Types of Cruises - Family Cruises
CRUISES FOR THE FAMILY
Surfing on the ocean, ice skating in the tropics, aqua parks at sea, zip lining through the rain forest, living history lessons in legendary destinations, PlayStations, Wii games and iPod Nanos: Families are discovering that a cruise vacation can be an experience almost impossible to imagine.
Family cruises offer something for every member of the cruising family, with fun cruise activities separately or together.
Onboard surfing pools, ice skating rinks, rock climbing walls, outdoor movies and even bowling alleys are some of the amazing features found on today’s cruises. There is top-quality family entertainment, learning programs geared for almost every age traveler, baby-sitting and supervised children’s activities from dawn through the evening, and flexible dining, with special menus and in some cases special dining rooms for kids.
These are some of the reasons that members of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) report that families are one of the fastest growing market segments. One line carries over a half-million kids a year and another has just announced the creation of a Teen Advisory Board to help it create additional innovative children’s programs.
The facilities and programs offered to families on today’s cruise ships are just astonishing. For starters, staying connected has become essential ship technology; many ships are equipped to handle Internet, cell phones, video games – in one case a 300-square foot PlayStation screen – and all the latest technology. For older children there are such attractions as Grand Prix simulators featuring some of the world’s most challenging car racing circuits, basketball courts, arcades and golf course simulators. Among the recreational options onshore in port or on a cruise line’s private island are water skiing, banana boats, tubing, wave running, snorkelling, and sailing.
Onboard enrichment programs for children and families on these types of cruises range from arts and crafts to a unique marine environment program created by the famed Jean-Michel Cousteau. There are supervised nurseries for the youngest travelers, science labs, age-specific dedicated children’s and teen clubs and, in some cases, “children-only” recreation areas or decks. There are onboard “camps” where children learn to be disc jockeys or Broadway stars or celebrity chefs. And, depending on the itinerary, shore excursions may include special family-oriented sightseeing or recreational activities, visiting historical sites and other options of interest to young travelers ranging from zip-lining in the canopy of tropical rain forests to kayaking in Alaska and elsewhere. But, while these may be reasons enough for choosing a cruise vacation, there are many others that explain the appeal for travelers of all ages, especially when traveling as a family on these types of cruises.
Cruise lines offer cruises ranging in length from three days to several weeks on these types of cruises. They sail to all parts of the world with ships large and small. They cross oceans and navigate some of the great rivers of Europe and North America. And they are great educational and bonding experiences for families.
The shipboard experience offers a self-contained, safe and healthy environment in which every member of a family may pursue his or her own interests. While parents are luxuriating at the adults-only pool area or taking cooking or foreign language classes, the kids can be in camp, surfing, hanging out with new friends at the soda bar, watching movies, playing video games or all of the above.
Age specific children’s programs cater to children of all ages – from toddlers to teens. Trained youth counselors keep the kids active and entertained while under a watchful eye. The children interact and make new friends, giving Mom and Dad a chance to relax.
Cruise ships offer family-friendly accommodations, in the same stateroom or adjoining rooms, even duplex suites.
Cruises offer inclusive pricing. For the price of the vacation, families are sure to have accommodations, meals and snacks, entertainment, a wealth of onboard activities and use of facilities, and attentive service. Many cruise lines also offer special family pricing.
Some cruise lines offer special packages for family groups and one of the hottest trends in cruising today is the growth of multigenerational families cruising together in celebration of family reunions, wedding anniversaries and other special occasions.
On a cruise there is no need to worry about travel arrangements, airport hassles, checking hotel reservations; the family arrives at the ship, packs and unpacks only once, the rest of the vacation is total relaxation.
Photo courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line