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If we’re making a list of incredible family holidays, cruising sails straight to the top. Surprised? Many Kiwis are — until they take their first family cruise! Here are some of the most common worries we hear about family cruising and why it’s time to get onboard!


WORRY 1   |  Cruising with my whole family would definitely break the bank.

Let’s start with a stat, because the numbers don’t lie. If you’re savvy, the average family cruise starts around $68 per person, per day. This includes accommodation, main meals, activities and entertainment. And we know what you’re thinking – what entertainment?

In fact, most cruises offer many of these included in your fare:

• Main theatre performances
• Pools & pool games
• Dance classes
• Deck sports like as rock climbing, mini golf, ropes courses, shuffleboard
• Steam rooms & saunas
• Fitness centre
• Movies theatre, video games & arcades
• Court sports

If this were a regular holiday, the theatre alone would cost over $70! And unlike almost all other family holidays, the more you do on a cruise, the more value you get out of it.

Standout cruise: Royal Caribbean ships boast ice skating rinks, surf pools, skydiving simulators, carousels, bumper cars and zip lines. Yep, ALL included.  


WORRY 2   |  You won’t get my kids to sit through a formal three-course dinner.

Let's ditch the tuxedo cruising of yesteryear! Meals can be as formal or as informal as you like — Choices rang from chicken fingers and pizza slices to Wagyu beef and top tier sashimi. Most cruise lines now offer open dining and mountains of choices. Many parents like to feed their kids in a casual venue (like those famously massive buffets), then send them off to Kids Club and enjoy an intimate, adult-appeasing meal together.

Standout cruise: Royal Caribbean offer an ingenious programme families go to the dining room together, but children are served first — and quickly — before being collected by Kids Club staff. 


WORRY 3   |  Wagyu beef!? Not my daughter!

If your family has food preferences, allergies or restrictions, we simply inform the cruise line before departure. Just chat to your House of Travel cruise consultant and we’ll take it from there. Once you’re onboard, head waiters step in to further discuss dietary requirements; they’ll even bring you the next day's menu so you can assess it. Menus and buffet items are typically well-marked for ingredients so no matter what you’re looking for (or looking to avoid), you’ll easily spot it!

Standout cruise: P&O Cruises offers a kids 'Mini Menu' at its onboard Waterfront Restaurant. With a range of choices that are nutritious and sure to please, the special menu changes daily, so even the fussiest eaters will find something to love. The Waterfront Restaurant is available on all P&O ships and is open for breakfast and dinner every day, as well as lunch most days.   


WORRY 4  |  Where’s everyone going to sleep? A cabin won’t accommodate us all.

You’d be surprised! As a general rule, standard staterooms fit two adults comfortably, but can easily sleep a family of four. Most standard staterooms have Pullmans, which turn into bunk beds, or pull out sofas. These are an ideal choice if, like most cruisers, you don’t intend to spend much time inside your cabin. Alternatively, designated family staterooms can sleep five or six, and some cruise lines even offer larger suites that accommodate up to 12 family members all sailing together. That means you could grab the grandparents — and great uncle Jimmy too! Upper-tier suites are a good choice for as many as 14 guests in a series of interconnected rooms. Many cruise lines also allow children meeting age requirements to stay in an adjoining room or a stateroom across the hall.

Standout cruise: Royal Caribbean’s Presidential Family Suite fits even the biggest families. It’s got four bedrooms, four bathrooms and a spacious living area and entertainment centre. The massive private balcony includes a whirlpool, a wet bar, lounge chairs and even an al fresco dining area seating 14! 


WORRY 5  |  Won’t my kids get bored stuck on a ship between ports?

Between the swimming pools, the endless activities, the surf simulators, the games, the DJ dances, karaoke competitions, rock walls and nightly movie screenings, we think it’s pretty unlikely. Cruise Kids Clubs are essentially summer camps at sea. With dedicated play spaces and camp-like programming, counsellors lead all-day activities that cover everything from scavenger hunts to sports tournaments.

Standout cruise: P&O Cruises offers a DUPLO® Play centre, guided art classes, themed nights and talent shows — the hardest part is deciding what to do first. 


WORRY 6  |  My child is shy and will hate every minute of Kids Club.

Caregivers are well-trained to help even the shiest kids find their comfort zone. They’ll usually do this by working hard to find out what gets your child excited. Whether it’s rock walls, dance parties or science experiments, they’ll suss it out and find a way to put a smile on their dial. 

Standout cruise: Carnival Cruise Line put kids into supervised, age-based groups and give each a cool marine-life label. The littlest little ones — ages 2 to 5 — join the Penguin colony and engage in activities like Musical Icebergs and Ocean Bingo. Ages 6 to 8 are the enviably named Stingrays, who might be found enjoying Pirate Game Night, making sea salt art or even designing their own aquarium. The big fish are the Sharks — ages 9 to 11 — who are treated to Marine Life Trivia, creating a giant ocean mural and scoring big with games and competitions. Counsellors, each with education or childcare experience, are there to make sure everyone has an amazing time. 


WORRY 7  |  Fine during the day, but how are we going to occupy them in the evenings?

Almost all resort-style cruise lines offer group childcare in Kids Clubs until midnight or later. That means movies, dance parties and scavenger hunts continue right up to bedtime! 

Standout cruise: Norwegian Cruise Line is worth a note for its late-night childcare. 


WORRY 8  |  I have teenagers too and there’s no way they’re stomaching a Kids Club.

Nobody wants a ship full of bored teenagers, which is why most cruise lines offer extensive entertainment split by age. Teens and tweens usually have their own separate cruise spots away from play areas — and even further from the pools and bars embarrassing parents frequent. From DJ parties to talent shows and prom nights, you’ll hardly see them for the duration of your holiday — exactly how they like it.

Standout cruise: Royal Caribbean boasts ice skating (and roller skating), surfing and skydiving simulators, as well as specialised teen-tailored spa treatments and ‘no elders allowed’ lounges serving sinless mocktails.


WORRY 9  |  I don’t want seasick kids on my hands.

We don’t blame you! Cruise ships today are fully equipped with computerised stabilisation systems, which make for incredibly smooth sailing and keep even the most sensitive cruisers comfortable. If you have family members who are especially prone to motion sickness, you can take the extra precaution of choosing a mid-ship, lower-level stateroom, where any motion is least noticeable.

Standout cruise: P&O’s Pacific Jewel offers mid-ship cabins in the ideal spot for sensitive cruisers — both inside and oceanview!


WORRY 10  |  How do I know my children are safe?

Cruise ships are required to undergo regular Coast Guard inspections and follow strict international rules, known as Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). One of the first onboard activities for everybody is a “muster drill,” where you’ll get easy instructions on life jackets (in all sizes!) and finding your assigned lifeboat. When it comes to staff, caregivers working in cruise Kids Clubs are required to hold advanced degrees in education and child development. And they’re heavily vetted. While in Kids Clubs, children are constantly supervised.

Standout cruise: Royal Caribbean. Every member of the youth team holds a four-year degree in education, recreation or a related field and has extensive experience working with children.


WORRY 11  |  What’s the deal with port days?

On some cruise lines, you can drop off wee ones at the Kids Club and leave the ship for a day of exploration. But if you’re keen to show your kids more of the world, port days can be effortless. Perhaps you’re curious about a place, but nervous about customs? Or you’d love to see a certain country, but the language barrier scares you? Hop on a tour with your ship’s English-speaking guide and don’t worry about a thing!

Standout cruise: P&O Cruises offer discounted shore excursion fees for children. They also have a range of kid-friendly excursion options at every destination.


WORRY 11  |  My family and I don’t like tours.

Not a problem! It’s easy to use port days to explore a destination on your own. Ships typically dock quite centrally and you can easily walk or hire a driver to explore locally. There’s a common misconception that if you don’t follow the guided cruise group, you’ll miss the boat later in the day. But as long as you watch the time, you can visit any one of the ports independently.

Standout cruise: P&O Cruises often stay longer in port, allowing your family to maximise your visit and worry less about time!

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