Essential Tips for Your Next Family Cruise

Considering a family cruise in 2019? Wondering if it will be a disaster at sea or the trip of a lifetime? Traveling with little ones anywhere can be nerve racking; and boarding a ship for a predetermined length of time without the option to abort might be some parents’ worst nightmare! We want to eliminate those nerves and reassure you that a cruise with your little ones might just be the perfect family getaway.

cruise ship in the bay

Here are some essential tips and tricks to make sure your adventures at sea are enjoyed by the entire gang. Before you know it, you’ll be smooth sailin’!

Contact a travel agent.

First on the to-do list is to decide which cruise is best for your family and to book your trip. Yay! We recommend working with a travel agent as they are highly knowledgeable and versed on all the options you’ll have. Most of us don’t frequent cruises as often as air travel, so it’s best to consult a travel agent as they’ll be able to properly guide you. Also, they may have access to better pricing and specials that otherwise aren’t available when booking on your own. PS: when meeting with your agent for the first time, have an idea of cruise destinations your family might enjoy. We like this list and search tool from @cruisecritic.

Take advantage of all the activities and things to do!

Family cruises and cruise lines that cater to kiddos have lots of activities, events, excursions, and entertainment. Make sure to soak up as much as you can, especially since these activities are unique to the cruise experience. Most cruises will offer a list and guidebook of activities prior to setting sail. Review the options with your entire family. Let the kids pick out a few things they’d like to do. That way they are involved in the decision making process and they’ll get super excited!

Schedule a travel day “sandwich”.

Try to arrive at your departure destination at least one day prior to the start of the your cruise and give yourself one travel and adjustment day to get home before going back to school and work. Hence, the travel day sandwich. You sandwich your vacation in between two travel days. Adding (at least) two days to your trip (one at the beginning and one at the end) will keep anxiety at bay, allow for jet lag adjustment, and give some buffer time in case flights are delayed, weather happens, etc. Just make this part of your vacation routine in general. You will never regret having a little extra time to explore your departure city or a few extra hours at home to do laundry before heading into your busy week back at work. The kids will love this too. They won’t feel as rushed and they get to spend more time with family.

kids on a cruise ship waiting to swim and snorkel
Bring everyone’s swimsuit in your carry on…and sunscreen too!

It may take a little while to check into your cabin and get your luggage once you’ve boarded the ship; so make sure to pack everything you might need for Day 1 into your carry on. Bring swimsuits, snacks, sunscreen, diapers, and wipes. Keep it simple but be prepared too. Better yet! Have the kids carry their own small backpack full of Day 1 necessities. We like these travel sets by @heysluggage.

Pack (matching!) refillable water bottles to stay hydrated.

Travel can make us all a little dehydrated, so definitely make sure to bring water bottles for the entire fam. Camelbak water bottles are always a great option. Make a travel kit (using their new @heysluggage bags) for the kiddos and include a brand new Camelbak, along with some of their favorite snacks, a new book, and maybe a small @melissaanddougtoys puzzle they can do at night. They’ll be so excited!

Get to know the staff and crew (they will help you!).

We asked BabyQuip providers if they had any recommendations on how to navigate a family cruise and many mentioned the value and importance of getting to know the ship staff. Whether it’s the dinner team, kids’ club crew, or excursion leaders, these are the folks that you’ll reach out to for help and they will definitely be your kids’ new best friends! Also, they will get to know you and the kids, so hopefully dinner time goes smoothly because they remember that Johnny doesn’t like mayonnaise and maybe you can even squeeze in a date night because the baby loves Jenny in the kids’ club!

girl dreaming of a cruise
Don’t forget your baby gear!

Why spend so much time planning the perfect cruise only to be gearless and without the basic baby gear necessities? Definitely rent a small umbrella stroller from the local BabyQuip provider in your departure city. They’ll meet you on your travel sandwich day so you have the stroller prior to boarding. An umbrella stroller is perfect for cruising the deck while baby naps or to make sure you all can enjoy every pit stop excursion

Avoid the seasickness and be prepared.

Little ones and motion sickness often go hand in hand. This is unfortunate, but there are a few ways to avoid it or minimize the impact. Try to book cabins in the center of the ship and request a porthole or balcony. The motion and movement won’t be as extreme at the middle of the ship and your kiddos will feel better with some fresh air or a view of the ocean. Also, make sure to bring medications, motion sickness meds, and other pills you need with you. Purchasing them on the ship will cost an arm and a leg. You’ll depart the ship at the end of the cruise looking like a legless pirate after purchasing expensive items from the ship store!

Leave the technology at home and be present in the moment!

It may be no surprise, but wifi might be unreliable or slow while you’re in the middle of the ocean. We recommend you leave the technology (phones for Mom and Dad are OK) at home and truly enjoy your cruise. Prepare the kids beforehand and explain to them that it will be a “technology free” zone. You’re family time is precious and you’ll want to soak it all in.

We hope you feel more prepared to embark on a family cruise adventure with these tips and tricks. And who knows? Maybe cruises will be your new family tradition! All aboard!

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