Before my husband and I adopted our kids, we traveled the world with out a care. Planning involved booking our flight and hotel and winging it when we got to our destination.
Once you have kids everything changes. Planning a trip with kids goes from simple to planning to spend a year on the Space Station.
Our first trip as a family was to Disney World. I had dreams of taking my kids to the “happiest place on earth” since forever and I was sure my kids would worship me for taking them.
They had a good time, but they were little and it was a schlep for us. I wanted them to see every part of the parks and ride all the rides (I became a crazy mommy on this trip) and it became more tedious for us then fun. The worst part was they kept asking when we were going to the pool the whole time we were in the parks. I could have saved the money and taken them to the Holiday Inn to swim in their pool for crying out loud.
The next year when we started to plan our vacation I decided we were going somewhere that we could just relax. A travel agent suggested a Disney Cruise. At first I was like “We aren’t cruise people, that’s not for us.” What clinched the deal was we could literally leave the kids at the kids club and go off on our own for the day. When I told my husband he said, “Book it!”
The Disney cruise turned out to be one of the best ideas I ever had. The kids loved it! We barely saw them they were having so much fun. We had a pager and I swear we never heard it go off once (I left it in our cabin, don’t judge). Even meals were an entertaining experience and the staff really knew how to deal with picky kids (yay). Everyone was happy: we got to relax and have fun, the kids got to participate in fun activities all day and did I mention we got to relax? My kids did not stop talking about that cruise for years, how’s that for bang for your buck?
From then on most of our family vacations were cruises. We have been on fourteen cruises so far and we have always had a great experience! If you haven’t been on a cruise here are five reasons you should give it a whirl:
1. You get to RELAX on a cruise
Whether you prefer to veg by the pool, read a book in a quiet spot or hang out in the spa, cruises are a great place to do this!
Tip: If it’s your first time on a ship take the tour when you first get on board scope out all the best spots to relax. It usually takes me about a day on a new ship to get the lay of the land. If you want to be prepared before you cruise, Cruisedeckplans.com gives you deck plans for most of the cruise lines.
2. There’s plenty of activities on a cruise ship
Cruise lines vary as far as activities, but they all have one thing in common, you will not be bored! From wine tastings to hairy chest contests to world-class shopping, there is something for everyone on cruise ships.
Tip: If you haven’t been on a cruise check out what each line offers as far as activities. Each line is different, so if you are more into hands-on cooking classes and not so much into hairy chest contests, check out each ship’s activities before you book.
3. You get to go to a lot of great places on a cruise
Cruise lines go everywhere these days so if you want to whether you want to cruise the fjords of Norway or sail the Caribbean. They even have cruises to nowhere if you can’t decide where to go. Right now, at the top of our bucket list, is to go on a Viking River Cruise and cruise the Mediterranean.
Tip: Check out all the cruise lines itineraries to see how long they are in ports. You want to make sure you are in port long enough to explore.
4. There are excursions for everyone at ports
Every port has a wide range of activities to choose from. Cruise lines offer their own excursions or you can check out what is offered in each port. A word of warning, do your research and check reviews of companies offering tours. You don’t want to be standing at the dock waving bye-bye as the ship sails away without you.
Tip: Check out Cruise Critic’s message boards for each port to see what other cruisers recommend. I have gotten some great advice on excursions by reading reviews.
If you decide to strike out on your own, check out Tom’s Port Guides. You can even print these out and take them with you!
5. Ships come in all sizes and there’s something for everyone!
Whether you want to cruise on a huge mega ship or sail in more intimate surroundings, you will find a cruise ship that fits the bill. Here are some things to consider when you are booking a cruise:
- Budget – if you are on a tight budget consider a cruise line that is more economical like Carnival Cruise Lines. You can save money by watching for sales. Follow potential cruise lines on Twitter to keep informed about upcoming promotions.
- Ship – Do you want to sail on a ship that offers surfing or zip lining? Or would you rather sail on a smaller ship that is less crowded and has cultural activities? Check out the Cruise Lines website to learn more about cruise lines that suit everyone’s tastes.
- Itinerary – Where do you want to go and for how long? I try to get the most bang for my buck so I check out itineraries, how long in port and the ports themselves. Check out Cruise Critic for port reviews and information.