Yes, Yes, Yes, I can’t say it enough times. If you have small children in particular taking a cruise is the most awesome way to have a vacation. Think about it from all the angles:
Packing and Unpacking you only have to do it once. Yes the closets are small on the ship but you can put your suit cases under the bed or away in the closet and never look at them till it’s time to get off.
Driving to the destination, you only have to get to the port where your ship is leaving from. Yes you may need to take a plane to get to the port but still once you are there that is it. Even when you get off the ship to visit ports you can either take a shuttle or a taxi.
Cooking, never you don’t have to do any! Plus you don’t even need to worry about snacks as they have food usually 24/7. If your children are older you don’t even have to go with them to find the food they can go by themselves. Even for those of you that like to cook, isn’t is nice to have a break and let someone else do it or some of the cruise lines have cooking classes so you can still learn something new. Plus now days there are so many specialty restaurants on the larger cruise lines you will want to sample a few of those. Some of the ships have room service 24/7 which is sublime especially if it’s free. Once on a 19 day Trans-Atlantic crossing Rick and I were just so tired from our travels that when we were at sea for days on end I never left the room for a few days straight. Our cute little cabin steward kept asking “is Madam Susan ok”. Finally Rick opened the door to prove that I was alive and sitting in bed reading so that he could be reassured all was fine with me. haha!
Laundry, you don’t have to think about that either unless you really want to! haha! Most of the cruise lines you put your dirty laundry into a bag in your room and your cabin steward takes it and brings it back for you. Yes there is an additional charge for that service. If you need things pressed they will do that too. However you cannot ask for an iron to do it your self as they consider it a fire hazard. We use to travel with a small iron but it gets confiscated when you board and returned when you leave. Which I find kinda funny since we are allowed to keep our curling irons and hair straighteners. A few of the larger ships have self service laundry rooms where you can do your own if you are gone long enough to care about it.
Cleaning, not at all. You have a lovely cabin steward who will call you by name if they are good. They will pick up the toys in your room and neatly arrange them on your child’s bed with cute things made out of towels. Justice our 6 year old grandson is delighted every night to come back and see what is waiting on his bed for him. Clean towels everyday if you like, your bed is made for you, things are put away the trash is thrown away. Makes me never want to get off the ship sometimes, but after a few weeks I am usually ready to leave all the comfort and go back to reality.
KIDS CLUB did I say there is a Kids club on almost every ship out there now. YEA! And it’s included in your cruise fare you don’t pay extra, it’s just amazing. Unless you are going on a cruise line that is specifically geared towards adults with higher end services. I can not say enough about how excited Justice is about the Kids Clubs but I don’t think he realizes we are even more excited about them. They vary slightly from ship to ship but basically you can drop the kids off at 9am and pick them up at Noon for lunch if you are at Sea for the day. If you are at a Port of Call and you have left the ship then the staff will take them to lunch for a small fee to supervise them usually like $6.00. Heck that is nothing as I can’t get a baby sitter here in Italy for less than 10 euro which is about $11.00 an hour today and when we visit the USA it’s even more.
After lunch you can bring them back to the Kids Club at 2pm and they stay till 5pm, again if your not on the ship you pick them up when you return. Same for the dinner hour if you are on the ship then you pick them up at 5pm and bring them back at 7pm. This gives you the opportunity to have dinner without them and then go to a show, dancing, casino etc. Or maybe like myself and my husband just a few hours to have a quiet conversation with out being interrupted. Some of the ships have extended hours after 10pm for a small fee again so you can go to a late night event and bring the kids ready for bed in their PJ’s so all you have to do is scoop them up and then pour them into bed in your cabin. A few of the cruise lines and ships offer in room chid care as well.
All the Kids Clubs have had exceptional young people (meaning in their 20’s) working in them and Justice has enjoyed every second that he has been there and even cried a few times that he didn’t want to leave. It’s not just baby sitting they have organized games, crafts, theme nights etc. We did a 21 day cruise crossing the Trans-Atlantic and he had different face paint every night, I felt sorry for the laundry service. I worried on this long cruise he might not have any other kids to play with because who takes their kids out of school to get on a big ship and go thousands of miles across a Hugh ocean of water just to get to the other side besides us. Well guess what other’s do do and he met and made friends with other children from Norway, Canada, England, the US and of course Italy since that was out final destination.
Safety is of course crucial with children, but I am very impressed that even on a large ship the crew is very careful with children. When you drop them off and pick them up from the Kids Club you must show your ID and if you are not listed on the check in and out system you cannot pick them up and it typically shows your picture so I feel very comfortable with their systems. Plus I know it’s a false sense of security but when your out at sea no one new will be coming on the ship either. We have a developmentally delayed adult daughter Lisa (age 33) who up until this year lived with us but now is on her own in an assisted living situation. She has traveled with us extensively as well and when we cruise it gives her some perceived freedom to roam the ship without us as she has never gotten lost and she enjoys being able to go get an ice cream cone all by herself.
Entertainment these days is just amazing on a cruise ship. From Broadway shows that we personally can’t get enough of to amazing solo violinist’s, comedian’s, Cirque du Soleil, and so much more. Typically at the end of each week of a cruise the Kid’s Club will have a full production show they have worked on all week for the parents and other general audience on the ship. We find it so amazing the things that Justice has learned and been exposed to by participating in this and all the other activities they offer. Outside now they have incredible slides, rock climbing walls, soccer, basketball and the list goes on and on. So no matter what age you or your children are there are tons of choices and things for them to do while cruising around on the water and experiencing and meeting people from all over the world.
Relaxing is Rick’s favorite part of cruising, being able to just sit all over the ship with a good book and enjoy the view since it’s always changing. Usually while I am at the Spa enjoying my type of relaxing.
Organizing, only if you want to. I am an organizer and planner so for me that is part of the fun doing the research about where we are going and what we will do when we get their. But for those of you that don’t enjoy that aspect of travel the cruise lines will do it for you. You can book family excursions that will get you off the ship though many times you may be perfectly content just sitting by the pool and watching your children swim and play. But should you decide to venture off the ship at a Port of Call you will have many choices and I say try them all.
Upside to letting the cruise ship do the planning for your excursions is it’s easy, downside is you have to decide way in advance or their tours fill up fast. Typically you will pay more when booking through the cruise line but again it’s all done for you. We have used them on occasion but do not enjoy waiting in lines for all the passengers to show up for the tours. So we will choose to book our own tour guide’s through websites such Viator, SightSeeing or Expedia usually having smaller groups.
But our favorite way to see a Port of Call is just to hop in a Taxi (don’t forget to negotiate the price before you drive away you don’t want any surprises when they bring you back) and ask the driver to take us where the tourists do not go. Such as his favorite restaurant, beach, town, mountain or other point of interest. Doing this has taken us to Aloe Farms in Aruba, Hot Springs in The Azores, private beaches in Costa Rica, Tarantula eating village in Cambodia, amazing old doors in Zanzibar and so many more amazing places that will have to wait for another time to share with you…
We have just booked our next cruise for May 2018, just a short one week cruising around the Caribbean with family from the USA. This way we can all be together, enjoy each other and not worry about any of the items listed above and a great way to celebrate all our birthdays at once since we live so far away from all of them. We may not even leave the ship as we will be on one of the biggest and best in the waters “Harmony of the Sea’s”. It appears they have so much to keep you busy on board I wonder why it even leaves the dock.
“Travel Not to escape life, but so Life doesn’t escape you.”
Next time look here for “How to find the best deal on Cruising”