If you approach a holiday with the grandchildren with equal amounts of excitement and trepidation – enthused about spending time with them but understanding there will be precious few relaxing moments – friendly assurances are always welcome.
We’ve produced this guide to help those of you who are planning a cruise with the grandkids have the most relaxing and enjoyable holiday possible.
Check for age restrictions
Different cruise lines have different age restrictions in place for travelling children. Disney Cruises accepts babies from twelve weeks old, while Fred Olsen only allows youngsters from twelve months.
As cruise specialist Cruise1st explains, “Typically, cruise lines allow children that are six months and older to cruise. So before you book, do your research to make sure that your grandkids will be permitted on-board”.
Preview the kids clubs
The prospect of sitting quietly with a good book and watching the world pass by is seldom the holiday activity of choice for kids. This makes it important to check for kids clubs and organised activities on the ships you are considering during the booking process.
Make sure there is an age-appropriate kids club aboard that offers activities and groups which genuinely interest the kids to make sure they’re entertained and having fun with their peers.
Many cruise lines also offer babysitting services for the very young, caring for babies and toddlers in your cabin should you wish to enjoy a meal in one of the ship’s restaurants.
If you are concerned about leaving the grandchildren in the care of someone outside the family, cruise giant Royal Caribbean have produced the RoyalIQ, a simple smartphone or tablet app developed to make it easier for family members and the crew to stay in contact.
Cruise holiday itineraries are incredibly varied and do not follow a set structure with some holidays offering daily port visits and others spending days on end at sea. Picking an itinerary with a high volume of port visits and opportunities to leave the ship gives the grandkids more opportunity to explore new places – keeping them entertained.
Where possible explore the port cities and resorts by yourself, using websites such as TripAdvisor as a guide to finding kid-friendly attractions, sites and eateries.
Check the menu
If any of the grandkids are fussy eaters, make sure you check the dining options aboard any of the ships you are considering. Whilst smaller ships may have limited choice, larger vessels are bountiful with their selection of food – the Norwegian Breakaway has 22 different restaurants and eateries, catering for even the fussiest of eaters.
Pack the carry on carefully
Upon boarding the ship, it often takes a couple of hours before your full luggage is delivered to your cabin – so make sure you have any of the kids’ essentials in your carry on, including a change of clothes and swimwear if the kids are exciting about having a dip in the pool.
Important medicines and even-more-important stuffed toys are essential when packing the carry on so the kids don’t have to go without for the first few hours.
The cooling sea breeze which laps over the side of the ship can often be deceptive, hiding the strength of the sun. Make sure the grandkids are always sufficiently covered and protected with sunscreen.
Children’s skin is different to ours and there are more sunscreen options than ever – so this guide from WebMD can help you see through all the marketing fluff and pick the sunscreen which will best protect the kids’ skin.
Find the quiet areas
If you are travelling with toddlers and young children who are full of beans – it is advisable to find some of the quieter areas and lounges of the ship so they can stretch their legs and have a little run around without bothering other guests.
Plus, if you tire them out during the days – chances are they’ll settle down better at night, giving you a little peace and quiet.