How to choose the Best Cruise for your Family


Thinking of bringing your family on a cruise? With so many options available today, it can be a lot more complicated than you’d ever imagine. To maximize the cruise experience for everyone, you’d have to consider how much time your kids will spend at the kids’ clubs, whether or not you need onboard babysitting. If so, what kind specifically, and when? Are there activities and programs you and your children can enjoy together for a good balance of shared time? At Sterling Travel, we know these questions can be overwhelming, so we want to share three most important factor to take into account when choosing the best cruise for you and all the members of your family on board for the next big adventure. Heavily Consider Kids’ Age Groups It’s not enough to look into whether a ship is generally “kid friendly” or not. Cruise lines are now fine tuning and targeting their programs to specific age groups and demographics from newborn infants to kids in their late teens. Overall, the cruise ships that accommodate families best, are those that consider the drastic difference between developmental stages within just a couple of years from one another. For example, what will entertain children from ages 3-5 will be considerably different than what will keep children 6-9 happy. Then there’s the sometimes daunting challenge of figuring out what a tween or teen would enjoy the most while on a cruise. Another rule of thumb for choosing a family friendly ship is, “the newer, the better.” In the big scheme of cruise lines, newer ships are designed, equipped and staffed specifically for families from the onset, as compared to older ships that have adapted to meet the rapidly growing trend of cruising families. We’ve rounded up the best age-by-age cruise lines according to the family-friendly amenities offered: Get on Board with Baby Disney Cruise Line is unmatched in their top-of-the-line nursery offerings. They are fully equipped and are specially staffed to care for infants as young as three months old. Bottle-warmers, cribs, a vast variety of age appropriate toys, activity rooms, “quiet time rooms” for naps, evening hours to enjoy an adult-only dinner, and refrigerator storage for specific snacks catering to the 3 and under age group are some of the exclusive amenities offered at Flounder’s Reef Nursery.           Top of the Tide for Toddlers Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines are great options for those who want to take their independent tyke out to sea. They both offer kids’ camps for ages 2-5. On Norwegian, your kids can experience a high-energy meet and greet with Sponge Bob and friends or Dora the Explorer at Nickelodeon at Sea. Camp Carnival hosts an array of arts and crafts and interactive play at Camp Ocean where they can have fun with games like Musical Icebergs and the fully-themed Seuss at Sea camp. However, a major factor to consider between the two lines is what stage your child may be in potty training. Meaning, kids’ camp counselors on Carnival cruises are trained to change diapers, whereas Norwegian will give you a beeper that will alarm you when your little one needs a change. Grade School at Sea Royal Caribbean International does the best job of organizing their kids’ clubs into tightly grouped three-year segments from 3 to 17 years old. We particularly appreciate their effort to keep the programs educational and enriching. For example, Adventure Science is a program where kids get direct high-tech, hands-on excitement with activities like Fossil Fever, and Wacky Water Shop. They also offer a whole host of art-based fun through a collaboration with Crayola that introduces more fine art projects for older kids like pottery making and tribal mask sculpture and painting. Super Swell for Teens What’s tricky with tweens and older teenagers is that they don’t want to be grouped into things that sound too “kiddy.” They’re more interested in hanging out with friends, ditching their parents or younger siblings, and mingling with their own age group. Disney, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Norwegian lines offer great spaces for teens to spend their time independently, but supervised, in cool non-alcoholic dance clubs or caffeine-free cafés, sun-decks, and video-game lounges that host air hockey, pinball and arcade tournaments. Depending on the specific ship, these cruise lines are built like floating theme parks complete with adrenaline pumping rides, water parks, and even bungee-jumps. Again, we understand that your family’s enjoyment and comfort is of utmost importance. Let one of our experienced agents at Sterling Travel help book the best possible cruise for you and your family at. For more information on all of our offered cruises, contact us today.