LoveToKnow Cruises is dedicated to providing the inside story on all aspects of cruise vacations, and we've teamed up with Surecruise.com to discuss the finer points of family cruises. You may have plenty of questions to ask about booking a cruise, and these tips can help.
Surecruise.com, the Internet cruise superstore, was founded in 1999 by Evan and Jana Eggers of Londonderry, New Hampshire. The site offers innovative online shopping features, including the "Cruise Wizard," to help prospective passengers match cruise lines to their vacation desires, and free interactive "webinars" to educate travelers about cruising. Other website features include detailed cruise line comparisons, quote requests, deck plans, discount information, and group cruises. Evan Eggers has been on more than fifty cruises, and LoveToKnow Cruises is happy to share his expert perspective with our readers.
Evan Eggers on Family Cruises
LoveToKnow (LTK): Why are cruises great family vacations?
Evan Eggers (EE): Cruise ships offer non-stop activities for every member of the family, from ''free'' fully supervised programs for young kids and teens, to Vegas-style nightlife for Mom and Dad, to ballroom dancing for the grandparents. Unlike any other style of vacation, all of this is available in a safe environment under one roof without having to drive from place to place. Say goodbye to the "where should we all go today?" morning battle! In ports of call, a variety of shore excursions, from relaxing shopping trips to invigorating forest-canopy zip-line tours, are offered. Since your cabin, transportation, and most food and entertainment are pre-paid, you minimize expensive end-of-vacation credit card surprises.
Best Cruise Lines for Families
LTK: Which cruise line is best for families?
EE: Any of the contemporary lines will delight kids and teenagers alike: Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian. A Disney cruise can be a great choice for Disney fans of any age, although a bit more expensive. For a somewhat more elegant onboard experience, with good children's programs but not quite as many young children on board, premium-segment lines Princess, Celebrity and Holland America deserve consideration.
LTK: Which ports of call are the most family-friendly?
EE: The keen competition between ports of call to attract cruise ships means that plenty of terrific shore excursions exist in each one. In the Caribbean for example, the highlight for your children may be swimming with dolphins, viewing the undersea world from a small submarine, parasailing, or trying Snuba, all of which can be done in several ports. Always a family favorite, the cruise lines constantly one-up each other to have the best-appointed private islands -- set aside just for you and your shipmates for a day -- where you can find unspoiled and uncrowded beaches, relaxing hammocks, and water sports galore.
LTK: What makes family cruises great for parents?
EE: Cruises make life easy for parents by offering such a huge array of activities that there will always be something to appeal to even the most jaded teenager or to amaze a younger child. All of the options are presented in a daily menu -- the ship's newsletter -- delivered to the stateroom the night prior. What could be more hassle-free? Cruises remove opportunity for tension so you can simply have a good time enjoying new experiences with your children. Plus, parents can take advantage of supervised evening child care to have a romantic dinner alone or enjoy a pampering couple's spa treatment.
Tips for a Family's First Cruise
LTK: What tips do you recommend for a family's first cruise?
EE: If you live close enough to an origin port to drive there, you might dip a toe in the water with a 3- or 4-night cruise to see what you think of it. Bear in mind, though, that the biggest and best-appointed ships sail on the 7+ night itineraries. But the single most important tip is to work with a cruise expert to choose the line that best fits your family's vacation personality... all cruise lines are not the same. For example, does your family prefer a high-energy Las Vegas-style scene, or a serene, relaxing getaway? There's a cruise line to fit these styles and many more.
LTK: Are family cruises affordable?
EE: Unlike a hotel stay, cruises are inclusive: in addition to your hotel and transportation, the cruise price includes most food, supervised programs for children and teens, lots of day-and-night onboard entertainment options, and use of the ships' facilities. Who ever heard of free Vegas-style shows in a hotel? Or free 24-hour room service? Cruises win versus land-based vacations hands-down for value.
To save money, the last thing you want to do is book directly with the cruise line, which guarantees you'll pay the ''highest'' available price. An independent high-volume cruise seller will have access to everything the cruise line can offer directly, plus better pricing, benefits like shipboard credits, or both, and the expertise to objectively suggest alternative cruise lines, ships and itineraries. Be as flexible with your dates as possible, since the same cruise might cost half as much at one time of year as another. You can also save by purchasing an "inside" stateroom, with no window, and then just use it to sleep. Check recently reduced cruise line distressed inventory, which sells out fast at a great price. Surecruise.com has a special, unique page just for this. Take advantage of online pricing tools that sift through thousands of cruise prices with one click.
Thank You Surecruise.com!
LoveToKnow Cruises would like to thank Evan Eggers for his time and insight to help prospective passengers see the value of family cruises. For more information, visit Surecruise.com.