It's nearing the end of the school year and it will soon be time for families to gallivant around the globe on their annual summer family vacation. Although plenty of families already have their vacations planned down to the most intricate details, many of us like to wait until the last minute to start planning our getaway.
Well, have no fear, there are plenty of options onboard a number of cruise lines this summer.
From Alaska to the Caribbean to Europe, you're sure to have loads of family fun onboard a cruise.
With more than 1 million children sailing the high seas each year, you will have no problem finding family-friendly amenities and programs on everything from today's largest ocean liners to the smaller, more-intimate ships. With new ships making their debut each year, cruisers can choose among increasingly innovative perks such as onboard nurseries, wave simulators, ice-skating rinks, bowling lanes and movies on a giant screen under the stars.
But why choose a cruise for your family vacation? The answer is simple. A cruise offers something for the whole family at a very reasonable price. Parents can enjoy rest and relaxation, while kids get to hang with other kids.
Don't worry, there will also be plenty of time for families to come together and participate in fun activities as a group. It's important to spend time as a family on your vacation, but let's be honest, parents could use some time alone and kids can't wait to participate in the children's clubs. Many cruise lines offer extensive kids programs with age-appropriate activities, so kids get to have fun with other kids their own age.
On average, children ages 3 -17 can participate in the kids' programs, with some cruise lines taking children as young as 6 months. The cruise lines have different age restrictions and some do not allow children who are not potty-trained in the kids club. Most programs group children by age in two- to three-year spans.
Kids programs can be found on Carnival, Celebrity, Costa, Cunard, Crystal, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Regent and Royal Caribbean. Most cruise lines offer the programs year-round, but a few only offer the kids club on summer voyages and holiday sailings.
Will my child get bored in the kids club? Of course not! There are so many activities to choose from, your kids will be begging you to leave them alone. Young ones enjoy sing-alongs, arts and crafts, cookie decorating, treasure hunts, ice cream sundae parties and so much more, while tweens get to hang with their new friends, play video games, take dance classes, participate in a talent show, compete in a sports competition and maybe even participate in a Junior Ranger program.
A number of cruise ships have added "teen only" areas, including lounges and discos where teens can chill with their new buds, try their hand at the latest video games on Xbox or Playstation, watch late night movies or attend a "teen only" party.
These days, one of the biggest advantages for families is the cruise industry's support of U.S. homeports. You'll find more ships sailing year-round from the nations most popular drive-to ports-of -call, including San Francisco, San Diego, Galveston, Mobile, Charleston, Baltimore, Cape Liberty and many more.
Homeporting is a huge savings when traveling with a family. Just think, you can use the money you were going to spend on multiple airline tickets to upgrade your family to a larger cabin!
Speaking of staterooms, there is a wide variety of room options for any budget onboard a cruise. Choose from an inside or ocean view cabin, a balcony stateroom, suites, multi-family suites and even villas, with up to three bedrooms. You can even find adjoining staterooms on many ships for added convenience.
When it comes to dining, the choices abound. There's the traditional dining room experience, grab-n-go meal options, buffets, formal & informal restaurants, and room service. Most lines offer some type of food 24 hours a day, so you'll never be hungry.
Cruising is a great option for a family vacation with one price covering your meals, shipboard activities, entertainment and more.
Plus you can visit a number of ports without having to pack and unpack. So when you're ready to start thinking about that summer family vacation, compare your options and you'll find cruising is the best and most affordable choice with fun for the whole family.
Kathy and Eric Freer are local independent cruise specialists. You can reach them at (321) 735-0202 or toll-free at (888) 882-5793, or via the Web at www.GetLostAtSea.com for more information.