloring books, crayons, word searches, games or a portable DVD player with some movies. These may also come in handy if you stumble upon some bad weather during your cruise.
6. Find a Sitter
Many of the top cruise lines make it easy for adults to enjoy some alone time. They offer supervised children’s clubs so kids can socialize and keep entertained while their parents are able to relax. Youngsters can participate in everything from arts and crafts to treasure hunts while teens enjoy dance parties and play video games. Services for infants and toddlers are generally more limited and may require a fee. Just be sure to check out all the childcare options before setting sail. Hours and availability may vary depending on the ship and cruise date.
7. Arrive before Embarkation
Panicking about flight delays, missing luggage or unexpected traffic is no way to start off your vacation. Especially with young children in the mix. When you arrive at least a day before embarkation, you’ll give yourself a buffer allowing time for any travel mishaps that may have previously caused you to miss the ship. Plus, if you’re traveling a great distance, it will give your family some time to adjust to the time zone and explore the embarkation port. You can even eliminate the stress of coordinating your pre and post cruise accommodations by booking through Go Port Canaveral. We offer packages including everything you need from airport transportation to your hotel stay and everything in between. You can rest easy knowing that our travel experts will get you where you need to be, when you need to be there; And most importantly to your cruise on-time.
8. Take Advantage of Return Use
Return use is especially beneficial to those with later scheduled flights post cruise. With return use, you can head back to your hotel when you arrive in port, leave your bags with the front desk and enjoy the amenities without needing to check into a room. That way you can tire the kids out at the hotel pool rather than trying to keep track of them while waiting at the airport. Go Port Canaveral exclusively offers select hotel packages that include free return use. Some hotels even offer a half-day rate if you need to put the little ones down for a nap or just want to relax before you head back home. Make sure to take advantage of return use if your post cruise flight is scheduled for later in the day. Especially if you’ve got kids to entertain.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared on Go Port Canaveral Official Travel Provider and has been republished here with permission by Go Port Canaveral.