…you to take your family on a cruise! Since we are a family with 2 small kids, that is what I tried to focus on in this installment. The second part will apply to anyone, since there will be credit cards advice and booking related stuff.
Some of our funniest and weirdest memories are from cruises. The craziest one has happened last year when we took my parents, who came from Europe, on a cruise. They speak no English, by the way. During the first night, there was an announcement that a lady jumped overboard and the ship turned around to look for her. From then on they did updates every 10 minutes.
My parents were in a separate cabin and were clueless as to what was happening. So I called them and mom said my dad thought, the ship was sinking and they put on their life vests just in case. Then a bird flew into their cabin and they had to run around in their life vests , trying to get rid of it! Here is the really crazy part. The lady survived for 1 hour in the ocean and was rescued.
Apparently, she had a fight with her boyfriend and decided to teach him a lesson by jumping 6 stories. As a result of the diversion, the ship changed itinerary and we ended up in Key West instead of Jamaica. It was just as well, since my dad is a huge Hemingway fan. What can I say? I attract crazy, wherever I go. Maybe because I’m one of them. Oh, and we also skipped Grand Cayman because of hurricane Sandy.
My family loves cruises. I think its an extremely kid-friendly way of traveling. But for some reason most families are scared to dip their toes in the water, so to speak. But think about it. You have everything in one place. Kind of like an all-inclusive resort, floating on water. The thing I hate the most on vacations is trying to find food for cranky little people. You have to get them in a car, buckle them up, hear complaints galore. Then do it again after dinner is over.
Not so on cruises. Just take an elevator and find one of 10 places, opened at all hours of the day and night. They even have high chairs provided. We took our daughter on her first cruise when she was only 8 months old. She had so much fun! I remember we were on a deck listening to the music and she was moving her little body to the beat, just like everyone else. My parents told me I was the same way at her age, always dancing! The crazy dance, naturally.
One of the things, parents are concerned about is food. There is plenty to satisfy a little picky eater. They have yogurt, fruit, pizza. During dinner there is usually a menu specifically for kids. They can also make something if you request it. When we were having dinner, the waiter brought my daughter her own fresh apple sauce. She knew, it was just for her and was all giddy about it. If you use formula, I recommend you bring individual sealed bottles, instead of trying to mix it in the cabin. Its more expensive, but will save a lot of hassle.
Another advantage to cruising is, that you can leave your kids at a club, when they reach a certain age. Usually 2, though we have never done that. I honestly would not be comfortable doing it before the kid reaches 3 years of age. Some will change diapers , like Carnival. Others will give you beepers for the “poop alert”. There is no extra cost for the club, so it can be a nice way for couples to have some MUCH needed alone time.
The best thing about cruises is that you know your costs ahead of time, which is a huge plus for a family on a tight budget. Most things are included. You do have to pay for your tours, if you take them through the ship. Some drinks, like Coke and alcohol, cost extra. You also are expected to leave tips for the staff. Some cruise lines will charge them to your credit card, which is very convenient. They do give you an option to adjust the amount though. Tipping is not required, but it is a must.
That is their bread and butter, since they make very little in wages. In fact, I suggest you give a little extra to your cabin steward to show your appreciation. These people leave their families behind for many months at a time. Most have small kids at home. It is a huge sacrifice, that I’m not sure I would be willing to make.
With that, ciao for now. A follow-up with tips on booking rooms and which sites and credit cards to use is coming up Sunday. If you would like to read about cruising from a couple’s perspective as well as someone, who actually used to work on a cruise ship, CLICK HERE for an excellent post on Saverocity.
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Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.