Imagine this scenario: You have two weeks of vacation. It’s the only vacation time you have all year, and you want to make it count. You know you want to go to Europe, and you’re presented with the option to take a cruise—11-12 nights, departing from Barcelona and hitting ports all over the Mediterranean. You get to see some sites in France, Italy, Greece, and beyond. Your other option is to fly directly into a city—let’s say Athens—and see Santorini and Mykonos, spending a few nights in each place.
When traveling by cruise, you may feel like the cruise ship has everything under the sun to keep you entertained and show you the world. While that may be true on the ship, it’s when you get on land that they lack the same oomph. Excursions are run by local guides and work on a partnership level with cruise lines. You can trust they have been reviewed and they will get you back to the ship on time, but they don’t give you a chance to explore and discover a new port stop as you would if you were to arrive by plane or train.
Just because you are a passenger on a cruise ship does not mean you have to follow the hordes of passengers who disembark to embark on a cruise excursion. Families have the freedom to do exactly what they want in every port – including staying on the ship, should you so choose. Personally, after taking numerous cruises, we learned quickly we would rather do our own thing in port. (In fact, we even have an article on the 6 Reasons to NOT Take a Cruise Excursion.) To us, visiting a place and trying local foods, meeting local people and seeing local neighborhoods enriches a trip and makes any planning worth it. We have a few simple tips to keep in mind when setting off on your own – trust us, we learned the hard way!
Cruises today are gearing more toward families, offering an array of activities, accommodations and services to appeal to parents. With our top tips for cruising with toddlers, babies and kids, you maximize your vacation when taking a cruise with your kids. The first tip is to check for the minimum age requirement for traveling with kids. Most start with a minimum age of 6 months, so before you plan a family cruise vacation, review each cruise line’s age requirements. From there, pick your destination and you’ll find ships able to make kids happy, especially toddlers and young kids who will be excited by all the offerings on the ship, as well as your excursions on land.