Children can bring untold joy to our lives and make us look at the world with fresh eyes. Even so, there’s practically no end to the horror stories of parents taking their kids on a trip and seeing their dream holiday quickly degenerate into a singular nightmare even years of therapy can’t erase.
Of course, we’re exaggerating. But it’s true that a cruise trip with kids can be stressful. Instead of dreading it, take steps to mitigate these potential problems, and the time will cruise by (if you’ll pardon the pun).
Choose the right cruise line
What could be more frustrating than sorting out your family travel insurance and booking your tickets, only to find out your child is ineligible to go on the cruise? If you have an infant or young child, always check the terms of the cruise line, as they will typically have an age minimum of at least 6 months to a year. Your child may also need to be toilet-trained, depending on the cruise.
It might also be a good idea to choose a child-friendly cruise. Different cruise lines will have different entertainment options, and you can also do some research to find out how family-friendly your various choices are. You certainly don’t want to end up on a party cruise for 20-somethings with a couple of small kids in tow.
Speaking of family travel insurance, get it. While there’s a variety of different types of cruise travel insurance, family travel insurance will save you money by insuring you all as one unit. It may also have a number of kid-specific policy features, such as covering you for any trip cancellations you make due to an extension to the school year, or getting minors back home safe and sound if you’re hospitalized.
Pack lots of toys
Kids, particularly young ones, aren’t known for their lengthy attention spans. Make sure you pack plenty of toys, books and other distractions that they can wile away the hours with. It’s often better to pack as much as possible, rather than focusing solely on the merits of one toy; even a virtual reality helmet would bore a kid eventually.
Get your kids involved in the packing process. Have them choose their favorite toys and other distractions. Not only will you be sure that the toys you’ve got will be ones they want to play with, but it will also give your kids more of a stake in the holiday and teach them a valuable skill.
If there are drop-off activities, use them
The great thing about being an aunt or uncle is you only have to deal with kids in small doses. As a parent, however, you know that the enjoyment of spending time with your kids comes in peaks and troughs, and sometimes you need a break. It’s a holiday, after all!
Many cruise lines will offer drop-off or babysitting services or kids’ clubs for young kids that you should make use of. Then, you can have some sorely needed time alone, or quality time with a significant other. If your kids are old enough to walk around by themselves, even better – let them explore on their own, but give them strict guidelines about where and when to meet back up.
Make sure your first aid kit is up to date
When was the last time you went on a holiday with your kids? If it was a while back, here’s a travel health tip: It’s a good idea to have a peek at your medical kit and update it to be relevant to your kids’ current ages. In fact, the last time you took it anywhere, you might have had no kids at all.
Make sure it’s packed with any of your children’s medicines, as well as tablets for coughs, colds and sea sickness, and other essential supplies. Separate from the medical kit, you can’t go wrong with packing plenty of diapers and baby formula – you don’t want to have to buy more on the cruise if you run out.