Family Cruising

With the rise in family vacation popularity, the cruise industry is riding the wave with an exciting array of family-friendly activities that cover the waterfront – so there’s no better time than now to pack up the kids and explore the world abroad on a cruise.

Cruise lines now feature a cornucopia of family fun, including sports, art activities, planetarium shows, disco parties, pizza fests, ice skating, youth Olympics, rock climbing, scavenger hunts, wildlife exploration, and much more.

Family travel is on an upsurge, according to the Travel Industry Association, with one in four household trips – or more than 170.1 million – including children under 18. Most trips with children (91 percent) are for leisure, nearly half of which are taken to visit friends or relatives.

“Variety, fun, value and safety are among the top reasons your family should go on a cruise together this spring or summer,” said Julia Ryan, vice president of Travelers Advantage and Travelersadvantage.com. “Families looking for convenient, stress-free and economical vacations are heading out to sea, and discovering more than a memorable cruise,” she added. “Our family cruising tips will help you pick the right cruise for your family.”

The experts at Travelers Advantage offer these tips and trips for the ultimate family cruise:

Family Cruise Tips:

Be sure the Kids’ Programs are operating on the dates of your trip.

Check the size and location of the cabin, and the guardrails on the bunks.

Some ships have cabins that can sleep five; some have adjoining cabins, some

give special rates for a second cabin for teens.

Check required documentation for your children (ID, etc.) Be especially careful if our child is crossing borders and only one birth parent is on the trip.

Don’t forget to budget for gratuities.

Buy a “soda package” if your kids drink soft drinks – these are typically not free.

You never know when illness might hit your household and change plans: check cancellation fees and fees for changing dates. Trip cancellation insurance may be worth the price.

Family Cruise Trips

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival will host 100,000 kids this year on its “Fun Ships.” These vessels offer parties, special performances by entertainers, ship tours for kids and teen shore excursions; face painting, scavenger hunts, talent shows, photography workshops, art classes; waterslides. Camp Carnival – complete with friendly youth staff that delivers top-notch care and supervision – has morning to night activities for four ages: toddler (2 to 5), juniors (6 to 8), intermediate, (9-11), and teens (12-17). Also offered area playroom stocked with toys and games and electronic game rooms. Sail the Carnival Conquest from Galveston, Texas, from $499 for seven nights*. Free upgrades are available on select cruises.

Disney Cruise Line

As you’d expect, families will find special facilities and activities with Disney Cruise Line, all beautifully executed. There’s an entire deck for kids, with a large staff, age-specific programs, and hands-on activities. Parents receive pagers when dropping kids off at the Oceaneer Club (ages 3-8) or Oceaneer Lab (ages 9-12). Babies get laid back at the Flounder’s Reef Nursery (at an extra charge.) For teens, there’s Common Grounds, a New-York style coffeehouse with music, large screen TV, and coffee bar; programs in photography, film-making; teen outings; and more. Live shows are a special highlight on Disney cruises, and so is Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. The latest program in the character-filled lineup is the Carribbean outings. A 3-night Bahamas cruise aboard the Disney Wonder departing from Port Canaveral, Fla., is available from $429.

Holland America Line

Club HAL for ages 5-17 has supervised programs for youngsters, tweens, and teens; full-time youth coordinators; bingo, karaoke, t-shirts painting, tournaments, swimming pool activities; special dinner menu; special infant and children’s fares; kids-only excursions in Alaska. Jump into a 7-night Alaskan Explorer trek from $749 abroad Zaandam, departing from Seattle.

Celebrity Cruises

Offers a three-tier program for kids 3-17, and features special youth counselors trained in child psychology, child development, education and recreation. Programs for children 3-6 (Ship Mates), 7-10 (Celebrity Cadets), 11-13 (Ensigns), and 14-17 (Celebrity Teens): treasure huts, magic shows, junior Olympics, karaoke, talent shows, and lots more. On sailings when the Family Cruising Program is operational, Celebrity offers group baby sitting for kids 3 and up from 10p.m. to 1a.m. for a nominal charge. Sail on a 7-night Bermuda cruise from $650 abroad Zenith, departing from Cape Liberty (Bayonne), N.J.

Royal Carribbean International

Fun and educational complimentary programs: “Adventure Ocean” is a program for ages 3 to 12 and teens from age 13 to 17 with special meals and play areas; supervised activities for day and night; Educational entertainment programs, lots of play equipment, special menus, “Creative Creations”, and more. A 7-night Riviera and Italy cruise is available from $799 aboard Voyager of the Seas, departing Barcelona.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Jr. Sailor (Ages 3-5) has storytelling, indoor games, outdoor sports, arts and crafts, parades and parties; First Mate (ages 6-8) has Olympic games, magic shows, arts and crafts, balloon sculptures, circus at sea; Navigators (9-12) has Olympic games, circus at seam scavenger hunt, private bridge tours, Nintendo, magic shows, ship tours, arts and crafts, parties, dances, Koosh games; Teen Club (ages 13-17) has parties, movies, volleyball, basketball, ice cream social, T-shirt painting, The Newly Met Game, scavenger hunt, trivia contest, photo hunt, dancing, talent show. Dive-In shore excursions, shows, pool party, Liar’s Club. Also: playrooms and a special kid’s menu at every meal. Sail on a 7-night Bahamas and Florida trip aboard the Norwegian Spirit from $649, departing from New York. Free upgrades are available on select sailings, and if you book a balcony, you get a $50 shipboard credit.

*All rates are cruise only, per person, double occupancy and do not include non-commissionable fares and $19.95 processing fee.

About Travelers Advantage

Members of Travelers Advantage (www.travelersadvantage.com  or 1-877-841-1335) can save money on air travel, cruises, car rentals and accommodations as well as earn five percent cash back on eligible travel booked with preferred providers through the service. Travelers Advantage is offered by Affinion Group, a leader in the membership, insurance and loyalty marketing businesses, providing products and services that touch the lives of millions of Americans.

About Affinion Group

Affinion Group is a leading affinity direct marketer of value-added membership, insurance and package enhancement programs and services to consumers. With more than 30 years of experience, Affinion Group currently offers its programs and services worldwide through more than 4,500 affinity partners. Is diversified bas of affinity partners includes leading companies in a wide variety of industries, including financial services, retail, travel, telecommunications, utilities and Internet. Affinion Group also has a growing loyalty solutions operation which administers points-based loyalty programs. Based in Norwalk, Conn., Affinion Group has approximately 3,600 employees throughout the United States and in 13 countries across Europe.

About WF Staff

Washington FAMILY Staff

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