Cruising with kids can be an amazing family experience, but it can also be an absolute nightmare. A moody teenager or an uncooperative infant can be hard to handle; but if the person that’s stressed is you, then everybody is affected!
Don’t let the fire-breathing stress dragon inside of you come out to play, follow these simple tips and you’ll be ready for a great vacation!
Make Cruise Planning a Family Activity
A great way to build excitement for a cruise is by letting your kids have a say in how it goes. Show them brochures, pictures, activity lists, destination photos, the lot! Once they’ve picked which destinations and activities they like best you can begin compromising to work the trip around everyone else’s desires.
Let go of your Precious Schedules
Yes, that’s right. I’m telling you to forget about the bedtime routines that you’ve worked so hard to get your kids into. Work bedtimes around the activities that you plan on attending, not the other way around. Don’t make your kids miss out on a great excursion because it cuts into nap time and don’t force your teenager to get out of bed early just for the sake of it. This way everybody is doing what they prefer, creating a much ‘cruisier’ trip.
Research as Much as You Can
Some cruises aren’t child-friendly. Typically these are the ones at the very high-end of the market. Some don’t have enough babysitting hours, some require a certain age, some have limited activity options for kids. To get the best out of this experience you’ll need to cater for your family’s needs and be prepared for these things. Carnival Cruises is a family friendly cruise line that has a great water park that kids will love. P&O Cruises is another cruise line that has a range of wide range of activities appropriate for children, with cruise prices also affordable for most family budgets. The last thing you want is for your super excited child to be restricted from doing any of the things that they’ve been looking forward to. We all know what happens when a little one doesn’t get what they want!
Okay, okay, this should go without saying. Depending on their age you may need to pack nappies, food, formula, or floaties. But you already know this, it’s all part and parcel of the parenting gig, right? What you might not know is that these items should be packed with your day gear. Sometimes baggage can take a while to be delivered, so be sure to pack everything you need for your first day.
Enrol your Children for the Kids Club ASAP
Get your kids enrolled into the Kids Club as soon as possible—not just so that you can run off and grab a piña colada any sooner, but to ensure that they find friends before social circles are already made. It’s not easy to make new friends when people have already settled into their cliques—not even for a 6-year-old!
Consider Night Lighting
Waking up at midnight in a bed that isn’t your own can be scary for anybody, especially for your kids! On the odd chance that someone needs to go for a toilet run at some point through the night, you should be prepared by keeping a dim light on somewhere in the room. Teddies that light up when squeezed, digital watches, and even mobile phone apps can be a great portable alternative for a night light.
Arrive a Day Early
Being uncertain about if you’ll make it to the cruise on time is a great way to send stress levels through the roof. It certainly doesn’t help that kids seem to need the toilet more frequently the later you become! Thankfully, all of this stress can be easily avoided by arriving at your destination a day early.
Be Aware of Your Room’s Facilities
Your cabin’s bathroom is unlikely to have a bath, so if your child is still quite young this could be a problem. You could use folded towels for a soft bathing area, but then you may also need to organise more towels. Also, check if a refrigerator is a part of your room’s facilities—it might not be wise to carry milk or juice on board.
Check Cruise Message Boards
Becoming acquainted with other families prior to departure can make keeping your children occupied a much easier task, but it’s not all about them, is it? You’re likely to make some great friendships too, so get onto an online cruise forum and start a thread (or find a relevant one) to organise a meet-up with your future bestie!
Give Your Kid a Camera
There’s something truly joyful about a child’s point of view. Giving your kid a cheap camera will not only provide you with great memories, but it’s also an awesome way to see the world through your kid’s eyes. There’s bound to be tonnes of amusing snaps to look back on, and it will certainly keep him or her busy!
Cruise lines are required to be safe for the general public, but they can’t save your child from falling overboard if they choose to climb the rails. These cruise ships are usually massive, so it could be wise to also discuss rendezvous times, places, etc.
Talk to a Cruise Expert
Although you might think you have it all down, it’s best to consult a cruise agency about your trip. They know every detail of each cruise on offer, so they can be sure to suit your needs accordingly. With free consultations and possibly access to discounted offers, be sure to see one!
Consider Motion Sickness
Don’t come unprepared for a little motion sickness. You’re going to be at sea for a long time, so discuss which medication you should bring with your GP before arrival. If you can, book a cabin closer to the middle of the ship as it moves less.
Check Minimum Age Requirements
While some cruise lines accept children of any age, others only allow kids that are 12 years or older. Getting on board isn’t the only thing you need to check when it comes to minimum age requirements, though; there might not be many programs or on-shore activities available for your child’s age group, so you need to be mindful of this too… Well, you don’t need to be, but it’s certainly a great way to keep the dreaded words of “I’m bored” at bay. I think that’s a pretty big priority.
Take Advantage of the Babysitting Options
Let’s be honest here, you want a fun family experience, but you also want to get away from the kids for a while. Whether it’s group or private in-cabin babysitting, there are usually plenty of options available for you to make use of.
Keep Your Kids in the Loop
If you’ve planned the trip together, then your kids will already have an understanding of what’s happening. Regardless, go through your day’s game plan every morning and talk about any trip changes you’d like to make. If they’re a bit older you could even just leave notes to each other as you pass in and out of the cabin.
There we have it, your 16 tips to make cruising with kids for the first time as relaxing as possible. Follow these tips and you’re bound to have a great time. Enjoy your vacation!