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  #1  
Old October 10th, 2008, 11:55 AM
Dan Askin Dan Askin is offline
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Default Family Cruises: Your Two Cents?

Last month, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents 24 major North American cruise lines, and Cruise Critic invited readers to share how -- and why -- they cruise with their families, via a quick online survey.

That survey is now closed, but there's still time to weigh in!

We want to know: What can cruise lines do better? Are there specific upgrades or changes you'd like to see made to kids' programs on ships? What extra services could be offered that would make cruises an even better value for your family vacation dollars -- and easier to plan? Share your opinions about family cruising -- whether you've gone on several or are planning your first one.
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Last edited by Dan Askin; October 10th, 2008 at 11:56 AM.
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  #2  
Old October 10th, 2008, 12:28 PM
notentirelynormal notentirelynormal is offline
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We do family (and almost family) cruises all the time. I think we’re on #15. My biggest issues are transportation to and from the ship – the price and the ease. Figuring out how to get everyone there together is a challenge. It would also be nice if there was some kind of print out the ship did that would tell everyone’s cabin number and phone number along with a guarantee that we would all be eating together. Our last cruise 3 couples had issues. Two were waitlisted, but finally made it. One couple was assigned to a totally different restaurant.

One of the toughest things to get though, is group photos. They don’t like to do it except for the formal pictures where you have to wait a long time, and then keep others waiting even longer while your huge group gets pictures. You almost need to make an appointment, which they normally don’t do. I have made appointments for them to come to our group party though and for the most part that is good, but there have been times when I would have loved for 15-30 minutes of their dedicated time on formal night to do different groupings of our family. Pictures we would have bought, like the siblings, the cousins, each family, the whole group.
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  #3  
Old October 10th, 2008, 01:46 PM
mmcnclh mmcnclh is offline
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We take one big family vacation each year. The past 2 years we opted for an all-inclusive resorts for many reasons: 1) cost less expensive overall, 2) connecting rooms - very hard to find on a ship; 3) able to have a room on the ground floor so no one falls out of a window; 4) better quality childrens program. This year we are trying a cruise with 2 cabins next to each other on Princess as DH and I miss cruising. The in-cabin fridge is a perk as I can stash snacks away and not have to run to the buffet or wait for room service, as well as any time dining. Little ones run on their tummy and it if its empty, no one is happy. Some type of entertainment while you are waiting to board would be helpful as well
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  #4  
Old October 10th, 2008, 06:02 PM
FionaMG FionaMG is offline
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Default The "Forgotten" Age Group

I think the cruise lines need to address the issue of the "too-old-for-the-kids-programmes-but-still-not-really-adult" age group (roughly 18-21) who seem to have been largely forgotten about. I'm not suggesting structured activities as such, but I think some sort of mix and mingle specially for this age group, with the presence of a couple of members of the entertainment staff to help break the ice, would at least help them meet up with each other and make friends to hang out with.
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  #5  
Old October 10th, 2008, 06:25 PM
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I just want to say that I think it's awesome that they want us to weigh in on this question. It seems like Family Cruising is finally becoming more accepted in the cruise community.

My 4 and 8 year old are set to go on their 7th and 8th cruise.

What can cruiseline do better?

I think some cruiselines are already setting out to do things better for families with kids. But some improvements....

--Water splash areas for non-potty trained babies/infants on every ship, not just the RCCL new ships and Disney.

--Babysitting for kids under the kid clubs minimum. Disney has Flounders as a pay per hour service so the parents can get away for a quiet dinner, other cruiselines should start this as well.

--In cabin sitting for 1 year olds and above on RCCL and Celebrity should be part of the kids club and not just "first come first serve basis", and performed by staff actually trained to be child providers

--Portable bed rails for kids under 8 - it's inexpensive to have a few onboard and alot safer then the metal rails on the pullmans. The bedrails could also be used on the couches for the younger kids.

--CUPS - lol - it seems simple, but some cruise lines (Carnival) serve kids drinks in large glass goblets...some kid size paper cups would be better than packing sippies for the tot lot.

--More balcony cabins with tubs. Most families have to step up to a suite if they want a tub to bath the kids in.

--Kids clubs all have cell phones or pagers for parents of 2-5's (basically), but there should be an option to have cell phones for 6-8's and dect phones for those who have kids signing themselves out in the older age groups. Parents should be able to know where their kids are at all times.

--Luggage Valet service for all cruiselines/airlines. The last day is so hectic. The kids are depressed. Everyone is rushing. It would be easier if the bags are already enroute to the airport instead of searching the baggage area when disembarking.

--All cruiselines should use pack n plays for the infant beds.

And two more suggestions for specific cruiselines...

--RCCL needs to get more like Carnival and Disney when planning the activities for the 3-5 year olds. There have been many complaints around here that the 3 year olds are expected to sit and be quiet, join circle time, do crafts and stay away from the slides. Kids that age aren't used to school and staying within the rules of a group. Carnival and Disney understand that and allow more individual play for the kids who don't want to be a part of the group. Kids can slide on Disney, color or play games on their own if they don't want to be a part of the group storytime. Carnival allows children to play on their own too. RCCL needs to allow 3 year olds to BE 3 year olds.

--On the flip side, RCCL has been doing a great job with the new onboard ammentities geared toward families AND with the FAMILY events like Family dance parties, family karoake, family scavenger hunts, basketball tourneys, family trivia, etc. Each day there is one morning activity and one afternoon activity (or night) that is just for families. Carnival had one of these events but it was a "Build A Buddy Family Event" - which was just a glorified build a bear meant to get the parents to pay for a new bear.


Thanks Dan!
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Last edited by crusinmama06; October 10th, 2008 at 06:27 PM.
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Old October 10th, 2008, 06:33 PM
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VillaHappy VillaHappy is offline
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I had heard that on some RCl ships, the Adventure Ocean staff comes down to the main dining room at 6:40pm and takes the kids upstairs for the evening. I thought that was wonderful!

Then we were on the Explorer this past summer. The 6:40pm pickup was not happening on this ship. It was very hard for my kids to sit patiently through their dinner. They were jumping at the bit to get upstairs. Come 7pm, one of us had to leave the table with them and take them up to the 12th floor for the AO program. Also, it was rather disruptive for the rest of our tablemates.
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  #7  
Old October 10th, 2008, 06:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VillaHappy View Post
I had heard that on some RCl ships, the Adventure Ocean staff comes down to the main dining room at 6:40pm and takes the kids upstairs for the evening. I thought that was wonderful!

Then we were on the Explorer this past summer. The 6:40pm pickup was not happening on this ship. It was very hard for my kids to sit patiently through their dinner. They were jumping at the bit to get upstairs. Come 7pm, one of us had to leave the table with them and take them up to the 12th floor for the AO program. Also, it was rather disruptive for the rest of our tablemates.
I had never heard of that on RCCL. But YES, count me in as a vote for that too!

One of us always has to leave dinner every night to get the kids to the clubs. It would be awesome to have a sign up outside the dining room.
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  #8  
Old October 10th, 2008, 06:58 PM
notentirelynormal notentirelynormal is offline
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I came back to add something but Michelle beat me to it. I usually use Princess and in cabin babysitting would be fabulous. That's one area I think they really lack in. However, I agree with all the other stuff she said too.
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  #9  
Old October 10th, 2008, 07:43 PM
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Staterooms for 3 or 4 (or 5) that allow parents some privacy! Kinda like the new family staterooms on RCCL with the bunk beds in a separate cubby -- but an actual door (I think those just have curtains) would be much better. There's two issues here -- ability of parents to stay up later than kids (a veranda helps, but removes the option of the TV as well as usually meaning less space in the room proper) and a more private sleeping space for parents. This privacy without having to pay for a connecting stateroom would be very attractive. Even making a curtain that divides queen bed area from couch/3rd & 4th passenger area would help some. I would think these options would be attractive for groups of adults traveling together in one cabin as well.

And I second cruisinmama's request for communication capabilities between all parents and children -- pagers/cell phones/dect phones.
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  #10  
Old October 11th, 2008, 10:31 PM
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Default comments from family of 5

We've had at least one child with us on 9 of our cruises (and all three kids on the last 4). A cruise is a great family vacation, but of course there could be some improvements:

- Ships need to have an economical selection of balcony rooms for families of 5. When there were only 4 of us we could all fit in one cabin, and the 3rd and 4th only cost a fraction of the first two passengers. When we started bringing the youngest along, we had to book two adjoining cabins and pay full fare for the first four passengers. There are some ships we can't even consider due to lack of adjoining cabins (e.g. Carnival Spirit class). The only time we didn't need two cabins was on Disney.

- I don't remember this being as much of a problem on other lines, but Royal Caribbean doesn't schedule the nightly production shows well for those of us with kids in camp. We had to leave the shows early every night to get the kids out of camp at 10. Again, Disney has the right idea by doing matinee shows in the afternoon.

- As far as food, it would be nice to see more "finger food" fruits and veggies in the buffet lines, e.g., strawberries, carrot sticks, sweet peppers, grapes, celery.

- No real complaints about kids clubs. All the lines we've been on have had different, but very good programs. Some of the kids favorite activities were the pirate parade on Royal Caribbean and disecting the squid on Princess.
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Old October 12th, 2008, 01:29 PM
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More water play areas on all cruise lines - if the non potty trained kids cannot go in the regular pools. Now that we have a new baby on the way this is a REAL reason why we won't be sailing on some of our favorite cruise lines: Princess and HAL. When you have kids, the bulk of your vacation time at a land resort is spent at the pool or beach. This makes land resorts much more appealing now versus a cruise ship.
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Old October 12th, 2008, 02:07 PM
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- More changing tables in public washrooms (mens AND women's!) We were so happy to find these on our latest cruise (Costa Atlantica); other cruises a change meant either trudging back to the cabin or using the icky floor. Maybe not in every public washroom but one on each deck would be awesome.

- Priority embarkation of some sort with toddlers/infants. Nothing is worse than waiting in a two hour line with a sleepy/crabby/restless infant! Again, kudos to Costa who put us to the front of the line getting on board the ship on our recent cruise. We didn't ask for this treatment, our son was even being quiet and was happy, but we sure did appreciate it!!! Even if jumping the queue was an optional, paid upgrade service for families I would use it (although given the relatively few families traveling with very young children, I don't think that doing this would really cause a huge slow down for everyone else or necessitate an extra fee. And if I didn't have my child with me for some reason, I'd much rather have families who did have young ones with them skip the line than to have to listen to an upset, tired toddler for an hour while we waited!)
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Old October 12th, 2008, 09:27 PM
Tika Tika is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notentirelynormal View Post
I came back to add something but Michelle beat me to it. I usually use Princess and in cabin babysitting would be fabulous. That's one area I think they really lack in. However, I agree with all the other stuff she said too.
We are a family group and one family will have a 18 month old and we sure wished Princess would introduce in cabin babysitting so we all could at least have one evening meal all together. All the other children in our group wil be able to go to the kids clubs. I would expect the service to be provided by certified child care sitters!!!!!!!!!
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Old October 13th, 2008, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by ducktoon1 View Post
There are some ships we can't even consider due to lack of adjoining cabins (e.g. Carnival Spirit class).
Oops - correction to my earlier posting - it's the Carnival Conquest Class that has a lack of adjoining cabins.

Also, it would be nice to have more than one kids channel to choose from in the cabin. (another thing Disney does well). When we were on RCI in Aug they only offered Cartoon Network, which I'm not that crazy about. (and yes, I know we're not taking a cruise to watch TV, but there are times when you need a diversion)
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Old October 13th, 2008, 11:50 AM
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I would have to say...

1)Infant/Toddler water play areas or kiddie pools on every ship for non potty-trained as well
2) Daytime/ early evening babysitting for under-2's in a nursery setting like Disney has.(most parents of infants/toddlers cant stay awake until 10pm when you have an infant that gets up at the crack of dawn and would like some freetime during the day)
3) More family activities and activities for kids of all ages infants-teens that parents and kids can particpate in together, regardless of age.
4) Infant/toddler playgroups on all lines like RCCL aquatots/aquababies.
5) A family dining section in the formal dining room so that you are seated with other families with children and away from those who want a quiet dinner.
6) A kids playroom that parents and children can go to together that is open to everyone of any age all the time and not just if your child is enrolled in the kids clubs. Maybe have a separate room near the kids club that parents can supervise their children who either arent old enough or dont want to go to the kids club programs but just want to play.
7) Fridge's in every stateroom, laundry facilities on every ship.
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Old October 13th, 2008, 01:55 PM
Onessa Onessa is offline
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I agree with Michelle's dect phones comment - as our DD has started into the teen program it is more challenging to keep communications open (particularly when cruising itineraries where the country's communications regulations vary from North America's and commercial walkie-talkies are not an option)

More econmical internet options -- a teen really likes to stay in touch with their back-home social network, plus it helps with homework assignments.

I agree that the activities for the 18-21 YO are problematic. I don't want those young adults hanging with my teen, but also understand that they want an area where they can hang with their peers.
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  #17  
Old October 18th, 2008, 12:16 AM
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We take alot of cruises, my 9 has 13 cruises and 6 year olds ha 10.
I agree with the above here are a few more:

1. On some of the ships the air vents are attached from cabin to cabin. Therefore if someone in the cabin next to you is smoking so are you. All cabins inside should be none smoking or offer a non-smoking section.

2. Shore Excursions - many islands do not offer anything that is family orientented. Every stop should have at least 1 and make a point of saying it is good for kids under the age of .....

3. New Years on board - There should be 2 parties not just 1 big one. 1-families 1-everyone. Last year's new years the drunks got so bad they were throwing champanigne bottle on the ground & in the pool. The adults without kids were out of control and it was scary. A party in the disco for families would have been so easy to do, instead of the entire ship out by the pool.

4. Signing in and out of camp. Disney has it right Carnival needs work bad. Carnival is still on a manual sign in/out system. They need to have it that the 1st day of the cruise you can authorize 1-4 people to sign in/out your child. And tie it to the room card. This way the sign in/out line moves much faster and there is no confussion. (See below for an example)

Every time you sign in you have to authorize only 1 other person than yourself to pick-up for that session. They will not look at your authorization card that you signed at the beginning if those 2 people are unavailable. (ie: We had 2 cabins with 4 adults. Our reservations were tied together, i signed my son in and went to the spa, and put my husbands name down to also pick up. My son got sea sick they called the room. My mom answered and said she would get him since the beeper didn't seem to be reaching my husband. they would not allow her (even though she had signed him in/out previous days) to pick him up. an hour after him sitting there crying with my mom standing outside the camp (they wouldn't allow her in) i was done and could get him out.

Hope this helps!!!!
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CCL Breeze, Dec 2014-Jan 2015.........NCL Pearl, March 2014
Carnival Glory, Dec 2013................................Carnival Freedom, March 2013
Imagination, Nov 2012 girls wkend.............CCL Breeze, Dec 2012 - Jan 2013
Carnival Imagination, Nov 2012...................Carnival Destiny, March 2012
Carnival Liberty, Dec 2011...........................Carnival Imagination, March 2011
Carnival Liberty, Dec 2010.............................NCL Jewel, March 2010
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Sun Princess, Dec 2006 - Jan 2007...............Saphire Princess, June 2006 Alaska
Carnival Fascination, 2006..............................Celebrity Century, Jan 2006
Carnival Victory, 2005.....................................Caribbean Princess, 2004
Disney Wonder, 2003.......................................Grand Princess, 2002
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  #18  
Old October 18th, 2008, 01:18 PM
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Posts: 293
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My 2 biggest things are :

having a water play area for those not potty trained and being able to use the kids club or having a separate play room that families can use together.
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  #19  
Old October 18th, 2008, 02:59 PM
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ncmomof2 ncmomof2 is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: North Carolina
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I thought of another one:

A way for little kids to take naps in camp. Either have a nap/ rest time that all of the youngest age group does (this is what happens at most daycares/preschools and many kindergartens after all) or a space used for this for a couple hours in the afternoon for the kids who's parents say they need it. Unless mom or dad needs a nap too, this frequently is very boring parent time which could become very nice grown up time since there isn't even the option of it being family time! An addition to this that would be great would be to open it to the babies/toddlers too young for camp for a fee (like late night babysitting on some lines), since this would give these parents some grown up time they don't ordinarily get without creating much additional work for the staff. Beepers/cell phones to call mom or dad as soon as Baby wakes up keeps the work down and removes necessity of changing diapers, etc.
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  #20  
Old October 20th, 2008, 01:53 PM
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Warm Breezes Warm Breezes is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Michigan
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More cabins that will sleep 5 for inside/oceanview/balcony rooms (Additional cost of the 5th person on most cruiseships makes it difficult for friends to come with us since they would end up having to book a more expensive room or book 2 rooms for their family of 5). More planned family activities. Ability to move kids up a level if within a year of being in that group to be with a sibling.

My kids do not use the kids clubs because they can never be in the same group (DS(14) and DD(11) started cruising when DS(7) and DD(4)- they were never in the same group.) Our kids would rather hang out together than with a bunch of strangers. If they were able to be in the same group they would go because the other one would be there. A little flexibility based on the kids individual needs would be nice here. Because of this they spend more time with us and would enjoy more family activities since they won't take advantage of the kid's activities.
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