Cruising

Here is your encyclopedia of information about cruises for kids, teens, couples, singles, and groups. Use it as a guide to discover the best kept secrets about special features, deals, and locations. Explore various destinations and cruise lines to determine what’s best for you. Good luck, and smooth sailing!

Cruising With Kids

 

With about one million children sailing the seas each year, cruise lines have begun to sit up and take notice. Many have gone to great lengths to provide quality entertainment and childcare for younger passengers, but some cruise lines are more kid friendly than others.  

Disney cruises reign supreme with their magical atmosphere and “be our guest” philosophy. It seems Disney has anticipated the needs of young families down to the smallest details, from Diaper Genies to complimentary cribs, strollers, and freshly mashed baby food. There are countless opportunities for character encounters, and its kids clubs are packed with activities to entertain children of all ages. The fact that there are no casinos on board is a definite plus, too. Cruise ships also feature family sized cabins with two bathrooms—one with a tub for easily bathing young children. 

Disney, however, tends to be more expensive than other cruise lines that also pride themselves on being family oriented. Carnival, Princess, Norwegian, Crystal, Holland America, Celebrity, and Royal Caribbean all have similar kids clubs that host a wide variety of age-appropriate activities from pizza parties to arts and crafts. They also offer babysitting so parents can enjoy a romantic dinner alone or go scuba diving while the little ones remain safely on board.  

But the form of babysitting varies between cruise lines. Some offer private childcare in your cabin, while others like Carnival and Princess provide a slumber-party atmosphere in their child centers. Whichever you prefer, be sure to check the minimum age required to sail before you book a cruise. Disney welcomes babies as young as twelve weeks—complete with a full-service nursery—while other cruise lines require infants to be four months or older.  

Teen Time

 

Kids clubs also provide entertainment specifically geared toward teenagers. With choices like Internet cafes, movies, video games, and teen-only pool parties, there are plenty of ways to keep your teen occupied. Or, you may also want to consider booking on a cruise ship with a more “extreme” feel, like Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas. The largest cruise ship to date, Freedom of the Seas has a rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink, and a wave machine so you can learn how to surf right on the ship. In fact, most of the newer cruise ships offer an abundance of activities to please any adventurous teen—or adult, for that matter—including basketball courts, golf simulators, or scuba instruction. 

Couples Only

 

Whether you’re planning a honeymoon or an anniversary getaway, a cruise can be the perfect way to celebrate. With meals, sleeping accommodations, and cleaning services included, couples are free to enjoy adventurous excursions or breathtaking sunsets without sweating the details. And while providing freebies for couples is becoming a thing of the past, all major cruise lines offer a variety of ways to make your cruise more romantic.

 

Luxurious couples’ massages and chocolate-dipped strawberries, for example, are widely available, as well as breakfast in bed or a course-by-course dinner served on the verandah of your cabin. Unfortunately for LDS couples, many of these items are offered as part of a romance package that includes wine or champagne, so ask if you can purchase them a la carte. 

Some ships are more conducive to a romantic atmosphere than others—something you may want to consider before booking. Carnival’s ships, for instance, tend to be flashy and colorful, so the best choice for romance would be one of their Spirit-class vessels, which sport a more elegant art-deco theme. And cruise lines like Princess and Norwegian have open-seating dining that allows couples to indulge in a romantic dinner for two instead of eating meals at assigned tables with several strangers.  

LDS Singles

 

For LDS singles looking to have a great vacation while connecting with other singles of their faith, booking a cruise through a travel agency that specializes in LDS singles’ cruises is a great way to go. Fun for Less Tours (funforlesstours.com) and Voyager Travel (LDSTrips.com) both organize cruises each year specifically for LDS singles, including the popular Book of Mormon cruise that sails to destinations such as Belize, Cozumel, and Costa Maya. These cruises include an LDS entertainer or guest lecturer, and plenty of opportunities to build friendships during excursions, karaoke contests, dances, or other group activities.  

Another avenue for finding a group of LDS singles to cruise with may include www.groups.yahoo.com/groups/LDS-travel, a site where members post travel plans and invite others to join. Singles websites like ldssingles.com also occasionally advertise cruises.

LDS Groups 

Single or not, LDS travelers of all ages may want to consider booking an LDS-specific cruise for a wonderful combination of adventure and spiritual experiences. There are several destinations to choose from, including the Caribbean, Alaska, New Zealand, Hawaii, the Mediterranean, Russia, and Far East Asia. These cruises almost always feature a popular LDS speaker, author, or entertainer, and often have a specific theme like marriage, service, or history. For more information, visit: LDSTrips.com, cruiselady.com, ldsworldtravel.com, murdockescortedtours.com, funforlesstours.com, and DeseretBook.com/travel.

  

Choosing a Destination

 

With countless cruise ships sailing the globe at any given moment, the world is truly your oyster. There are dozens of fascinating destinations to choose from, each with distinctly different people, landscapes, and cultures. Here are just a few of the classics. 

The Caribbean

 

For first-timers and seasoned cruisers alike, Caribbean cruises are a favorite. Glassy turquoise waters full of colorful fish promise amazing snorkeling and scuba diving experiences, while white sandy beaches provide a luxurious setting for sunbathing and building sand castles. Passengers of all ages can delight in sailing from one tropical paradise to the next where there are unique opportunities for touring rain forests, swimming with dolphins, or visiting ancient ruins.  

Alaska

 

Cruises to Alaska continue to grow in popularity—especially as a three-generation destination. Grandparents and grandchildren alike can find something to enjoy, whether it’s majestic glaciers, magnificent wildlife, or enchanting American Indian culture. Shore excursions range from adventures in dog sledding or panning for gold, to breathtaking helicopter tours and traditional tribal dances. Keep in mind the warmest months for Alaska are June, July, and August. Even then, you should pack some warm clothes and a jacket.  

Mexico

 

A cruise along the Mexican Riviera is sure to be filled with lively fiestas as well as relaxing siestas. Ports of call like Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, and Mazatlan offer plenty of opportunities for dancing to lively mariachi bands, shoping festive markets, and having fun in the sun, sand, and surf. Horseback ride along spectacular beaches, reel in a swordfish, or explore charming colonial villages. From world-class water sports to soft-sand beaches, Mexico has something to please everyone.  

China

 

Immerse yourself in a culture that can be traced back for thousands of years with a cruise to China. Sail along the hauntingly beautiful Yangtze River and visit flourishing cities like Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai, where the glory of the past is carefully woven throughout vibrant metropolitan centers. Stand on the Great Wall, enter the Forbidden City, or stroll through lush, tranquil gardens. Inspiring architecture and priceless imperial treasure abound, making it easy to fall under ancient China’s mysterious spell.  

The Mediterranean

Mediterranean cruises offer an exciting way for travelers to experience the diverse cultures of several countries in a short amount of time. With each stop you can visit captivating cities brimming with intricate histories and passionate people. Excursions allow you to stand atop the ancient Acropolis in Athens, bask in the sun along the French Riviera, or admire the works of Michelangelo and Da Vinci first hand. With history, art, and culture at every port, sailing throughout the Mediterranean is sure to be an adventure of a lifetime.

Benefits of Boarding Early

 

Find out the minute you can board the ship and then do it! You’ll avoid the crowds, and you’ll be the first to the sign-up sheets for shore excursions, babysitting services, and spa appointments. You can also use the time to confirm meal seating assignments and ensure that everything in your cabin is to your liking. 

The Low-down on Luggage

 

If you allow porters to load your luggage onto the ship, it will save you time and spare you from hauling heavy bags around as you try to find your cabin. However, you may not see your luggage for several hours after you board. Pack a small carry-on bag with a bathing suit, toiletries, and a change of clothes, and you can begin to enjoy the pool area after lunch without the stress of anxiously waiting for your luggage to arrive. 

Seasickness Solutions

 

On today’s cruise ships, passengers hardly need to concern themselves with becoming seasick. Newer ships are equipped with state-of-the-art stabilizers that counteract the motion of the water. However, if you are worried about it, there are some precautions you can take: 

  1. Book a cruise on a larger cruise ship. The larger the ship, the less it will rock.
  2. Choose a destination known for calm waters such as the Caribbean or Alaska’s Inside Passage.
  3. Reserve a cabin toward the middle of the ship on one of the lower levels.
  4. Arrange your beds in alignment with the ship, bow to stern.
  5. Get some fresh air. Lie on a deck chair or focus on a fixed point on the horizon to get your body used to the motion of the ship.
  6. Take Dramamine or another over-the-counter motion sickness medication that doesn’t cause drowsiness. Scopolamine patches, worn behind the ear, are also a great solution.  Ask your doctor for a prescription.
  

Tipping Tips

 

Tipping appropriately for cruises can be confusing since policies vary dramatically between cruise lines. Carnival, Princess, and Norwegian have automatic gratuity policies, which charge about $10 per passenger per day, but give guests the option to adjust the amount at their discretion. At the other end of the spectrum, Holland America, Radisson Seven Seas, Windstar, Seabourn and Silversea do not expect or require tipping of any kind, but many passengers still do. 

Crystal, Disney, and Royal Caribbean do not have such policies, but many passengers still find it more convenient to pre-pay gratuities so they don’t have to hassle with them on their last day of the cruise. If you choose not to pay in advance, cruise lines will often provide envelopes for you to hand out tips in. However you choose to tip, plan on budgeting for the following, although suggested amounts will vary between cruise lines: 

Cabin Stewards—about $3.50 per passenger per day

Waiters—about $3.50 per passenger per day

Assistant waiters—about $2.00 per passenger per day

Servers or Busboys—about $2.50 per passenger per day

Maitre d’—about $5.00 to $10.00 per passenger for the entire cruise 

A standard 15 percent gratuity is often included in bills from the ship’s bars and lounges, so be sure to check to see if a tip has already been added. And don’t forget those who help you get your luggage from point A to point B. Airport skycaps and porters who load luggage onto the ship look forward to receiving a tip of $2 per bag.  

The Diaper Dilemma

 

You need to know what the cruise line’s policy is regarding children in diapers. Royal Caribbean’s and Celebrity’s kids clubs will not accept children unless they are completely toilet trained, while Carnival and Norwegian allow children as young as two to participate. Regardless of the cruise line, be aware that children in diapers will not be allowed in the swimming pools. Most ships have a separate wading pool or fountain area for babies and toddlers to enjoy.

 

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