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5 Surprising Reasons Why Cruises Are the Best Family Getaway with Kids!

If you have children, grandchildren, or other children in the family, you might be wondering whether a cruise would be a good option for your family holiday/ vacation.

I have been cruising since I was a child, and now I take my nieces on cruises. They love it as much as I did.

I also understand why parents of small children would worry about the safety of taking their children on a large ocean-going ship. We will also look at these concerns in this article.

Emma Cruises, Norwegian Spirit Alaska
My first cruise on Norwegian Spirit in 2005. We had a balcony cabin, and we visited Alaska

#1 Cruising Is Entertaining For Children

There is so much going on to keep children entertained – most of this entertainment is completely free.

There are kids’ clubs that you can sign your children up for. These clubs offer games, arts and crafts, outdoor activities, video game tournaments, and more.

You can just put your child into the kids’ clubs for odd sessions here and there. They don’t need to be there all the time. You might find your child is begging to go, though, and doesn’t want to spend time with their boring old parents!

Sign your children up for a space in the Kids Club as soon as you board. Spaces are at a premium, particularly in school holidays.

I have heard of parents who feel guilty about putting their children into kids’ clubs while on holiday. If the kids are having a great time and you get to spend some restful adult time with your partner, family or friends, I don’t see the problem!

As well as kid’s clubs, there are magic shows and entertainment for children. There are always plenty of ways to keep them amused.

I recently sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas with my two nieces. They took part in LOADS of free activities, including:

  • Bumper Cars
  • Laser Quest
  • Roller Skating
  • The Rock Climbing Wall
  • Swimming
  • The North Star panoramic viewing platform
  • One even had a go in the sky diving simulator!

Understandably, some activities have age or height restrictions. I like water slides and VR games as much as my nieces!

Find out about some of the exciting activities I took part in on Norwegian Prima here:

#2 Cheap Deals For Children

You often see cheap cruise fares for children, these offer great value for parents.

Sometimes, you see offers where the third and fourth people in a cabin travel for £99—or even for free! Obviously, your cabin would be more cramped with a family of four sharing it, but it is similar to sharing a hotel room or premier inn on land.

Cabins that accommodate four people sell out quite quickly, though, particularly during school holidays, so you need to plan and book well in advance.

p&o iona conservatory balcony cabin
A sofa makes up the third bed on P&O’s Iona. Another “Pullman” type bed can be pulled down from the ceiling

I slept here for a week without any problems!

With Italian cruise lines like MSC or Costa, children are counted as being children until they turn eighteen. They may be entitled to reduced fares, and reduced daily gratuities. On some American cruise lines adult fares are applicable once a child is twelve.

In addition to paying adult cruise fares, if you are sailing with a cruise line that charges daily gratuities, be aware that companies like Norwegian Cruiseline will charge children the same amount in gratuities as adults once they reach three years of age.

Costa charges a reduced gratuity rate for children, which is around half the price of adult gratuities.

Find out everything you need to know about gratuities here:

Cruise Gratuities: A Simple Step by Step Guide For First Time Cruisers

Fare offers vary. MSC cruises who are known for award-winning family facilities deliver unforgettable cruise experiences for kids of all ages and their families. A typical MSC offer is shown below:

With our exclusive Kids Sail Free offer, one or two children under 18, sharing a cabin with two full paying adults, can travel for free. Guests over 18, still sharing the cabin with two full paying adults, will enjoy up to 50% discount on the the rates paid from the two full paying adults.

MSC Cruises
royal caribbean cruise ship independence of the seas inside cabin three four people bunk beds from ceiling
Sometimes the third and fourth passengers have “Pullman beds” that fold down from the ceiling, or a sofa bed – Independence of the Seas inside the cabin.

#3 More Freedom

As I mentioned, my family first cruised when I was eleven and my brother was nine. What I loved most about cruising was that I could go with my older cousins to get pizza from the buffet, and make new friends outside of my immediate family.

I was a very sensible child, so my parents allowed me a certain amount of freedom, as long as I checked in regularly with them – I wasn’t allowed to run wild.

I felt very grown up, being able to take a certain amount of responsibility for my own actions for a change.

Pizza Celebrity Edge
Buffet Pizza

When I recently sailed with a large family group on Anthem of the Seas, everyone enjoyed their cruise. My Mum and brother would go and eat at an adults-only Bistro, while my nieces and I grabbed pizza and cookies in the buffet.

I went to the adult only solarium sometimes, whilst my nieces and their parents did Arts and Crafts.

We all met up to try the Bumper Cars. They were free, but you had to line up, as they were very popular!

We could all meet up in the main dining room for dinner and discuss what we had been up to during the day. There really was an entertainment option to suit every family member.

I got a free slot to try the sky diving simulator on Anthem of the Seas.

4# It’s A Great Education

I think that travelling to different parts of the world and experiencing other countries and cultures is a great learning experience for children.

Learning about other countries from books or the internet is great, but it doesn’t compare to visiting those places and experiencing the sights, sounds and smells.

Emma Hawaii 2005
Hawaii 2005 I visited the Volcano National park – and walked through a lava tube.

#5 Make New Friends From Around The World

I liked to go to the kids’ clubs, and it was cool to make new friends from around the world!

I even managed to make friends with some children who were sailing in the exclusive “Haven” area onboard a Norwegian cruise ship. They took me back to their suite, and I was able to help myself to free sweets/candy. I thought it was the best thing ever!

I got to re-live that experience on my most recent Norwegian cruise to Alaska, where I had a good look around the exclusive Haven area. Find out more about that visit bringing back childhood memories in the video below:

Will My Children Be Safe On A Cruise Ship?

I think this is most parents major concern when thinking about booking a cruise. If you have never been on a cruise ship, it is hard to imagine the scale of these huge ships.

You never hear news stories about children “accidentally falling off” cruise ships. When you hear about people falling from ships, they are always adults. Usually, these adults are acting recklessly, there has been alcohol involved, or the person deliberately jumped overboard.

There are barriers around the top deck of cruise ships – or any open promenade decks. Often, there are large glass windbreaks, too – meaning you couldn’t just fall over the edge.

A child would have to deliberately and intentionally move furniture and climb over the edge to fall. As ever, parents need to supervise their children closely to make sure no accidents happen.

If you are concerned about having a cabin with a balcony and will always worry about the safety of balcony railings, why not book an ocean-view room instead? Problem solved.

Below are some photos recently taken on cruise ships. You can see the safety barriers clearly evident in every picture.

RCI Drinks cup Emma cruises Anthem of the Seas
Top deck onboard Anthem of the Seas. The barriers are chest height on me.
By the pool area on Anthem of the Seas there are large glass windows, not open railings
One of Royal Caribbean’s largest ships, Symphony of the Seas. Railings everywhere!
Promenade deck onboard Norwegian Encore. Promenade decks are further down the ship, nearer the sea.

Find out more about Promenade decks here, what they are, and what they are used for here:

Cruise Ship Promenade Decks – Photos, Uses, and History

Large glass panels are higher than the railing to help create a windbreak towards the front of the ship.

Before You Go

Lots of people with babies and children enjoy cruising. I don’t have any children myself, but read these guest post from people who have below.

Find the things to think about before cruising with a baby here:

5 things you should know before cruising with a baby

This guest post talks about cruising with a toddler in the family:

Cruising with a toddler: Royal Caribbean Tips 2019

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

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