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Cruising with Kids: Tips and Tricks for a Stress-Free Cruise Vacation

Cruising with kids can be an amazing and memorable family vacation, but it also requires careful planning and preparation to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable experience. In this post, we'll provide tips and tricks for cruising with kids, covering everything from choosing the right cruise line and cabin, to planning your day and keeping your kids entertained. We'll also provide advice on how to stay safe on the ship and during excursions, as well as how to make the most of your time on the ship and enjoy the experience with your family. By following these tips and tricks, you can help ensure that your family has a fun and stress-free cruise vacation that you'll all remember for years to come.

Choose the Right Cruise Line

Choosing the right cruise line is crucial when planning a family vacation with kids. Some cruise lines are better suited for families than others, with more kid-friendly amenities and activities available.

  1. One of the most family-friendly cruise lines is Disney Cruise Line, which offers a wide range of activities for kids of all ages. From character meet and greets to themed shows and movies, there is something for everyone on board a Disney cruise. The ships are also equipped with kids' clubs that are divided by age groups, allowing children to socialize and participate in age-appropriate activities while parents enjoy some time to themselves.

  2. Royal Caribbean is another popular cruise line for families, with ships that offer a variety of activities such as rock climbing, zip lining, ice skating, and mini golf. They also have an impressive water park on board their ships, complete with waterslides, wave pools, and splash pads.

  3. Carnival Cruise Line is known for their fun and lively atmosphere, with a wide range of activities and entertainment options for both kids and adults. They offer a variety of kids' clubs, as well as water parks, mini golf courses, and ropes courses on some of their ships.

  4. In addition to these three cruise lines, there are many others that offer family-friendly amenities and activities. When choosing a cruise line, consider the ages of your children and their interests, as well as the amenities and activities offered on board. It's also a good idea to read reviews from other families who have cruised with kids to get an idea of what to expect.

Ultimately, choosing the right cruise line can make all the difference in having a stress-free and enjoyable vacation with your kids.

Choose the Right Cabin

Choosing the right cabin for a family vacation with kids is another important consideration. The size and layout of the cabin can have a big impact on the overall comfort and enjoyment of the trip.

  1. Many cruise lines offer cabins specifically designed for families, with more space and amenities to accommodate children. These cabins may include a separate sleeping area for kids, bunk beds, or even a second bathroom.

  2. For families with young children, it may be important to choose a cabin located near the elevators or stairs to make it easier to get around the ship. Additionally, a cabin with a balcony can provide a nice outdoor space to relax and enjoy the views.

  3. It's also important to consider the location of the cabin on the ship. Cabins located towards the middle of the ship tend to experience less motion, which can be beneficial for those who are prone to seasickness. However, cabins located towards the front or back of the ship may offer easier access to certain amenities, such as the pool or kids' clubs.

  4. When choosing a cabin, it's important to check the maximum occupancy to ensure that it can accommodate your family. Some cabins may have a maximum occupancy of two or three guests, while others can accommodate up to five or six guests.

  5. It's also worth noting that cabins on a cruise ship tend to be smaller than hotel rooms on land. This means that packing efficiently and keeping the cabin organized can help maximize the space and prevent clutter.

Overall, choosing the right cabin can help make a family vacation with kids more comfortable and enjoyable. Consider the size and layout of the cabin, the location on the ship, and the amenities available when making your decision.

Pack Strategically

Preparing for a family cruise with kids involves more than just packing clothes and sunscreen. There are a few key things to keep in mind to ensure a stress-free vacation.

  1. First and foremost, make sure to pack all the necessary documents and identification for each family member, including passports or birth certificates, boarding passes, and any necessary visas or travel documents. It's also a good idea to bring a copy of your itinerary and contact information for the cruise line in case of emergencies.

  2. When it comes to packing, it's important to think ahead and pack for a variety of activities and weather conditions. Bring comfortable clothing and shoes for walking around the ship, as well as swimwear, cover-ups, and beach towels for days spent by the pool or at the beach.

  3. Depending on the age of your children, you may also want to bring some activities to keep them entertained during downtime. This could include books, games, or electronic devices. Some cruise lines also offer kids' clubs with age-appropriate activities and games.

  4. When it comes to mealtime, most cruise lines offer a variety of dining options, including buffet-style restaurants, formal dining rooms, and specialty restaurants. It's a good idea to check the dining options ahead of time and make reservations for any specialty restaurants, as they can fill up quickly.

  5. If your child has any special dietary needs or restrictions, be sure to inform the cruise line ahead of time so they can accommodate your needs.

  6. Finally, it's important to establish some ground rules and expectations with your kids before the trip. This could include guidelines for behavior on the ship, expectations for attending kids' clubs or participating in family activities, and safety rules for being near the water or exploring ports of call.

By preparing ahead of time and setting expectations, you can help ensure a stress-free and enjoyable family vacation on a cruise.

Plan Your Days

Planning your day is an important part of cruising with kids, as it can help you make the most of your time on the ship and ensure that everyone stays happy and entertained. Here are some tips for planning your day:

  1. Check the daily schedule: Most cruise ships provide a daily schedule of activities and events, which is usually delivered to your cabin the night before. Take the time to review the schedule with your family and plan your day accordingly.

  2. Prioritize your activities: Decide which activities are most important to your family and prioritize them in your schedule. For example, if your kids love swimming, make sure to plan time for them to swim each day.

  3. Plan for downtime: While it's important to stay busy and make the most of your time on the ship, it's also important to plan for downtime. Make sure to schedule breaks throughout the day for naps, snacks, and relaxation.

  4. Be flexible: While it's important to have a plan, it's also important to be flexible and willing to adjust your schedule as needed. Don't be afraid to skip an activity if your family is tired or if something else comes up.

  5. Communicate with your family: Make sure to communicate with your family throughout the day to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that everyone's needs are being met.

By planning your day, prioritizing your activities, and being flexible, you can help ensure that your family has a fun and stress-free cruise vacation.

Take Advantage of Kids' Clubs

Keeping kids entertained and engaged on a cruise can be a challenge, but many cruise lines offer a variety of activities and amenities to keep children of all ages happy and occupied.

  1. One of the most popular options for kids on a cruise is the kids' club. Many cruise lines offer age-appropriate clubs for children of all ages, with activities such as arts and crafts, games, movies, and more. These clubs are typically staffed by trained professionals who can supervise and entertain kids while parents enjoy some adult time.

  2. Some cruise lines also offer family-friendly shows and entertainment, such as live performances, movies, and even Broadway-style productions. These shows are typically appropriate for all ages and can be a great way to spend time together as a family.

  3. For active kids, many cruise lines also offer sports and fitness activities such as mini-golf, basketball, and rock climbing. Some even have water parks and zip lines for even more adventure.

  4. When it comes to dining, many cruise lines offer kids' menus with familiar favorites such as pizza, burgers, and chicken tenders. Some also have specialty restaurants with themes that are sure to appeal to kids, such as a pirate-themed restaurant or a candy store.

  5. In addition to these amenities, there are plenty of opportunities for family fun on a cruise. This could include exploring ports of call together, playing games and trivia contests, or simply lounging by the pool or on the beach.

By taking advantage of these activities and amenities, you can help ensure that your kids have a fun and memorable vacation on a cruise.

Use Room Service

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

Using room service on a cruise with kids can be a great way to make mealtimes more convenient and stress-free. Here are some tips for making the most of this option:

  1. Check the menu: Before relying on room service for all of your meals, make sure to check the menu to see what options are available. Some cruise lines have limited room service menus, and certain items may not be available at all times.

  2. Order ahead: If you know you'll want to use room service for a particular meal, consider placing your order in advance. This can help ensure that your food arrives when you want it, and can also save time if the service is busy.

  3. Be clear about dietary restrictions: If you or your child has any dietary restrictions or food allergies, make sure to communicate these clearly to the room service staff. Most cruise lines are accommodating of special dietary needs, but it's important to be specific about what you can and can't eat.

  4. Tip appropriately: While room service is often included in the price of your cruise, it's still appropriate to tip the staff who deliver your food. The amount you tip will depend on the cruise line and your personal preferences, but a general guideline is to tip 15-20% of the total cost of your order.

  5. Use it sparingly: While room service can be a convenient option for busy days or when your child is feeling under the weather, it's also important to encourage your family to take advantage of the dining options available on board. Eating in the main dining room or at a specialty restaurant can be a fun and enjoyable way to experience the cruise and try new foods.

Overall, using room service on a cruise with kids can be a great way to make mealtimes more convenient and enjoyable. Just be sure to communicate your needs clearly, tip appropriately, and encourage your family to explore all the dining options available on board.

Be Flexible

Being flexible is a key aspect of cruising with kids, as it allows you to adapt to changes and unexpected situations that may arise during your trip. Here are some tips for being flexible:

  1. Expect the unexpected: While you may have a plan for your day, be prepared for unexpected situations such as bad weather, delayed excursions, or changes in the ship's schedule.

  2. Be willing to adjust your plans: If something unexpected does happen, be willing to adjust your plans accordingly. For example, if your planned excursion is canceled, look for other activities on the ship that you and your family can enjoy.

  3. Be patient: Remember that traveling with kids can be unpredictable, and things may not always go as planned. Practice patience and try to stay calm if unexpected situations arise.

  4. Keep an open mind: Be open to trying new things and exploring different parts of the ship. You never know what kind of fun and adventure you might find!

  5. Communicate with your family: Make sure to communicate with your family throughout the trip to ensure that everyone is comfortable and happy with the plans. Encourage your kids to voice their opinions and ideas for activities as well.

By being flexible and adaptable, you can help ensure that your family has a fun and stress-free cruise vacation, no matter what unexpected situations may arise.

Get Off the Ship

Getting off the ship during port days can be one of the highlights of a cruise vacation, but it can also be a stressful experience with kids. Here are some tips for staying organized and making the most of your time on shore:

  1. Plan ahead: Research the ports of call before your cruise and decide which activities you want to do with your family. Make a plan for how you'll get to each activity, whether it's by foot, taxi, or organized excursion.

  2. Check the ship's schedule: Make sure you know when the ship is scheduled to depart each port, and plan to be back on board well before that time. It's also a good idea to keep track of the ship's local time, as it may be different from the time in your home port.

  3. Bring a bag: Bring a small backpack or tote bag with you on shore to carry essentials such as sunscreen, snacks, water bottles, and any souvenirs you might pick up.

  4. Keep track of your kids: Make sure your kids are always within sight and earshot, and establish a meeting place in case anyone gets separated. Consider using wristbands or temporary tattoos with your contact information in case your child gets lost.

  5. Be prepared for the weather: Depending on where you're cruising, the weather on shore may be very different from the weather on the ship. Bring appropriate clothing and gear, such as rain jackets or hats and gloves, to ensure your family stays comfortable.

  6. Allow for flexibility: While it's important to have a plan for each port of call, it's also important to be flexible and open to changes. Unexpected delays or weather changes can happen, so be prepared to adjust your plans as needed.

By staying organized and planning ahead, you can make the most of your time on shore and create lasting memories with your family.

Stay Safe

When cruising with kids, safety should always be a top priority. Here are some tips for staying safe on a cruise:

  1. Attend the safety briefing: Every cruise ship holds a mandatory safety briefing for passengers, usually on the first day of the cruise. Make sure to attend this briefing with your family, as it will provide important information about emergency procedures and the location of life jackets.

  2. Know your surroundings: Familiarize yourself with the layout of the ship and the location of your cabin, the dining areas, and the emergency exits. Make sure your kids know how to find their way back to your cabin if they get separated from you.

  3. Supervise your kids: Keep a close eye on your kids at all times, especially when they're around water or in crowded areas. Make sure they understand the importance of staying together and not wandering off on their own.

  4. Follow safety guidelines: Observe all safety guidelines on board, such as not leaning over the railings or running in the hallways. Make sure your kids understand these guidelines as well.

  5. Use caution on shore: When you're exploring ports of call, be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Stick to well-lit, populated areas, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash or expensive jewelry.

  6. Use common sense: Above all, use common sense and trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, remove yourself and your family from the situation.

By following these tips and staying vigilant, you can help ensure that your family stays safe and has a stress-free cruise vacation.

Enjoy the Experience

Cruising with kids can be a fun and exciting experience, and it's important to take the time to enjoy the trip and make lasting memories with your family. Here are some tips for enjoying the experience:

  1. Embrace the activities: Many cruise lines offer a wide range of activities for kids and families, such as swimming, mini-golf, rock climbing, and movie nights. Encourage your kids to participate in these activities and join in the fun yourself.

  2. Try new foods: Cruise ships are known for their delicious and varied dining options, and it's a great opportunity to try new foods with your family. Encourage your kids to be adventurous and try new dishes.

  3. Take advantage of the entertainment: Cruise ships often offer a variety of live entertainment, from Broadway-style shows to comedians and magicians. Make sure to catch a show with your family and enjoy the experience.

  4. Relax and unwind: While it's important to stay busy and make the most of your time on the ship, it's also important to take time to relax and unwind. Find a quiet spot on the ship to read a book, take a nap, or simply enjoy the view.

  5. Capture the memories: Take lots of photos and videos throughout your trip to capture the memories. Encourage your kids to take photos as well, and create a scrapbook or photo album of your trip when you return home.

By embracing the experience and enjoying all that a cruise has to offer, you can create lasting memories with your family and make the most of your vacation.


In conclusion, cruising with kids can be a great way to spend your vacation, but it does require some planning and preparation. Choose the right cruise line and cabin, pack strategically, plan your days, take advantage of kids' clubs, use room service, be flexible, get off the ship, stay safe, and above all, enjoy the experience. By following these tips and tricks, you can have a stress-free vacation and make some great memories with your family.

Ready to book an unforgettable family cruise? Look no further than Sunshine Tree Travel! Our expert travel agents can help you plan the perfect family cruise, from choosing the right cruise line and itinerary to booking the best cabin for your family. Plus, with our insider knowledge and exclusive deals, we can help you save money and get the most out of your trip. Don't leave your family vacation to chance – book with Sunshine Tree Travel today and create memories that will last a lifetime!

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