7 Essentials for Planning a Perfect Family Cruise

They say if life’s a book, then you never turned a page if you never traveled.

The world is full of so many different places to see and varied cultures to experience and new people to meet. One of the best ways to go about it is by going on a cruise.

Even a short 3 to 4 day sail will let you experience something very different from your usual routine – the ocean life! And it’s one of the less costly options to travel. That’s not to say that planning it can’t be scary, especially if it’s the first time you’re going on one. Or if you’re bringing your kids along.

Will 4 days stuck in a cabin on a cruise ship with your children drive you crazy? Is there a dress code while on a ship? Can you even afford what’s there, or will you go home hungry and broke?

Many people are interested in cruising but find that they have too many questions and the anxiety starts building. The next thing they know, they nixed the idea and went to the summer cabin. Again. For the 5th year in a row.

If you are feeling tentative about going on a cruise, then relax. Here are 7 tips so you can plan that perfect family cruise and have the adventure of a lifetime.

1. Choose the right destination.

The nice thing about cruises is there are different packages and destinations. You can pretty much choose whether you want sun and sand or cultural tours in exotic cities. Actually, you can even opt for glaciers and rainforests.

However, the cost can vary, too. Caribbean and Scandinavian cruises are great budget-stretchers. But European capitals may entail additional transportation costs and they will add up over the course of days.

So the first thing to do, really, is to identify what you want to do and where you can go for you money.

2. Trust a travel agent.

After you have determined your destination, eliminate all the additional legwork and hassle of picking itineraries and get the help of a travel agent. He should be able to help you wade through all the offers and steer you in the right direction. He should be able to provide you with options.

3. Choose a program that fits your needs.

If you’re bringing very young children, choose a cruise with counselors that can change diapers. You might also want to check that they have nurseries and group play programs. Older children and teens must also have activities especially organized for them and people trained to facilitate their needs.

A cruise is a vacation for your entire family. And one unhappy and unsatisfied member could ruin the trip for everyone else.

4. Be cost-savvy.

The lowest rates are usually offered by high-volume, cruise-only travel agencies. So if you can find one, book with them. You also need to budget and set aside some money for extras like services and amenities while onboard. Drinks, shore tours, spa treatments and other services are usually tagged as add-ons and will definitely cost you more.

5. Opt for a short sail.

A 2-week long vacation may sound heavenly, but that’s only until you see how much it will set you back. For the greatest savings, plan a short 3-4 day cruise instead. It lets you have that quick getaway without overstretching your budget.

6. Pack like a pro.

Once you have booked your cruise, it’s time to pack! Here are the items you should never leave your home without:

  • sunscreen
  • swimwear
  • cover-ups
  • comfortable footwear
  • hats and sunglasses
  • formal wear
  • accessories
  • cameras and other essential gadgets
  • toiletries
  • medication
  • zippered pouch (to keep the sand and water at bay)
  • reading material

7. Remember the Essential Extras

If you think clothes and cameras make the bag, then you’re wrong. There are several other items that must have space in your suitcase:

  • cruise documents
  • travel itinerary
  • IDs
  • medical cards
  • credit/debit cards
  • passport
  • emergency contact
  • tickets
  • cash

Cruising really is one of the easiest ways to travel. It’s not perfect, but it leaves behind all the usual travel hijinks. It’s fun and definitely worth your while.