We hope these tips might help to make your next family cruise vacation a little dreamier and a lot less sea-sick.
Choosing the ship.
Living in Italy for a year and exploring all over Europe, we were ready to slow it down for our summer a vacation. We wanted to do some traveling, but also work on connecting as a family and spoil the kids with lots of our love and attention. We thought taking an excursion in every port would be too busy for those goals, so we chose a cruise based on the ship's amenities and a diverse itinerary of countries. The onboard waterpark, micro-brewery, IMAX theater and serenity deck on the Carnival Vista were enough to make it a pretty easy choice.
What to pack.
Here is the starting line-up we brought and used to help combat seasickness and sleep soundly. Oh and individual packets of laundry soap is crazy convenient when the machine runs out and you actually score an open washer.
Our amazing friends and cruise experts suggested skipping the pricey and crowded shore excursions offered on board (sorry Carnival, we still love you) and instead use Trip Advisor and book directly through local tour providers. It required a lot more time pre-cruise but we ended up with private tours (for a lot less cash) tailored to the interests and needs of our family. Cue the cruise video with horseback riding in the ocean and rent-your own boats in Malta. We let each of the kids choose an excursion which helped make the early disembarkment times a little more bearable and the days a whole lot more enjoyable.
Prepping the kids.
Promise not to laugh at my stellar drawing skills, but these both visual and written itinerary lists helped the kids keep track of the agenda for each day. Copied straight out of the Rick Steves' Mediterranean cruise port book, I made a legit attempt to creatively assuage the kids' travel anxiety and set expectations for all of the activities we had painstakingly lined up.
Rick Steves has an amazing section in his books on understanding and prepping for cruise culture. Here are just a few more tips that may be worth noting.
Kids club. We were able to sign the kids up pre-cruise to avoid the hassle and time of paperwork on the first day.
Board first. Swim first. Pack your essentials and swim suits in your carry on luggage and hit the pools while everyone else waits in line.
Wristbands. The only real complaint from the kids, were wearing the required wristbands the entire cruise. They are scratchy and uncomfortable after a few days.
Cruise cards. Bring a lanyard to keep track of your cruise cards or if you are like us you'll end up signing up for the phone app on board to score a free one.
We love hearing from you...feel free to ask any questions or add tips of your own!