Considering a family cruise?
Here are ten tips to consider:
1) Know your cruise specialist:
According to a report from the
Cruise Lines International Association, 68 percent of cruise vacations
are booked through travel agents.
When researching a travel agent to book your cruise , make sure they are knowledgeable about the
cruise lines and destinations and have access to the best pricing and
promotional offers such as onboard cash, spa treatments and reduced
deposits. Make sure your specialist is the right fit for you and your
2) Book your cruise early:
The saying "the early bird catches the
worm" certainly applies to booking cruises. Booking early will provide
you with benefits such as more stateroom choices, dining options, special perks and
3) Be cautious about last minute deals:
While the prices may be lower
with last minute deals, the room selections are not prime. You must also
remember that airfare is not included in the price of the vacation and
booking last minute airfare can be costly.
4) Carefully review the itinerary:
If an itinerary doesn't address
your needs, it may not be the right cruise for you. For example, if
someone wants to spend more time relaxing onboard, the itinerary should
include more sea days than ports-of-call. To maximize your experience in
every port, each stop should last a minimum of eight to ten hours.
5) Research the identification needed for each country:
While a passport is always needed, visa requirements may be tricky. Some
countries require visas, but others do not. To check visa requirements,
6) Understand what is not included with the cruise:
When booking a family trip that includes a cruise,
vacation goers must pay the government fees. Remember to take
the price of tipping, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments, kid’s activities and shore
excursions into consideration, as they are often not included in the
7) Be comfortable with your accommodations:
Make sure to research all of the stateroom options before making your ultimate selection.
Accommodation choices on ships include an interior room, which has no
window or natural light, an oceanview room, which has one large window
that cannot be opened, a balcony room, regular suites and a penthouse
suite. Ask about rooms that are best suited for families.
It is also important to know that the cheapest and most expensive options typically sell out first.
8) Get to know your cruise line choices:
Choosing the wrong cruise line for your family vacation is a common mistake.
Sometimes, consumers will make a decision based on their familiarity of the name without investigating the type of people that typically take vacations on that particular line. For
example, some cruise lines cater more towards families with plenty of great programming that will interest your clan, while others cater to seniors or a younger demographic. Make sure you make the right
choice for your vacation needs, suggests Geraldine Ree, Senior Vice
President of Sales and Marketing for Expedia CruiseShipCenters.
9) Take time to see the city you embark and disembark from.
When booking a cruise, people make the mistake of arriving in the city a few
hours before the ship sets sail and making flight arrangements to leave
as soon as the ship docks. The embarkation and disembarkation cities are
an important part of the vacation experience and it is worthwhile for
you to arrive a day before the cruise leaves and stay for an extra day
after the cruise docks. Your cruise specialist can help you plan your
10) You don't always need the ocean for a cruise:
Consumers can book a cruise to almost any place where there is a body of water. As a matter
of fact, river cruises continue to gain in popularity as the smaller ships
offer a more intimate cruising experience.
Popular destinations for river cruises include Danube (Austria),
Rhine (Germany), France and Russia.
Gather the extended family and share a travel experience.
Here are five ideas that will appeal to multiple generations:
1. The Family Cruise. Choosing to sail as an extended family is a great way to see the world together without decimating the family budget. Whether your idea of a good time is relaxing poolside or tackling the high suspension rope course, there are options for every energy level on board the modern cruise ship. Access water parks and kids’ camps by day. Then check out teen clubs, plus family and adult entertainment by night. Spa lovers can schedule treatments, and often casino gaming is available for adults. Gather for dinner where dining options are designed to satisfy the picky and the piggy eater in your gang. Design your time together to suit your family’s unique interests. Consider using a travel agent to help wade through deals, itineraries and cabin configurations. Contact: 1-800-764-7419; www.RoyalCaribbean.com; www.CruiseCompete.com
2. College Bound. Include multiple generations in the college search. If grandparents are grads, consider a visit to the town where they earned their degree. Encouraging senior family members to revisit this important time in their youth will be meaningful for all. Include elders when visiting your own college town and encourage grandparents to share memories of delivering their teen to the dorm decades ago. Make plans to take the University tour, and then explore the surrounding area. By planning this time as a multi-generational experience, a bit of family history may emerge that has long since been forgotten. Contact: www.CollegeBoard.org
3. Eco 3G Getaway. Leave the wired world behind and gather your family deep in the rainforest on the banks of the Moho River in the southernmost region of Belize. Choose the solar-powered eco-lodge’s all inclusive package and enjoy birding, horseback riding, biking, kayaking and nature walks on 100 private acres. Tour nearby Mayan villages and linger to learn how chocolate is made at a cacao farm. Explore caves and waterfalls. Environmentally inquisitive family members will want to visit the organic garden and discover the local sustainability practices that include a reforestation project. Family-friendly cabanas are gathered around a central boardwalk. Contact: 866-480-4534; www.cottontreelodge.com
4. Bike the Danube. The active, extended family will enjoy a bike trip along the Danube River that enables speedy riders to scope out the best bakery in the town ahead while others linger along the scenic pathway. The route showcases medieval towns, castles, vineyards, cathedrals and magnificent scenery. With the cities of Passau, Germany and Vienna, Austria as bookends, the trip offers a storybook itinerary. Following an ancient towpath, there is little traffic and riders have the option to bike for as long as they wish. Once tired, they can hop on a train or boat and wait for the remaining bikers at the inn where the group will spend the night. Children’s bikes available. Contact: 1-877-462-2423; www.BikeToursDirect.com.
5. Explore Colorado Springs. Visit a high mountain zoo, the Garden of the Gods Park or tour the US Air Force Academy together. In the weeks ahead, this sunny Colorado city and the surrounding Pikes Peak region make it easy for your whole family to explore the area with their “Tank Full of Summer Savings” promotion. Travel industry partners, including tour guides, lodging establishments, restaurants and attractions, have extended discounts and offers designed to take the pain out of the higher gas prices at the pump.Contact: 800-888-4748; www.visitcos.com/fuel
Multigenerational travel is more important than ever.
Families are living geographically farther from each other than at any time in history.
A multigenerational trip is often the only option for today’s modern and mobile family to gather in one place.
The hyper-fast pace of life in the 21st century means evenings and weekends are no longer untouchable family time, creating a greater need for the escape that only travel can provide.
Baby boomers are trading in their briefcases for a roller bag.
Boomers now have the time, health and disposable income to make travel with their families a top priority.
Intergenerational travel is on the rise.
Busy family schedules and geographic distance sometimes prevent regular gatherings. Thus, “grand travel”, as one aspect of this growing trend is known, provides an opportunity for two generations to get to know each, and the world, a little better.
By spending time away, with parents out of the picture, grandchildren and their grandparents can forge their own special bond. Grand travel need not include a fancy holiday in a luxury resort or a visit to a trendy theme park. There are other options.
Here are a hand full:
Over the river and through the woods. Invite the grandkids to your place and then paint the town. They’ll love getting comfortable in your home and seeing your local sites. Check in with your Chamber of Commerce or Convention and Visitors Bureau for an update on great options for kids. Consult parents from your neighborhood or church for family-tested ideas. See your home town through the fresh eyes of youth.
Share your passions. Do you love to ski, play golf, camp or scuba dive? A trip with the grandkids to indulge in your favorite activity will give them the chance to know a special part of you.
Share a bit of your past. Are you a World War II veteran? Did you grow up inspired by jazz or classical music? Did the ethnic neighborhood of your youth greatly influence the person you are today? Visit a war memorial, take in a concert or music festival or visit the old stomping grounds. Take the opportunity to share your experiences and knowledge with the kids. It will mean more to hear a bit of history from someone who has been there. And, remember, you are part of their history.
Learn a new skill together. You’re never too old to learn a new trick! And the grandchildren will be impressed with your sense of adventure and curiosity. Learn to kayak, snorkel or spot rare birds in nature. Go
snow shoeing, ice fishing or cross country touring. Find something that’s new to all of you and share the joy of learning together.
Consider a cruise or all-inclusive resort. With activities to appeal to every generation, food choices to suit the pickiest eater and itineraries to please the most well-traveled, such an option eliminates the daily decision making that can cause conflict.
Consult an expert. For many, developing the plan is the hard part. There are travel consultants who specialize in helping families create intergenerational travel memories. They’ll serve up options ranging from cruises in the Galapagos Islands to train trips through the American West. However you choose to share time with your grandchildren, you’ll create treasured memories to deposit in your family’s history bank.
Intergenerational travel is on the rise. Busy family schedules and geographic distance sometimes prevent regular gatherings. Thus, “grand travel”, as one aspect of this growing trend is known, provides an opportunity for two generations to get to know each, and the world, a little better.
I had the good fortune to join the inaugural sailing of the Carnival Magic, a vessel spawned by industry giant Carnival Cruise Lines.
Yes, that mesmerizing Italian city was the launching point for the freshly-minted, 3,690 passenger Carnival Magic.
And, no surprise, there was plenty of magic from the start. The nine- night cruise got underway with a traditional and enthusiastic naming ceremony during which Lindsey Wilkerson, a childhood cancer survivor, was bestowed the title of “godmother”. The champagne-filled event highlighted Carnival’s commitment to St. Jude’s Research Hospital.
With such formalities handled, it was time to explore the ship and find out for myself why sailing the open seas has become an increasingly popular option for travelers of all ages.
Given that I was new to this cruise ship game, I brought along a trusty companion. Colleen Horan, my long time friend and college roommate, was on board to help me solve this maritime mystery. Sure, there were plenty of family members, friends and relatives who were eager for the assignment. But in the end, I thought I would share at least eleven reasons why collecting cruise vacation intel with your college roommate is a grand strategy:
1. Sharing is simple. Checking into our cabin, we already knew that sharing the smaller-than-our-bedrooms-at- home space would not be a problem. Back in those college days, we shared far less fancy digs and managed just fine. And whatever we were lacking in our new sea-faring space, was more than compensated for by the cheery folks who came knocking at our door to deliver morning coffee, croissants, fresh towels, or whatever our hearts desired at any time of the day.
2. Knowing nods. As we strolled from deck to deck with sun glasses firmly in place, we didn’t need full sentences to fully communicate about the people, places and events (like the hairy chest contest) we were observing. A knowing nod, or a slight giggle said it all.
3. The right answer. Each night, as we dressed for dinner in our cabin, it was dining decision time. Would it be the beautiful new Italian Cucina del Capitano, the sushi bar or the trendy Red Frog Pub? Perhaps the Prime Steak house? While we pondered those culinary options, we often traded clothes and jewelry. And when we posed that all important question: “Does this look ok?" , we always got the right answer.
4. Happy sampling. We were each happy to sample each others food or wine and innately knew the meaning of a “taste”, unlike say, a teenaged boy.
5. Spa time? YES! There was no negotiating about spending time at the onboard spa. We were definitely making that a priority.
6. Talking in circles. We could endlessly circle the deck-top jogging track, part of the ship’s uber-hip Sport Square activity area, and never run out of things to talk about.
7. Off duty. We could enjoy great meals or snacks at virtually every time of the day and neither of us had to cook…or clean up.
8. Water babes. We both looked approvingly at the bright and shiny WaterWorks, a colorful water play area overlooking the main pool deck. (Reported to be one of the largest at sea.) In our youth, we were both water-friendly, swim team members. Had it been just a little bit warmer, we would have taken on the 312-foot-long Twister or the gotta-scream-as-you-circle-your- way down DrainPipe.
9. Free birds. We could stay up late and gossip. Or sleep in. Why? No one needed a ride, extra money, an instant answer or our opinion about anything. We were free to revert to our inner teenaged selves.
10. It's all good. When headed off the ship for shore excursions, (to great places like Dubrovnik, Rome and Vatican City, Taormina, and Cinque Terra) we could shop, explore, photograph, dine, sample, chat, hike, observe or return together….or not. Because that’s what life-long friends can do.
11. Memories old and new. Throughout the adventure, from Venice to Barcelona, we could laugh heartily at each other’s jokes, remember the good ole days (when our stomachs were flatter) and be extraordinarily grateful for the amazing day before us.
For more information about planning your own cruise, visit www.Carnival.com or contact your travel agent.