Surprise or not

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27 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
I am taking DD (7) on her first cruise in December. I have had this planned and booked for many months now. She has no idea about the cruise. She keeps asking me to take her and I keep telling her maybe when she is older. She wants to go so bad she tried to get me to agree to take her on a cruise as a "treat" for a good 1st grade report card. So needless to say when she finds out she will be so excited. I have no intention of telling her about the cruise at least until it is closer. I'm torn between telling her or surprising her. I think it may be fun to pack her things without her knowing and put them in the car and just drive her to the airport. But on the other hand I think that she may like to pack some of her own things.

What do you guys think? Should I surprise her and just drive her to the airport? Or should I tell her closer to when we leave? And if I tell her before we leave and good ideas so that it will still get that little girl scream of excitement?
191 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
Our cruise is actually a surprise as well. I am giving it to my husband for his 40th birthday in 16 months. I am hoping to surprise him the day of his b-day; which is also the day we leave. My plan is to have everything packed and then give him a binder with a "hey you are on vacation and we are leaving now" type of thing.

If you think she would enjoy doing some of her own packing, then I would give it to her a day or two before. I think if you give it to her too early the excitment may wear off ???

Have a great time!
2,648 Posts
Joined Mar 2010
My son has always known about all of our cruises and loves every bit of the planning/packing/excitement leading up to going away (started cursing when he was 3.5).

Last year my husband and I decided to surprise him. We never told him and we packed and loaded the car while he was sleeping. We told him we were just going into NYC for the day.

When we pulled up to the ship and started to get out of the car he was not at all surprised or excited. He was pretty miffed that we didn't let him help with any of the planning/packing etc.

Of course once on board he was happy as a clam!!!!
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20 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
We're taking our first one for New Years. My mom and dad, my sister and her family, and all 5 of us in mine taking a western Caribbean. It's supposed to be a Christmas surprise. We have told our soon to be 16 year old but all the other kids involved will be oblivious until Christmas Eve and they do a scavenger hunt to find the clues and discover what we're doing
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O.I.F. #1 (2003) veteran
First cruise booked 30Dec2013
Carnival Triumph

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Carnival Triumph

Third cruise booked 05June2016

5,156 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Years ago, we surprised our 5 kids with a trip to WDW (with a van waiting outside our house at 5 am). They were so excited! After our 6 nights there, we told them it was time to go to the airport - but, instead, the van took us to the DCL pier. Again, so cool! When we got off the ship, I told them "really, it's over - you have school tomorrow." No one complained about not having things packed (and it's not easy to pack for a family of 7, secretly, for a 9 night vacation!).
Pennsylvania and Florida
1,250 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Our DD (now 18) would get herself so excited over upcoming vacations, that we stopped telling her before hand between the ages of 3-7. We started just packing for her, waking her up for early morning flight, and just telling her on the way to the airport. She caught on after the 2nd or 3rd time. We did it for our sanity, never realized that she tells us some of her best childhood memories are "being awakened in the middle of the night, and being told where we were going on vacation"

I vote for surprise
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Ontario, Canada
1,828 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
Tell her when you get closer. The anticipation of an upcoming cruise is just as fun as the cruise itself.
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Ontario, Canada
2,340 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
My kids don't deal well with big surprises, so we have always told them about and included them in the planning. At age 7, our DS1 was involved with planning excursions, learning about the places we would visit before the trip and was definitely involved in packing . I do believe he and his younger brother get more out of the trips when they are included in the planning.
I'm sure they wouldn't say no if I woke them up and said we were leaving, but now that they have been on 5 vacations they know what is involved. I could have never done that on the first few trips, as there was a lot of time spent preparing them for airport and cruise security procedures, what the ship cabin would be like and so on.
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2,139 Posts
Joined May 2005
Our DD - now 9 has cruised with us since she was a baby. We always tell her about upcoming cruises. She loves chatting about it and helping plan excursions. Where are you going and on which ship? I'm sure she will have a great trip either way!
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154 Posts
Joined Aug 2013
It really depends on your DD and how she handles and appreciates surprises. My DD (13) does not. Planned a surprise WDW trip for my kids over spring break last year. Woke them up around 6am. Should've known the possibility of the big reveal going well would lessen the earlier I did it. A large present was waiting in the living room. Inside were Disney balloons that rose when the box opened with a card attached that revealed the surprise. We were leaving within the hour. Reactions: The boys were groggy and didn't know what to think, and DD was borderline upset. Quite the let down for me. My DD is a planner, thought she knew what she was going to be doing over spring break (mostly nothing), and she wasn't prepared for such a surprise. Plus, she was just a moody tween. She begrudgingly let me help her pack (I knew better than to pack her things myself like I did the boys), and within the hour, her attitude had changed. The vacation was absolutely perfect, and my DD loved WDW as much or more than anyone else. "Best vacation ever!" she says. But I learned my lesson. DD does NOT appreciate surprises!
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Carnival Sunshine, May 17-25, 2014
Grand Turk, St. Thomas, Tortola, St. Maarten
Boston MA
1,525 Posts
Joined Aug 2002
Our DD had been on a couple of cruises before we planned to surprise her by taking her on Disney for her 6th birthday.

We told her the afternoon we were leaving, after we picked her up from kindergarten, and it did not go as we thought it would. As in, she burst into tears at the thought of leaving.

Instead of being excited about finally getting to go on a disney cruise with the princesses (and mind you, she was in prime "princess mode" at that time), she was upset at being surprised, and asking questions like, Who will take care of the dogs (" our neighbors like they always do when we go on a cruise") and what will I wear (" we've already packed clothes for you and your carryon, but you have a little time to pick out which of your stuffies can come on this trip"), etc.

So that's when we figured out that she likes the planning and anticipation, too.

She ended up having a great cruise, after a little rocky start.
2,956 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
Originally posted by cozumelrocks
What do you guys think? Should I surprise her and just drive her to the airport? Or should I tell her closer to when we leave? And if I tell her before we leave and good ideas so that it will still get that little girl scream of excitement?
I don't see where she would get any pleasure in a "little girl scream of excitement" - it's almost as if you're thinking of yourself, not of her. Don't fall into that trap.

If you think she would enjoy looking forward to the cruise, then tell her. Maybe as a guideline you could use her attitude to parties - when she knows they're coming, does it give her pleasure to look forward to them, or is she a bit ho-hum and has to be woken up when the time comes?
90,132 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
This is so nice.

I would tell her a couple of weeks before. She will still be surprised and like you said can pick out some items to take and you can tell her all about what you have planned.

Take lots of photos. This will help each of you relive these memories for the rest of your lives.

77 Posts
Joined Apr 2013
My daughter knows exactly how many days until we leave. She has helped pick excursions (her input at least). She will turn 13 on the cruise. 21 days

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27 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
Thanks for all of your input. I think I will tell her a couple weeks before we go. She had a little input in the excusions without knowing it. I have another cruise booked for after we get back that I will be going on without her. So I have pulled up a couple of excursions and asked her if she thought they looked fun. But I told her they were things I was going to do on the cruise that I have booked that she knows about. So I think she will be excited when she finds out she will get to do the fun things too.

Thank you!
Central Indiana
391 Posts
Joined Sep 2005
Our kids know we are going for a cruise for spring break. We've watched videos, looked at pictures like crazy, and they are super stoked to go. In March of 2014.

They have no idea we are leaving for their very first in 32 days.

We aren't going to tell them til we show up at the pier. They are going to drive all the way from Indianapolis to Jacksonville with NO IDEA where we are going.

I can't wait.
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65 Posts
Joined Sep 2011
We are surprising our 9 year olds for their birthday. We will tell them on their actual birthday which is 5 days before we leave. Plenty of time for them to get excited I think
McDonough, GA
875 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
My 7 yr olds knows we are cruising and talks about it. He can tell you how many school days he has until the cruise. my 2 yr old knows we are going on the big boat soon and has looked at pictures too.

I think anticipation is half the fun.

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