Can we bring our children (or grandchildren) to a cruise?
The answer is yes! They need to on most ships a year old or two, some lines/ships require the children to be be six months or older. I am a grandfather now also and our grandsons are two and four years old, therefore I can report some experiences as soon as we take him. We took our children and grandchildren on a cruise last year for my 65th birthday. My daughter wanted to go on the newest ship at the time from NCL as she liked the water slides. I did not care, but the price was good - the only thing I did not like too much that I had to drive to Miami, a 4+ hour trip from Tampa. This year I invited my family again - but insisted that we go out of Tampa.
- Make sure to talk to your travel agent BEFORE talking about the destination and the line about your children (or grandchildren) and their ages.
- When you reduced your selection to two or three choices ask the travel agent to check if space for the age of the children is available as space is limited per age group and some smaller ships only have space for children available if there are 25 children and teens sailing.
- If you are sailing with small children I recommend a cabin that holds the number of persons sailing. You find inside and outside cabins that hold four and sometimes five persons, if not, I recommend a suite where four or five persons are usually possible. Many cruise lines allow children in a separate cabin if the cabin is up to two cabins away from the cabin of the parents - but I would not do it if the children are four and five.
- Enroll the children in children's programs, they will enjoy this much more than to hang out with mom and dad.
- Some cruise lines offer childcare in the evening at an extra charge, so the parents can have a night out and enjoy dancing in the night away.
- Or travel with the grandparents. This give the parents the chance to enjoy the ship when grandparents take care of the children one night.
- As food is pretty much unlimited on the ship, set rules, like that the children cannot use the free ice-cream machine more often than twice a day, or whatever rules you want to set.
- Bring some games you can play with the kids in the evening and at daytime when they are not enrolled in a program (if you are not spending your time with the children as you work full-time you want some days with your children).
- For older children ask them to bring books they want to read (or electronic books like the kindle or the Sony reader, etc.) as most ships have a very limited supply of books. A big exception are the Queens of Cunard with huge libraries of eight to ten thousand books in a wide variety of languages, so please do not assume that Carnival or RCL have thousands of books on board.
Please note, most parents tend to take their children to the buffet as they are afraid that the children will not make it through dinner. I recommend to try it out, you can always leave and go to the buffet, but our grandchildren love to sit at dinner and eat for an hour or two. Give them a chance to choose from the adult menu also, my grandson told my daughter, "I want the snails", and he was eating them. The servers on this NCL ship treated my family with the grandchildren like it was their own family.
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