What to Do When Traveling on a Cruise Ship with Family

what to do when traveling on a cruise ship
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Going on a cruise is one of the most fun and memorable vacation experiences for families. From glitzy entertainment to action-packed adventures, cruises have something special to offer travelers of all ages.

Planning a cruise vacation with kids can seem daunting, but with the right activities and planning, it can be a truly unforgettable family bonding experience.

Engaging Cruise Ship Entertainment for Kids

Modern cruise ships go all out to entertain kids and teens with exciting scheduled activities from morning to night. Here are some of the most popular forms of cruise ship entertainment for families:

Kids Clubs and Camps: Most family cruise ships have dedicated kids clubs and camps with specialized programming and counselors to look after different age groups. They organize theme parties, treasure hunts, arts and crafts, movie nights and more. It’s a great way for kids to have fun and give parents some alone time.

Waterparks and Pool Parties: Family cruise ships feature exciting waterparks and pools, with options like waterslides, splash pads, swimming, pool games and poolside entertainment. Expect pool parties with music, dancing, games and sometimes even parades and chariot races in the pool!

Character Meet and Greets: What kid doesn’t love meeting beloved characters from Disney, Nickelodeon or DreamWorks Animation? Family cruise ships bring these famous characters on board for scheduled meet and greet events, dance parties and photo ops.

Family Shows and Entertainment: At night, cruise ships put on spectacular musicals, magic shows, acrobatics shows, 3D movies, and game shows designed to dazzle and delight the entire family. The entertainment is equivalent to a Broadway production.

Family-Friendly Cruise Vacation Ideas

Beyond scheduled kids activities, cruises also offer plenty of family bonding opportunities. Here are top family-friendly ideas for your next cruise:

Family Games and Trivia: Many cruise ships host family game show hours or trivia contests in their lounges. Compete against other families in fun games and puzzles and win prizes!

Family Karaoke: Belt out your favorite tunes together at family karaoke sessions on cruise ships! Most ships have karaoke lounges and also host karaoke parties by the pool.

Lawn Games: Modern cruise ships often feature sports decks or open lawns with games like mini golf, basketball, volleyball which are great for family participation and bonding.

Family Story Time: For a quiet family activity, visit the library on board for family storytelling sessions. Many cruise ships also have cozy movie theaters to catch a family-friendly flick together.

Family Cruise Shore Excursions: When docked at a port, cruise ships offer specialized shore excursions for families to explore the destination together. Go on a jungle safari ride, visit museums, or learn something new on a food tour. The options are endless!

Unforgettable Cruise Experiences for Families

In addition to scheduled activities, here are some of the most memorable experiences families can have on a cruise:

Watch the Stars on the Top Deck: Find a cozy spot on the top deck at night and stargaze together as a family. Cruising on the open seas offers unmatched stargazing opportunities you simply can’t experience on land. Your kids will be amazed!

Wake Up to a New Destination: Waking up docked at an exciting new destination every single day of your cruise creates lifelong memories for kids. Experience new cultures and cities together as you cruise to marquee ports around the world.

Captain’s Dinner and Parade: Most cruise ships host a special Captain’s farewell dinner and parade where kids have the chance to visit the bridge to meet the captain. The gala dinner and parade builds an incredibly festive, celebratory atmosphere.

Room Service Movie Nights: After long days filled with activities, order snacks like popcorn and pizza via 24/7 room service and have cozy family movie nights right in your cabin. It’s a perfect way to unwind together.

Creating Lasting Memories on a Family Cruise

More than just a mode of transportation from one destination to another, a cruise itself creates lifelong memories through meaningful shared experiences:

Capture Precious Moments: Capture your family bonding moments and milestones achieved on your trip through vacation photoshoots with the ship photographers. Print photo books once home to commemorate the memories.

Mark It on the Calendar: Have kids mark down highly anticipated cruise activities like the first kids club activity, gala dinner night, etc on calendars leading up to the trip to build their excitement. Display these calendars long after in their rooms.

Start a Travel Scrapbook Tradition: Kickstart a family tradition of scrapbooking your favorite cruise memories through an onboard scrapbooking class. Add memorabilia like ticket stubs and photos to the book each trip.

Celebrate Milestones: Take the opportunity on your family cruise to celebrate kids’ milestones like birthdays, losing teeth, learning to swim – it will give them memories tied to the vacation for life. Order a celebration cake delivered to your cabin to surprise them!

Planning the Perfect Family Cruise Itinerary

The key to keeping everyone happy on a family cruise is planning a jam-packed itinerary tailored to your family’s interests. Here’s how:

Choose the Right Cruise Line: Some cruise lines like Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival Cruise Line specialize in family cruises. They offer the most family amenities, dining and cabin options for an enjoyable trip.

Factor in Ports and Destination: Choose cruise itineraries with family-friendly ports of call like tropical beaches, amusement parks, or historical sites that align with your kids’ interests to enrich on-shore time.

Balance Activity Levels: Plan a mix of high energy activities like shore excursions and waterparks along with leisure time for movies and family meals for a balanced experience.

Accommodate Age Groups: Ensure your itinerary has specific experiences earmarked for kids, teens and parents respectively, so each family member can enjoy activities suited to their age.

Budget Extra Onboard Expenses: Treat experiences like photography, shore excursions and character dining do add up so budget accordingly to make treasured memories worry-free!

Keeping Kids Entertained on a Cruise

Cruises can sometimes have long days spent at sea as you travel from one destination to another. Here are great ways to keep kids entertained during days at sea:

Play Games On Board: In addition to deck games, cruise ships have game rooms with videogames, air hockey and arcade games. Break out board games and playing cards in your cabin or a lounge for easy entertainment.

Watch Movies: Catch a family movie at the ship’s cinema, or choose from a huge library of on-demand kids movies to watch from the comfort of your stateroom when unwinding for the night.

Burn Energy at the Gym: Let kids bounce off walls at the ship’s gym which is packed with basketball courts, jungle gyms and activities. You can even enroll older kids in special supervised kids’ classes.

Try Out Arts and Crafts: From glass fusion projects to sand art, cruise ships have expansive arts and crafts studios to spark kids’ creativity on days spent at sea. The masterpieces make great souvenirs!

Attend Kids’ Events: Ships have jam-packed kids’ events calendars to prevent boredom with activities like kids’ trivia, puppet shows, magic classes, story time and more through the day.

Making the Most of Your Family Cruise Adventure

Here’s how your family can have an unforgettable experience on your cruise:

Partake in Exclusive Experiences: Splurge on exclusive cruise experiences like personal meet-and-greets with cruise characters, VIP seating at shows, and private cabanas by the pool. These money-can’t-buy events create special memories.

Surprise Kids: Delight kids by surprising them with gifts like personalized robes, keepsake photos, souvenirs from ports, and goodies delivered by room service to make them feel extra special.

Try New Foods Together: Cruise ships offer incredibly diverse cuisine from sushi to fondue. Embrace an adventurous palette as a family by trying international cuisine together. It builds great memories!

Take Themed Family Photos: Capture the festive cruise spirit through themed photos at venues like elegant lobbies, with characters or in formal night attire to record precious family memories. Display your favorite vacation photos once home.

Participate in Cruise Traditions: Partake in beloved cruise traditions as a family like the elegant “Captain’s Dinner”, watching the late-night adult comedy shows, placing bids at art auctions and watching movies under the stars for true cruise memories.

Top Attractions and Activities for Families on a Cruise

In addition to onboard entertainment, cruise ships offer top-notch attractions for the whole family to enjoy. Here are some key highlights:

Family Friendly Pools: Family ships have expansive pool decks with splash pools, mini water slides and water play zones catered to kids, alongside adult pools, ideal for families to spend quality time.

Outdoor Movie Nights: Many ships transform into floating drive-in movie theaters at night, playing blockbuster family movies on poolside jumbo screens. Cozy up on deck with popcorn under the stars.

Broadway Style Shows: Family cruise ships put on sensational, Broadway-caliber musicals like Grease, Mamma Mia, Cats etc featuring talented ensemble casts and dazzling costumes in elegant theaters.

Water Parks and Slides: For thrills and spills, ships feature exhilarating water park attractions like racing slides, surf simulators, water coaster rides and splash zones guaranteed to delight everyone.

Ice Skating Rinks: Guests can watch professional ice skating revues in ultramodern rinks on ships or even learn to skate themselves at special family skating sessions offered on some liners.

Bumper Cars and Arcades: Have hilariously fun times on cruise ship bumper cars alongside expansive kids’ arcades with games, rides and virtual reality for an adrenaline rush!

Tips for a Smooth and Enjoyable Family Cruise Vacation

Taking a cruise with kids may seem challenging but these handy tips will ensure your family trip is hassle-free:

Book Early: Book connecting staterooms early to secure room availability and discounted group rates for your whole family. Booking early also allows you to secure vacation dates that work.

Download the Cruise App: Most cruise lines offer handy cruise-planning apps with schedules, maps, booking services etc to help families conveniently plan days while onboard in real time.

Pack Smartly: Strategize luggage and pack multi-purpose clothing like lightweight jackets that transition across dress codes for dinners, shows etc so you can travel light.

Set a Meetup Spot: Pick a designated family meetup spot like a lounge, restaurant or deck in case anyone gets separated so they know where to find the rest.

Leverage Kids Programs: Sign kids up for tailored kids’ programs, clubs and camps right away on boarding so you can also enjoy couple time on your family trip.

Buy Beverage Packages: Unlimited drink packages for the whole trip often offer the best value and convenience for families so you don’t have to worry about bills.

Making Memories on Land or Sea

Planning a vacation in 2024? A cruise trip and a land vacation both have their own adventures and comforts to offer. Here’s a comparison of cruise ship vacations vs land resort stays to help choose your perfect family trip.

CategoryCruise ShipsLand Resorts
Level of ConvenienceHassle-free planning and travel with all-inclusive packages.
Chat with an expert cruise consultant for the perfect trip.
Everything taken care of from amenities, dining, entertainment to transportation.
Need to plan flights, transport, hotel, dining, activities separately.
Less all-inclusive amenities so extras do add up.
Need more self planning for changing destinations.
Variety of Destinations*Visit multiple must-see destinations and check off bucket list items without having to repack.
Wake up at a new exotic destination every day while your cabin goes with you.
Ideal for island hopping and exploring ports of call.
Typically visit just 1 destination for the whole trip.
Miss out on flexibility of visiting multiple locales in one vacation.
Often need separate trips to cross off bucket list.
Quality Family TimeBond over shared onboard activities and entertainment.
With everything accessible 24/7, more time can be spent together.
Often more exclusive character experiences.
Scheduling on-land activities takes more effort.
Traveling between attractions eats into family time.
Less inclusive entertainment so experiences are more fragmented.
Types of ActivitiesBroader range of specialized activities like go kart racing, skating shows, etc.
Laughter and excitement from onboard attractions.
Unique experiences like glassblowing classes.
Outdoors and cultural immersion from area tours.
Education value from museum visits.
Adventure from water sports like snorkeling, hiking.
Budget FactorAdvantage of all inclusive packages.
Budget for some upcharges like photos, premium dining, etc.
Interior cabins ideal to save.
Flights and dining all add up fast.
Budget hotels have fewer amenities.
Cost climbs for roomier suites or villas.
Relaxation and ComfortBlissful days lounging by the pool.
No packing/unpacking with the same comfortable cabin.
Everything accessible 24/7.
More comfortable spacious hotel suites.
Quiet privacy away from crowds.
Recharge out in nature.

Which is Better for Your Family?

While cruise vacations offer ultimate convenience, land stays provide cultural immersion. Evaluate your family’s trip priorities, ages of children, budget etc to decide whether your gang may fare better on a family cruise or iconic land destination. A travel agent can also provide guidance. Multi-generational groups often thrive better on cruises with endless amenities to please all ages while younger kids tend to prefer exciting land resorts.

Ultimately family trips are all about meaningful bonding. Whether you pick a cruise liner or an exciting global destination, choose the location your whole family is most excited for to ensure maximum smiles. Prioritize experiences that draw you closer instead of just ticking off tourist sites. That’s the cornerstone of lifelong family vacation memories.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What amenities do family cruise ships offer?
Family cruise ships go above and beyond to cater to kids and parents. They offer kids clubs with age-based activities, gaming arcades, waterslides, dedicated family pools, extensive kids menus, baby-sitting services, playrooms etc. Family cruise cabins also have extra bathrooms, video game consoles and bunk beds.

What facilities do family members have access to on cruises?
All family members regardless of age have access to ships’ endless amenities like multiple pools and whirlpools, waterparks, sports courts, full-service spas, state-of-the-art fitness centers, running tracks, discos, theaters, libraries, lounges to enjoy together or separately.

Can I take an infant on a cruise?
Most cruise ships allow infants over 6 months old onboard. Family cruise ships offer baby supplies like diapers, wipes, food blenders, bottle sanitizers, high chairs etc which can be pre booked or rented. Some cruises also have Fisher Price toy rooms. Nurseries with babysitting services are also available.

What cruise lines are best for toddlers?
Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Carnival shine for toddler offerings like splash pads, interactive walls, and play areas. Many connectivity features allow you to monitor kids remotely. Toddler programs include activities like story time, exploring, sensory play etc.

How can grandparents bond with grandkids on cruises?
Multigenerational family groups thrive on cruises which have activities for all ages like karaoke, games, entertainment and ports that spark conversations. Grandparents can relive traditions treating grandkids to favorite cruise experiences like afternoon tea, theater shows etc for priceless bonding.

A cruise vacation offers unmatched convenience, luxury and excitement for creating magical family memories vs the cultural immersion of a land vacation. Evaluate priorities like activities, budget, ages and group interests before you pick your family vacation. But whether you sail the high seas or jet set to an iconic destination, ensure you spend quality time bonding for lifelong memories.

Advertorial: This post contains sponsored content, advertisements, or affiliate links. Read our full advertorial disclosure here.

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