It’s known as ‘multi-generational cruising’ and more and more of us are doing it.
Family members convening at a cruise departure port is an increasingly common sight at most passenger terminals. And the trend is a rising with 11.5-million Americans taking to the seas annually.
Whether it’s a big occasion, a milestone, a reunion or just as an excuse to have some fun together, conga lines of families are walking the gangplanks to hit the high seas.
Grandparents, parents and kids looking for a family get-together have discovered that cruising keeps everyone entertained all the time, provides enough scope to take a break when you need it and of course, the joy of unpacking just once, but visiting numerous destinations along the way, makes cruising as a group very appealing.
The myriad food and dining options also mean if everyone wants to do their own thing on any particular day, meeting at restaurants or cafes are the logical rendezvous points to punctuate each day.
The reality is, of course, patience can be tested if everyone’s sharing each other’s space 24/7 for any length of time, so cruising offers plenty of opportunities to check-in and check-out as you wish.
Grandma and grandpa might enjoy some quiet time, for example, sitting by the adult-only pool at the same time the kids are going flat out on the water slides or conversely, the whole family may get together to enjoy a scheduled onboard activity or shore excursion.
Parents with very young children can also enjoy the convenience of a supervised kid’s club with activities and games to keep the little ones engaged for hours while they get some leisure time of their own.
Because of the rising popularity of this type of travel, cruise lines are continually adding options and facilities to cater for the demand. Group activities, all-age parties, family-friendly movies, educational classes, live shows … there’s a momentum underway that won’t stop anytime soon.
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Royal Caribbean’s mighty Ovation of the Seas, for example, is one of the new age of super ships catering to all ages.
With everything from go-karting to skydiving, adult areas and robotic bars, rock wall climbing, outdoor cinema, day spas and a casino, its services resemble those of a floating township. And with a passenger capacity of almost 5000, it virtually is.
Each cruise line has particular ships better suited to family cruising and it pays to do your homework, but it obviously starts with your preferred destination and holiday duration. Most cruise lines also offer group discounts depending on numbers traveling.
And if you do intend traveling as a group, you should inquire about pre-booking shows and dinner sittings if possible before you board. On some ships, it’s also possible to request inter-connected staterooms.
Serial family-cruisers recommend requesting rooms clustered toward the rear of the ship which is not only generally easier to get grouped together, but also provide easy access to common areas that are generally not as busy as aft or mid-ship areas when the cruise gets underway.
Family cruise tips:
- Ask for inter-connecting rooms at the time of booking
- Arrive in your port one day early in case of cancelled or delayed flights
- Get the kids to help you plan the vacation and select shore tours
- Plan ahead with your daily newsletter found in your room for all the following days’ events
- Pending the kid’s age, look for a cruise line with kid’s clubs, teen programs or babysitting services
- If it’s fun in the sun you’re after, find a ship with water slides, water parks and splash pools for the little ones
- Seek out ships with additional family activities such as mini-golf, rock climbing walls, go-carts, theatre, arcades and other interactive activities
- Research the dining options onboard to ensure there is something for everyone and not just a formal dinner every night
- A fun way to stay in touch is to give the kids walkie talkies to communicate if they get lost, emergencies, or just to update you on their day
- If splitting off during the day, make dinner the one meal a day the entire family gets together and go around the table to individually tell of the day’s adventures
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