So I started by telling you how much we needed a family vacation, and how we discovered that a cruise is possibly the ideal family vacation. I listed a few reasons why cruises are so kid-friendly these days, and then I shared my ideas on how to pack for one.
As I wrap up my series about the things I learned from our recent Norwegian Cruise Line vacation, I thought I’d share some of the more common “situations” families face as they plan their vacation, and how a cruise could possibly solve them.
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1. Your family: Has a tight schedule and not a lot of vacation time 1 of 7
Solution: Norwegian Cruise Line has cruises from 1 to 28 days, so you can choose from a wide variety of itineraries. Yep—one-day cruises! You can enjoy the boat for an overnight romantic date to celebrate an anniversary, or gather friends and family to celebrate a big milestone. There's also quite a few 3 and 4-day itineraries that sound like lots of fun.
Your family: Has a limited budget 2 of 7
Solution: You and me both. I like that there's no hidden fees for booking a cruise; you just pay your room and board, and then make your plans for getting to the disembarkation dock. Once you're on board, you'll need to be a bit savvy, but it's really not too hard. There's more than enough food provided that's included in your price (so you honestly don't need to spend extra on food), and you can save a lot of money by limiting your alcohol—tea, coffee, and water are free. We stuck to one drink from the bar each day.
And through Norwegian's website, you can plan your excursions and extras in advance once you've booked, so you'll know if you need to bring extra money.
Finally, please note that there will be daily charges per person for tips—for us, that was $12. We found this very reasonable and were more than happy to bless our stellar service—but it's good to budget for this in advance.
Your family: Has an under-two-year-old 3 of 7
Solution: Norwegian has amazing kids' programs called Splash Academy and Entourage, but these are for kids between 2 and 17. Under two, and there's no childcare. There is a fun baby pool, and our little guy had a blast splashing around safely.
To get the full cruise ship experience, I'd recommend either waiting until your child turns two, or planning your vacation with friends or family. This way, you can swap childcare with each other, so that you can enjoy a few date nights sans kiddos.
Your family: Likes to do different things 4 of 7
Solution: Honestly, a cruise is perfect for you. While you're lounging in a deck chair with a novel, your aunt can be getting her nails done in the salon while your cousin gambles in the casino. Your teen can be climbing the rock wall while your 8-year-old makes crafts and plays soccer. And all the while, your grandparents can dine at the classic steakhouse, while you and your brood can have fun at the amazing free buffet spread.
There really is something for everybody. A cruise makes for a great family reunion, in my opinion.
Your family: Likes their agenda planned for them 5 of 7
Solution: Not in the mood to research and plan your activities and excursions? No problem. Norwegian provides more than enough excursion options at each port of call, so you'll have no shortage of ideas. Simply sign up for one, and you're good to go—they'll tell you exactly where you need to be at what time, and you'll know in advance how much it'll cost.
Your family: Likes to go off the beaten path 6 of 7Solution: This is us. All the cruise excursion packages are optional, so you are free to get off the boat and explore all you want. In the Bahamas, we hopped on a taxi and asked our driver to take us to a great beach. And we had a fabulous time. Norwegian makes it crystal clear when you disembark exactly what time you need to be back on board, so there's no reason to panic. Just keep watching the time.
Your family: Gets seasick 7 of 7
Solution: Two words—Sea Bands. We saw several people with them on our cruise ship, and there was no one puking. There has to be a correlation. (I wore them for a few of my pregnancies, and they really do help.)
If you’ve been on a cruise before, what piece of advice can you share with a first-timer? Or if you’ve never been, is there anything in particular holding you back?