We think cruising can be a great vacation option for families. Cruising allows you to enjoy the sun, stop in multiple destinations and gives you lots of kid-friendly activities, all at good value.
We have travelled with our kids twice on Carnival Cruise lines. We will be the first to admit that taking an 18-month old toddler was not a highlight for us. We spent the whole trip waking up early, chasing him all over the boat and being generally exhausted.
We are happy to report that in the last 6 years Carnival has upped their game when it comes to kids. Of course, our second cruise was better because our kids are older and willing to be left at the kid’s club. But we also found there were many more things for kids to do this time around. We all enjoyed the water slides, mini golf, high ropes course and kid themed activities.
One of the best things for our family was the kids’ club that allowed our spirited child to play with new friends while we relaxed. On the last day of the cruise, she left the kid’s club with a trophy for winning the dance contest, a sand art necklace and a t-shirt she had decorated, all at no extra cost. We felt the staff were well qualified, friendly and very safety conscious. However, we were surprised to find out there were no limits on the ratio to children and staff.
Another great option for us was buying two adjoining interior rooms. This can actually cost less than one balcony room. It gave us lots more space, two bathrooms, two TVs and our kids had some independence. Interior rooms are also quiet and dark which meant our kids slept through the night and often woke late.
All the food was excellent. We loved that there were lots of meal options all over the ship. A few favorties were the Indian lunch buffet by the back pool, the burger and BBQ restaurants by Guy Fieri and the ‘made to order’ pizza. Free room service is available all day and it allows you to order breakfast for your early risers or even a bed-time snack.
Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat was a highlight. Menu options included Truffula Tree Pancakes, Green Eggs & Ham and Fox in Socks Steak & Eggs, among many others. We were really impressed with the food displays. The regular dining room had bright decorations including a cat ice sculpture. All the food displays were amazing. We had our picture taken with each character and enjoyed the music. We thought this breakfast was great value at $5 per person.
We enjoyed eating in the dining room for breakfast and dinner. The wait staff were friendly and provided excellent service. You can eat a steak and chocolate lava cake each night or try something a little different with the Port of Call options. And if you choose something you don’t like, just ask for something else.
One thing that bears explaining is the two different dinner dining options. You can choose “Your Time Dining” where you can eat any time between 5:45pm and 9:30pm. You might have to wait if there are a lot of other people in line but we found going right at the beginning meant for speedy service. The second type is “Reserved Seating.” For this option you must choose either Early (6pm) or Late (8:30pm) options. While this guarantees a table will be ready for you, it could mean that you will be sitting with other guests that you don’t know.
Cruising gives your who family lots of different options on board and different destinations all in one trip.
Welcome Deck Party:
- Buy some water and snacks at a local 7-11 before you board the boat
- Pack bathing suits in your carry on so you can swim while you wait for your luggage to be delivered to your state room
- New activity books will give your early risers something to do while they wait for everyone to wake up
- Take Ziplock bags or Tupperware to grab snacks from the buffet for day trips
- The walls are magnetic so bring magnets for fun
- Prepare your kids that shore excursions can be cancelled due to bad weather
- Check out the Library for a great selection of games
- Don’t bother finding the Arcade because the games there are expensive
- A different kids’ movie plays each day in room for when the sun gets too hot
Research your destinations before travelling to choose your excursions wisely
Visit our cruising page for a synopsis of our preferred cruise lines.