The Travel Factory Blog
Cruising with Kids
Reading an article in the Dallas Morning News a couple of months ago reminded me that I should blog some information about cruising with kids. That’s an important topic to several families who are cruising over the Christmas holidays, as well as for those who are planning Spring Break and Summer family vacations.
One of the things I always suggest to families is to encourage the children to get involved in one of the youth groups on board that are intentionally organized by age groups. You need to do this the first day. Most kids are reluctant to join with some unfamiliar youth, but the parents need to strongly encourage this. We have a personal example. When we were cruising with our grandchildren a couple years back, we tried to get the 12-year old to join a club of other 12-year olds. He waited until about two days before we got off, and decided to join in an activity, then we seldom saw him after that; the youth counselors had them doing things that were right down his alley, and it was like pulling teeth to get him to agree to go to dinner with us after that.
This is a family cruise, so encourage the children to eat with the family, especially at dinner. And, at that dinner, make sure they come to the table without the I-phone or I-pads; practice the art of conversation, family conversation. Encourage them to also try to eat something different each night, even if it is just a bite. Require them to go to the formal dinners, dressed appropriately. This is where you can teach and they can learn which fork to use, whose tea to drink, where to place the napkin, which bread plate is theirs. This dining experience is a far cry from the McDonalds and Chili’s, and the lessons learned will benefit them as they mature.
One of the points that the author of the DMN article, Lynn Jacobson, made was to set ground rules ahead of time regarding the availability and access to food. There is virtually 24-hour access to pizza, ice cream, sodas, desserts of all kinds, and you don’t want to spend the vacation fighting about food. It’s their vacation too, but just as at home, there has to be certain limitations.
Another great suggestion she made was to “plan a parents’ night out”. A cruise ship is a relatively safe place for young teenagers to enjoy a little independence for one night, and if there is a need for baby sitting, most cruise lines often provide this service for a fee. After all, it is your vacation too!!
The professional and experienced travel counselors at The Travel Factory are very interested in helping you plan your next vacation. Come in for a visit and see how easy it is to allow us to help you manufacture the vacation of your dreams. We are at the Plaza at Park Central, 4150 Southwest Drive. You can also do some planning on our website, www.thetravelfactoryabilene.com; let us welcome you as you visit!!