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CruiseGuide 2011




10 Reasons to Let the Kids Cruise With You

Bringing the kids along can be a great way to get that rare bonding time with your children, while still setting aside some one-on-one time while aboard with your spouse. Plan it right, and you can do it for only a little more than it would cost for the two of you alone.

A cruise vacation is a good break from the grind of daily life -- watching the clock during the workday, rejoicing upon finally making it home, only to realize there’s a mountain of chores waiting on you there. Somewhere in the middle of all that, you’re helping the kids with homework, and, before you know it, that run-down feeling is letting you know it’s time to get some sleep before starting another day.

cruise ship rock climbing
The author and kids getting ready for some cruise ship rock climbing: No one will ever see this dorky picture, right?

So, while there’s no place like home, it's natural that you might to want to get away for a few days to just unwind and relax. At times, if the kids are very young, or maybe due to budget constraints, parents might think of dropping off the little ones at grandpa’s place while they head out for some much-needed peace and quiet for few days. But, speaking as a parent who’s been found guilty of this scenario in the past, I have to admit feeling a little remorse while away.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer that having happy kids requires a happy home. Having a happy home requires happy parents. And that requires parents to make a deliberate effort at setting aside time for each other on a more-or-less regular basis.

So enjoy your time as a couple. You need it, and, whether the kids believe it or not, they need it if they want your relationship as a husband and wife to stay strong. But if you’re ‘on the fence’ about whether or not to bring the kids on that oceanic voyage, I can tell you from personal experience that you won’t regret it. The adventure and experiences you’ll share as a family will not only bring you an enjoyable cruise, it will be a chance for your family to bond in a way that’s rare in today’s fast-paced world. And you won’t have to break the bank to let the kids cruise with you. In fact, with a little planning, you’ll do it for not much more bank than the two of you alone.

Need a little more shoving? Here’s a list of 10 excellent reasons to bring your kids along that may help you to make the decision.

1.) Cruiser guilt. While ‘couple time’ is very important, that can be accomplished with a weekend trip and overnight stay, or even with a romantic dinner in town. Nothing much the kids would miss (or want to see) there. On the other hand, if you leave the kids behind on a cruise vacation, you’ve also left them out of the chance to experience adventure on the high seas, visiting other worlds, and learning new cultures, to name a few things. Besides, who needs guilt following them around on the vacation of a lifetime, anyway?


2.) Even if your kids are old enough to be trusted alone at home, you may have sentenced them to a week of hard boredom. Once the XBox and internet grow old, their idle minds will either begin to resent you for leaving them at home, or, worse, they’ll find lots of creative things to do with friends in your home that you may not approve of. Didn’t you ever watch Risky Business?

3.) Bringing the kids along on a cruise doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition, especially if you don’t mind sharing a stateroom with them. While that might seem a little invasive (and it is) considering the size of cruise cabins (especially inside staterooms), it’s not as big of a problem as you may think. After all, unless you’re physically handicapped to the point that you can’t get around the ship very well, you’ll likely spend very little time in the stateroom, other than to shower and sleep. I can tell you from personal experience, that we’ve let our two kids cruise and shared an inside stateroom with them, and by doing so it cost us less than $200 apiece for a week to have them along. Bear in mind that’s less than $200 apiece for their room, their transportation, entertainment, and all the food they can eat.

4.) Speaking of entertainment, you don’t have to worry about the kids getting bored on the ship (and therefore, you won’t have to worry about getting couples time while on board). On a modern cruise ship, there are umpteen entertainment options available at any given time. So whether they’re playing games, taking craft lessons, dance classes, hitting the water park, or taking part in many other activities, they only have to slow down when they want to.


5.) Worried about your kids’ welfare while on board? Any good parent would be. Consider taking along walkie-talkies (FRS radios as they’re called these days) that you can use to check in with your older kids. As far as the younger ones go, the kid’s cruise camps on board are very well-organized, much like a day care back home. Often you’ll find that the youth counselors there even have a college education in handling young children. Make sure that the kid’s camp uses a secure check in/check out system so you can control who drops off and picks up your kids. Once your young kids experience a day at kid’s camp, your biggest problem may become keeping them out of there when you want to spend time with them!

6.) Cruise vacations are a great way to spend time with your kids. At home we’re all so busy running around, rushing to the office, doing household chores, paying bills and so on and so forth. Here, you have all the time in the world to be with your kids. You can visit the kids’ camp and watch them enjoy the activities there. Join your older daughter for a round of rollerblading. Challenge your son to a little basketball. . On sea days, you’ll never find a slower pace, or a better time to reconnect with your children.


7.) If you want a little one-on-one time with your spouse at dinner, letting the kids cruise with you doesn't mean that dinner for two is out of the question. With so many dining options available on board, send the kids over to the buffet-type dining area for a night or two. Some ships even feature very upscale, for-a-fee restaurants that would be great for an intimate romantic dinner with your life partner. There will be plenty of nights to dine with the kids while you all reflect on the day's activities, so don't forget to set aside at least one night for a special one-on-one dinner with your sweetie!

8.) By bringing your kids, they'll get a very rare chance to interact with children and adults from all over the world, while in the kid's camps, at dinner, and all around the ship in general, for that matter. What a great way to introduce your child to the diverse cultures of the world! While playing and interacting with other kids aboard, they'll get the chance to make new friends from a myriad of countries, learn to understand their style of living, the languages they speak, and the etiquettes they follow.

9.) Cruise excursions can be the 'field trip' of a lifetime for your kids. No classroom lesson on foreign cultures could ever be as thrilling for your children as taking them ashore in a foreign land to experience that culture for themselves. No textbook lesson on geography could ever be as vivid as showing them a glacier in an Alaskan fjord. No biology lecture could replace the experience of showing your children firsthand the miracles of a coral reef on a snorkeling trip. A cruise vacation is a great chance to give your children an educational experience unlike any other.

10.) A cruise ship can also be an opportunity to teach your children about the arts. Many modern cruise ships are more like floating art museums, full of paintings and sculptures. During your down time on a sea day, take your children for a stroll through the interior of the ship, making it a point to stop and take in all of the art you normally pass up while rushing to and fro. Discuss the artist's techniques with your kids. Bring them to an art auction if one is scheduled on your cruise. Even the Broadway-style shows in the evenings can be a good opportunity for your child to experience the performing arts (providing the performers aren't dressed too racy!).

In short, a cruise vacation is a great way to experience your kids, while they experience the world. It's been said that one of the biggest joys in life is sharing life with those you love. You can do it without going broke. You can do it while still setting aside time with your spouse. What a great opportunity to make memories together as a family, while exploring all that the world has to offer.


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