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I am challenging…

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…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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Author: Leana

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.

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5 thoughts on “I am challenging…

  1. I have been preaching the benefits of cruising to all of my friends with kids. We have 2 girls (2 and 4) and we just got back from a cruise. In fact, my 4 year old has already been on 3 cruises and she loves them.

    I would not consider us “cruise” people as we like to get out an explore more than being dropped in a port for a few hours. However, the ability to drop the kids off at the club (they love it and ask to go there!) and have some quiet time by ourselves is priceless. On our last cruise, we took them into the first port and then the second port we were able to leave them on the ship at the club and go scuba diving. We find alot of time, dinners at restaurants are difficult, so being able to drop the kids off with other kids for dinner and being able to dine by ourselves was also fabulous. Another benefit is nap times, walk down to your room and have the kids take a nap.

    So overall, I have found that cruises (for the time being) give us the ability to have both a family trip and some peace and quiet all at the same time. All of this and my last 2 cruises have been completely free utilizing cash back cards such as the Barclay’s Arrival.

  2. VAtraveler, I agree completely. I’m not sure why more families don’t do it. I have talked to some of my friends with kids and most are not willing to try it. And yes, in my next post I was planning to mention Barclay’s Arrival as the best sign-up bonus for cruises. Thanks so much for your comment!

  3. Hi–I came upon your blog from Million Mile Secrets. We went on our first cruise as a family last year (Disney) and now we are hooked! My husband and I really enjoyed having a few meals just by ourselves while our kids had fun in the kids’ clubs. We have 2 more cruises planned for 2014, and we are using frequent flier miles (Southwest) to get to both of them. I’m new to collecting points/miles. In 2014, I hope to collect enough miles through new credit card applications to take my family of 5 to Hawaii in 2015 or 2016.

  4. Nancy, thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I really owe it to Daraius for my interview! Cruising is addictive and is such a good fit for a family. I have never been on Disney cruise line yet, perhaps someday.
    This hobby opens up so many opportunities. Things, normal people would not be able to otherwise afford. I would like to reach some with this blog. I hope your trip to Hawaii works out, though 5 tickets on 1 flight may be tough. I suggest you look into CITI AA cards (pays me no commission), my first pick in bonuses currently. Keep commenting and making suggestions!

  5. Pingback: Our cruise saga. The cost breakdown. | Miles For Family

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