Thinking of taking the family on a cruise? Both adults and children are well catered for on the right cruise, with an extensive program of activities for the whole family, or the option to just lie out on deck and soak up the sun! But how can you make sure you choose the right cruise? Based on her family cruising experiences with two boys, aged 10 and 7, parent Louise shares her 5 Top Tips for Choosing the Best Family Cruises.
#1. Choose the Right Cruise Ship
Some cruise ships are more family friendly than others, and the larger mainstream modern ships offered by Royal Caribbean, MSC and NCL are most suited to families. They all have a wide range of onboard activities that cater for families of all ages and all activities are included in your cruise price.
The onboard kids clubs are fantastic and will offer a range of organised, safe, age-appropriate activities that will give the parents a real break and a chance to relax and unwind.
#2. Pick Embarkation Port with Care
If travelling with very small children pick an easy port to get to with a direct flight, and bear in mind distance from airport to port.
The most popular cruise for families from Ireland is the 7-day Mediterranean cruise. Barcelona is a short flight from Dublin and the cruise terminal is only a 10 – 15 min taxi ride from the airport – similarly Malaga. However, Rome on the other hand is a 2.5 hour taxi drive from the airport, which can add significantly to time and cost when travelling with young children.
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#3. Decide Cruise Itinerary & Ports of Call
Most week long cruises will offer up to 6 ports of call on a typical 7 day cruise – meaning you will stop somewhere different every day! While this may be something your family want from their cruise, a more relaxed cruise will have 2 days at sea where you have more time to enjoy the many onboard amenities, shows and activities.
Top Tip: An Eastern European cruise will be slightly warmer than a Western European cruise at the height of the summer but, will typically take in a many different countries.
#4. Consider your Cabin Choice
Most cruise offers quote you the cheapest cabin price which is an interior (or state room as they are also called). While these are suitable for 2 people, they can accommodate up to 4 people but can be cramped.
- If space is an issue and your kids are older, you may benefit from booking interconnecting cabins or upgrading to a balcony or junior suite, which give you a generous pull out sofa bed option as well as the benefit of some private outside space.
- Mid ship is probably the best location should there be any turbulence at sea. However, modern ships are designed in such a way that you barely know you are on a large floating vessel!
- A cabin located near a lift or near to the children’s clubs/ dining areas may also be an important consideration when you consider an average cruise liner these days is 950 feet in length!
#5. Plan your Budget
The benefit of a family cruise is that your cruise price includes your accommodation, all your onboard meals and entertainment.
What’s not usually included:
- Alcoholic drinks
- On board gratuities
- Any on board purchases
- Shore excursions programmes.
Some companies include gratuities up front as part of your cruise price so do check as it can work out at $10 per person per day.
- While Royal Caribbean include juices, water and coffee as part of their pricing, MSC will charge you extra for bottled water and decent coffee.
- MSC are popular with families as they have “kids go free” rates whereby the only charge you will pay is port charges for the kids under 12 which make them very competitive in the current cruise market.
Related Articles: Tips for Booking a Family Holiday in the Sun without a Travel Agent
Have you been on a Family Cruise? Please share your tips with us in the comments box below.
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