Cruising with Kids

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ONCE UPON A CRUISE…

I caught the travel bug really early in my life. Actually, now that I think of it, I was probably born with it, inheriting it from my dad who is equally excited about exploring the world. There is so much I want to see and experience; yet things like work, money, and responsibilities tend to get in the way of my soul’s desire to be a full-time explorer. And then we discovered cruising…

With half-a-dozen cruises under our belts, I feel like this is quite possibly the best way to get the most out of your vacation, especially if you are a family of travelers with children. While I do understand it is not for everyone, every adventurer out there should try it at least once.

Here are a few reasons our family is choosing a cruise for our next vacation:

Vacation sampler. You get to sample a variety of places in one trip. Sometimes, it is hard to decide on one destination because there is so much I want to see. We’ve discovered that cruising is ideal in that you can sample a few places for a day or so, and plan to return to the area that is particularly close to your heart for the next full vacation.

Cruising Caribbean islands is the best way to experience a few islands on your list. This is precisely how we discovered St. Martin – an island that was never even on my radar, but lately I’ve been dreaming of one day retiring there. On the same note, some of the places that were very highly thought of and recommended by others were disappointing to our family. It would have been sad to waste a preciously scarce vacation on a place that did not match our expectations.

Unpack once and done. There is an ease with cruising that frees up a lot of (otherwise wasted) time traveling from one location to another, unpacking, etc. Most of the traveling from one locale to another is done at night while you sleep so that during daylight hours, you are ready to have fun on the ship or off. Recently, we took a Mediterranean cruise of countries close to one another. We were relocated and woke to a new country to explore the following day. Planning a land trip with stops in Croatia, Montenegro, Italy, and Greece would have resulted in a lot of time wasted in the vehicle with traffic jams and navigating foreign countries.

Cuisine. Have I mentioned my family loves food? There is no shortage of it on the ship with excellent restaurants, buffets, and even barbecues on the islands (some of the cruise lines own islands and take you there with meals provided right on the location.) As a mom, it relieves stress for me to know that food is readily available if we want to eat on the ship, and it is conveniently calculated into the cost. Cruise food has widened our children’s pallets as a nice variety allows them to sample new cuisines. At some point, when our kids are older, we will venture out to try local restaurants off the ship, but for now, the convenience of food available at any time works well for us.

Overall experience. A cruise ship is like a giant, all-inclusive resort on the water, only better. You have the option of going to different places every day instead of staying in one location. These giants of the seas have perfected vacationing with entertainment options, shopping, spas, casinos, and large varieties of children’s activities without setting foot off the ship. Not to mention, extensive lists of excursions planned for the shore for your convenience.

A la carte. You get to customize your vacation. Are the beach, snorkeling, scuba diving, and/or fishing on your bucket list? You can plan a trip around the Caribbean islands. Are you a family who loves Mickey Mouse? Take a Disney cruise. If you yearn for castles and history, book a European cruise and mark off several bucket-list items at once. For nature lovers, Alaskan cruises are a sure bet. The cruise industry is getting so sophisticated trips can be planned for the most diverse vacation needs. There are even educational cruises available for businesses to treat employees while providing some training.

However, there is one category of traveler that I believe would particularly benefit from cruising, and that is the novice traveler, especially novice abroad travelers. There is a level of added safety and security for those new to traveling; cruise experts will help you navigate all of the unknowns.

So without further ado, go start your list and set sail for your next dream vacation.

about the author…Akvilina Rieger was born in Lithuania. A scholarship to MSU-Bozeman unexpectedly brought her to Montana where she created her family with husband Paul and daughters Sofia and Savannah. An explorer at heart, she is a little bit obsessed with showing the world to her family and everyone around her.

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