We will be moving from England back to the US in May/June. We're kicking around the idea of cruising instead of flying. My five kids will be 11 yrs down to 18 months at the time. Do I really want to do this? Behavior won't be a problem....they're regular kids with their ups and downs, and we parent accordingly.
Some concerns: health emergencies, a kid going overboard, seasickness (several of us are prone), pedophiles, kid friendly foods (do I need to be sure to bring some old standbys?), fancy dressing for dinner, the length of the cruise (minimum of 6 days, I believe). How do I pick a cruise ship? How about what room/rooms we get...is it better to fork over the extra money for oceanview?
I'm sure I can come up with more concerns, but these are just for starters. None of us have ever been on a cruise...we took a 3 day ferry when our oldest was just 1. That was fun, but it was no cruise!
I'm perusing the posts and appreciate everyone's comments.
I think its a great idea. I've cruised with my four kids before and they love it! While they are older then yours now, we started cruising when the youngest was 8. I'd rather be on a ship with 5 kids than on a long plane flight with 5 kids.
The ship will have a doctor to deal with routine illnesses. Make sure you buy travel insurance in case there is a real emergency and someone needs to be airlifted off the ship. I'm prone to seasickness and I find that Bonine works great for me. I take one each night before bed and am fine. I also book a cabin on the lowest deck and midship. Its the most stable area. I would book either an adjoining cabin or two cabins side by side.
There is plenty of child friendly food on board and you don't have to eat in the dining room. If you prefer more casual dining you can eat at the buffet each night (although I think the food in the dining room is better).
While your youngest will be too young, there is a camp program on most ships for children ages 3 and up.
We cruised last December with 4 kids (8, 5, 3, and 1) They loved it! They were always busy and the staff was extremely helpful, always having the food my kids like waiting for them when we got to the dining room as well as keeping them entertained with napkin folding and magic tricks throughout dinner. They were given the choice this year between Disney World and another cruise and without any hesitation each said they wanted to go on a cruise. It is the perfect way to travel with kids. If you find a ship with a kids club they are able to have time with other kids while you enjoy some time to yourself. I highly recommend cruising with kids!
i think it could turn into an amazing family adventure. I would have the older kids bring their portable DVD players, Ipods, and a portable Playstation(if you have them), just to have in case they don't like what the kids clubs and or sports are offering.
I'll take 6 days on any ship over hours and hours on an airplane.
As for your accomodations - look into a family stateroom or 2 rooms, get yourselves either and oceanview one with a balcony(adults need their privacy too) and get the kids an inside room across the hallway.
I would look into either Princess or RCCL cruise lines - look into the bigger, newer ships - these have much more goings on than on a smaller, older ship.
I cruised QM2 with my daughter and her friend (11 and 9 years old) this summer between England and NYC and we loved it! The ship is huge and wonderful with fun things like a planetarium, plenty of pools, arcade, etc. The kids program is one of the few that accommodates kids as young as one years old in its nursery (and its free, too)! It was a wonderful cruise! Check out the article I wrote on it, it's on the main family cruise page here at CruiseMates.com: "The Kid Friendly Queen."
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Family Cruise Editor