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The Family Cruise:
The vacation that has it all

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It’s a common dilemma: Choosing a vacation that has a little something for everyone. Whether it’s entertainment for kids, a relaxing poolside for mum, or a selection of great bars for dad – it’s important that your vacation caters for all of these needs. After all, most families will only take one vacation together per year, so it should be top of the agenda to make sure everyone enjoys it.

One type of vacation that is growing in popularity with families is the cruise. Cruises are not just for couples or retired people, as is often wrongly perceived. In fact, more than 20 million people booked a cruise vacation in 2011, compared with 500,000 back in 1970. In the past 40 years, the cruise industry has evolved, with state-of-the-art ships more akin to glamorous vacation villages than traditional ferries. One sub-sector of this booming industry that has seen a particularly high growth rate is that of family cruises. 

Every parent knows how expensive family vacations can be; airlines, for example, offer no discounts for child seats, meaning that the cost of a family vacation can be up to double that of a couple’s break. Cruises, however, offer great value for money. Not only does the price paid include accommodation and travel, but often meals, entertainment and activities are also included. Some cruise operators even offer huge discounts for children – with some even offering free spaces in cabins.

 

A great family base for all ages
Cruises are a great option if you are travelling as part of a large family group, as there is so much to do for all generations. There are a variety of cabins available to suit all budgets, as well as all group sizes; often you can rent cabins with separate areas for children and adults, yet with adjoining rooms. Furthermore, you will only ever have to pack and unpack once; however, you will get to enjoy several new destinations – as often as daily – without any of the hassles of having to book multiple hotels and transport.

Many family cruise operators now ensure that children of all ages are catered for. As a result, they are divided into age groups, each with their own rota of activities and entertainment areas. These groups are usually toddlers (2 – 4 years); juniors (5 – 7 years); intermediate (8 – 10 years); tweens (11 – 13 years); and teens (14 – 17 years).


Spoilt for choice
There are many choices of family cruises from U.S destinations. Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando are popular ports and liners frequently set sail to the Caribbean and along the south east coast of America. Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruises all offer family packages with heavy discounts for children, as well as a range of entertainment facilities such as water parks, family restaurants, sports and activities. Many cruise operators also have their own ‘characters’ that frequently put on performances designed to entertain young guests.


Separate areas for kids and adults
One operator that is particularly catered to children in this area is Disney. The company now runs three cruise ships, which are tailored towards attracting families. Its cruise liners each contain theme parks and consist of three areas; one for children, one for adults only and one for families, which ensures that everyone is kept happy.

Disney ensures that, while adults have somewhere to escape to, children are well entertained; their kids’ facilities spread across an entire floor. The ships contain around 50 children’s counsellors – staff employed to run programmes for younger children in the ‘Oceaneer Club’ and older children in the ‘Oceaneer Lab’. The Club contains many famous Disney characters and play area, while the Lab is full of computer games and sports activities.


State of the art swimming
Many top cruise ships now contain pools that can be covered with glass domes. This is an added benefit for parents with children as it negates the worry of spending too much time in the sun (which can be particularly strong at sea) as well as not letting bad weather stand in the way of swimming activities.


Safety
Finally, the safety factor is also an important part of any family vacation. Cruise ships are perfect when it comes to safety; they provide entertainment in a controlled space, meaning that parents can relax and enjoy their own time without having to worry about what the kids are up to. In conclusion, it’s easy to see why families are opting for cruises to solve that age-old dilemma of where to go on vacation.

 

Laura Chapman
http://www.iglucruise.com/family-cruises

 

 

     
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