This post was most recently updated on July 9th, 2019
Cruises are a great way to see a lot of places in a relatively short time, and a cruise with children can be the perfect family holiday.
However, without proper planning, it can be disastrous! Getting a cruise that doesn’t suit your family, forgetting to pack certain things, or not having any kid-friendly activities on board can turn a cruise with children into a nightmare.
In this post, we’ll be looking at 5 essential tips to help you and your kids not only survive your cruise holiday but also have an unforgettable trip that might just be the first of many!
Get the Kids Involved in Planning the Cruise
Kids love getting responsibility, and what better way is there to get them involved in the holiday than from the first stages? A Mediterranean cruise will open their minds to fantastic Italian food, Greek history and culture, and island hopping in Croatia, to name just a few.
Get them excited about it before you leave by getting some age-appropriate reading on these countries, taking them to the travel agent’s office, or planning together as a family around the table. If the kids have an idea of what they want to see in the locations before you leave, it’s one less job for you!
When you are planning a cruise with children, different cruise liners offer great options depending on the age of your children. It’s generally accepted that Cunard is good for babies and toddlers, Disney is great for under 10s, and Royal Caribbean has a lot of cool activities that teens will love.
Pack Properly for a Cruise With Children
This is a hard one – just what do you take on a cruise? We’re not just talking about things that will stop the family from being bored, but also items that will keep them safe and healthy.
After all, no one wants to spend their holiday with seasickness or sunburn. Make sure you have a good first aid bag with sun screen lotion, medications, and bandages (falling over on those beautiful Mediterranean cobbled streets or grazing a knee on the sand of a Caribbean beach can leave a nasty gash!)
Also, think about what’s going to keep the kids entertained. Don’t just pack their tablets; look at things that will make for fun family time on days aboard the boat – packs of cards, travel board games, stuff like that. Maybe even a book to keep everyone quiet and content on the sunlounger.
Remember to pack appropriate footwear and clothing. Most cruise liners have a pool, and you don’t want your kids to be the only ones who can’t go in the pool because they don’t have a swimsuit! Shoes that will prevent slipping on deck are also a good idea.
Go to the Kids’ Club
Yes, a cruise with children can make for a great family holiday, but sometimes Mom and Dad need some alone time.
Cruise liners offer great romantic dinners for two, couple’s massages, and other activities that you will want to spend with just your partner. Don’t feel that you’re dumping the kids though – kids’ clubs have some great organized activities which will keep the little ones entertained, and most importantly, safe as well.
These organized activities are a great way to help the kids develop friendships that will last for the duration of the trip and possibly longer.
Outside of the organized activities, there are usually game consoles, board games, and books that will keep the little ones entertained while Mom and Dad are enjoying some quality time together.
Tour the Ports When You’re Travelling
Sometimes there’s so much to do on a cruise ship, that you just don’t want to leave. However, that kind of renders spending so much money on a trip a little pointless! Although some shore excursions aren’t kid-friendly, do your research before landing in a port and you’ll be able to find something that will keep everyone happy.
In the cruise lines we mentioned above, you’ll be able to find off-ship activities that are suitable for the age of your children, but there’s nothing to stop you from planning them yourself.
Shore excursions can be expensive, and for both parents and two or three kids, the prices can get astronomical! Check on Trip Advisor or Lonely Planet for the best things to do in the area and make your own little adventure.
Get Involved in a Formal Night
A formal night on a cruise with children? Last but not least, getting involved in a formal night is a great way for the family to bond and have a laugh together – after all, how often is it you all get suited and booted at the same time?
You’ll get some great photos, enjoy some tasty food, and make memories that will last for a lot longer than your week or two in the Med, the Caribbean, or wherever you’ve chosen to travel.
Hopefully these tips have been helpful, and you’re already planning your next family holiday on the high seas!
This post is guest-written by Rebecca Brown — a translator by day, and a traveler mostly at night. She is an expert on living with jet lag – and packing in tiny suitcases. You can read more of her exploits at RoughDraft.
If you’d like to see another article by Rebecca, check out this article about spending 48 Hours in Prague.
I’ve also shared my own cruise tips and you can check them out at the following links:
What’s it Like to Come Home from your First Cruise
Port Day in Cozumel: 6-8 Hour Itinerary
A Day in Belize (Cruise Port Day)
This blog post very carefully covers the most important points for a cruise travel with children. Loved your blog. Keep it up.
Lots of great tips here…and so true that shore excursions can be expensive! In the Caribbean we’ve used Day Passes to all-inclusive resorts as good family -friendly options that are also affordable
Great ideas! My kids have cruised their whole lives and I wish we had encouraged them to help with the planning more. I had to write a packing list for the youngest until she was 20. LOL Formal night is such a great idea for families and a nice treat for those who don’t really have any other reasons to get all dressed up.