Relaxing on a cruise holiday can be a great idea for parents with young children. Being prepared and choosing the right cruise is the key. Holidays are supposed to be refreshing and relaxing. However, many holidays for parents of young children seem too difficult. When the kids are young, parents need a break the most. Cruises can offer the best opportunity for everyone to wind down and relax.
Why Choose a Cruise?
Cruises offer you the opportunity to spend time with your children, or if they are slightly older, have time apart. With someone else taking care of the cooking, cleaning, driving and choosing of the entertainment, all that is left is you to find time to share together. Children’s programs on board will be fun and educational, often allowing you to spend quality time with your child or time apart. The children’s talent shows are a great time to bring out the video camera. Children under 3 will not be old enough to participate in these programs, but this can be your time to spend with them without worrying about cooking dinner.
Family photographs are treasured items to look back on. Children may be too young to remember, but a photograph is a perfect proof of the time together. Ship’s photographers will have sittings each night and during the day for free, allowing you to get those family pictures you never had time to organize on land. More frequently you have the opportunity to buy the image digitally, allowing you to share it with grandparents.
Cruises offer something for all age groups. Encouraging grandparents, aunts and uncles or your own siblings to join you on board can be a way of enjoying a larger family holiday. Having more family on board means that you may be able to spend some time with your partner while the extended family babysit. Group bookings may even be more cost effective for everyone involved.
When to Travel
Many cruise lines have minimum ages for children to participate. It pays to check ahead of time whether a cruise you are interested in allows young children. Most family friendly cruise companies allow children from 12 months old. From 3 years of age, these cruises tend to offer children’s programs that you can enroll your child in free of charge.
Some times of year are busier than others. Christmas cruises are often very family friendly, while New Year cruises can be louder with a more vibrant party atmosphere. Many family friendly cruise lines such as P&O will have special launches with Santa and his elves arriving on the boat to deliver gifts to the children, or an Easter Egg hunt in April. These little things can make your holiday more magical. Photo opportunities with Santa and the Easter Bunny are both staple activities for these popular holidays.
Traveling during school terms or in the off peak season can be more cost effective as well as having a less crowded ship.
What to Pack
Sleeping arrangements need to be thought through. If your child sleeps in a bed, then a lower berth will be fine. Most cruise lines will remove a berth from a cabin to make room for a cot. Some provide this cot for you, others require you to bring your own portacot. Be sure to check with the cruise operator before you embark.
Flatware on board is sturdy, but not necessarily family friendly. Carrying plastic bowls or plates and your child’s preferred fork or spoon can be great peace of mind for you. Wash these up in your cabin, or travel with disposable plastic ware. Sippy-cups with handles and a lid can be a great idea. On turbulent sea days, you will be pleased to have one less thing to worry about falling off the table.
Traveling with an unopened can of baby formula is a good idea. If you do not finish it, you will need to dispose of it before you reach home. For traveling on shore, take a bottle of water, and a single-serving sachet of formula or powdered juice. You may be able to purchase milk at your destination. If you are in a difficult location to find what you need for the bottle, remember you can always board the ship again and have lunch on deck.
Some cruise lines will allow you to bring a pram or stroller. If they do, this will be a valuable tool for you. Strolling around deck, or strolling during a group walk is a great way of relaxing for all. You may be able to take the stroller on shore if you are in port rather than tendered ashore.
During sea days you will be able to keep to your child’s schedule nicely. If you need to nap in the afternoon, simply return to your cabin. In room entertainments on the television or reading material can make this time more relaxing for you too. Check the activities for the day and see what you and your family can both enjoy. Family movies or circus workshops can be low-key activities for all the family to enjoy.
Check what shore tours are on offer. Most will designate the type of activity and who would be able to participate. Many tours are perfect for young children and babies. An air-conditioned coach tour could be a relief from hot temperatures while an aquarium can hold the fascination of a toddler. Whole day tours could be a challenge with young children, so look for activities that take a morning. This way you can return to the ship for the afternoon if need be. Afternoons on board the ship when it is docked for the day can be hassle free. Most people will be onshore, so the ship will have more room for a stroll, to sit and relax, or just to find a quiet spot on deck.
Traveling with very young children has its bonuses. If you are prepared and willing to work around your child’s schedule, your whole family can have the rest and relaxation you all need.