It is no secret that my family and I are cruise lovers. We don’t cruise for all of our vacations but we cruise at least 50% of the time. My daughter and I started cruising years ago for our mother-daughter trips and we were hooked from the very beginning.
More than half of my clients contact me to book cruises so I know we are not alone in our love of cruises. If you haven’t cruised before or if you haven’t taken the family on a cruise yet, I am going to give you several reasons why cruising for families is ideal. In fact, for multi-generational vacation, it is a GREAT idea.
Cruising is Easy
Many times we have done air/land travel packages and I am sure we will do it many more times. We like to visit 2 - 3 countries over a 2 -3 week period and, while I love our travel adventures, sometimes it is absolutely exhausting.
I have rheumatoid arthritis and we have a kiddo that travels in a wheelchair. Needless to say, we have to allow extra time to get through airport security and to get to our scheduled tours on time. When my daughter and I travel on our own, the arthritis makes it hard for me to handle our luggage and her wheelchair. Traveling on a cruise ship is easy because we stay in one place, don’t have to get through another airport, or pack up and move to another hotel for our next destination.
If you plan on traveling with Grandma and Grandpa, this may be something to consider as well. My parents are all super healthy (thank you God) but there will be a point in which international travel will be challenging.
Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, Africa, North America, Antarctica……..pick a continent and there will be cruises available.
There are some great travel deals out there and you can really get the most bang for you buck if you are able to grab a great cruise deal. Cruises can be super affordable if you go with an interior room. In fact, you can snag an interior room for as little as $60 per person per day . It is hard to get a decent hotel room for that rate especially something that accommodates a family.
Instead of getting one larger room, I recommend getting two connecting rooms and you have more space plus another bathroom. The real cost effectiveness comes in when you factor in that all of your meals and most entertainment is included! Yep……..the dining rooms, the grill, the burger joint, and so many other options on board are all included in your cruise fare.
There may be specialty restaurants on board for an additional fee but I can tell you that you won’t miss out if you stick to the included restaurants. Most of them have an amazing sea day brunch that will absolutely rocks! You can stick to the grill for pancakes, waffles, omelettes, and other dishes found in typical breakfast menus. But the sea day brunch will have so much more including eggs benedict, specialty omelettes, and steak and eggs.
One of the best parts of cruising is the Kids Club. Why? Because you can have alone time and at no additional cost to you. You will find the Kids Club is usually divided into age groups with age appropriate activities are scheduled each day. The kiddos can participate in one or more activities giving you the opportunity to have a quiet dinner, time at the spa, or maybe even just time to take a nap in peace.
The kids get to meet other kids, make friends, and have fun while not having Mom and Dad cramping their style. Personally I think this is a win-win situation and everyone goes home happy. Some cruise lines offer after hours child care too but at an additional expense. Be sure to check the daily schedule for program specifics.
A Variety of Staterooms Available
If you are a hardcore budget traveler, interior rooms are a great idea. If you need a little more, you can choose from ocean view rooms, balcony rooms, or suites. It all depends on your preferences and budget.
Want an picture window in your room? Want an extended balcony? Want a butler? Yes, you can get very specific on the amenities you want depending on the cruise line. We like having priority boarding, priority seating, and even a butler once in a while. Not all rooms have those amenities available so you have to plan and book ahead.
When we travel as a family, the two youngest kids have one room and then we have one with the oldest. I need to be close to her so that I can help her with daily tasks so we usually get a junior or full suite so we have a little more room for the three of us. We also get an accessible room to accommodate her wheelchair.
Cruising is so flexible in the staterooms and amenities that you can find a cruise line that really meets your needs. You may not have a lot of specific needs so most cruise lines will work for you but, even if you have a lot of requests, a travel consultant can help you find the cruise line that will best serve your family.
Plenty of Entertainment
Another great thing about cruises (besides meals being included) is that most entertainment is included in your cruise fare. Variety shows, the comedy club, ice skating, water slides, dance parties on deck, the list goes on. There might be special performances, wine or martini tastings (my favorite), and specialty art classes that will have an added fee. All of that will be outlined in the daily schedule that is typically left in or just outside your stateroom the night before.
Accommodations for Special Needs
Individuals with challenges or special needs should absolutely consider cruising. We have traveled on several cruise lines and have always been greeted by lovely, helpful staff that helped us figure out how our daughter could best participate in scheduled activities in a safe manner.
While they are several stateroom types available, there are also a limited number of accessible rooms within each room type that will accommodate walkers and wheelchairs (including power chairs) and with accessible bathrooms.
In addition, should you need special equipment while on board there is a way you can arrange for that as well. Wheelchairs, power chairs, oxygen, special beds, and lifts can all be arranged. While the cruise line themselves don’t typically handle such requests, they will direct you to the appropriate suppliers with whom they already have a business relationship. In addition, you can seek out a travel consultant that is a certified accessible travel advocate (such a ME!) that already knows how to make those types of arrangements for you. The availability and costs will vary but it can make the difference between an amazing vacation and not being able to go at all.
Our daughter is deaf so we request a sign language interpreter to be available for her. In order to have an interpreter, you need to submit a request to the cruise line as soon as possible and definitely well in advance of your sail date. Last minute arrangements are usually not possible so don’t wait! Depending on the cruise line, you may get one interpreter or you may get a team of two. You may be sharing interpreters with others on board who have similar needs. We shared an interpreter on our last cruise and were able to coordinate with the other guests. Hearing kits can be in your stateroom if you need them as well.
In addition, if you need large print menus or daily schedule, they can be provided to you. Braille signage is available in public areas and room numbers, and you may be able to get other documents in braille as well. You will need to contact guest services to find out how to best submit a request.
If you or a member of your travel party have special needs, simply contact guest relations in advance so they can instruct you on how to submit a request for accommodations. The key is to NOT WAIT until the last minute.
What do the cruise lines love? Repeat cruisers! They love having loyal guests who cruise again and again with them and they encourage it with loyalty programs. Initially you may earn free bottle water or tote bag in your stateroom. You may get some extra on board credit. Later you will start to get promotions and other perks that really make it worth your while. If you spend time in the casino, you may find yourself the recipient of some casino offers that are not available to all guests.
The more you cruise, the better the deal you get. If you cruise enough, you can even earn a free cruise depending on the cruise line. When it comes to loyalty programs, you can’t lose……….especially if you cruise or plan to cruise more than once.
I hope this article helps you decide to cruise. I especially hope it helps you if you have special needs because cruising is such a fabulous way to see the world. Europe, Asia, South America………pretty much any place you want to see is available to you. Contact your favorite travel professional to help you book your next cruise adventure!
Make this beautiful day count!