Tips for Choosing the Right Cruise for Your Family


With a wide range of activities for adults and children alike, as well as an opportunity to explore new places while in port, cruises are a great choice for a family vacation.

Here are some tips for picking the right cruise for your family.

Involve the kids in the planning process. Talk to them about the places they’d like to visit and activities they enjoy, both on the ship and during excursions. Go to the library for books about the itineraries you’re considering. Some kids may be excited by Mexico and the Caribbean, and a chance to swim with the dolphins. Others may be thrilled by the prospect of a cruise to Alaska, with a chance to get up close to sled dogs and try whitewater rafting. Perhaps you’ve got some young history buffs in the family who would love a Mediterranean cruise.

And it’s never too soon to start thinking about accommodations. Today’s cruise ships offer families lots of options, from connecting cabins to suites with multiple bathrooms and spacious living and dining areas, to sofas that convert into beds, to room dividers that provide a little privacy for the grownups. On some ships, the family staterooms are located near the pools and clubs for children.

The length of the cruise and the size of the ship are important considerations for families, too. Think about the number of days you’ll be spending at sea versus days in port, as well as the size of the cruise ship. Larger ships are likely to have more options for dining and activities, but you and your family may feel more comfortable finding your way around a smaller ship. If possible, you may want to leave from a port within driving distance of your home.

The major cruise lines all have clubs for children with loads of activities to keep them busy, but look at how they’re set up. For example, check the age groups. You may find that one cruise line would place your children in separate groups and another would keep them together. And while there are activities for toddlers to teens, take a close look at what’s offered onboard. You want to make sure there’s enough to keep your child occupied for the length of the cruise, whether he or she wants to splash around in a water park or climb a rock wall or make art projects or conduct science experiments. You’ll also find plenty of family friendly shore excursions, from visits to nature parks to sightseeing amid ancient ruins to snorkeling. Just make sure there’s something that matches your child’s interests.

And remember, there is a wide variety of food options on cruises, so even your pickiest eaters will be able to find something they enjoy eating. Also, some cruise lines offer expedited dining for younger passengers, letting them eat first and then go off to activities while mom and dad enjoy a leisurely meal.

For help planning a cruise that’s perfect for your family, contact your travel agent.