Cruising with Kids
When I say “cruising” with kids I am not talking about driving down the road, but embarking on an adventure on a cruise ship! While enjoying a vacation on a cruise ship is fun and relaxing, there are a lot of tips and tricks to keep in mind especially when cruising with kids. Our family just returned from a seven-day cruise with Royal Caribbean and I am excited to share all my tips, tricks, experiences and feedback.
When traveling on a cruise, planning ahead is key. I would almost compare it to planning for a Disney trip, but maybe not as extensive. You will want to think of the following:
- Research excursions you will want to take
- Book your excursions
- Make reservations at any restaurants you want to try on the ship
- Purchase drink and photo packages
- Make reservations for any other extra services you may want to experience.
While some like to just board the ship and “go with the flow”, I highly recommend planning as much as possible before you board especially with kids.
Note: When booking your flights, make sure your flight does not arrive the same day your ship is scheduled to leave AND do not book flight home the same day your ship is scheduled to return.
Drink + Photo Packages
I highly recommend purchasing a drink package for all adults, especially if you will be drinking alcoholic beverages. This includes unlimited alcoholic beverages, bottled water, and tips. There are few liquors or specialty drinks that may not be included in your packages, but you will receive a discount if you have a drink package.
The photo package is nice, but I am not totally sure it was worth the price. We did receive some great pictures in return, but not many. There are lots of opportunities on the ship to get professional pictures done. If you purchase the package make sure you take full advantage of it.
Wifi is great to have if you need to check email or want to text with friends and families on the ship. If you do not purchase Wifi, you can always use walkie talkies on the ship to communicate.
Boarding the Ship
The day you board the ship, pack a separate bag with your swimsuits and anything else you may need immediately. You will not have access to your luggage for a few hours after you board and more than likely you will want to swim! Your luggage is usually delivered to your room before dinner.
If you choose to eat dinner in the dining room, the restaurant may have required dress protocol casual and formal. You can call your ship before your trip to get which nights you need to wear formal wear. If you do not want to wear formal clothing, you can eat in the buffet restaurant. I have heard that ships can be strict with this, our ship was not. We were able to eat in casual wear all nights.
Excursions are experiences you take when you port during your cruise. Our cruise, Adventures of the Sea, ported at Falmouth, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman; Costa Maya, Mexico; and Cozumel, Mexico.
There are several options on how you can book your excursions. I recommend booking through the ship or through Shore Excursioneer. Shore Excursioneer tends to be a bit cheaper and they have tons of options. Make sure you do your research though before you book! It is always good to book somewhere that has consistent, positive feedback or from someone, you personally know who have experienced it. One major plus with booking through the ship is if your excursion is running late, they will not leave you behind at the port.
If booking through Shore Excursioneer double check your tickets. They may only accept cash for the rest of your payment. It is always good to have extra cash anyways to tip drivers, or if you want to purchase souvenirs while off the ship.
Here are the excursions I would recommend if you are traveling to any of these locations!
Falmouth, Jamaica | Dolphin Cove Aquatic Encounter
This excursion was perfect for our family to swim and play with the dolphins. Not only did we spend about an hour in the water with the dolphins, we saw iguanas, birds, swam in the ocean, ate an amazing lunch, went down a fun water slide and more. One thing I do caution is the price of their photos. They take tons and amazing pictures, but they are expensive. You can negotiate prices though.
**This excursion was booked through our ship.
Georgetown, Grand Cayman | Stingray City Catamaran Sail and Snorkel Excursion
This day was so relaxing and fun! Our guides were wonderful. I cannot say enough great things. Since there were 17 of us in our party we ended up having our very own boat. The views were amazing, and swimming with the stingrays was incredible. Our guide got into the water with us and made sure we all had a chance to kiss, pet and take pictures with the stingrays. We also made a second spot to snorkel. On our way back to shore they put up the sail. Such a wonderful experience for the entire family!
** This excursion was booked through Shore Excursioneer.
Costa Maya, Mexico | Explored and shopped on the port
We did not book an excursion for this port. It was kind of nice to wander casually with nothing planned. This port had some great restaurants, lots of shops and a public pool to swim in. Amelia got braids and the kids purchased all sorts of fun souvenirs.
Cozumel, Mexico | Mr. Sanchos All Inclusive Beach
Mr. Sanchos Beach was a great place to spend our last port day. This all-inclusive beach includes drinks, tons of amazing food including shrimp, two pools with swim up bar, huge beach with loungers, a water park in the water, hammocks and more. You also have the option to leave and come back.
** This excursion was booked through Shore Excursioneer.
Packing with children is always difficult and for an adventure like this, it takes a lot of planning and organizing. Here are some things I would make sure you pack on top of the basics (underwear, clothes, toothbrush, etc.).
- Stainless steel water bottles for kids. You can pour the bottled water into their bottles and it stays cooler a bit longer.
- Sunscreen. Boy, the sun is a lot different down there. Make sure you have plenty of sunscreens and you apply several times a day. We love the Goddess Garden face stick and spray.
- Water shoes. Depending on your excursion, you may spend a lot of time swimming in the ocean and walking around on the beach. Water shoes are great to help protect your feet.
- Snacks. I did not purposely purchase snacks for the ship, but we had tons of leftover from our flights. They ended up being great to have on hand to bring when we ported and went on excursions.
- Swimsuits + Cover-ups. I highly recommend packing 2-3 swimsuits. You pretty much live in your swimsuit and more than likely they will not be completely dry by the next day. That way you or your kids do not have to put on a cold, wet swimsuit.
- Sweatshirt. It can get pretty chilly windy at night on the ship. If you will be walking around on the deck, this is handy to have.
- Bug spray. Mosquitoes can be nasty, so make sure you have this on hand.
- Bag for excursions. I made sure to pack a bigger bag in my suitcase to use when we left the ship. In the bag, I would pack our towels, sunscreen, waters, extra change of clothes, snacks, and whatever else we may need while off the ship. I used a Thirty-One Utility Bag and it worked perfectly!
- Towels. There is no need to pack towels. The ship has plenty you can check-out. You can also check them out to take off the ship for excursions. Make sure you return them when you are done. If you do not, you will be charged a fee.
- Lanyards. All adults should have a lanyard. This is a great way to keep track of your Sea Pass which you will need for everything. You will need it for food, drinks, getting on and off the ship, and getting into your room.
Make sure you take a look at all the fun activities your ship offers and the requirements needed for your excursions. You will not want to forget those items such as tennis shoes for rock climbing or a sweater for watching an ice skating show on the ship.
A family cruise is a wonderful way to explore new countries and experience new adventures. I highly recommend doing it at least once in your lifetime. Royal Caribbean was wonderful to travel with and they offer many cruises.