Discover Our Ultimate Guide To Planning A Family Reunion Cruise

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Calligraphy signage pointing direction to family reunion cruise.
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Does your family have a family reunion tradition?  There are as many different types of family reunions as there are different types of families.  In my own family, I believe the paternal side has had two reunions in the past 30 years.  Meanwhile, my maternal side holds down the other side of the spectrum.  That side generally stages one every year like clockwork.  Whether your family hosts reunions all the time, or has never had one before, you should take a close look at family cruising.  A family reunion cruise could be a good option for your family.  Today, we present an article on this topic just for you:  How To Painlessly Connect With Extended Family Through A Family Reunion Cruise.  

Find Out The Reasons A Reunion Cruise Could Be A Good Choice For You.

In this article, you will learn four reasons why a cruise ship can be an excellent venue for a family reunion.  Common barriers to pulling together a successful family reunion include generating sufficient interest for meaningful participation across your extended family, family finances, and logistical headaches.  By staging your reunion around a cruise, you can eliminate all of those problems.  Read more here.

Know The Key Steps To Planning A Successful Event

Planning a successful family reunion of any kind requires a high level of organization and advanced planning.  Learn more about five key steps necessary for planning a successful family reunion cruise.  And, discover the specific perks and benefits you should seek out when planning a reunion cruise.  Read more here.

As we are coming up on two of the biggest family holidays of the year, now is the time to start thinking big and talk about reunion plans for 2018 (or 2019).  

Do you have any reunion plans on the books?  Have you organized or attended a reunion cruise?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Kids Love These Awesome Travel Gifts On Family Holiday Cruises

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Travel gifts for vacationing kids. Vector illustration of kids around xmas tree on beach.

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Over the years, my family has had dozens of gift exchanges with friends and family on board a cruise ship, between Christmas holidays and various summer birthdays.  So we have gotten a pretty good handle on what makes a good gift for a cruise ship based gift exchange.  When we are perusing potential travel gifts, we have found the following three issues are key:

Key Issues With Selecting Travel Gifts For Kids

(1) Can you easily pack this travel gift in standard luggage?  Remember that these travel gifts must be transported at least two times, from your home to the cruise ship and from the cruise ship to the recipient’s home.  So, you don’t want anything that is too heavy, bulky, or fragile.

(2) Can you use this travel gift, at least in part, on the current trip?   Let’s face it.  Kids want to be able to play with their gifts NOW.  Sensible phrases like “wouldn’t it be better to leave it in the box so that none of the pieces get lost and everything makes it home in one piece” sound like gibberish to the eager excited child.  A related point, it should not be a gift that, once opened, consists of 100 pieces, at least 15-20 will be lost between your cruise cabin and home.

(3) Will this travel gift continued to be used once the current trip ends?  I hate the idea of spending good money on gifts that turn out to be used one or two times and then shoved in a drawer.  One hallmark of a particularly fun or cool gift is whether it will continue to be used and appreciated once everyone returns home.

7 Great Ideas for Travel Gifts for Kids

Keeping my three key questions in mind, here are my top 7 recommendations for holiday gifts for kids who cruise.  These are all gifts that I have personally purchased and gifted to at least one child in our travel party, or gifts that were received by at least one child in our travel party and were well received.  In some instances, the original item has been discontinued or updated, so I am providing a link to the latest version.  (Although numbered, we are not “ranking” these suggestions.)

1. V-Tech Kidizoom Action Cam

This camera lives up to its hype.  It is extremely durable and versatile.  While my then 4-year-old was ecstatic to receive this as a gift, I had some concerns as to how long it would actually last.  He is a kid who loves rough and tumble active play.  But this camera has managed to hold up well.  It is also surprising small.  It can literally fit in your pocket.  Box includes accessories that permit mounting on bikes and scooters and for underwater use. With its included accessories, the box weighs about a pound.  Recommended ages: 4 to 9.

2. Crayola Color Wonder Mess-Free Art Kits

Mess-free art kits for kids.  These sets originally started out as just coloring, and included special markers that could only color on special paper.  So no issues with markers all over walls, furniture or clothes.  Crayola has now expanded this concept to other media such as ink stampers and paint.  You can also find kits featuring favorite Disney or Nickelodeon characters.  Most kits weigh less than 1.5 pounds and are compact enough to fit in a tote bag or carry-on luggage.   Recommended for ages 3 to 8.  Check out an extended catalogue here.

3. 7″ Kindle Fire Tablets


A tablet can be your best friend when traveling – both on and off the ship. Tablets can be great for downtime in your room, providing entertainment on a long bus ride (with headphones), or during other long waiting periods. A tablet’s also good if you don’t like the sometimes limited options available on cruise television.  The 7-inch Kindle Fire is the perfect size for travel.  It weighs less than 11 ounces, longest side is only 7.6 inches, and device is less than 1/2 inch thick.  Extremely portable and easily slips into a child’s backpack.

Children will be able to make the most travel use out of a tablet, if they also have a pair of headphones.  Our family favorites have built-in volume limitation and an extra sharing port so that two people can watch something at the same time.  We have also found that ones that fold up for easy storage are quite convenient.  Here are two that fit the bill:

4. Child-Friendly Headphones


5. Melissa & Doug Flip to Win Travel Memory Game

This one is an oldy but a goody – a modern twist on the timeless game of Concentration.  Great for planes, airports and waiting around.  Designed for travel.  All game pieces securely attached.  Set weighs less than 1 1/2 pounds and will easily fit into a tote bag or backpack.  Manufacturer list recommended age range as  5 to 7 recommended; but can easily be adapted for younger children.  Made from real wood and will last for years.


6. Portable Child-Friendly Metal Detectors


When my son first requested one of these as a gift, I was very skeptical that I would find anything suitable.  I assumed it would be too heavy, too expensive, or otherwise too complicated to cart around the world.  I was wrong!  There are several portable metal detectors designed for kids (aka “junior metal detectors”) that are reasonably priced and actually work.  These are great for the beach, park or backyard.  Many models weigh less than 1.5-2 pounds and can easily fit in standard size luggage.

7. Kids’ Snorkeling Set

Exploring the fascinating world under the sea can be a great water sport for cruisers of all ages. Snorkeling is a great way to explore under the sea without needed any special certifications or dozens of hours of special training.  And, it is a water sport that is easily accessible to young children (just remember to add a safety vest!).  Most basic sets weigh less than a pound.  Recommended ages are 4 and up.

Do you have any great ideas for holiday travel gifts to take on a cruise?  I still need to finish my shopping for this year, so please share in the comments below!

Are you ready to start planning a cruise vacation for your family? Download our free Quick Start Guide now!

Our Top 8 Strategies To Disembark With Ease

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When the time comes to disembark from your cruise, this can be a sad and stressful experience.  Not only is your vacation ending, but the process of actually leaving the cruise ship and getting back home can be filled with many unpleasant bumps.  For instance, you may encounter long wait times at several intervals — waiting for an elevator, waiting for your disembark group to be called, waiting in the line to exit the ship, waiting in customs line at the port, waiting for a taxi or other ground transportation, waiting at the airport.  You may also encounter logistical hurdles with managing your luggage,  and corralling your kids.  Or, you may experience sticker shock when you see the grand total on your final cruise bill.  (All those extras can add up quickly!)

Take steps to minimize your stress and ease your family’s journey as you disembark.  Here are our top 8 strategies to a make your disembarkation easier.

1. Timely submit any requested disembarkation forms.

Planning for a smooth disembark starts a few days before your actual last day on the ship.  The cruise line will ask you to complete a short form with your departure details several days before the cruise ends.  The cruise line uses this information to assign disembarkation groups.  Your assignment determines when you will be permitted to exit the ship and when your luggage will be available in the cruise ship terminal.  You want to be assigned to a disembark slot that fits with your ongoing travel plans, so be sure to turn in the form on time.   

2. Review your financial accounts before the final day.

At the end of the cruise, you will be provided with a copy of the charges that have been made to your ship account. You will inevitably see a very long line at guest services on the last day as people try to make adjustments or have issues with their bill. You can avoid that line.  Make a point of getting a copy of your bill midway through the trip to try and catch any problems early.  As with a land-based hotel, you may be able to access a copy of your bill on the television in your stateroom. Read More …