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Parents wanting to make the most of their cruise holiday this summer have been told how to make trips easy and enjoyable whilst travelling with little ones.
Cruising experts at Panache Cruises have provided their ten top tips for parents and carers looking to book a trip on the seas away with their children.
Even before a cruise is booked it’s essential to check what the minimum age requirements are and if the ship offers on-board kids clubs to keep children entertained.
Read through the cruise itinerary before boarding to ensure the trip is going to suit all family members. Children are more prone to motion sickness too so it may be sensible to keep extended periods at sea to a minimum.
Research each destination beforehand to make sure there are plenty of family-friendly activities to do, as well as checking if any entertainment needs to be booked in advance.
Consider booking a hotel near the departure port the night setting sail as this will allow for a stress-free start to the trip. This also gives parents the time to get children ready, board early and get settled in on the ship.
Packing a bag of essentials to keep close by after boarding is always a good idea as it may be some time before the checked bags arrive in the stateroom. This might include toys, wipes, nappies or a change of clothes for kids. This will make life much easier after check-in.
A large family-friendly stateroom or two interconnecting cabins will give everyone the space to relax on-board. Also consider packing or hiring a travel-suitable pram instead of bringing a bulky one so the stateroom doesn’t get cluttered.
Here are Panache Cruises’ ten top tips for cruising with kids:
On-board kids club
The most important thing before booking a cruise with younger ones is to make sure the ship is kids-friendly and will be able to cater to children. Do your research and find out if there is a kids club on-board – and check if this needs to be booked in advance. Make sure your children meet the age requirements to attend the activities too. Also check to see if there is a nursery or creche on-board to look after younger ones. Some cruise lines will also offer a fully accredited babysitting service for an additional fee.
Cruises have age requirements
Many cruise lines will have a minimum age requirement for passengers to board. Before even thinking about booking, parents will need to check that this will not impact the holiday. There are typically different age requirements for the amount of sea days, if there are any remote destinations, and where the ship is travelling to. Generally speaking, babies under six months old cannot embark on a cruise.
Choose a cruise line which offers regular entertainment for kids whilst on board. Check the itinerary in advance to see if there are activities every day to suit your plans. It’s important to see if the kids’ entertainment requires a guardian present, or if you’re happy for them to be left in the supervision of staff.
As well as ensuring that the cruise provides kid-friendly meals that your children will enjoy, also look out for any bookings which need to be made to eat at specific restaurants. Stick to children’s mealtimes at home, as close as possible to keep routines similar. It’s a good idea to also pack treats and check out the on-board snack bars for in-between meal times.
Read through the cruise itinerary
Checking over the cruising itinerary will ensure that the holiday will suit all members of your family. Research beforehand to see if there are plenty of family-friendly activities and restaurants at each destination. See how many sea days there are too – kids are more prone to travel and sea sickness, so too many days in between destinations may be a bad idea. Although all modern cruise ships are fully stabilised, larger vessels will typically move less in heavy seas.
Pack a dedicated necessity bag
Having a bag with all of the necessities in one place for little ones will allow parents to access things quickly without having to faff about. Pack all documentation, visas, medication, suncream, change of clothes, wipes, nappies, toys and books in one place – and keep this with you when you board. The same bag will provide a useful ‘one stop shop’ for the entire duration of your cruise.
Ensure that the stateroom has enough space for the whole family, by either booking a family room or two with interconnecting doors. Check that the cruise line can provide a cot for babies, and suitable beds for little ones with side bumpers. Family rooms will also have extra secure, tall verandah railings, although parents should always supervise children when outside.
Pack a travel friendly pram
An essential for walking around with little ones is a pram – but they can often be bulky and heavy. Invest in a pram which can fold up and store well to not take up room in the stateroom. Most cruises allow prams on-board but it’s best to double check first. Some ships will also offer a rent/borrow service for prams.
Book a hotel the night before
Even if you live fairly close to the departure port, it’s a good idea to book a hotel nearby the day before to have a stress-free start to the trip. Being close means you can take time getting children ready, leave extra time for boarding early, and get settled in before departure. Staying overnight also reduces the amount of travelling in one day for children.
Plan some parent time
Finally, make sure to have some time to yourselves as parents, away from the children. Booking kids into an activity evening allows time for a romantic dinner or a chance to go for some drinks at the bar. Check if the cruise offers daytime entertainment under staff supervision without requiring parents to be onboard, to explore a destination for a couple of hours yourselves.
James Cole, CEO of Panache Cruises said: “A cruising holiday for the whole family can be an incredibly special trip away creating some amazing memories for youngsters.
“But the most important thing to do before booking your cruise is to check everything is going to suit your kids, from the facilities on the ship to the ports of call and the duration of the cruise.
“See if there is a children’s club on board, read up on the itinerary, entertainment, what food the restaurants offer and at what times, and check the minimum age requirements.
“Booking into a family-friendly stateroom, or two with adjoining doors if your children are a little older, will give you space as a group, as well as providing specific requirements such as a cot for babies.
“Having just one bag full of necessities to hand when you board such as your child’s favourite toy, their medication, nappies and a change of clothes, will make life a whole lot easier.
“Preparation is key. Having your own specialist cruise advisor will help you plan your holiday to your own exacting requirements. This will give you freedom to enjoy this special experience as a family.”
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