Caribbean Cruising with Children

Family cruise vacations are extremely popular

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Family Cruise Vacations

You won't be breaking any new ground or setting precedents by deciding to take your kids--or grandkids--on a cruise.

Disney Cruise Lines, after all, aims itself deliberately at the children's market, from 2 to 82. So does Carnival Cruise Lines.

Carnival may not have colorful cartoon characters, but it offers strollers, special kid's fares, children's activity programs covering 4 different age categories and extensive facilities such as video arcades and a teen club.

And the programs are supervised. It's hard to find to find this many kid-friendly opportunities back home.

Not all cruise lines are as family friendly. The ones that market toward an older, more sophisticated crowd aren't nearly as well equipped.

Do pay attention to the cruise line ads. The pictures reflect the ages of the people they want to attract and to which they're best suited.

Never assume that a ship will come stocked with everything you would expect a hotel to provide for children.

Factors To Consider

Minimum Age For Kids: Usually infants can be no younger than 3 to 4 months.

Special family fares:
Could be a flat rate for 3rd or 4th passengers, 50% off or even free for age 11 and under when sharing with 2 adults.

Tipping policy: At what amount? The same rate as adults?

Dining opportunities: Must everyone sit in the formal dining room? Or are there good buffet opportunities for evening meals.

Fun food: Pizza and ice cream bars in operation? Cookies and milk?

Drink cards: Remember, soft drinks (sodas) are not included in the price. Is there an unlimited soda card for a flat fee? That's a real money saver.

Diapers: Some ships don't sell them. Come well stocked.

Stateroom location: You want to be convenient to the most important things, the restaurants and buffets.

Daycare/Baby sitting services: Available at all? On a private or group basis? For how much? (US$10 and up per hour is normal; Radisson charges US$25 per hour) Sign up as soon as you board if you couldn't arrange these services beforehand.
Strollers: Are they available? For how much?

High chairs & cribs: Are they available? For how much? When can you reserve them? At booking or on board?

Kid's menu: How extensive? Are there special dining options for kids?

How Good Are The Children's Programs?

Age Groups: The more the age groups are broken down, the better. That way 4-year olds won't be expected to play with 9-year olds.

Play areas: Are they both indoor and outdoor? How many specially designated areas?

Kinds of activities: Wading pools? Computer labs? Video games? Water slides? Fun gym equipment?

Hours of operation: How early do the children's programs start and at what time do they end? Break periods for lunch and dinner so they can be with you?

Especially for teens: What age groups? What kind of nightlife? Ideally, teens have their own club.

Program Limitations: Is every child guaranteed a spot in the kid's programs? Or is there a limit on what the ship can accommodate?

Seasonal programs: Some ships run their children's programs only during summer and holiday periods. Find the exact dates before booking.

Shore excursions: Any just for kids only?

To Youth Programs by Cruise Line

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