Cruise Boldly Where Few American Families Cruise On These International Cruise Lines

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explore the world with kids on these international cruises.
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A cruise vacation provides the oft-touted benefit of easily visiting multiple places in a short time frame while only unpacking once.  Those benefits multiply when applied to exploring a whole continent such as Europe through international cruises.  Your family can easily see most of the best known attractions throughout Europe on a 7 to 14 day cruise without the stress of backpacking, train schedules or navigating internal flights.

Although several domestic cruise lines with well established quality kids’ programs routinely sail international routes, you could add an adventurous twist to your next family cruise by booking international cruises with an international cruise line.  And, several international cruise lines offer robust kids’ programs that can compete with domestic lines.  

Related Post: Family Cruisers: Use This Easy Tool to Quickly Weed Through Dozens of Cruise Lines

Sailing on an international cruise line instead of the more typical domestic lines can provide additional benefits of language and cultural immersion not readily found on your standard Carnival or Royal Caribbean cruise.  By taking a look at some of the international cruises offered by international cruise lines, it is possible to create a “mini” immersion/enrichment experience that suits your budget and style.  (For tips on how to enhance the cultural and educational experiences on your cruise, check out this article from U.S. News & World Report.)

Exploring international cruises can also  be a way to enhance a more extended land-based vacation with a cruise.  So, for instance, you could cruise with a German-based cruise line as part of a German/Switzerland grand tour.  Or, if you want to immerse your family in the cultures of the Iberian peninsula, you could incorporate a trip on a Spanish based cruise.  This same theory applies to international cruises focused on Asia, Australia and the South Pacific. Read More …

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These Awesome Cruises Actually Have Childcare For Babies

Posted onLeave a commentCategoriesbabies, childcare, cruise choices, toddlers

The ideal family cruise will provide opportunities for every member of the family to have fun.  The kids’ club and related youth programming offered by the cruise ship can be a key part of making that happen.  For one thing, those programs provide an array of activities and facilities throughout the cruise that appeal to a wide range of youngsters.  And, while the kids enjoy the youth program activities, their grown ups have the chance to pursue their own agenda.  Win-win.  So, can you find these same types of opportunities when cruising with a baby?  Yes, but it may take a little more work.  (Find more tips on cruising with a baby here.)

One key challenge with cruising with a baby is identifying cruise ships that have childcare and play options for babies and toddlers.  While almost all major cruise lines have a kids’ club and youth programs that welcome kids that are at least 3 years old (with a few starting at age 2), options for kids under two are less common.  That said, they do exist, and parents can find a variety of options with some advanced planning.  cruising with a baby-cartoon drawing of four different baby faces

When evaluating options, you should distinguish between options that require a parent or caregiver to stay, and options that allow parents to drop off their kids.  Many cruise lines will offer play facilities or play times where parents can come play with their kids along with other families.  For instance, Celebrity cruises offers “Toddler Time,” which is a designated play period when parents bring kids under 3 to interact with other kids and families.  Celebrity provides the play space and a variety of appropriate toys.  Similarly, Norwegian Cruise Line offers a “Guppies Program” for children under 3 that requires parent participation.  The Program includes both open play sessions and hosted activities. Read More …

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Cruise For Cheaper Than Disney On These Fun Family Favorites

Posted onLeave a commentCategoriesbabies, childcare, cruise choices, Ships

Color Cartoon of Fun Cruise ShipWhen many people first consider taking their family on a fun cruise, a Disney Cruise probably pops to mind.  For years, Disney has set the platinum standard for quality family entertainment.  And, Disney particularly excels when it comes to young children. But, for many folks, a quick visit to the Disney Cruise website may deliver painful sticker shock. Disney often lists its cruises at prices nearly double those of many other major cruise lines. (For a price comparison snap shot see here).  No doubt about it: A Disney Cruise has lots of bells and whistles with its outstanding facilities, top-notch family accommodations and high quality programs.  But, those bells and whistles come with a premium price tag.

If a Disney Cruise isn’t quite in your budget right now, don’t despair. You can still sail on a fun cruise with your family. The more budget-friendly options listed below have lots of wow factors and kid appeal that you can consider instead. Granted, they won’t have Mickey and Minnie (or all of the princesses).  But, they still offer a wide variety of things to keep your family happily entertained.

Fun Cruise No. 1: RC Harmony of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas is the newest ship from Royal Caribbean.  It currently holds the title as the world’s largest cruise ship sailing. Of all of the cruises that are colorable alternatives to a Disney cruise, this fun cruise rests at the top of the list. Like Disney, it features numerous characters from family movies that children love. Through Royal Caribbean’s partnership with DreamWorks studios, it offers numerous character experiences with characters from movies such as Shrek, Madagascar, and Trolls. (On some ships, Royal Caribbean has also featured characters from Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, and Home (coming soon).) Similar to the Disney Cruise line-up, activities include character dining, live shows,  character parades, 3D movies and special activities in the kids’ clubs.  Families may also join numerous photo opportunities throughout the cruise. Read More …

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