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A Family Cruise Is A Great Way to Maximize Vacation Time

If you’ve never taken a cruise vacation, guess what?  You are in the majority.  According to CLIA, the Cruise Lines International Association, only 24% of Americans have taken a cruise vacation.  People give a lot of different reasons for not cruising, but the one I’m going to address today is:  “I’ll get bored” or “I’ll get tired of it” or “There won’t be enough to do”.  Cruising is an amazing way to maximize your vacation time, money, and fun — offering a variety of activities you just can’t find at any one resort.

Take Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas for example.  The ship boasts an indoor promenade filled with little shops and live music, a deck that is a recreation of Central Park, with live grass, plants, trees, surrounded by restaurants and bistros.  Interior cabins overlook the park, thus removing that enclosed feeling some people get when choosing that cabin type.  There is a quaint Boardwalk which includes a merry go round, hot dog stand, and an ice cream parlour.  And for the adventurists and young at heart, Allure is famous for its two Surf Simulators, two huge oceanfront rock walls, and an oceanfront basketball court.  And did I mention 3 distinct pool areas, including a splash park?  So forget the fact that you’ll be traveling from beautiful Caribbean port to port, even when you are at sea, you’d be hard pressed to get “bored”.  And if none of those options intrigue you, go join a 40 bike spin class or treat yourself to some spa time!

CentralParkViewIntCab AllureSpin

AllureSplash

Even if your kids aren’t old enough to enjoy rock climbing or surfing, all of the large mass market ships — think Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, and Disney — offer extensive kids programming.  From toddlers to tweens to teens, there are designated areas, clubs, and adventures designed for their active minds and bodies.  The Norwegian Getaway, for example, has a Sponge Bob themed splash park targeting young children.  It  just happens to sit beneath the double water slide, with twists and turns that attract older kids and the tween / teen crowd.  And of course young at heart adults, too.

GetawaySplash GetawaySpongeBobGetawaySlide

And yes, the kids clubs are secure environments with trained staff.  So you can feel good about heading over to the spa to relax while they are being cared for and making new friends.  In addition to the spa, other adults only areas will include a Casino with gaming tables, cards and slot machines.  There are also adults only pool areas typically with healthy and fresh dining options like salads and juices.  Some premium restaurants are designated as 18 and older only.

So mass market ships cater to families.  But what about premium lines, like Celebrity and Princess?  The key differentiator here is that Premium lines have a more refined decor, typically more upscale dining, and cater to a more seasoned cruiser.  But they have excellent kids programming as well.  In April 2011 we took our girls, then 8 and 11, on the Celebrity Solstice.  In addition to never, ever being bored, my youngest actually teared up when it was time to depart.  She loved every minute of it.  The kids club was active with crafts, movies, and games.  And while the pool area didn’t have any cartoon characters, the water features and spas were amazing.

DSCF0054 Celebrity Solstice Art Gallery

For our first port day, we stopped at San Juan, where we had lunch and toured the cobblestone city.  Next port was St. John, where we did an amazing snorkel tour and both of our girls snorkeled for the first time.  Snorkeling in the Caribbean water is fabulous because its so salty and dense, you just float along.  Final port was St. Maarten, where we had a ‘chill’ beach day just swimming and enjoying drinks on the beach.  We also had two seas days in the itinerary.  So on those days, the girls visited the kids club, Scott and I read, napped, and dined in the adults area.  In the evening, we enjoyed the Cirque themed show, sat out under the stars, or watched a movie with the kids.  Definitely plenty to do and enjoy.

So not only did we visit 3 very distinct islands, dine on fab cuisine from a variety of cafe’s, formal venues and casual, and see shows and live music, we didn’t have to spend hours flying or driving to do so.  En route, we lounged by the pool, had drinks, played up on the Solstice’s Lawn Club, went to shows, and slept soundly with the gentle ocean waves.

Think you’re ready to set sail?  You can reach me at amy.ortiz@cruiseplanners.com, or visit my travel fan page www.facebook.com/plancooltrips for information and tips.

Thanks for visiting our blog!

Featured photo credit:  Derek Hatfield via Flickr licensed under Creative Commons
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