Recently I went on a cruise with my two children. It was a dream trip for me, and our first ever cruise. We learnt a lot about cruising during our eight day adventure. Here are my top tips for taking kids on cruises.
Most cruise ships have Kids Clubs of some sort and they all have different rules and terms. So make sure you know what your ship rules are. On our ship they were split by age group. Many won’t take your child if they require nappy changes, or they may take them but page you when it’s time for a nappy change. The Kids Clubs generally don’t cost you anything during their operating hours, but if they offer after-hours babysitting services you may pay an hourly fee in addition. The Kids Clubs for me were absolutely essential. I was travelling by myself with two children, and the Kids Clubs allowed me to break off and do all the adult things I wanted without having to worry about my kids. If I wanted to party that night, I had safe and fun adults who were willing and capable of hanging with my children. Registration happens pretty quickly on the day. It’s a good idea to register quickly and for best results your kids should go daily even just to check in, so friendships can build. It was not usual for my youngest to beg to go and see her friends.
The ship we were on had several different dining options. One was like a food court. There was also a cafe style place, a sports bar style restaurant and a few restaurants with a more up-market style. The food court was our go-to. It was close to our room and no matter what, I could guarantee that the kids would find something they wanted to eat. Some days my eldest would have two or three meals at a time because she couldn’t choose from just one food station. My kids are pretty fussy so this was amazing to me. I did try one of the upper market places to eat, and then regretted it as they didn’t like the food at all. Don’t get me wrong, I would definitely go again. I would just leave the kids at the Kids Club next time!
Be really clear about what you are happy to spend and watch your balance regularly so you don’t get any nasty surprises. I knew on average most cruisers would spend approximately $500 while on board. This is usually on drinks, ice cream and other entertainment. I decided that I would budget enough for us to each have a mocktail daily as well as ice cream. There were a few days when we had a few more mocktails than budgeted, but we also didn’t eat as much ice cream as I imagined. I made sure the kids knew what things cost, because it was easy to get into a habit of not worrying about it – you hand the a cruise card over and get all the things! It was also important to me to get some of the ship’s photos of us and so I knew I had to budget additional for that. We didn’t get any package deals and found we didn’t need to. Despite making full use of the bars and activities on board, we spent much less than we would have with VIP passes and packages.
Photos and other memories
I have already mentioned it, but this is a holiday and you want some great photos of your time together. I had my phone camera and another camera. I took many selfies, but even those and the ones ship mates took of me and my kids together were not always the best quality. We went to a sitting one evening before a party, and we posed for several on-shore tours. Afterwards I paid for a package of photos and paid additional for the digital files too. Even though I know it was pretty pricey, I also have those memories to look back on and they are honestly my favourite shots.
I packed each of us a visual diary which was a fun way to help capture the days activities. My children wound down at the end of the day, writing up their adventures and drawing pictures of things they had seen.
Okay, I really can’t mention cruising without talking about seasickness. I personally get very seasick anyway. We cruised out of Auckland to Fiji and then back to Auckland. Most people will tell you that cruising in and out of Auckland can be quite rough, so there is that. We felt sick for the first morning after leaving Auckland and the day before we arrived back into New Zealand my eldest was very sick. I can’t recommend a good seasickness medication enough. I was taking some I was prescribed by a doctor, but my kids were just having Sealegs. My eldest hates taking pills, but once she got really ill on the way back, she had to take some and after that, swore by them. We also made use of Seabands which I felt helped her in particular. Ginger beer was my drink of choice on those days too and that was amazing!
The room stewards and staff
When we arrived on the ship, our stewards introduced themselves. They were both super friendly and greeted us any time they saw us. But they were also magic because every time they cleaned our room we would find chocolate or towel animals. My kids got so excited that after breakfast every day they would race to the room to see what it would be. My youngest was absolutely enchanted by the towel animals and they even did a parade on board on the last day so we could see all the talented stewards and their creations.
All the staff were just awesome with the kids. The cruise ship was super family friendly and they seemed genuinely excited to see and interact with the children no matter their role on the ship. From kitchen staff playing peek-a-boo with my youngest, to the bar staff who came to have a quick dance with them one evening when things were winding down.
We came away with some fabulous memories and were all pretty sad to come back to reality. It was an amazing adventure and we will definitely be looking to cruise again!
Have you ever considered a cruise? Would you take the kids too?
This article was written by Kym Moore. Kym is a working mum of two, and occasional blogger. Fancies herself a writer, when she isn’t editing her kids’ vlogs or running their social media at Baby Likes Cake. Follow them on Facebook and YouTube.
Read more on Kidspot: