I‘ll admit that cruising is not my preferred way to travel when going on a girl’s getaway, a romantic weekend with the hubby, or on a multiple destination couple’s trip. Mostly because I tend to want to explore a bit more — checking out the culture, visiting tons of eateries, traveling deeper, etc — and a cruise, with its limited time at ports, doesn’t always fit the bill.
BUT. And that is a huge B.U.T. (emphasized by the all capital letters :)). When I travel with the family it is the perfect choice. As a matter of fact, in a majority of cases, it is the only choice. For those deciding on how to spend your next family vacation, I wanted to share my top eight reasons to opt for a cruise when traveling with your kids or with a large family.
Cruising Is Easier On the Pocketbook.
I live a little over an hour from a cruise port so that makes choosing to go on a cruise vacation a slightly easier decision. The extra expense of purchasing tickets for each one of my family members can start to add up pretty quickly. Granted, if you don’t live near a port you won’t be able to eliminate having to spend money for airfare, but for those that don’t mind a few hours drive to their nearest point of debarkation, that money saved could be better spent renting a set of dune buggies in Cozumel, buying a beverage package to use while onboard, or treating the Mr. and Mrs. to an afternoon at the spa.
It’s Perfect For Every Age.
I recently took a mini family reunion cruise where the ages ranged from 2 years old to over 80 and I can honestly say the cruise line did a great job at ensuring there was something for everyone to do — even if that was to do absolutely nothing at all. Whether you are spending the day at sea getting your fill of delicious eats, hanging out by the pool and sliding down the water slides, or dropping the kids off at the onboard kid’s camp while the adults take in a late night comedy show — everyone will be constantly entertained.
The Kids Have the Most Fun Ever.
Speaking of dropping the kiddos off, I definitely enjoyed that option! Yes, you are on a family vacation and you want to spend as much time with your kids as possible (am I the only one laughing on the inside), but for those of us who want to balance family time and mommy and daddy time, the kids camps are the best thing to hit the seas since warm apple pie (or in my case, warm chocolate cake). Take Carnival for example. At their Camp Ocean (which is free) you can drop-off the kids (ages 2 to 11) at separate play areas that are filled with scheduled activities and stuff for them to do from singalongs to crafts and video games. The kids were so excited to go to Camp Ocean every time we mentioned it!
The Food Is Always Great.
Now, I have been cruising for almost 30 years. And although the dining options have changed some since my first cruise, the food is still amazing. While I do miss the all-you-can-eat lobster night (yeah, that’s gone), I do enjoy the poolside spots to grab a quick burger; like Guy’s Burger Joint by Guy Fieri which is ah-mazing. In addition to the typical breakfast/brunch, lunch, and dinner options, you can change it up some by spending an evening dining at a specialty restaurant. I have had some of the most mouth-watering meals at steakhouses onboard cruise ships. And did I mention the chocolate buffet?
It’s the Perfect Way to Visit Multiple Destinations.
Depending on the length of the cruise, you will have the opportunity to dock and spend several hours at various ports of call. Most cruises that sail from stateside cities will sail to Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean. But of course, the longer your cruise the further out you can go. And if you choose to start your cruise vacation in Europe, for example, your options for ports of call will be exponentially higher. On top of that, smaller ships can typically dock at ports that larger ships cannot. So, again, more and more options become available. A cruise is basically like having many vacations in one.
While some things like cocktails, spa treatments, and shore excursions will cost you a little extra on many cruise ships there are plenty of things included in your cruise that are taken care of as soon as you board. This includes delicious meals (where you can order one than one of anything), nightly entertainment from shows to hilarious comedians, tons of water activities and sports, live music venues, karaoke, libraries, and scavenger hunts; just to name a few. From a family vacation budget perspective, this is an easy way to stay within your price range as well. Aside from optional shore excursions and other elective purchases, you’ll have no surprise bills when booking a cruise vacation. Note: Many cruise lines will allow you to bring on a bottle of wine so be sure to check the policies when planning your cruise.
There Is Always Something To Do.
Today’s ships have become destinations unto themselves with more attractions, shows, restaurants and nightclubs than you could possibly experience in a typical week-long getaway. Your jaw will drop to the ground when you get your first glance as the sheer amount of activities planned onboard each day. As I mentioned, earlier, there is literally something for everyone to do. From the time you rise and start to plan your day (after enjoying your bountiful breakfast), it’s off to the races. Not ready to hit the pool just yet? No problem. Head to the spa for a morning of pampering. Once you’re all relaxed, visit the deck for some rock climbing and miniature golf, then head to the ice skating rink to max out on the fun. Lastly, end your night taking in a Broadway show or comedy show and even get lucky in the casino before dancing the night away at the adults-only nightclub (or the teen nightclub for those 15-17). For a person like me who wants to plan everything, I can feel certain that there will be more than enough to keep my family going for the entire cruise.
Short Vacation, Long Vacation, No Problem.
Regardless if you want to spend 3 days or 10 days on a family getaway, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Interestingly enough, if you want to sail for over 200 days with your family, you can do that too! The Viking Ultimate World Cruise is a 245-day journey spanning 6 continents, 59 countries and 113 ports. Although that’s probably not for everyone, that just goes to show that your cruise vacation can be as short or as long as you want it to be. It’s your vacation. You choose.