Posted January 19th, 2013, 06:59 PM
age 12, maybe 10 if they are mature enough. i'm definitely the odd person out but i think that that a cruise is for enjoyment and not constant baby sitting. preschoolers won't remember a thing about their cruises, elementary kids get bored very easily and rest and relaxation isn't part of their lexicon. by the time a kid is twelve they know enough about life to be easy on a ship and can find tons of things to do and usually really enjoy all the new experiences and are somewhat mature enough to know how to behave. with a 12 year old it becomes easier to pick excursions, to allow them some free time without constant supervision.
young kids are a joy but they are a lot of work and most won't really understand the experience and usually aren't real comfortable with strange places and new experiences. by their tweens they are ready to grasp all of it and then the experience is great for both kids and adults.
This has not been my experience. My kids started cruising when DD was 4 and DS was 7 which was the right age to start for us. I have found vacationing with my children to be enjoyment for all of us and I do not consider it babysitting. Both of my kids remember their first cruise and they are now 16 and 18 and have been on 9 cruises with our 10th coming up this summer. Neither of my kids were bored on this cruise or the ones that followed. Both of my kids knew how to behave from their very first cruise. They could sit through long dinners without whining or complaint and they enjoyed the experience, especially with the waiters doting on them.
Both my kids enjoyed our first cruise so much that when we asked them 3 years later if they wanted to do a cruise or Disney World they chose a cruise immediately. DD even entered a talent show on her second cruise when she was 7 doing a tap number (she is a competitive dancer). They were on 5 cruises before DD turned 10 and they enjoyed every one of them. We had ports where we had beach days, we rode jet boats, went snorkling, visited a pirate museum, rode on glass bottom boats and semi submarines, and swam with the stingrays...all before DD was 10. My kids have always enjoyed the production and comedy shows, playing bingo and trivia games, relaxing on the Lido deck, playing mini-golf, basketball or soccer and playing card games on the Promenada or on the Lido deck with DH and myself and eating ICE CREAM. One of the things they never got into was the kids clubs. They tried them but they were always in different age groups so they preferred to hang with each other and with us.....which was not a burden to us. These were family vacations meant to spend time together and we had a blast.
IMHO the right age depends on your kids. I would have taken DS on a cruise at 2 or younger in a heartbeat. He only cried when he was hungry or needed a change and that was always an easy fix. If he was tired he just fell asleep...no matter where he was or what we were doing. DD was a different story. Before she could talk she was constantly crying. It was almost impossible to find the problem and resolve it for her. We refrained from taking her anywhere and when we did we were prepared to leave in a hurry. Once she could communicate with us the crying stopped. We were able to start taking her out without any outbursts. Each kid is different. Parents need to be parents and know their children and their limitations. Some kids can handle vacations and cruises earlier than others....only you know if that child that can handle it is yours or not. Some parents can not handle vacationing with their kids. I find this a shame for the kids but we are not all the same. You all have to do what is right for your family.