Choosing a family cruise seems simple enough — just pick your next vacation destination, browse cruise line prices and availability and pick your favorite, right? Well, yes and no.
Once you know where you want to go, it’s important to know what amenities your family expects and deems most important. Whether you’re an excursion family, looking to get off the boat and explore your surroundings as soon as possible; a sun-soaking crew, all about the beaches and pool-side offerings; or all about the onboard amenities, including restaurants and nightlife, the cruising industry has a plethora of options. Map out your cruise vacation and get the most out of your getaway with a cruise specific to your family’s wants and need.
River or Ocean?
First up, choose what kind of cruise you want. With a growing list of incredible river cruise itineraries, the destination competition is steep. While a river cruise may feel like more of a floating hotel, taking you from one amazing destination to the next, expect plenty of off-ship excursions; incredible, authentic dining; sightseeing; and immersive cultural experiences. River cruises tend to be more for the families seeking luxury stays in stunning destinations, with plenty of freedom to explore both land and sea, while getting in a mix of cultures and activities.
Ocean cruises have many of the same tour offerings, but typically offer less time on land and are limited to specific ports and private islands. Your family can still enjoy the fine dining, shopping, kid’s clubs, spa days and family-friendly exploring, but typically more aboard the ship as they tend to stay at sea longer. This, of course, means your ship will likely be decked out with all the extras, like self-serve ice cream corners for the kids, nightly activities like live shows and movies, as well as flexibility for all ages and interests. This option is tailored to the family that wants to split up and explore and meet for dinner, or stick together and soak up the all-inclusive lifestyle and built-in fun and entertainment onboard.
Where to Go?
If your family has a specific destination in mind, like the wild terrain of Antarctica or Alaska, the majestic coastline of the Mediterranean or Eastern Europe, or the soft, sandy beaches of the Caribbean, Bahamas or British Virgin Islands, choosing a cruise line becomes much simpler.
If your family needs more time and information to decide where the cruise will take them, consider shopping around by vessel. Put your attention toward the amenities, services and experiences you’ll have onboard, especially if one destination isn’t particularly swaying you.
This question can sneak up on you. Not everyone may do as well at sea as the next family member, so keep that in mind before booking a week-long cruise vacation.
If you’re unsure how your family will do out on the water, book a shorter trip, maybe even a short weekend cruise, to test the waters. If you already have a family cruise planned, consider bookending the trip with a few days, either before or after, spent on land exploring the surrounding city. This can help ease your kids on or off the ship and back into reality without rushing home.
One of South Korea’s most-visited and famous cities, Incheon is home to nearly everything your family could want from a vacation. Between the city’s stunning temples and historic landmarks to its modern shopping centers and world-class amenities, including golf courses, spas and dining establishments, you’ll have your hands full in just choosing what to see and do.
Zermatt’s colorful ski boutique-lined Bahnhofstrasse, stylish apartment-style lodgings of every description and views of the Matterhorn from every angle make up one of Europe’s most family-friendly destinations — and it certainly does not hurt that it is proclaimed the “world’s best ski resort” by organizations like SnowOnline.com year after year. During the warmer months, meanwhile, you will see many family groups with kids strolling the shopping streets (sometimes alongside a herd of about 50 free-range Valais Blackneck goats around 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.), enjoying fondue and pizza at nearby cafés, and taking advantage of the many hiking and bike trails.
Mana is the life force Tahitians believe connects all things. Feel the mana for yourself on a visit to the islands of Tahiti, and sample some of these activities as you connect with the breathtaking nature of the South Pacific. Fly Air France from the United States to Tahiti in the most convenient and comfortable way and let your holiday start on board.
In a recent survey by Orbitz, 63 percent of millennial travelers said the hotel amenity they'd like to see more of is plants in hotel rooms. The same number said they seek plant-filled spaces and activities on vacation, including parks and botanical gardens.