The Pros and Cons of a Cruise Holiday with Kids

Cruising seems to be one of those things that people either love or hate.  Our family happens to be in the love boat.


We are big Princess fans (and, yes, Princess was the cruise line featured in The Love Boat).

But honestly I think just about any cruise line would do for us as long as the cruise included 24-hour buffets, entertainment and scenic destinations. Having loved our 7-day cruise to Mexico last year, we have already booked a 10-day cruise to Japan for next year. I may even be counting down the weeks until the day we leave.

Here are the reasons we love cruising for family holidays, plus a few points to consider if you haven’t cruised before.

Pros of a Cruise Holiday with Kids

Zero meal planning — Food at any time, which I don’t every have to cook or pay for individually? Yes, please! This means salads, hot foods, pizza, desserts and so many other options available all day long. In the dining rooms on board, I love not having to look at prices on a menu and just ordering whatever I want. Even the pickiest of eaters are bound to find something they like. Also room service is available on many cruises. That means if you have to stay in the room because a younger child is napping, you don’t have to skip lunch. I would recommend checking for this option if you still have children of napping age.

Cleaning crew — Your rooms get cleaned and tidied every day.  Beds made, towels folded.  Need I say more?

Hop on, hop off — You can visit many different places and avoid using cars or planes between destinations. This, of course, means no car seats to lug around for young kids (hooray!). Cruising is a great way to cover multiple locations in one trip.

Onboard entertainment – The entertainment on the ship is amazing. Though each ship will be different, some typical examples include pools, spas, dance lessons, movies, afternoon tea, live performances, ice sculpting, games on deck, ping pong, mini-golf and more. Certain cruises also have Kids’ Club (check on age limits and availability), which in our experience have been excellent. The crafts, games, and activities were even focused on the region of the world we were visiting.

Onboard outings — Depending on the ship, there may also be other fun outings available like hair salons, massage parlors, gyms and more.

Excursions — You can book port excursions through the cruise line in order to avoid the hassle of exploring each stop-over on your own. In the past we have personally enjoyed a mix of planned excursions and self-guided tours, depending on the specifics of what each location had to offer.

Budget-friendly — Cruising is easy to budget for. We like to know what we will be paying for our holiday and cruising lets you do that ahead of time. If you usually stay in quite nice accommodation while on holiday, you may find that cruising is not much more expensive than a traditional type of holiday, especially considering food and entertainment is also included. Keep in mind that different cruise lines are priced differently, and certain routes are more pricey than others as well. It pays to do the research to get exactly what you want.

Did I mention not cooking or preparing any food for the duration of your holiday?

Cruising in Mexico

Potential Cons of a Cruise Holiday with Kids

Room sizes — I have yet to find a cruise line that offers more than 4 beds in a regular room, and the suites are way too expensive for us. This means our family of five unfortunately has to book two rooms.

Kids don’t get a special discount —  Usually the first two people in a room pay the bulk of the bill, and the third and/or fourth person are charged at a much lower rate. Each bed is priced regardless of age. This means a four-person family is ideal for a cruise holiday as they would get the best deal!

Excursions can be limited by the kids — You may not get to do all the excursions you would have liked to do pre-kids. No extreme sports, long walks in art galleries, scuba diving, that sort of thing, and there are a lot of these types of activities available at the ports. But if you have travelled with kids before, you know that already.

Night entertainment not kid-friendly — Likewise, depending on your kids’ ages and lifestyle, you may miss out on the night time entertainment while on the ship. Comedy and dance shows are fun, so are movies under the stars, but these are usually held past the kids’ bedtime. If you are going with a second adult, you can always take turns being in the room with sleeping kids though, right? Some cruise lines offer evening kids’ clubs or babysitting services too, so depending on how your children would handle this, you might not even have to worry about it.

Diet restrictions — Different dietary options are generally well catered for on cruise lines these days, but you will want to get more details if anyone in your family has a particular allergy or limitation in their diet.

Getting there — Lastly, depending on where you live, you may need to travel to get to the place your cruise departs from which would be an added expense. If you live in a popular embarkation port already, though, I imagine this would be a huge attraction to cruising!

What would be the making or breaking point of going on a cruise with your kids?  For me, the already-prepared food is always one of the most attractive parts!

More travel ideas for families:

Images: Chelsea Lee Smith

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