What are the Different Options for Family Cruises?

Lainie Petersen

While cruises remain popular for honeymooners and seniors looking for a relaxing getaway, family cruises are also quite popular. Many cruise lines offer kid-friendly cruises, and a family reunion vacation can be conveniently and economically organized on a cruise ship. Options for family cruises vary considerably in terms of price, on-board amenities and services, and ports of call. For example, some cruise lines specifically cater to families with children, while others offer comprehensive childrens' programs in the context of an otherwise adult-oriented vacation. Families without young children typically have more cruise options, as they aren't restricted to cruise lines that offer services for children.

Some cruise ships will cater to families with activities that are geared toward young children, but not all of them will do so.
Some cruise ships will cater to families with activities that are geared toward young children, but not all of them will do so.

Families with children need to take their children's ages into consideration when booking a cruise. For example, some cruise line's childrens' programs have lower age limits than others, with some taking children as young as two, while others accept only older children or children who are completely potty trained. If a family has pre-teens or young teenagers, the family should look for a cruise ship that offers activities for young people. If the children are older, parents should check into family cruises that have a teen program. Some ships even have teen lounges and discos.

Cruises often have stops at beaches.
Cruises often have stops at beaches.

Family cruises sail to many different ports of call, the choice of which can affect both the price and the duration of a cruise. It is a good idea to look over a cruise's itinerary before booking in order to ensure that all family members are interested in visiting where the ship is going. Families with children may want to pay particular attention to activities and shore excursions in various ports of call and may want to select a cruise that visits destinations suited to their family's needs.

If a family is made up entirely of adults, the considerations are different. Some cruise ships offer a party atmosphere with casinos, multiple restaurants, and several swimming pools. Others focus on relaxation and education. On-board activities may include photography classes or lectures by naturalists, historians, or university professors. Very diverse families may need to compromise on the type of cruise they select.

When booking a cruise, it is important to work with a travel agent who is familiar with family cruises and can make suggestions based on the needs of a particular family. Many travel agents regularly travel on cruise ships so they can be aware of the amenities on board. A good travel agent can also advise families on the cost of their cruises, as well as ways to take advantage of discounts. For example, booking several cabins at once usually results in significant discounts, making family cruises a good option for bargain travel.

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