I wasn't sure whether to post this question on this board or the one for first time cruisers. I've almost talked my husband into taking our first cruise during the first two weeks of October 2002 when our 11 year old daughter has a break from school. It will be our first family vacation without our son (who will then be a freshman in college.) I would appreciate any advice anyone could give me about the best cruise "fit" for our family. I would like to find a cruise that has a great children's program at that time of year-- and one that actually has other children around her age on board. (We have year round school in our area. Sometimes when we've vacationed we've met lots of families with pre-schoolers but not so many with school age kids.) Also, my husband loves to scuba dive and he would love to have the opportunity to do some diving. One local travel agent suggested the Disney Wonder. Our American Express agent suggested a Princess Cruise to the Western Caribbean. A friend suggested a 7 day cruise to Mexico from Los Angeles (because we live in Northern California and wouldn't have to add the cost of airfare.) It's all new to me, so I'd really appreciate any help anyone can give me.
For a family cruise I'd suggest CArnival, Royal Caribbean or even Princess. Not sure if when you are thinking of going it will be a school break for other kids, but there is bound to be some on board. Voyager of the Seas does a nice Western itinary out of Miami, and that ship sounds like a perfect ship for families.
Here is some interesting reading for going on a "first cruise", should help with any questions:
I'm the new family cruising editor for CruiseMates.com. We have taken my 7 year old daughter on nine cruises at all different times of the year. The cruises that we took in early November and early December definitely had a lower number of children aboard and yes, they were younger children who either were not in school yet or were young enough that missing a week of school wasn't too big of a problem. If you plan to cruise in early October, your son will probably have a hard time finding other kids his age to hang out with aboard any of the cruise lines you mentioned.
If you do decide to book a cruise either for October or another time of year, why don't you read two articles that I recently wrote for the web site, "Kid's Facilities and Activities by Cruise Line" or "What's the best ship for families? Ask a kid!" Both are posted on the Families section of CruiseMates.com and will give you lots of details to help you make your decision.
Luisa Frey Gaynor