Why leave the kids at home when cruise companies offer something for every family member? In fact, there are many cruise lines which not only offer programs with options for shared experiences, but are also designed to provide parents and children with their own space and individual activities.

Norwegian Bliss Cruise Ship

If you’re looking for the perfect family vacation, it’s hard to beat a cruise. These trips give you and your brood the perfect chance to visit a range of exciting destinations, without experiencing the hassle of planning each step of the journey yourself. Bear in mind, though, that there is a knack to organizing the perfect cruise holiday. With this in mind, here are some top tips to help ensure your waterborne adventure is one to remember for all the right reasons.

1. Decide on your destinations

Firstly, decide on the destinations you’d like to visit. Cruise deals that take you around the Caribbean can be the perfect way to explore the ocean on holiday, and offer you the chance to relax in style. Another great option is a trip around the Mediterranean; home to an array of fascinating ports, this part of the world has long been popular among culture vultures. Meanwhile, if it’s an adventure you’re after, an itinerary that takes you around Canada and Alaska may be perfect. Boasting everything from spectacular glaciers to an abundance of wildlife; the coastline of North America has lots to offer.

2. Choose a ship with the right facilities

Before you book yourself onto a boat, make sure you pay attention to the facilities on offer. These days, the best cruise liners are destinations in themselves, featuring an array of attractions that will help to keep your kids entertained.

On-board Activities for Kids

On-board most ships, youngsters will enjoy such activities as kite flying, Coke-tail parties, sand castle building, human bingo, treasure hunts, puppet shows, arts and crafts, sports activities and karaoke parties, in addition to educational activities like science experiments and lessons about ports of call and ship-related topics. You can find everything from water-parks to ice rinks and playrooms. Other ships feature specialty aerobic classes, teen makeovers and video arcades. Teens can also dance the night away to the latest hits played by a professional disc jockey in the teen disco. Large swimming pools also attract younger sailors.

Watch out for kids’ clubs staffed by trained childcare professionals too; ideal for giving you and your partner some valuable time together.

Cuisine that Caters to Kids

Along with the lavish cuisine prepared for more mature tastes, most cruise ships also serve popcorn shrimp, cheeseburgers, pizza, ice cream and shakes, among other items suited for younger appetites.

Holland America Line offers complimentary kids’ culinary classes, which are 45 minutes each and include breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack items. Young kids will learn to make foods like Denali Peaks (Alaska themed scones) and Salad People Art, among other selections. Older youth will enjoy making salt water taffy and soft pretzels.

Carnival Cruise Lines boasts an entertainment complex and introduced the first virtual reality machines on a ship and a cascading 114-foot-long, 15-foot-high water slide.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line was the first to roll out a floating 18-hole miniature golf course complete with water hazards and sand traps. The cruise line also boasts giant rock climbing walls, a water park, surfing simulator and an ice skating ring.

Disney Cruise Lines – Of course, when cruising with kids, Disney Cruises may just be the leader in cruising entertainment for young people. Cruisers enjoy original Disney musicals and live shows, meet and greets with Disney characters, deck parties with fireworks and a stop at Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island paradise.

Norwegian Cruise LineNorwegian Bliss has a go kart track, laser tag, freak shakes and more. 

Of course, you’ll want amenities that appeal to adults as well. Depending on the type of holiday you’re looking for, you might want a spa and gym, or plenty of shops and night time entertainment options including bars and casinos.

3. Book early to avoid disappointment

To avoid disappointment, be sure to book your trip early. The number of family-friendly suites available on ships can be limited, and they tend to sell out quickly during peak periods like summer and Christmas holidays.

4. Start budgeting

cruise budgeting

Image by ota_photos used under the Creative Commons license

It’s a good idea to plan your finances carefully, so that you can truly relax on your vacation. As part of this plan, make sure you find out exactly what’s included in the price of your cruise. While most of the on-board entertainment and dining may be factored into the initial cost, you might have to shell out extra money for things like alternative dining, spa treatments, and shore excursions. You’ll need to account for this if you don’t want to run out of cash on your trip.

Free Printable Travel-Budget

As long as you follow advice like this, you should be able to enjoy the perfect family cruise. Many cruise lines employ trained youth counselors to set up unique itineraries to entice young travelers. Often times, babysitting services are available on-board for the youngest travelers, as well as amenities in vacationers’ staterooms like cribs and playpens. So what are you waiting for? Make a big splash on family vacations, take a cruise.