A Family-Friendly Guide for Cruising with Children

Large cruise ships with people onboarding
Large cruise ships with people onboarding

Do you have a family with children? Looking for a way to enjoy your vacation without the hassle of driving around or changing flights?

If you are considering taking a cruise with your family for the first time, this article will provide you with some helpful tips and tricks for cruising with children. 

Why choose to cruise with children? Well, for starters, a cruise is one of the most family-friendly vacations imaginable. From playgrounds on deck to pools and really comfortable staterooms, there’s never been a better way for the whole family to relax at sea.

There are private cruises that host a few passengers on board and are mainly focused on custom-tailored experiences, making for a completely enjoyable and personalized vacation. The stuff-to-passenger ratio is almost one-to-one, which will make your family and especially your little ones happy and satisfied at any moment. 

Cruising with children is a wonderful way to spend time with your family and explore the world. However, it takes some preparation before you set sail. You’ll want to find a boat that has enough room for everyone and one that can accommodate your needs (i.e., if you’re traveling with small children). This guide will help you plan ahead, so all of your family’s dreams come true!

#1 Plan well

Kids wathing the ocean and ships, family cruising guide

First, look at where you want to go. If you’re looking for a family-friendly cruise with a lot of beautiful Islands, and want to see the rear Komodo Dragon, then choose the Indonesia cruise. When If you are looking for a cruise that specializes in seeing animals, then your focus should be on the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.

If you are up for a more comprehensive cruise experience, there is a far wider range of ports available from Alaska to Central America where you can see glaciers, but bear in mind that even some of these destinations may not be safe for children – especially young ones, or may involve long distances without repeaters between ports.

Don’t forget to take into account time preferences: do you want an itinerary with plenty of daytime activities, or are evening shows more your speed?

It’s important to start the planning process by getting a booking estimation, which can be obtained from your travel agent or the cruise line. This will give you an idea of how much cash you’ll need for things like onboard activities (which may include art auctions, movie theaters, ice-skating rinks, and rock-climbing walls), shore excursions (which often cost more than what’s covered in the trip package’s price), drink packages…you name it.

#2 Which preparations should be undertaken

You might want to pack a few changes of clothes on board, plus a change in case of any spills or accidents in the room. Also, don’t forget any medications your children might need. Make sure to pack an animal carrier if you’re bringing along an emotional support dog!

And always bring anything that will make your child feel at home—a favorite toy or mug pretty much guarantees they’ll have fun on their vacation away from home!

It’s best to pre-make meals, freeze them in zip lock baggies and then stick them in the refrigerator before departure for port or sea days. Bring an ice chest on board filled with cold water jugs (so you never run out of clean drinking water) and frozen yogurt or juice boxes for the kids after meals. Get creative!

Don’t underestimate how hard even short time periods without eating can affect kids’ moods – even these few hours on board could lead to meltdowns later if they haven’t eaten yet today. So don’t forget the snacks!

#3 Choose a cruise with a baby-sitting program 

Small boys playing on the beach holding hands near the ocean

If you have a 12-month-old baby or plus, then when choosing the cruise company, make sure they have a babysitting program. 

Most people choose a babysitting program to give parents the opportunity to enjoy a night out together while their children are taken care of by qualified childcare professionals.

For many parents, it’s one thing to sit on the sidelines for an hour or two and watch when their kid goes in for sports practice or is at daycare, but it’s quite another thing if you’re on the opposite side of 10 or more hours in the middle of nowhere with no other kids around. So going with one that includes competent supervision will allow relief from stress.

Fees vary according to program and length of stay, but you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that your child is being well cared for by qualified staff members trained in family support babysitting techniques.

#4 Decide for a cruise with additional family activities

Small child climbing the rocks in the Mediterranean sea

Choosing a cruise with additional family activities can be an excellent way to spend time as a whole family while also doing new things and experiencing something different. Cruises are ideal for both adults and children because there are so many things to do onboard – shows, games, sports. 

Many ships now offer classes and other organized events that teach children how to sail, in addition to rounding up their favorite characters, so they can get photographs with them. Most cruises also host swimming programs, yoga sessions, fitness classes, and parties for the kids. 

Having a family cruise is the perfect opportunity to do some of the things you really want but can’t always get, like reading favorite childhood stories to your children or playing board games.  After dark, there are often fully choreographed song & dance shows. 

#5 Cruise Length

Cruise ship for family vacation sailing into the sunset

The cruise length of trips that you take with children depends primarily on your interests and itinerary. The longer the trip, the more important it is to have a strict schedule for eating meals, games, and excursions in order to avoid “aimless” boredom.

It might be best to break up lengthy cruises into two or three smaller trips so that there are specific destinations at each stopover point. One of the most important considerations when going on a cruise is shore excursions. Make sure you and your family have something planned for each port of call – that way you are guaranteed to make the most of your time!

#6 Safety measures

Small kid on a sailing boat in the sea

No safety measure is going to make a vacation trouble-free. However, there are some simple precautions you can take so that children will have the most enjoyable cruise experience possible. One precaution not to neglect is identifying children with food restrictions who will likely attend your cabin onboard and planning accordingly for those allergies.”

Navigating the waters of cruising can be hard enough for an adult. Add a child to the mix, and it becomes even more challenging. 

The two most important things for cruising with children are to have a central meeting point in the event that they get separated from you and to come up with an emergency plan.

Have your kids wear bright colors, pack a whistle, carry a small backpack that contains identifying information for them and their contact person (e.g. name, phone number).

Write out directions on how the kids will find you if they get separated from their group.

If there are lots of passengers in the boat, it might be necessary for you to purchase a quick-release type inflatable seatbelt belt.

It’s important to understand that the cruise ship staff is responsible for the safety of your children, not you – so commit yourself to design a plan with them. Have an evening at night where there are no activities planned, and everyone can get enough uninterrupted sleep. Get familiar with how the announcements work (given in English and other languages), know what situations warrant being announced.

#7 Useful Gadgets that will Make Your Cruise Easier

Breakfast and newspaper on a boat in the sea


A walkie-talkie is a gadget that should be on every parent’s device. A qualified gadget! With walkies talkies, we can stay connected whether the situation is urgent or not.

They come with different frequencies, so it’s important to pick the right ones based on where you’ll be going. If one person has a weak signal strength, that can always override the strong signal reception by changing channels periodically. Plus, if you forget your phone, they have a separate battery life, which is perfect for preserving power when exploring new destinations.

Baby monitor

You can easily keep an eye on a baby with the latest state-of-the-art monitoring device, which acts just like a video walkie-talkie to communicate via landline or radio signals. Some of them have night vision technology so that you’ll always know what your child is doing 24/7!

Kid tracking device

A kid tracking device is like a GPS for kids, but also helps you stay in contact with them, even if they can’t find their phone. When your child goes wandering around – that is, outside their “safe zone” – a loud alarm will sound, and you’ll be instantly alerted.

Portable high chair

This has straps that are sturdy enough to stay in place when you use it as a nursing stool rather than a high chair, so it’s perfect if your baby falls asleep and doesn’t want to eat when they get their mealtime. You can hook this up anywhere – on a coffee table, dining table – really any sturdy surface will work.

You are now prepared for your next cruise. So book your chosen cruising destination and enjoy a good family time!

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