How To Choose The Perfect Cruise Line For Your Next Family Holiday
By: Alex Harmon, ellaslist
Cruising is one of the most stress-free holidays with kids you could ever imagine. It's super convenient. There are no airport queues. They offer great value for money. They are completely safe. And most importantly, they are super fun for the whole family and create memories that last a lifetime! A cruise will take you to any variety of exotic or domestic destinations so you get to wake up somewhere new every day, yet unpack just the once. Choose the ship and the itinerary that suits you best, then pay one great value price that includes transportation, accommodation, dining, activities and entertainment. There are not many family holidays that can do all that!
But how to choose the right ship to set sail on? There are so many out there it pays to do some research before you say 'ahoy there' to the first deal you see. We've done the hard work for you so you can have a fabulous holiday without rocking the boat...
Choosing A Cruise Line
There are several major cruise lines that sail from Sydney, however, not all are equal in terms of family-friendly facilities offered. When you look at some of the onboard experiences that you can find only on Royal Caribbean, it makes you think you're climbing aboard an adventure theme park. Activities such as Skydiving with RipCord by iFLY, catching a wave on the FlowRider surf simulator rock-climbing, and ice-skating- just to name a few. If your family is looking for more than "just a cruise" and love adventure, look no further. This applies not just to kids, but to us big kids too!
Check Out The Cabins
Some cruise ships only offer small rooms or cabins that won't fit the whole clan. On Royal Caribbean, you'll find a number of interconnecting staterooms that are perfect for families – a great way to keep everyone together and get a little more space at the same time. Some room types vary on ships, however here are some of the awesome family options:
- Junior Suite: These large suites have a living area with a sofa bed and can accommodate up to 5 guests.
- Grand Suite or Owners Suite – 2 Bedroom: These large suites offer two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a living area with a sofa bed that can accommodate up to 8 guests. It has two sets of two twin beds that convert to a Royal King bed, one double sofa bed and two Pullman beds.
- Ultra Spacious Oceanview: These spacious staterooms accommodate six in its twin beds, sofa or Pullman beds and sitting area that can accommodate up to 6 guests. It has two, two twin beds that convert to a Royal King, one double sofa bed, one Pullman bed and one twin bed or two Pullman beds.
Find Out What They Offer Kids
Some cruise lines see kids as an adult add-on, rather than a VIP. guest. Onboard Royal Caribbean your kids are most definitely treated like royalty and there is so much offered to mini cruisers of all ages. Some of these include: 3D movies, a surf simulator, bumper cars, a Royal Babies and Tots open play area, a mini-golf course, sports court, poolside movie screen, rock climbing wall, swimming pools and whirlpools, a teen disco and video arcade, SeaPlex indoor play space and the RipCord by iFly skydiving simulator*. On some of the ships, they can take even meet their favourite DreamWorks characters. Your kids will think this cruise is the happiest place on earth!
*Not all activities are available on board, check with your travel agent.
Do They Have A Kids Club?
This is important, not just for kids, but for mum and dad too. After all, you want to be able to enjoy your time relaxing by the pool or indulging in the full-servicing Vitality at Sea Spa! Royal Caribbean has two nursery programs, Royal Babies (6-18 months old) and Royal Tots (18-36 months old). For older kids, there is an Adventure Ocean Youth Program which is educational, fun and perfect to keep the older kids entertained through a range of age-appropriate activities. They are split up into ages so that the activities are appropriate: Aquanauts (3-5 years), Explorers (6-8 years), Voyagers (9-11 years) and Teens (12-14 years and 15-17 years). If that's not enough time away from the little ones, they also offer Sitters at Sea (for a small fee), where an accredited Royal Caribbean staff member will arrive with toys/games and entertain the children until their parents return.
What Exactly Is 'Free'?
There's nothing worse than paying your fare for an exciting cruise liner and then discovering that all the cool stuff costs extra. The kids are going to beg for it and you just know you're going to fork out for it! So look into the fine print before you book. With Royal Caribbean, the following extras are included at no extra cost:
- Onboard activities: RipCord by iFly, SeaPlex, FlowRider, mini-golf, ice-skating rink, adults-only solarium, pools and whirlpools, rock climbing wall
- All main meals and fine dining in complimentary dining venues
- Fitness centre
- Entertainment: Broadway-style theatre and musical performances, live music and comedy, ice-skating shows, the DreamWorks experience, and poolside movies
- Teen programme and kids club
Find Out Age Requirements
Cruising is the perfect first holiday for kids, so how soon can you get them into a mini sailor suit and go? On Royal Caribbean the minimum age for infants to sail is six months as of the date of sailing, and twelve months as of the date of sailing for Trans-Atlantic, Trans-Pacific, Hawaii, selected South American cruises and other selected cruises. For cruises with three or more consecutive ‘sea days’ (where the ship is not in port), infants must be at least twelve months of age on the first day of sailing. You can also bring your pram on board (no size restrictions) and if you forget something, they have you covered! Nappies, wipes and cream are available on board (additional cost).
So, what are you waiting for? Order those matching striped t-shirts to embarrass the kids, pack your bags and go go go!
To book your next family cruise with Royal Caribbean, check out the deals here.