Planning a Family Cruise: Set Sail with the Family

By: Jamie Jefferson

Going on a cruise is something many people dream about. Entirely cut off from the day-to-day world, taking to the sea can be an ideal way to relax. But many people put off their dream cruise vacations until later in life because they don't think it possible to take their kids along with them.

You may be happy to know that the cruise world is changing, with several companies making a special effort to ensure that families feel included, and that means planning a family cruise has never been easier.

If you're planning a family cruise, the first thing you'll want to decide on is a family friendly destination. Depending on your budget, you might want to consider cruising around the Mediterranean, where you can take time out to explore the remnants of ancient civilizations while your kids enjoy the calm blue waters and warm sunshine. A cruise in the Bahamas offers a relaxed family-friendly atmosphere where children will love learning about local customs and trying exotic food. And a classic Caribbean cruise has something for everyone, with a host of interesting places to visit and great weather for the kids to enjoy.

Carnival Cruise Lines, in particular, has a number of kid-friendly offerings. With more than 100,000 kids traveling on its ships each year, you can be certain there will be friends for your little ones to play with. Carnival has a have a busy program of events designed to keep kids of all ages entertained; they also offer a babysitting service and a 'free play' area full of toys (plus a video games room for older kids). Celebrity, Costa, Crystal and Holland America offer similar services, while Disney cruises put kids centre stage with a large area of the deck, designed to look like Captain Hook's ship from 'Peter Pan', devoted to them. Disney also offer special cabins designed for teenagers so that they can have their own private spaces adjacent to family cabins.

When you're planning a family cruise, be careful to ensure that suitable cabins are available. Most cruise lines require that an adult (sometimes an adult over the age of 25) share each room where kids are staying. This can make things difficult for larger families. Carnival and Disney offer five person cabins. Although you may see tempting deals offered by the smaller cruise lines, it's often worth sticking with the major ones because they can guarantee reduced rates for young passengers.

Planning a family cruise is all about getting the details right to begin with. Then you can set off on your vacation with the certainty that everybody will have a good time.

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