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  • Top tips for cruising with kids


    No longer the bastion of grownups trying to get away from it all, cruises are now welcoming the littlest passengers aboard in a big way. Here's how to keep them safe, entertained--and maybe even save some money, too!

    Not long ago, cruising was synonymous with partying, romance, or exploring farflung destinations, often post-retirement. These days, there's a completely different way of looking at cruise ships--just just as playgrounds for overgrown children but for, well, your children. But traveling with kids is never as simple as tossing some clothes and a smartphone into a backpack, is it? Here, we share expert advice on everything from how to pack smart, keep the little ones safe, find reliable onboard child care, and which cruise lines are rolling out the red carpet for families.

    PACK SMART

    If you're traveling with a baby or toddler, get used to the idea of schlepping your own formula, jars of baby food, and diapers, which are not among the myriad products a typical cruise ship can sell you. And don't squirrel away all those must-haves in your suitcase--on embarkation days you may be separated from your luggage for hours and you'll be able to keep your little one happier if you have a tote bag stocked with food, wipes, change of clothes, etc. The good news is you may be able to leave your baby's portable crib at home-ask your cruise line (early!) if you can reserve one in advance. "To lighten your packing load, consider planning a laundry day at sea," advises David Molyneaux, editor of TheTravelMavens.com. "Most family-friendly ships will have washers and driers in the cabin areas-check the line's website."

    BOOK A SAFE CABIN

    Yeah, we all had a collective gasp when a toddler fell of a cruise ship balcony over the holidays in Florida. Of course you should brief all kids, from toddlers to teens, about keeping off railings, but Molyneaux suggests, "Even if it's only for your peace of mind, avoid balconies until your kids are old enough to know better." You can book an interior room for the whole family, or give older older kids an interior room and take an exterior balcony room across the hall for yourselves. Many cruise lines will offer family cabins, which can sleep up to four, and deeply discount the cost of the kids' berths--but Molyneaux notes that sometimes booking two adjoining cabins on a lower deck instead of a suite can save you money and get you more elbow room. (Disney even throws in an extra "half bathroom," with a toilet and sink, in most cabins. The ship will also have its own rules about how and when kids are allowed to participate in organized activities. Some lines allow elementary school-age kids to sign themselves up for activities and walk the ship's corridors unsupervised--but that kind of choice is really only yours to make.

    GET A SITTER

    Although some lines offer so many organized activities for kids during the day that some parents actually complain that they didn't see enough of their kids on their cruise, most couples will value some alone time, especially when the sun goes down. Some cruise lines offer private in-cabin babysitting at a premium--it can run you nearly $20 per hour. But if your kid wrinkles his nose at the idea of being "left with a sitter," you're in luck: Many cruise lines disguise evening babysitting as "late night parties," allowing parents to drop off their kids for $5 to $10 per hour per child. (On Disney cruises, the party goes till midnight and it's free of charge.

    BOOK A FAMILY-FRIENDLY CRUISE

    When it comes to going the extra mile to put smiles on your kids' faces, these cruise lines are tops:

    Carnival

    If your kids can imagine summer camp at sea, that's Camp Carnival--complete with counselors to supervise daily activities and meals. The line divides children into three age groups from two- to 12-years old and employs counselors who have education or childcare experience; play spaces resemble nothing less than the playroom of your dreams.

    Disney

    No surprises here--Disney knows how to keep kids happy. The line is famous for its roaming characters like Mickey and Minnie, of course, but it also offers Broadway-style musicals, first-run films in 3D, and port-of-call activities tailored for kids like glass-bottom boats and up-close-and-personal dolphin encounters.

    Norwegian

    Splash Academy sets the bar high--to entertain and educate children from six months to 12 years old (divided, of course, into age-appropriate groups, with parents required for the littlest ones). Whether your kid is into low-key arts and crafts projects or adrenaline-charged circus activities (including juggling and tumbling) taught by real circus performers, Norwegian's foray into family fun goes big.

    Royal Caribbean

    When you're reaching out to families, it helps to have some trusted names in your Rolodex, and Royal Caribbean has partnered with Crayola, Fisher Price, and DreamWorks to offer a blend of educational and entertainment options to its littlest passengers. From quiet play groups to full-on surf simulators, climbing walls, and the first carousel-at sea, there's something for every taste. Oh, and you may want to warn your little ones that they may bump into Shrek or Kung Fu Panda onboard.

    By FOX News

    For more cruise news & articles go to http://www.cruisecrazies.com/index.html

    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more



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    And if I may add one more thing......CONTROL your kids!! Some of us that cruise don't have kids and are on a cruise to relax and enjoy our vacation. A vacation we worked very hard to attain. NOT to have to step over kids sitting on the stairs between decks or riding in elevators that stop on every floor because the kids thought it would be funny to press every button in the elevator. Sorry if I sound like an old grinch, but in my past cruises, I have come across too many instances where the parents let the kids have the run of the ship with no supervision right after boarding. Remember, it's our cruise too!! Just sayin'

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    Couldn't agree more, Tim, and I say that as a parent. Some people seem to check their common sense, manners, and what little parenting skills they have at the gangway on embarkation day, I think!

    My son and I have been sailing since he was just turning 6, and he's 17 now. From the very beginning, I made a "cruise rules" list, and made him read it and sign it (which I think helps kids feel and become more accountable.) Over the years the list has been tweaked to reflect new privileges with age and maturity, but the gist of it is the same. Here is the list from our most recent cruise:

    CRUISE RULES

    None of these are optional

    • You are not to enter any cabin other than ours without me. Ever.
    • No one is to enter our cabin except you, me, or the staff.
    • If you are in our cabin alone, hang the "DO NOT DISTURB" sign on the door. Remember to remove it when you leave.
    • You are not to drink any beverage unless it is handed to you by one of us or a staff member. You are not to drink anything that you have let out of your sight.
    • If you change locations from where you last said you were going to be, you need to either swing by the stateroom and write it on the white board (including the time), or use a house phone somewhere and leave a message in our stateroom voicemail box.
    • Do not hang out, horse around, or run in the stairwells, hallways, or elevators.
    • Your curfew will be decided on each day. It will vary depending on the teen activities that are planned, and what time we need to start the next day.
    • Your SeaPass card is tied to my credit card even though you have your own funds on there. It is up to you to check your balance daily. If you lose your SeaPass card, notify Guest Services immediately.
    • Towels for the pool have to be checked out with your SeaPass card. It is *your* responsibility to turn your towel back in. They charge $25 for each towel not checked back in, and that will come out of your funds.
    • Our dining time for dinner is 7pm, so you will need to make sure you allow yourself enough time to finish whatever you’re doing and head back to the cabin with enough time to get yourself ready and either leave with me at 6:45 or meet me at the dining room entrance by 6:45 (or earlier if we’re taking pictures, which I will let you know about ahead of time.)
    • If you order room service, don’t forget to tip them. You know where the tip money is. Also don’t forget to gather up any dishes/silverware/napkins/etc as neatly as possible for the room steward.
    • If we arrange a check-in time and you miss it by more than 15 minutes, you get one "I-fell-asleep-at-the-pool" free pass. After that then you will spend the rest of that day with me or in the cabin.
    • I expect you to be the Southern gentleman you have been raised to be, using please, thank you, and excuse me at all times. Hold the doors for people, allow people to get off of the elevator before you step on. Being on vacation is never an excuse for leaving manners at home.
    • Handwashing is a must!! If unable to wash your hands with soap and water, you will always have hand sanitizer available. USE IT!
    • No going to the outside areas of the upper deck at night.
    • Do not leave the stateroom a mess. The room steward has enough to do!
    • Keep all of your valuables in the cabin safe.
    • Always, always treat the ship crew members with respect, every last one of them. You know how they always go out of their way to make our cruises special and happy – go out of your way to smile and say "hello". 
    • All those people on the Roll Call list? They’ve all seen your picture and know you’re my son. If you’re acting like an idiot somewhere onboard, I WILL find out about it. :-p

     

    I, XXXX, agree to follow these rules.

    _____________________________

    So far so good, haven't had any discipline issues yet! :smile:

    -gina-

     

    Edited by crazy4disney

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    I love your list Gina! It seems like a lot of parents decide they’re actually on vacation from parenting

    So, when he turns 18 will you still make him sign the list or just go with “You know what’s expected of you.”?

    Probably the latter... It's pretty much that way now, we have a good laugh over the list but I remind him that it's all still valid.

    Thanks for the kind words! :-)

    -gina-

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    Gina - I LOVE your cruise rules, and if every family incorporated them we'd have many fewer unruly kids aboard. Do you mind if I steal this for my family-cruise friends?

    Please, steal away! I know I compiled it myself from bits and pieces I had found in different places.

    I think the bigger problem is the adults themselves -- they're just as rude and unruly! And if no one is teaching the kids how to behave (which totally does not equal not having fun) then the kids grow up to be just like the adults, and it all just gets worse. It's a sad commentary on our society!

    But I feel like the greatest gift I can give my son, outside of love, is a framework of guidelines to make the best choices in life and be the kind of person you want to be. I've always told him, "the true character of a person shows in how they act when nobody is watching."

    Anyways, I didn't mean to go off on a parenting philosophy tangent... He just started his Senior year two days ago, and I'm already getting very sentimental and sniffly about all of it, lol. :rolleyes2:

    -gina-

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