Cruising with the Kids

Cruising Family-Style

When Roger and I returned from our first cruise, we wanted our kids to experience cruising as well, because we just knew they’d love it, too.  Our family is special, with two kids who are eleven years apart in age.  When we left for this family cruise, our son was 19, and our daughter was 8.  Our son was too old for the kids’ programs, but not old enough to enjoy some of the adult activities.  I found I was constantly trying to make sure Eric was having a good time, while trying to engage Rachel more in our family cruise activities. 

Our daughter loved the kids’ programs so much, she didn’t want to be with us at all.  When we arrived in Nassau, she didn’t want to go into port with us.  She wanted to stay aboard in the kid’s program.  We suggested she might like to have her hair braided, and she loved that.  When we arrived at the cruise line’s private island for a beach day, Rachel again wanted to hang out on the beach with the kids’ program counsellors … until she realized that they weren’t allowing the kids anywhere near the water.  I saw her from across the beach, waving for me to come get her, so she could enjoy the beach and the water with us. 

We realized that the kids’ program aboard the ship was an awfully expensive babysitter service, which is all our daughter wanted, and we knew she would have had just as much fun or more by spending that time with her grandparents, who loved for her to come visit.  And, our son would have been much happier just spending time on a beach vacation than aboard that cruise ship.  We decided cruises would be our vacations together, and we’d plan other vacations with the kids. 

That lasted until our son left home to join the Marines, and our daughter was turning 16.  She wanted to take a Princess cruise for her 16th birthday, so we booked the Dawn Princess to the Mexican Riviera.  As we boarded the ship, she found that the kids were hanging out with friends they were traveling with or hanging close to their parents, and she wanted some friends to hang out with, so she was already disappointed.  I gave her a mission.  I challenged her to find one friend to hang out with in one hour.  I encouraged her to walk up and talk to kids until one wanted to hang out with her, then the next challenge was for the two of them to gather as many friends to hang out with until sailaway.  The next time we saw her, she was smiling, surrounded by friends of all ages and both sexes. 

We all enjoyed Rachel’s sweet 16th cruise.  She had friends to hang out with during the day.  They participated in some of the ship’s organized teen activities, and they made their own fun the rest of the time.  She joined us for dinner every evening, except for the night the teens dined together.  And, we had a great time exploring the ports of call together as a family.  In fact, we all agreed that the zipline in Puerto Vallarta was our favorite excursion ever.  Great memories! 

We still look forward to our cruises alone, but we look forward to cruising with our kids, too.  In fact, we’re headed to Alaska with Rachel in 2011, aboard another Princess ship, Rachel’s favorite cruise line.  Tell me about your family vacations!

Category: Cruise
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