Have you taken a family cruise?
Hi, I'm Ilana from Life Well Cruised and I am so happy to be guest posting and sharing
my experience and love for cruising as a family with you.
My children grew up cruising and we truly had some of the most wonderful vacations as
we cruised together. Our family has amazing memories that keep us connected as we
look back and reminisce. Memories are priceless, aren't they?
Our Family's Cruising Story
My children first cruised in June 2005 on the Voyager of the Seas for a 9 day Caribbean adventure. At that time, this ship was one of the biggest cruise ships in the world (to this day, I think this class of ship is fantastic!). It had pools, a rock-climbing wall, mini-golf, and a skating rink. In comparison to some of the "family" ships out today, this might seem tame (no zipline or waterslide lol). However, it was amazing, and it fuelled our love of cruising as a family.
Why did we love cruising so much and why do I recommend cruising to other families?
1. Cruising has something for everyone!
This is something we loved about cruising and I still think it’s the greatest benefit for families. Cruises are something that everyone can enjoy - and there really is time for kids to be with new friends, for Mom and Dad to have some adult time to reconnect, and for the whole family to be together and enjoy and appreciate each other!
2. We created amazing memories in our close quarters.
We all stayed together in an inside cabin for many years, with my kids bunk beds above our queen bed below, but it was always so cozy. In those days we really didn't spend much time in our cabin, and this way we were able to put any extra money towards our shore excursions and activities.
If you're not bothered by smaller spaces, this is a great way to keep cruising affordable and still have an amazing experience! I've often joked with my children, that we could be camping (and nothing wrong with that!), but an inside cabin is like way more luxurious, believe me!
Of course if you take a balcony cabin, you will just add another level of enjoyment, so I don't want to discourage this. Sitting out on your own balcony watching the sea is incredible. However, it isn't the cabin that makes or breaks your cruise holiday.
3. Kid's Club
Our kids loved the kids club. We always made sure to visit the kid's club on embarkation day together as a family, and hang out and talk to the staff and other kids and families. In this way, they were pretty comfortable when they joined the organized activities the following morning. They were able to go in the morning, afternoon and evening, with 2 hours breaks for lunch/dinner and family time in between. I remember being really happy that the kids club had breaks, otherwise I may not have seen them at all!!
We also found that most cruise ships had great kids clubs with professional, fun staff and activities that kept everyone happy. I remember our first Princess Cruise, and how we worried as there were less "sporty" activities that Royal Caribbean (which we had more experience with). Our kids both loved it! The staff was friendly and engaging - and they enjoyed games, hanging out with new friends, hot tub parties and DJ booths. Not a bad life, right?
If I can impart some advice, don't get caught up thinking that you need the newest ship with absolutely every "bell and whistle". You know your child best, so look at what the ship offers and read some reviews to see if it's a good fit.
5. Shore Excursion Adventures
We have had some great family adventures. Some that were pure fun, and others that didn't go as well and we laugh at today. But memories we made!!
Some of our memorable adventures include climbing Dunn's River Falls, Banana Boating in Grand Cayman, and going to Paradise Beach in Cozumel where the kids climbed on inflatables and kayaked and we all ate nachos!!
We also laugh about a major fail when we went swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman, and all that went wrong that day! My oldest son recently asked me why all his friends swam with dolphins, while I took him to swim with stingrays. Here's the story for context.
It was an overcast day in Grand Cayman, and we had booked a private excursion with a local vendor. Soon after we boarded the small boat, the sky became grey and ominous and the water seemed dark and rough as well. My younger son and I were slightly seasick and I was regretting this excursion big time! We didn't even go in the water!
My older son and husband did, but really not for long. The look of fright on his face as he asked to just get back on the boat was not our favorite cruise moment for sure! You know all the gorgeous photos of crystal clear water and beautiful stingrays? This was not going in the promotional video for sure! But truly, we laugh at this now - and full disclaimer, my husband and I did this excursion the year prior on our first cruise (on our own) and it was amazing!!
6. Cruising is stress free
OMG this is the best!!
For one thing, I love not having to plan out what everyone is doing for every meal. As a Mom, I do this a lot at home, and I don't love to do it while on vacation! When we've taken some land trips, we've had some bickering about which restaurant to go to. As parents we were a bit preoccupied with how expensive it was going to be - especially when one of our kids decided he wasn't that hungry after the meal arrived!. Has this happened to you?
On a cruise we all choose what we want to eat whether in the dining room, or even at the buffet. During the day my kids would grab a slice of pizza at the pool deck or a soft ice cream just whenever they wanted. We almost never said no to anything, as we just didn't have to. I cannot tell you how great it is to just enjoy and not have to manage everyone else's hunger!
7. Cruising has down time
So many kids and families lead lives where we are pretty scheduled - homework, tutoring, sports, language lessons, etc. It's nice not to have to be on a hectic schedule while on vacation! If you've done a land trip or even visited Disney, you know what I mean.
A cruise has a lot of options "to do", but also provides a lot of downtime. Read by the pool, catch a seminar, hang out and nap on your balcony. Do as much or as little as you want, and this applies to our kids too! When on a cruise, you're on holiday mode and pretty disconnected from work, school and life stresses, and I think this brings out the best in all of us.
8. Travel Opportunities
Do you love to travel and dream of showing your children the world? You can do this on a cruise! Whether you crave the heat and head for the Caribbean at March Break, or prefer to experience nature and wildlife in Alaska, or even visit historic cities of Europe, you can do it all by cruise! Our Mediterranean Cruise with visits to Rome, Florence, Pompeii and Barcelona was an incredible experience for us, as well as our teen son. He expressed how amazing it was to see and experience all the places he had learned about in History Class. As someone who really enjoys travel, I love this!
9. You feel like Super Mom!
I did, I really did! Whether we planned and chose excursions together before our cruise, or when I let the kids order free room service at 11 pm, we were just enjoying the moments. Looking back, during those times I felt like I was the best mom ever! My kids were the most well traveled and happy kids (in those moments too of course!) and it was the best! Don't we all need more spontaneous as well as planned fun in our lives?
Choosing a Family Cruise
These are my reasons for choosing to cruise as our family vacations. Still not sure cruising is for you? Read this to know if cruising is for you and what you need to know to plan your best cruise.
For us, there is nothing like the relaxation and fun combined that a cruise provides. Life is about enjoying the good times and making memories. So go on, don't wait until next year or even longer for things to be better or things to change... plan that family cruise! You won't regret it, promise :-)!
Have you been on a family cruise? What has been your favourite part and why would you recommend it to other families like yours? Let me know in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy these ones:
A First Time Cruiser's Guide to (Unnecessary) Insecurities
Yes! Kids Need A Vacation Too!
Our Top 5 Favorite Beach Supplies
Melissa is a mom, wife, and early childhood educator who blogs about her journey looking for new experiences for family time.