Are you thinking about taking a family cruise? In the past two years, my husband and I have taken our two little girls on two cruises, one through Carnival and another with Disney Cruise Lines, both to the Bahamas. Both have been pleasant experiences for all of us. When my kids got off our last cruise, they were already asking to go back again. To tell you the truth, my husband and I also can’t wait to go again.
If you are looking for the best deal for cruises, I would recommend booking your cruise a year in advance. For one of the cruises, by booking way in advance, we paid about half the price people were paying when the ship sailed.
Before going on your cruise, research it so you know what to expect and what the cruise offers. Also ask friends for information about the cruise if they’ve sailed the same ship before. My friend had been on the Disney cruise with her twin boys, two times already the year we were going. She gave me a bunch of tips that made our trip more enjoyable and helped us save money.
On the Disney cruise, we could bring alcohol aboard the ship. The rule was you can bring as much as you can put in your “day bag.” Most ships don’t allow you to bring alcohol, so you will want to check with the cruise beforehand.
You also want to see what the cruise includes as far as food. Almost all include your food and drinks, but not alcohol. Some of the cruises don’t include soda. Soda’s can add up, so make sure you know what’s included.
On the Disney cruise, we had a theme every night, and if you wanted to you could dress up for the theme. We brought costumes for one of the nights. It was fun!
Almost all cruises have photographers taking photos of you and your family. If you’re like me, you want to get every photo they take of your children, because they come out great. But the costs of the pictures can add up fast. You may want to think about purchasing the CD with all the photos. It’s not cheap though. Taking your own photos is a more affordable way to get those special shots.
Take advantage of the shows offered on the cruise. Most of them are fantastic. My girls loved going to the theatre and watching the musicals.
One other thing my girls loved was having room service. Not all ships offer free room service, but some do. They thought it was fun ordering a bunch of food and eating in the room.
When you book your room, make sure you ask for bunk beds, which are available on most cruises. My girls were thrilled to have bunk beds to sleep on. We also had a porthole in one of our rooms. My girls loved looking out it and sitting in it. It was well worth it. I wouldn’t recommend getting a balcony. It usually costs more. One of my friends who was on the cruise with us and had a balcony said they didn’t use it because it was so smoky from passengers smoking on the balconies below them.
As far as always being in contact with your kids on the ship, both of cruises we took had “wave phones” during the duration of our time on the boat. If you drop your child off in the kids’ area and your child needs you, they just call you on these phones.
You will want to check into the kids’ clubs or “babysitting” services on the ship. Most cruises charge when you drop your kids off at the kids’ club, but some don’t.
My kids’ favorite part of the both of the cruises was the water slides. The lines can get really long for these rides, so one good tip that we learned was to go on the slides when the ship docks. Most people get off the boat, and you can usually get on the water rides much faster. Make sure you check the height requirements for the water rides, especially if you have small children. One of my friend’s children were so excited to go on the water ride, but couldn’t because they didn’t meet the height requirement.
No matter what cruise you choose, do your homework before booking. Start early to get the best price, but make sure it’s one your whole family will enjoy.