Family holidays often make some of the happiest memories of the year and there really is no better time to bond than while you’re carefree and relaxed while away from home. There is no better way to feel carefree than when on a cruise, so for first-timer families, here are some tips for parents from the parents on the sales team at Planet Cruise.
Book early. Family cruises are popular. If you don’t want to miss out, you’re going to need to book well in advance so that you get the cabin you want on the ship you want, along with the perfect package for both you and the kids. Ask about our pre-registration service; one of our cruise experts will get in touch with you on the day of sale so that you can beat the crowds and get your holiday booked as soon as possible.
You’ll need to pick your cabin meticulously so that you gain the opportunity for the whole family to have the best time. Some cruise lines will offer cabins suited specifically to kids, or, if you’re travelling with the whole family, some cruise lines offer conjoined cabins, or even cabins that sleep up to 8 family members. There are also some excellent singles cabins available, so that Nan or Granddad can tag along too but also catch those well needed Zs.
Just like hotels on land, most ships offer excellent kids clubs, usually for children aged 3-17, except for Carnival Cruises, where the range starts at 2 years old. These are often separated into 3 age groups so that your children can spend time with their peers, while you top up your tan or enjoy a quiet dip in the pool. There will be no need to worry about your little ones as they’ll be under the careful supervision of trained professionals. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have teamed up with certain television studios to bring your children’s favourite characters to life. Royal Caribbean have a partnership with Dreamworks, meaning you can expect to see Po from Kung Fu Panda wandering around, Carnival Cruises have joined up with Dr Seuss to bring characters like the Cat in the Hat to life, and Norwegian Cruise Line have joined forces with Nickelodeon, so on ships such as Norwegian Jade, kids can enjoy encounters with Spongebob Squarepants and other Nickelodeon favourites. Meanwhile, MSC Virtuosa has partnered with Lego to provide a fun and interactive experience for children. This makes for some excellent photos and even better memories. Disney Cruise Line also offer character encounters on their ships, which goes without saying, but they also offer dedicated spaces like Andy’s Room and the Avengers Academy. Other cruise lines offer similar spaces, like Royal Caribbean’s gaming pod, where online gaming is available on the fastest internet at sea.
As well as kids clubs, some ships offer babysitting services. Royal Caribbean offer an in-cabin babysitting service at an extra cost. P&O offer a night nursery from 6pm to 2am, and ages 6 months to 5 years, on ships such as Iona, Ventura and Britannia. This is a service unique to P&O as it is included in the overall cost of the cruise.
In terms of family entertainment, there are a range of options available. Most ships facilitate for theatre shows, mini golf, sports like basketball and tennis, swimming and sometimes cinema trips to see the latest and best movies. Disney Cruise Line sometimes show sneak previews of upcoming films or shows that have never been seen before. They also offer an interactive dining experience where the children can interact on screen with characters like Crush the sea turtle from Finding Nemo while they tuck in. Also available are a wide range of waterparks, the most popular of which can be found on board Carnival Cruises excellent ships. Kids can get drenched under the huge tipping bucket, or enjoy water slides and splash zones.
For families who have never cruised together, the size of the ships, or even the idea of letting your kids roam free with strangers on a different deck may seem a little daunting, but when they’re under the supervision of a trained professional, there is no need to worry. A good way to stay in touch across the ship is with walkie-talkies, which is a much cheaper option than staying in touch over the phone. Some ships also offer a pager system for when the little ones are away at kids clubs, so that you’re alerted straight away should you need to return.
Take a look at our family cruises, or get in touch with our cruise experts to find out more.