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Tsh Oxenreider

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Tsh Oxenreider is the full-time blogger behind Simple Mom and the founder and creative director of Simple Living Media, a blog network dedicated to helping people live intentionally (while throwing perfection out the window). She thinks a library card, a Netflix subscription, and a passport are some of the greatest parenting tools in the universe.

She’s a wife to Kyle, mama to Tate, Reed, and Finn, and is the author of Organized Simplicity and One Bite at a Time: 52 Bites for Making Life Simpler. She is currently working on her next book. Tsh and her nomadic family currently live in Bend, Oregon, but several dots around the globe have also been called home (her 7-year-old has been on 53 airplanes and counting). Together, they love to travel, read books, go camping, and make homemade pizza for Friday Family Movie Night.

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A Cruise: Quite Possibly the Ideal Family Vacation

By Tsh Oxenreider |

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.

Read more from Tsh at Simple Mom, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.

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About Tsh Oxenreider


Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh Oxenreider is the founder and creative director of Simple Living Media, the editor of Simple Mom, the voice behind The Simple Mom Podcast, and the author of several books. While she's working on her next book, Tsh lives in Oregon with her husband and three kids and enjoys sunshine, running, and good coffee. Read bio and latest posts → Read Tsh's latest posts →

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9 thoughts on “A Cruise: Quite Possibly the Ideal Family Vacation

  1. Jodi says:

    I am so glad to hear you had a positive family experience! My husband and I took 5 cruises prior to having children, starting with our honeymoon, and it is our ideal vacation. We’ve not been on any since they were born and look forward to your advice. We hope to take a family cruise next year for our 15th anniversary!

  2. Kristen Weston says:

    My husband and I have cruised twice…once to Key West and Mexico for our honeymoon and then around the Hawaiian Islands for our 15th wedding anniversary. Both experiences were priceless, but I highly recommend NCL’s Pride of America for the best way to see so much of Hawaii. It was like a floating hotel, transportation and so much more!
    My parents are also cruisers, so next summer, we intend to celebrate my mom’s retirement with a multi-generational Alaskan cruise. This will also complete Mom’s Bucket List item of visiting all 50 states! This will be our first time with the kids, but we have no reservations and are very much looking forward to it!

  3. Ed says:

    I was always skeptical about bringing kids on a cruise, it always seemed like it would take away from the fun, but definitely considering it now, Thanks!

  4. Jojo says:

    my family LOVES cruises! we’ve tried out all the other types, but it really is all the best parts combined into one when you’re on a cruise. now the only thing to decide is–where to next?! :)

  5. MommaReads says:

    I am sooo looking forward to the affordability post. The hubs and I have never been on vacation together. Including a honeymoon – which was cut short due to someone dying! For our ten year this year, I definitely want to come back relaxed. Also wondering if you could do a three-day cruise and still feel relaxed, or if a full week is a must?

  6. Annabelle says:

    Cruises really are the most relaxing vacation. I love that once it’s booked I don’t have to think about planning at all! And the multitude of activities and food options is great for a family with all different tastes (like mine!)

  7. Alix says:

    I like how these cruises seem to have something for everyone! What other vacation is going to please the whole family??

  8. Tsh Oxenreider says:

    @Jodi, that sounds so fun!

    @Kristen, that’s amazing! I’ll remember that, because I’d love to cruise to Hawaii one day. And I think your kids will love it.

    @Ed, I kinda thought that, too, but now I think the opposite—if we were there without the kids, I’d be thinking the whole time how much fun they’d have! Plus, we’d get plenty of couple time.

    @Mommareads, did you see the post? Here’s my bit of info: Basically, you can make it as affordable as you need to, really.

  9. Casi says:

    Your youngest is precious Tsh! I never wanted to really go on a cruise until I read your posts — you’ve talked me into it! And, I love how on a cruise you have no planning! No rental car, no extra fees — it’s all included and planned. Thanks for sharing Tsh!

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