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Considering a Family Cruise this summer, what to look for?


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We have 4 children, ages 2, 4, 7, and 9 and are contemplating a 7 day cruise this summer. we live in ohio, so we're stuck flying to whatever port we go out of.


We have a ton of questions that I'm sure are answered somewhere.


Do all of the children need passports?

Are we better off with a suite or adjoining rooms?

Any cruise lines we should avoid?

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We also have a large family and I agree from a cost point that the connecting rooms are the way to go with a group your size & ages. We have now graduated to a balcony/interior across but my kids are older.


Yes, go ahead and get the passports - you'll probably love cruising and need them sooner or later anyway.


As for the ship you can read the article posted on CC right now, but I'm not sure what criteria they used because I didn't find some of their choices particular standouts for families.


Personally, I look for a ship with a large children's center area and one that is not "buried" in the bowels of the ship. Check the ages of the kids club.....with a 2 year old you'll be limited (I would definitely look at a ship where I at least had the option of letting the child attend activities, i.e. Carnival or NCL for a 2 year old; even if they choose not to participate) Although I feel RC has a wider range of on board activities for the older - over 3 - kids (ie rock walls, ice skating, water parks).


Even with choosing some of the largest "kids clubs" up at the top of the ship (i.e. with windows and natural light) We do NOT travel during holiday or peak times - my kids are overwhelmed by too much crowding.


We also look for a ship that has separate outdoor areas for the kids. We really enjoyed the RC Serenade's class of ship with pool play area and slide, etc totally separate from the adult areas (always surprises me that more ships don't have separate play areas & pools for the kids) - kids don't need or want to be around the adult "game" pool. Even on many Carnival ships the slides are not located in dedicated children's areas (it didn't mean an adult couldn't use the "little" slide on the RC Serenade), they could, but kids & parents are happier with their own area where we don't have to worry about splashing or kid noise and games.


As for staffing or ports....if its your first cruise it won't matter so much...you'll find fun places no matter where you go....and staffing changes too much to recommend a ship because a child liked a particular counselor.....as I mentioned my children prefer a less crowded (non-peak) cruise where it seems counselors have more time and attention for each child.




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After 6/1/09, you will need a passport, unless they change the rules again!


Not true, closed loop cruises do not require a passport (arrive/depart from same US port). I am on a ship on June 7th and I already checked in. It asked if I was bringing a birth certificate or a passport. ;)



gt95stang - Royal Caribbean Freedom, Liberty, Independence, Oasis, Enchantment of the Seas all have Baby Splash Zones for non-potty trained tots. But that's a great point! With a 2 year old, Frogster might need to look for a ship with a Baby Splash area. Disney Wonder and Disney Magic are the other 2 options.


Frogster - suite or no suite, often connecting cabins are cheaper than one suite and you will get 2 bathrooms with 2 cabins. :) Sticking with the mainstream cruise lines is always good...so look for sailings on Carnival, Disney, Princess, NCL or RCCL.


Each ship has it's own pluses.


Some have slides. Some have water parks. Some have ice skating rinks and surfing.

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Definately do connecting rooms. We just got back from our cruise with three kids and had inside connecting rooms which was totally worth it. Book soon though, they go fast!


For us, we needed to budget because we live in Montana and airfare is super expensive. With 5 tickets, airfare always costs more than the cruise itself! I went to farecompare.com, put in my home airport under flights, and a map comes up with a list of where the cheapest flights are to. In our case, it was Fort Lauderdale. From there, I looked at all the cruises out of there and Miami and then narrowed it down. We also only went on a 3 day cruise, because I wasn't sure if my kids would like cruising or not, get sea sick, etc. You might want to consider taking a short cruise first, just to be sure. Even a 5 day might be nice.

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