Taking a cruise with kids may not make anyone’s list of Top Ten Travel Fantasies, but with a little forethought, families can not only survive an international cruise, they will have a great time, while disembarking with lifelong memories, new perspectives, and stronger familial bonds. Cruising families can greatly improve their vacations when they follow these 6 tips for traveling internationally with children:
Take the time to prepare for the voyage
Getting kids ready for some of the new experiences they will have while cruising should begin at home. Voyages which include visits to areas which are radically different from the children’s day-to-day lives are more successful when these differences are gradually introduced. Sampling the food, and teaching kids about the different countries on your itinerary will makes travel more fun and less intimidating.
Plan an active schedule onboard, as well as in port
Kids crave stimulation and a common mistake parents make while cruising with children is not planning enough activities to keep their children engaged. Instead of worrying about overloading a child with a full schedule, parents should be wary of allowing their kids to have too much downtime.
A bored child often winds up as a misbehaving child, and may create a dangerous situation. While most cruise lines offer a full program of age-appropriate activities for younger guests, it is always a good idea to pack along a few favorite books and games to keep kids entertained throughout the vacation.
Allow kids to take advantage of the complimentary Adventure Ocean®n Program onboard. Kids will have a great time creating cool science experiments and acting like pirates taking over the ship.
Make organization a priority
Securing visas, passports, tickets, and handling medical requirements as far as possible in advance frees up time for last minute preparations, and greatly lowers stress levels. Creating a binder with a plastic pocket for each family member’s passport, and other important documents, like current prescriptions, is an excellent idea. Families traveling with at least two adults may want to designate one adult as the “document keeper” to avoid any confusion.
Keep contact information with each child
A lost child is every parent’s nightmare no matter where it happens. In a foreign country where parents or children are unable to speak the local language, it is critical for anyone who comes across a missing child to easily locate the parents. Having kids carry a copy of the information page from the child’s passport, in addition to the cruise company’s local and a permanent emergency contact information written in the local language, is a smart idea.
Learn the differences in culture when it comes to children
In many cultures it is common for strangers to interact with children. It is not uncommon for locals to buy kids snacks or take photos with them. If you feel uncomfortable with any unwanted attention, learning how to say, “Please don’t” in the local language is useful. Most cruises offer extensive pre-port briefings where you can find out more about the culture and local language.
Kids will be kids. Foreign travel is a great opportunity to educate kids, but parents shouldn’t turn travel into a school field trip. Visiting culturally and historically significant locations is fine, but kids shouldn’t miss out on something they are interested in, simply because the activity is “just for fun”.
Things will go wrong, items will be lost, and children will become cranky. When any difficulty arises, it is critical for parents to remain calm and collected. Since children take their emotional cues from parents, showing excessive negativity or criticism will rub off. The staff on kid-friendly cruises have experience with children, and are always ready to assist you.
Despite Robert Benchley’s quip, “there are only two classes of travel: first class, and with children“, it is possible to have a first-class cruise, and still bring the kids along.
[su_button url=”http://www.vacation.com” target=”blank” background=”#faa821″ size=”6″ center=”yes”]Find an experienced travel agent to help plan your family cruise[/su_button]