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bingobango

Family cruise with kids

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About 7 years myself and my wife did our first ever cruise in the Caribbean and we loved it.

Now we have 2 kids and we are thinking of trying a cruise again with the next year (when they will be 7 and 5).

 

  1. Would RCI be the best cruise-line with activities for kids?
  2. We are thinking August, is this an ok time to cruise the western Med for example?
  3. We are considering a Greek Isle cruise, are these recommended (from Rome, visiting Athens, Sicily, Santorini)
  4. Do people usually wait until the flights come out before booking?  I see RCI has a 50% offer on now not sure how long it will last.

 

Any other thoughts or suggestions are welcome!

 

Thanks!

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The Med in August will be extremely hot and very busy in August.

I don't know if you are restricted to this time due to school vacations, but I I would recommend May/June or September/October for cooler and slightly less busy times.

 

Your ports of call depends on what you want to see, I would say there are no bad ports in the Med 😉

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6 hours ago, bingobango said:

Would RCI be the best cruise-line with activities for kids?

YES! For that age they are a definite winner in my book.

 

Also, check out Family Cruising board for more tips and tricks.

 

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Med cruises are very port-intensive, typically with lots and lots of walking.  

Are those kinds of activities going to interest your kids? 

Only you know your kids... some kids really like the historical stuff, museums, etc. -- others will be bored stiff and complaining the whole time that they're tired and their feet hurt, etc. As previously mentioned, the Med is going to be VERY hot and crowded in August, so that should be a factor for consideration as well.

Another option is to let the kids stay on board in the kiddie programs for at least some of the ports, while the parents enjoy some kid-free vacation time.

But yes, Royal is a very family-oriented cruise line.  

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RCL will be a great option! The kid's clubs offer good programming - though, based on their age, I'm not sure if they will be allowed to be in the same club as one cohort is 3-5 and the other 6-8, as I have heard that they are quite strict on this policy. It's important to note that not all kids are fans of the kid's club (I certainly wasn't!), but RCL offers lots of other family friendly activities that your kids will enjoy.

 

August is a bit hot for cruising, and the area will be very busy. If it's possible, I would recommend that you go in May or June instead. I can get back to you after our Greek cruise (in May), but to be honest, any of those sites sound like they would be great. It all depends on what you're looking for in your vacation, but I think those ports would offers something that everyone can enjoy. 

 

Personally, I prefer to be able to see flight options before we leave so we have an idea of how much it costs, flight availability, and etc. but if the price is good and you know there are frequent flights to your point of departure, it may be worth it to jump for the sale! 

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If it is there first cruise, don't do a long one. 5-7 days. Just a recommendation. if they hate it. You will regret doing a long one. Two excellent cruise lines for children and younger adults alike, is Carnival the least expensive and then Royal Caribbean. The third would be NCL but a bit more expensive and a bit more for grown up children. My grandson was 4 when he went on his first cruise. He was scared to go from the terminal to the ship on the boarding platform. Once on and getting familiar of everything. he loved it. He is now 8 and been on 4 cruises and going on another in June. They had an ocean view and he sat on the window sill when ever they were in the room. No farad ever again. Now, one thing he does not like is Camp Carnival. he wants our of there. So you may have a problem trying to be by yourselves. Depends on you children. Go and enjoy. 

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This isn't their first...just the 1st with kids.

 

RCI, Carnival, NCL...their newer ships will have TONS for the kids.

 

Unless you are really set on a European/Med itinerary, I'd stick with the Caribbean for a fun vacation.  There seems to be a more "relaxed" approach to ports....do something, or nothing....it's all good!  

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Great advice all round. August does worry me in the med in terms of heat and busyness. So I might aim for June.

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Royal is a great cruise lines for kids, but not the only option.  You know your own preferences better than we do, but. . .

 

I would not prefer to deal with the long flights necessary to go to Europe with little kids.  Or any flights at all, for that matter.  You don't mention your home base, but if any port is within, say a six hour drive, that's where we'd be taking our first cruise.  There are no limits on how much stuff you can bring aboard ship, and in the car you can bring whatever you want without dealing with extra baggage fees  Furthermore, most of the kids that age I know (your mileage may vary) will not yet fully appreciate the culture and scenery of Europe or the lovely Greek Isle ports.  However if Europe is locked in, yes RC is a perfect choice.

 

Disney is probably the very best line for kids, but it's expensive and RC, Carnival, and Norwegian also heavily market to families.  If $$ is not much of an issue and it's about the ships more than the ports, I would definitely do Disney with them right now as they are truly at the perfect age to benefit from the kid-heaven theming and activities.  Their Castaway Cay is a great island and beach day.

 

On the lower end of the budget, Carnival travels from the broadest range of departure points, and it's usually (not always) the cheapest, especially if you are on one of their older ships from a less-busy port, like Mobile, Alabama or Charleston, SC.   Many people consider their Fantasy class ships to be old rust buckets that should be scuttled, but others love them; these are 70,000 ton ships that first time cruising kiddos will find to be plenty entertaining.  The savings might be so significant that you could do connecting rooms for the same price or less than all fitting into one room on a higher end line.  I also like that Carnival has self service laundromats which is handy for my sweaty, grubby family.

 

Some of the newer Carnival ships have special family rooms with a better bathroom configuration - half bath with shower and sink and separate half bath with toilet and sink.  Most of the rooms on Disney have this as well.

 

I guess the point is there are so many variables.  Only you know which are the most important for your vacation.

 

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Ugh, Europe with a 7 and 5 year old? The kids will be bored at those port of calls.

 

I would advise against Europe.

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If you can cruise in june rather than August it will be cheaper, cooler and less crowded.

 

There are lots of options of cruise lines that sail to European ports,  our favourites are P&O UK and Princess (both part of Carnival).  P&O has a great kids club.

Our kids have sailed from being about 12 months, initially on P&O (they have a night nursery and soft play for under 2's!) then on Princess.  When the kid were between 6 and 10 we did Disney a few times, before moving back to Princess and P&O.  

 

You know your children best, ours arent keen on lots of rough and tumble, large noisy groups  etc  and these ships suit them very well.

We have taken them to lots of European ports, with a bit of research  you can find some great places for you all to enjoy.   We have done some great port visits with the kids: troll hunting (statues!) in Norway, Rome was great for a school study project  on the Romans that coincided with our cruise, they remembered lots more learning from a "real life gladiator" than from a book or us.   Pizza in Naples was very memorable.  They loved trying ice cream in different countries and seeing what the differences were.

There are of course lots of museums, most of which have kids trails and hands on exhibits.

I am sure they will have a great time. 

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ALL of Europe goes on vacation in August -- as an American, I always thought this was an overblown rumor until I was living in Europe and all our favorite restaurants were closed for the entire month because there's just this cultural understanding that it's vacation time. What that means is that everything is going to be crowded as heck, and everything that isn't going to be crowded is going to be closed. I'd avoid it if you can. 

 

As far as kids in Europe, I have LOVED taking our kids to Europe... but I'm not 100% sure that I'd do it on a cruise, unless I'd set our expectations really, really low. When we took our kids to Rome (at 3, 7 and 9) we could do exactly one thing per day and no more (and that one thing had to be pretty carefully choreographed to make sure that we weren't going to be doing too much walking, too much sun, etc.) That worked for us because it was a land-based vacation and we were traveling really slowly so if we weren't feeling up to something, we pushed it to another day. On a cruise, if you're really excited to see things in those ports, you need to be realistic about what your kids can and can't handle and whether you're okay with missing a lot of the itinerary if they're grumpy, jetlagged, too hot, not coping, etc. 

 

If you do decide to go, having a scavenger hunt, an iPad with virtual reality software of some of the monuments, or books with overlays was a game-changer for our kids at that age. Think about doing something to help them engage with the things that are in front of them in a more active way -- it makes a huge difference. My now 7 year old has a life-long love of "ruined cities" from our trip to Rome and is now advocating for a trip to the Turkish hinterlands because "Mama... they have the coolest ruined city EVER!" (Be careful, you may create a monster!)

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