If you’re like me at this stage of my life, I look for trips that will satisfy every member of my family. My kids are really young, and I know they won’t be forever. While my husband and I are into crazy globe-trotting adventures where we bring them to fantastic places that are on our list of destinations we’ve yet to visit, I have to admit that we’re also into rest and relaxation. Last week I wrote about our newly discovered passion for all-inclusive resorts which have huge affordability and child-friendliness factors. In addition, every now and then, we just need a break from the juggling. Between managing our own work schedules and hobbies, the kid’s schedules, the domestics, all of our extra-curricular activities, doctor’s appointments and everything else that comes with being a parent, sometimes you need to choose a vacation that will truly cater to your need to relax. A cruise is one of these types of vacations.
A cruise vacation has all the ingredients of a family vacation. According to Bob Sehlinger, one of the authors of The Unofficial Guide to Cruises, cruises continue to be the a great family travel option for the following reasons:
1. Cruises are one of the best bargains in travel.
2. The major lines (RCCL, Princess, Norwiegan) have all dramatically upgraded their children’s program and child care options.
3. Children’s programs and child care allow parents as much “adult time” as they want.
4. Many ships, like Disney Cruise Line’s, have a special part of the ship set aside for each age group including teens.
5. Cruising is a perfect and easy way to introduce children to foreign lands and cultures.
As stated above, cruising is exceedingly affordable. All meals and entertainment are included in the cruise fare. If you’re a family of four, you can fit two adults and two kids into almost any standard cabin. You’ll have to pay to get to Florida or to the designated port of departure, but other than that, your expenses will be low if you keep all the extras down (like excursions, extra food, gifts).
It’s easy to book a cruise, and discountcruises.com is a good example of a site that offers discounted cruise packages for the entire family. It’s best to plan in advance and grab the specials as soon as you catch them. A friend of mine says that the rates are even better during the school year. He took his kids out of school during the last month of the school year after he found a superb rate on the Disney Mediterranean Cruise. A week into the cruise, the sales staff slipped a note under the door of his room. Basically, the boat was below capacity, and they offered him a fantastic rate of about $300 each to stay for another week. My friend said that the offer was so good, it was irresistible.
Kids often sail free or at 50% off the total price of a full-paid ticket. I scoured the Internet and found a hand full of cruise deals where kids sail free this year or next:
Costa Sailings (Dubai, Caribbean, Caribbean)
Two kids ages 17 and under sail free when sailing with 2 adults paying full adult Early Booking Fare; fare varies by sailing.
MSC Cruises (Caribbean, Mediterranean, U.S. & Canada)
Kids 17 and under sail free during to Europe, Caribbean, Canada/New England. For all other cruises, kids 11 and under sail free. Kids sail free offer applies to children sailing as 3rd/4th occupants in same stateroom with two adults (some restrictions may apply).
Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL)
Kids age 17 and under can sail free or for a reduced rate on most cruises, when traveling with 2 full-fare guests in the same stateroom. Government taxes and fees not included.
Mexicana River Cruise
Children ages 17 and under traveling with 2 full-fare guests in the same stateroom sail free on a 10-Night Mexican Riviera cruise on April 17th, 2011.
The Disney Wonder
From Jan. 23rd through March 20th, 2011, kids ages 17 and younger sail free on the seven-day trips to Mexico when traveling with two full-fare guests in the same stateroom.
As for being family friendly, all the major cruise lines have amenities for children: kid’s clubs, huge on-board youth areas, age-appropriate activities, hangout spots, kid’s entertainment and video arcades. Many ships now offer family cabins—either suites with master bedrooms and additional rooms with bunk beds or large staterooms with pull-out couches or pullout beds—as well as family-friendly dining.
The Nickelodeon Cruise is the latest kid’s cruise to come about it’s part of the Norwegian Cruise Line. I know I’ll be investigating that as a trip for my own family soon, before they outgrow cruises that are catered just to kids.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, however the views and opinions expressed here are strictly my own.