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A Cruise: Quite Possibly the Ideal Family Vacation

A month ago, I would have told you we weren’t cruise people. Okay, so a boat with beverages floating on the ocean sounds nice and all, but given the choice of vacations, we wouldn’t have gone with it. We’re more backpacking-through-Europe types, even with kids in tow. We’re happy to ride songtaews through the back streets of Thailand with toddlers.

But now? Oh, we’re SO cruise people. It’s a lot different than what I thought.

If you picture older people playing shuffleboard on the upper decks when you hear “cruise,” or maybe overly tanned twenty-somethings partying the night away in discotheques, I was right there with you. Family vacation? Not so much.

Well, here’s what I learned last week on our cruise to the Bahamas via Norwegian Cruise Linea cruise is what you make it. There was every mix of age, nationality, and stage of life on that boat, and that made it more fun than I could have imagined.

On our last night on the cruise, Kyle and I strolled the decks while Finn slept in his arms (the older two were in the kids’ program, having a blast). We noticed how on every floor on the ship, there seemed to be something for everybody. There was a casino on the sixth floor, along with several bars, a French restaurant, and a beautiful, all-ages-welcome, classic cruise restaurant.

My youngest enjoying a plate of pasta the size of his body at La Cucina, the Italian restaurant on the ship.

A floor up, and we walked by a sushi restaurant, stores, more bars, a theater, a bowling alley, and a nightclub. On the twelfth floor? Two pools, four hot tubs, a huge buffet restaurant with an ice cream bar (our kids’ favorite), a spa, a gym, and a kids-only play area.

Oh yes—they had a kids’ camp called Splash Academy every day from morning until late at night. You could check your kids in and out, allowing for that sweet, coveted balance of alone time, couple time, and family time. Our kids had a blast with the youth counselors, and every day had a theme, such as spy games, circus, or pirates.

Our boat, the Norwegian Gem, docked in Nassau, Bahamas.

I’m so totally impressed by Norwegian Cruise Line, and I’ll be sharing more in the next few days from what I learned—the ways to make a cruise work for your family vacation, how to make it affordable (oh, we learned!), what to pack, and what to leave at home.

We’re still going to take our usual vacations—camping, road trips, and backpacking through other countries. But now, cruises will be added to our rotation. I’ve honestly never returned from a family vacation so relaxed.

Maybe that’s because I didn’t have to drive or cook for a week.

What would you like to learn about cruising with little kids? Have you ever taken one as a family? What was your experience like?

A big thanks to Norwegian Cruise Line for sponsoring this campaign. Click here to see more of the discussion.

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