Years ago, cruising was a luxury available to the very rich or to couples who were willing to leave the children behind. Not anymore! Welcome to the Millenium, the new century of the family cruise.
Family Cruise Boom:
Family cruise vacations are hotter than ever as cruise lines work even harder to meet the demands of today's active families. Of the 5 million people who booked a voyage in 2000, more than 44 percent--a record 2.2 million vacationers--were first time cruisers. And more and more of these passengers were families. According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), more than 14% of cruisers are families with children and the number is growing.
Family and Children's Programs:
Many cruise lines have instituted a wide variety of children's programs, expanded their shore excursions to include family-friendly itineraries, and fine-tuned some of the details that help make family vacations enjoyable and fun.
What's so great about a family cruise vacation? Ardent fans describe it as being aboard a floating resort where there is something for everyone-- great food, new places to see, and fun things to do every hour of the day. "It's kind of like a combination between a resort, a theme park, a casino, and a kids' camp", said one parent who cruises frequently. If you pick the right ship and destinations, everyone will be entertained to their heart's content and have a fabulous time."
The Best Cruises For families
Want to find out more? We sure did! We polled travel agents and cruise-only agencies and asked Candyce H. Stapen, author of Cruise Vacations With Kids (Prima Publishing) to come up with a list of the best, most family-friendly cruise lines. Each of these has some type of children's program as a regular, formalized part of their activities. If you've had experiences with any of these lines, post a message on the Boards under Cruises and let us know how it was.
Check back here often, as we'll be updating this area based upon your insights.
To find out more about specific cruising options, call your local travel agent (preferably a certified cruise specialist) and/or obtain a copy of Stapen's book, Cruise Vacations With Kids. It is important to make sure that the cruise you book has the programs and services that work for your age children. A good cruise counselor should have this information and Stapen's book describes in detail the kids' and teens' programs, the family services, the shipboard ambiance and the best picks in port. We don't want you to be disappointed.
Make sure to inquire about the availability of children's programs for your specific sailing dates, and ask about what kids can do while the ship is in port. To help you pick the right shore excursions, we've created a new section "Best Picks In Port"
Don't forget to ask about special discounts for children and family packages. Many cruise lines are offering fabulous deals this year!
Have a great time, and make sure to tell us all about it. We'd love to cruise with you sometime!