November 16, 2007, Newsletter Issue #17: (16) Family Cruising

Tip of the Week

Family cruises offer something for all ages and interests. There is time for togetherness and time for separate kid-fun and grown-up fun. Parents relax while the kids are entertained and even educated in creative shipboard programs. Evening in-cabin babysitting or group babysitting is available on most family-oriented cruises. Cruise lines with high scores from families include: Disney Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Princess Cruises.

When considering a family cruise, look for:

Family-friendly staterooms like suites or connecting cabins. Some cruise cabins sleep four in a standard cabin, but think crowded.Kidsí programs differ from one cruise line to the next. Look for cruises that offer multiple age groups rather than combining tots and pre-teens. Newer ships typically have larger centers designated for different age groups from tots to teens. Request a typical daily kidsí activity schedule for each age group.Check the ratio of kids to cruise counselors. Ask about what training youth program directors have?How are port days handled? Do kids always go ashore with parents or are there onboard programs allowing parents freedom for shore excursions? What are family dining options? Are families seated with other families for traditional dining? Are there kidsí dining nights? How are evening babysitting services handled and what is the cost? How do parents stay in touch with cruise staff and their kids? Are pagers provided for emergencies? What are kidsí program restrictions and rules? Most cruise lines require that tots in group programs be potty-trained. Chronic behavior problems may result in dismissal from organized programs. Check www.cruisecritic.com and www.familycruises.com for family forums and reviews of family-friendly cruise lines and cruise ships.

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