Booking a Family Cruise – The Beginner’s Guide

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Cruises have become amazingly popular in the last ten years, and it seems that this popularity and interest is only going to increase.

It is estimated that in 2010 over 20 million people went on a cruise. For many of these people, this was not their first cruise, and with bigger and better cruise ships being built each and every year the cruise industry is really booming.

Part of the reason why cruises have become so popular is because they offer such a great experience for a reasonable price.

In addition to this, once you’re on a cruise ship everything you need is right there. There are places for the kids to go off and play (under watchful supervision), there are places for the adults to go and relax, there are restaurants where you can eat, rooms for you to stay in, tennis courts, swimming pools, casinos and much more.

What if you want to take a cruise with your family but you’ve never been before? In this article you’ll learn everything you need to know about booking your first family cruise.

Traveling with Infants

Cruise shipVery few cruise ships have nurseries on board them, meaning that if you travel with an infant you will have to look after them the entire time (which is why you’re probably best waiting until they’re a bit older before taking a family cruise).

If you do decide to travel with an infant, make sure to find a cruise ship with a nursery (and nursery staff) if you want a break.

In addition to this, if your child is picky about the baby food they like to eat, make sure to stock up before you leave as you never know what kind of baby food they’ll have on board the ship.

Traveling with Children

Water slide on cruise shipOn most cruise ships children will be divided up into age groups (two to four, five to seven, eight to ten, eleven to thirteen and fourteen to seventeen) so that they’re paired up with kids of a similar age for all kinds of fun activities (although children of twelve and up have a lot more freedom to do what they want).

This is not always the case, however, as age groups may be blended together if you’re traveling in the down season when the ship isn’t particularly busy.

Cruise ships (especially the ones with a Disney or a cartoon theme (like Spongebob Squarepants)) can be great fun for kids, and there will always be something to do for them, and there will always be entertainers/babysitters to look after them (meaning you can go off and have some alone time).

Where Should You Board?

When booking a cruise, you have to decide where you want to board that cruise from.

If you only look at cruises boarding from a place near you you’re very much limiting your options, so it can sometimes be worth flying to another city/country to pick up the cruise from there.

Where you should board really comes down to the cruise you want to take. First work out what you want to do and where you want to go, then find the port that’s closest to you that offers a cruise matching your criteria.

As a note, the most popular cruise starting points are Southampton (England), Barcelona (Spain), Venice (Italy), Miami and Orlando (USA).

How to Ensure Your Cruise is a Success

There are a few ways that you can ensure your family cruise goes down as smoothly as possible.

First of all, make sure to get the children involved when planning it. Taking a cruise might be your dream, but your children they might not have the same aspirations.

Getting them involved and excited about taking a cruise (by getting them to plan the route and showing them what they can do when on board) is a good way to start.

Once you’ve actually on board, make sure to plan some activities for your younger children (there are always plenty of programmes for young children) and let your teenagers go off and do their own thing.

Spend some time apart in the day and then meeting up for dinner to talk about what you’ve been up to is a great way to do things.

Large cruise ship

Additional Things to Consider

Remember to book your cruise well in advance to avoid disappointment.

If you’re traveling with children, chances are you’ll be taking a cruise during the school holidays (which is a time of extremely high demand).

Also, different cruise ships will have a different on board currency (US Dollars are the most common). Finding this out will enable you to change up some money beforehand, thus getting a more favorable exchange rate than you’d receive on board the ship.

Fred Olsen cruises and P&O cruises use Pound Sterling, MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises use Euros and Royal Caribbean International cruises and Cunard cruises use US Dollars.


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