Now that our boys are potty trained and don’t require a crib or stroller, I’m prioritizing family travel. I want us to embark on interesting experiences so we can learn and grow from them together as a family.
In the past we’ve tagged along on Robert’s work trips, stayed in Orlando near Disney, and taken road trips for family reunions, but we’ve never taken a trip in which our only prerogative is spending time together in a new environment. Therefore I wanted to start a new family vacation tradition this past spring break.
After researching a variety of vacation options, I landed on a 5-night Royal Caribbean cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas with stops in Key West and Cozumel. Read on for my four reasons why cruising is the perfect family vacation.
It may seem like a no-brainer, but the costs of traveling with four rather than as a couple really add up. We have a lot of travel rewards due to Robert’s work travel, but it is challenging to piece together a vacation that fully takes advantage of both airline and hotel points, and also ranks high on my list of places to visit.
Cruising on the other hand, especially if you live in Florida or another state with a port, takes the airfare, rental car and parking costs out of the equation. Not to mention your meals and CHILD CARE are included as well!
We cruised out of Tampa and had a friend drop us off at the port, so our only costs outside the cruise price were for two excursions, beverages and gratuities.
Traveling with kids is cumbersome. Cars must have age-appropriate car seats. Younger kids may need a portable crib or a stroller. Diaper bags stocked with changes of clothes, diapers, wipes, snacks and drinks must be lugged everywhere.
Many of these reasons are why we waited until the boys were potty trained, accustomed to sleeping in beds and able to walk far distances without help. But even kids beyond the infant and toddler years have more needs than adults. Fortunately cruising takes care of a lot of those needs for parents.
There’s no need to bring or rent car seats because you don’t need to drive anywhere unless you take an excursion. For the two excursions we took we used a trolley and bus for transportation, which were safe options for young kids. You don’t need to worry about what your kids will snack on because there are food options around the clock. The ship’s activities are contained to a few decks with elevators easily accessible, so there’s no walking across a huge city or resort property to get to where you need to go. Rather, you simply hop in and out of the elevator to get to your room, the restaurants, the pools or the kids club.
The amount of activities on a cruise ship are overwhelming. There’s literally something for everyone. We were pleasantly surprised at the new things our boys enjoyed, such as the evening entertainment which included a comedian, musicians and dancers. They also had fun playing miniature golf, floating in the swimming pool, lounging in the jacuzzi, and splashing in the kiddie pool.
As far as adult activities, Robert and I didn’t get around to much, but Robert did make it to sports trivia in the pub and participated in a pool games competition as the only adult among nine other kids.
4. Mom & Dad Time
One of the most appealing aspects of cruising is the option for child care. Our ship offered morning, afternoon, evening and late night sessions in the Adventure Ocean kids club. One night they even offered a dinner option so we could enjoy a date night. We dropped our boys off there three or four times during the week, giving us time to relax by the pool together and enjoy dinner alone. Every time we picked them up they were having so much fun they weren’t ready to leave.
For the late-night crowd, you can pay $7/hour per child for care from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. That’s less than the price of some babysitters!
All in all, our cruise was a success. Were there things Robert and I would have liked to have experienced if we were alone? Of course. We weren’t able to stay out late or go on any extreme excursions, but seeing the wonder in our boys’ eyes at the smallest things was better than any of the adult things we missed. I’m hopeful this will be the first of many spring break cruises we take as a family.
Stay tuned for parts two and three of my Cruising With Kids series. Thanks for reading!