Friday, June 22, 2018

Cruise the Caribbean--perfect destination for families

More ships cruise the Caribbean islands than any other region in the world. No wonder--Caribbean cruises treat families to crystal-clear waters, pristine beaches, abundant water sports, kayaking and zip lining, and duty-free shopping, and non-stop entertainment for all ages.
Caribbean cruises are great family vacations.
Caribbean cruises are divided into three regions: Western, Southern, and Eastern Caribbean cruises. In the Western Caribbean you can see Mayan ruins on Mexico's Yucatan coast, snorkel in the barrier reef off the coast of Belize, swim with sting rays or lounge on Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach. Roatan, Honduras is a relatively new, clean, and uncluttered port that shares the barrier reef and has an interior jungle landscape.

Because so many people cruise the Caribbean islands, you'll find the most competitive pricing and the best per-diem rates on a Caribbean cruise. You’ll also find four or five day cruises, if you’re short on time. Special offers like lower deposits, kids sail free, shipboard credits, and free shore excursions are popular enticements.
Great vacation for families

Caribbean cruises are particularly kid-friendly, making them ideal for family getaways (grandparents included). Most ships have children's programs, youth counselors, and children's activity centers that can be life-savers for parents and help guarantee that everyone has the most fun possible.  
Many ships have popular kid attractions like water slides.
Cruising provides an all-inclusive vacation. The best part, especially if you’re traveling with children, is you only have to unpack once. If you have teens who want some independence, tourching base is easy enough on a ship. Plus the Caribbean is blessed with balmy, pleasant weather year round, making it family-friendly for holiday cruises, spring break, or summer time.

Best time to go
Anytime!  If you like to swim, snorkel, or do other water activities, the Caribbean is ideal. The weather is almost always warm, Caribbean ports have activities year-round, and ships sail throughout the year. The only time you might choose to avoid is hurricane season from June 1 to November 1, which is officially hurricane season, but if no storms are on the horizon, summer is a great time to enjoy Caribbean islands.

Exploring Mayan ruins on a shore excursion in the Caribbean.
Of course, cruise ships can be packed with kids and teens during spring break and in early summer, so keep that in mind. That’s great if you're traveling with kids or grandkids who make friends easily.  However, if you’re flying into a popular port like Florida around spring break, flights and hotels may be hard to find or expensive.

During  “shoulder season,” late April to May and September to early January (except for holidays), prices are lower and crowds smaller on Caribbean sailings. Sailings longer than seven days generally attract mature cruisers because kids are generally in school and parents may not be able take so much time off work.
Cruising with kids

Families larger than four people will require adjoining rooms or a suite. But that has the advantage of more room to move around and store items as well as the possibility of some privacy for parents. Dining rooms typically accommodate young children with faster service and special menu items. Or choose casual buffet restaurants which serve the same items, allowing adults to sample fine cuisine while children nosh on familiar foods.
More fun for children on cruise ships.
If you need to travel on specific days, take advantage of early booking discounts, which are offered when you place a deposit as much as 18 months prior to your travel date. Plan shore excursions as a family and book online before you set sail.

Consider a shorter cruise, if it’s your first time. Kids will stay excited throughout, and it will be over before boredom has time to set in. Set a budget, and be sure kids know what they can charge (cruise cards act like credit cards) and what is off-limits. Or inactivate your kids’ cruise cards so they can’t run up your tab on unapproved expenses.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier


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