(16) Family Cruising
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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.
- Kids' 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 kids' 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 kids' 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 kids' 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.
for family forums and reviews of family-friendly cruise lines and cruise ships.