Heading off on your first-ever family cruise? There are, of course, many things to consider when it comes to family cruises - especially for first-timers - and with so many options, it’s prudent to do a little work.
“When it comes to family travel and exploring a new part of the world in a short amount of time, I think cruising is a fantastic option,” Nicole from The Jetset Family told us. “As a parent (and main suitcase packer), I can’t begin to express how much I appreciate being able to unpack the entire family on day one and not worry about packing and unpacking from port to port. Cruising also allows us the right amount of time to see which destinations are a true first for our family so we can return for an extended trip at a later date.”
Here’s our guide to preparing for your first family cruise:
Most things in life are easier with a little organisation. Taking the time to plan ahead, figuring out what needs to be done and what you want from your family cruise can relieve a whole host of pressures and stress.
We chatted to Sharon from Where’s Sharon?, she told us: “It’s important to have the right expectations for any holiday and this applies to cruise as well. If you have toddlers or babies, I recommend you ring up your cruise line or check out their site to see what they offer families before you depart so you are clear on any rules you might not expect.
“We absolutely love cruising with our children but there can be some things you might not realise, like the fact kids who aren’t toilet trained aren’t allowed in pools on most cruise lines, for instance. Another thing to bear in mind is that often, younger siblings can’t go and play with their older siblings in the kids club (even if you’re present). Things like this aren’t a big deal but they can feel like it if you don’t expect them.”
Chat to the experts
Putting your faith in an expert can help to unburden yourself of all kinds of pressures when organising your perfect family cruise. Finding someone that you can trust and who has expert knowledge of cruises will allow you to look forward to the actual holiday, instead of stressing about putting it all together.
From having the best prices available to knowing the ins and outs of all your most desired destinations, a travel expert is really the way to go when planning your first-ever family cruise. Having a detailed itinerary breakdown and in-depth information of the various cabins available to you and your family will give you the time to plan the holiday you have always desired - making your children’s cruise away a memory you’ll treasure forever.
Get the whole family involved
Children can be picky, so involving the little ones in the decision-making process when deciding on your cruise can make the adventure a smoother, more enjoyable process. Instead of assembling the whole thing behind closed doors, packing the kids into the car and heading out to sea, why not talk to them beforehand and plan your trip together?
If you incorporate some of their ideas during the planning stages, not only will they feel involved and that their wishes have been catered for but once aboard, everyone will know the score and that your chosen cruise has something for everyone.
Cruises are about relaxing and about enjoying that much deserved time away but the kids have wishes as well. There is no doubt that they will appreciate any influence, no matter how small, that they might have on the family holiday.
Wisely plan your departure
Planning for after you have left the shore is all well and good but ignoring the travel between your home and the port could cause potential headaches.
If you’re boarding your cruise from your own shores, avoid unnecessary stress by picking a port close to home. Choosing a no-fly cruise can help to relieve this stress and will not only save costs in terms of fuel but the shorter journey will also help keep the kids chilled and affable before they set food aboard.
If you’re flying to your destination, however, make sure to arrive a day before your cruises departure. Arriving the same day can be stressful, especially if any unforeseen travel delays take place. Coming a day in advance will allow you to wind down, shake off the flight and be nice and fresh for the start of your family adventure.
Provide a structure
Not having a solid plan or structure for your cruise can lead to easily avoidable stresses. By simply planning lunch, letting the kids know that the children’s club starts at 10 am or that the family swim begins at 3 pm, you can help the family know what’s going on.
Why not sit down with the family and create a daily plan that satisfies everyone? By carrying out research, you’ll be able to prepare for your cruise even more. This is something Gretta from Mums Do Travel suggests, “My main tip is to research the places that you’re stopping at online in advance of your trip. That way, you can make the most of your time on shore and discover things to do that may not be included in the ship’s excursions.”