Every family wants to take at least one memorable trip together, you know when the kids are old enough to appreciate it and while mom and dad can still keep up with their young, energetic counterparts.
But where to begin? What to choose? Why not a cruise? There are plenty of kid-friendly options to choose from, and it differs from the traditional all-inclusive trips we’ve all taken with our families. If you want one that years down the line you’ll all still talk about, then a cruise is where you’ll want to book.
For example, taking an Alaskan cruise offers a spectacle of beauty for the whole family and an educational lesson for the little ones as they watch sea lions napping, bald eagles flying overhead and keep their eyes peeled for humpback whales leaping from the cold glacial waters.
Booking your stateroom is very important when travelling with a family, especially since the bigger, more spacious suites require advanced booking and generally only have a couple of rooms to offer. Such is the case with Holland America; they recommend booking the Neptune Suite. It offers two lower beds convertible to 1 king-size bed, bathroom with dual sink vanity, full-size whirlpool bath, shower and additional shower stall, large sitting area, dressing room, private verandah, one sofabed, and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Otherwise, with an inside or outside stateroom, the standard layout would be bunk beds for the kids and a pullout couch for mom and dad.
The best part about being on a cruise ship is it’s like a floating hotel, where you can visit several cities and countries without having to pack and unpack every time, and when travelling with small children can be a blessing. There are always tons of family activities to take part in both on and off the ship, but what about splitting up some time for mom and dad to play while the kids are away?
Most cruise ships offer children programs and babysitting services. Holland America, for example, has children programs ranging from ages 3-17, called the Club Hal Youth Program and offers an array of entertaining events for kids and teens supervised by a full-time, professionally trained staff. They’ll have an opportunity to join other children their age for arts and crafts, sports, video game competitions, scavenger hunts, challenging team games and themed parties.
Kids programs (3-6) include everything from painting to sing-a-longs to onboard treasure hunts.
Tween programs (7-12) range from ice cream eating competitions to gaming tournaments and theme parties.
Teen programs (13-17) feature everything from mocktail parties, karaoke and trivia contests, jewellery making, video games, and staff vs kids volleyball tournaments!
As a bonus, Hal Club offers Port Day activities, so while ma & pa are taking a helicopter ride to explore glaciers in Juneau, little Suzie and Billy will be actively entertained and served lunch between 8a-4p.
The activities specifically geared for children run the gamut from A-Z. My top three picks kids can do on a cruise while mom and dad take a break are:
- Animation: Disney Cruise Line offers children the chance to learn how to draw their own animations, and maybe even create a new Disney character.
- Cooking classes: They’re never too young to learn how to cook, have you ever seen the show, MasterChef Junior? I’m pretty sure some of these little guys can cook better than I can!
- Waterpark fun: Norweigan Breakaway Cruises offers a massive water park with loops, slides and even a small pool for the younger crowd.
Now that the kids are taken care of, how can mom and dad indulge?
Well, let me tell you. Cruise ships come equipped with all sorts of activities and entertainment which come in handy especially on sea days! Here are my top three picks for things that are well deserved for mom and dad:
Cocktails & Casino:
What better place to let your hair down, have a drink and listen to the sounds of bells going off than the onboard casino. From the ever so popular slot machines and blackjack tables to the latest in sophisticated gaming, the Casino offers games for all levels, staffed with professionals who are eager to provide advice on new skills.
And if you’re fortunate, you’ll stumble upon Happy Hour or $4 mixology mixes by the bar.
Dining & Entertainment:
There is always an abundant array of dining options on board a ship. That’s what makes feeding a family very easy as there is something for everyone, salad, steak and seafood for the adults and pizza, pasta and chicken fingers for the youngsters.
For the ultimate date night experience and a rekindling of the time, you first met, booking a luxurious dining experience on board for an extra cost is just what the doctor ordered. It’s a time where you and your partner can indulge in everything from cultural delights, to grilled fusions and delicacy inspired foods. Paired with a bottle of the finest wine because let’s face it, you deserve it!
Depending on your dining time, live evening shows are a great way for mom and dad to continue their date night while being entertained by the ships selection of entertainment.
By the time the night is done, you’ll remember what it was like to fall in love all over again.
Ahh, there’s nothing more relaxing than cruising along the seas while someone is rubbing you down with essential oils and for a split second, you even forget that your children are on board. But, this is the peace of mind a cruise can bring knowing that your kids are safe under the watchful eye of a supervised professional while you and your loved one indulge in a couples massage or take a dip in the whirlpool together and have some time to yourselves.
Any parent will tell you that the love they have for their children is immeasurable to anything else in this world. That’s why selecting the right cruise for your family is important. But, also knowing that spending some time apart and letting the kids be kids while mom and dad make some memories of their own, is the best family vacation balance.
By: Sabrina Pirillo