Cruising here in Australia seems to be growing exponentially in popularity every year. It seems that most of my friends have tried a cruise and have enjoyed themselves so much they’ve returned for more!
Feeling a little left out, we finally enjoyed a long overdue family cruise around the Western Caribbean last year as part of #ourUSAadventure and it was a revelation. We sailed with Royal Caribbean International and their staff could not do enough to help make our experience a memorable one (for all the right reasons!)
While we are still relative newbies when it comes to cruising we still learned a lot over the course of those 7 days. We feel there are definitely a few things you can take advantage of when you take that first cruise to make your holiday better than perfect.
For those of you who are yet to take the leap, here are our tips for fun family cruising.
7 essential tips for fun family cruising
Carry on luggage
Ensure you have everything you need in your carry-on luggage before you check in your bags upon arrival. Your luggage does not immediately appear in your room upon embarkation so if you want to change, get into swimmers or if you need take take medication, pack it in the carry-on luggage you take with you onto the ship. Your kids, and your sanity, will thank you for your foresight!
We were able to enjoy a near-empty pool because we were prepared!
Eat before you board
You could wait and eat when you get on the ship but having a snack before you board saves you lining up and waiting in the crowded dining areas. Because every family on the ship is going to do one of two things – go straight to the pool or head straight to the dining rooms. So if you are keen to swim, eat before you board so you can secure a deckchair and get prime position poolside.
Book a family suite
If you are a family of four you could get away with booking a single 4 berth cabin. You may be cramped but you could get by. However, if you are a larger family or if you crave a little more space, consider booking a family suite. It may cost a little more but having that extra space is worth it, especially if you are taking a cruise of 7 days or more. Remember, you will need to book early to secure one of these as they are snapped up fast.
We enjoyed lots of space in our family suite when we cruised with Royal Caribbean International
Reconsider the shore excursion
I’m the first to admit that cruising is not all about the ship – it’s also about the places you visit along the way. But for some families it may be a better idea to ditch a shore excursion and take advantage of the amenities of the ship without crowds instead. If you really do want to head onshore, wait until after lunch. That way you can eat on the ship, you miss the crowds of the morning and you get to have the ship virtually to yourself!
Be upfront about any dietary needs
Nathan and I are both coeliac and we found that it paid off to be honest with dining staff throughout the cruise. During the day we would normally eat at the communal buffet and the chefs there were fantastic in advising us of what we could and couldn’t eat. They even provided us with gluten free goodies from the kitchens – which we would not have been offered had we remained silent about our needs. So be upfront- chances are, they can accommodate your dietary requirements!
Our gluten free haul on a single visit to the dining buffet!
Wear a good old wrist watch
If you are like me, you rely on your mobile phone for pretty much everything, including keeping the time. Most mobile phones will connect with the local network when you are onshore and, therefore, reflect local time. However, sometimes ship time differs to local time which has the potential to cause confusion. So consider taking a wrist watch with you to make sure you remain on ship time when ashore. This should keep you out of trouble and ensure you are not late back to the ship. Because cruises are VERY strict on departure times – so don’t risk being late!
Pack sea sickness tablets as a precaution
We never had to use ours but it’s ALWAYS a good idea to take along sea sickness medication or wristbands when you embark on your first cruise. Like us, you may not really know how your kids (or you!) are going to cope with the movement of the ship. So having some medication ready to go will help nip any potential sea sickness issues in the bud.
These are just a few ways to make your first family cruising adventure a little more fun. Do you have any more tips for fun family cruising?