Top 5 Reason to Consider a Cruise with Kids

Admittedly, I am not much of a cruiser. I have been on three cruises in my life, once when I was about 13 and my parents took my sister and I, once when I was about 16 and my grandmother took the entire family, and once when my wife and I were dating, around 2007. So I am not one of the cruise industries leading customers.

However, my in-laws discovered cruising sometimes over the past five years or so and fell in love with the industry. They enjoy the laid-back vibe, the all-inclusive feature, and the price point. My wife’s parents even were susceptible to one of those cruise incidents last year, where the entire boat contracted an illness and were subject to quarantine. One would think a virus cruise would be enough to sway them away from setting ship on another boat again. However, they quickly used their reimbursement to book a cruise through the Panama Canal, which they are on as I write this post.

So now that we are a family with three small boys, we are reconsidering our idea of road trips and thinking about going on a cruise within the next year or so. What would make us reconsider a cruise? Lets take a look.

5) Food

My wife and I enjoy good food, and I remember being so impressed as a child seeing the midnight buffets and culinary genius on display throughout the cruise. As anyone with kids may know, having boys means having big appetites.

While our boys love Macaroni & Cheese like the best of them, they also are accustomed to finer cuisine. Place a plate of sushi in front of our boys, and you will see it disappear faster than the free champagne at the art shows on a cruise.

A cruise provides an endless supply of food options, 24/7 to meet anyone’s pallet, and is an ideal situation for families.

4) Entertainment

While the running joke on cruise ships is how many meals you can fit in within a day, there also is a great deal of options for entertainment throughout the cruise. Some people may enjoy laying by the pool all day getting drunk on buckets of beers, while others take in the BINGO games or classes to learn how to make towel animals.

Some cruises also specifically cater towards families, making them an ideal situation for us. There can be kids clubs, where you can pretty much drop your kids off all day, and the “free” babysitting takes care of all the kids entertainment for the day.

What also can be great, specifically if traveling with grandparents, which we would, is that on nights where both the in-laws and kids head to bed early, the wife and I can go out on a date, maybe taking in a late night show and dancing.

3) Ports of Call

Perhaps one of my personal caveats against the cruise industry is the limited amount of time at ports of call. We prefer to go to a destination, explore, and really get engrained into the culture of the destination.

Often on a cruise, one is lucky if they have 12 hours at a destination. Worse, the ports are stacked full of tourist dollars trying to sell you the latest island fare, prepackaged tours, and chain restaurants. To see the real port of call, one needs to head inland and away from where the money is.

However, when traveling with kids, visiting a pre-packaged port of call can also be a good thing. Simply fold out the stroller and walk around within the area surrounding the port.

2) Price Point

Paying for a family of five to fly somewhere, or even drive, then hotel, food, and entertainment can quickly scale rapidly. Fortunately for our family, the better part of the last 4 years has gotten us greatly reduced travel expenses thanks to banked miles and points. Often these days our hotels are usually free on points, saving hundreds or thousands of dollars on travel expenses.

While there are ways to defray the cost of a cruise with points, it is not as lucrative. However, we consider a good price on a cruise $100 per person per day or under a good deal. When you factor in that includes the cost of transportation, all of your meals, entertainment, and ports of call, that can be a great selling point compared to traditional travel.

It has been a while since we went on a cruise, so we are actively pricing out our options to compare how they are to our family’s traditional travel costs. We do know it is buyer beware though.

To give an example, a couple weeks ago Royal Caribbean offered a sale where the 2, 3, and 4 guests in a room were half off. That sounded great, and from the surface looked like it could be an excellent bargain. However, after pricing out some of the cruise on a 7 night Caribbean itinerary with a kid friendly ship, the first person paid a whopping $1400 for an inside cabin room, while the second person was around $700, and the third and fourth were in the $400 range. Not to mention our fifth child would have been sharing a room with my in-laws, at least on paper.

After evaluating all the costs, the 7 days cruise exceeded $850 per person, and we had not even gotten to the port yet. Needless to say, we found the sale to be bogus, with jacked up rates to make it look like guests were getting a deal. We are still shopping around to find a more reasonable alternative, but believe the costs can be brought back into line with our typical travel costs, if not better.

1) Captive Audience

The number one reason to consider a cruise for a family is the set it, and forget it mentality. Once you board the ship, guests no longer need to worry about a thing. Someone else is at the driver seat, making it virtually impossible to get lost, though I have been known to wonder and not remember where I am after seeing the dessert buffet.

On a cruise, so long as we parent and keep our kids away from the side of the ship, everything is safe and within our finger tips. Want to head to the pool? Done. Thinking about hitting up the beach? We can do that tomorrow at the port of call. Are your kids getting “hangry?” Send them to the pizza bar.

Traveling with kids can often be daunting for parents, especially if they do not do it often. Taking a kid out of their natural environment and throwing off their schedule can reek havoc on your plans. Fortunately, a time out or nap is only a couple levels away on a cruise.

The conveniences all of a sudden start to sound appealing without having to go to the hassle of organizing rental cars, finding places to eat, thinking of fun and exciting itineraries. On a cruise, everything is within grasp, taking the stress, or at least some of it, out of the equation.

We might see you on board in the future! Be sure to pour me a boat drink if you see me struggling chasing three monsters around the deck.

Save Money, Travel More!

Source: InACents

Discover Six Flags 5 percent Cashback Bonus

2015 Six Flags Discover Card Deals

Did you know your Discover Card not only gets you an automatic 5% discount on all purchases at Six Flags, an exclusive card member entrance, and special dining options?

Link: Discover Card Six Flags Benefits

In addition, Discover card members get access to exclusive meal plan options at each of the parks. Note: These options are in addition to other meal plan option directly from the respective parks.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (San Francisco/Sacramento, California)

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Six Flags Magic Mountain (Los Angeles, California)

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$44.99 Johnny Rockets burgers & fries for 4 people

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (Los Angeles)

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Six Flags Over Georgia (Atlanta, Georgia)

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$44.99 Johnny Rockets burgers & fries for 4 people

Six Flags White Water (Atlanta)

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Six Flags Great America (Chicago, Illinois)

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$44.99 Johnny Rockets burgers & fries for 4 people

Six Flags America (Baltimore/Washington, DC)

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Six Flags New England (Thrill Capital of New England)

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Six Flags St. Louis (Missouri’s Coaster Capital)

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Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson, New Jersey)

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Six Flags Hurricane Harbor (New Jersey)

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Six Flags Fiesta Texas (San Antonio, Texas)

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Six Flags Over Texas (Arlington, Texas)

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Source: InACents

150321 Sandusky Maritime Museum (1)

Review: Maritime Museum of Sandusky

After getting a bit tired of being indoors from the long winter, with a burning desire to get on the road, we headed out towards Sandusky, Ohio this past weekend to explore and see what we could find.

Shores and Islands, the local tourism board for the Lake Erie travel region, recently gave our family a voucher to visit the Maritime Museum, Milan Museum, and the Merry-Go-Round Museum in and around Sandusky, so it gave us a good reason to explore.

With Lake Erie being such an integral part of our region, the Maritime Museum explores the history of shipping, transportation, and recreation on our Great Lake.

The biggest lesson I personally learned from visiting the Maritime Museum was the history of pirating, as I had no idea this happened in our area. Pirates used to even set up fake lighthouses that caused ships to run aground, giving them the perfect advantage for pillaging.

The Maritime Museum offered a perfect mixture of educational exhibits for the parents while also providing kid friendly areas that they could play, like on a pirate ship or building their own boat craft.

The museum also had a beautiful collection of Lyman Boat Works vessels, making us slightly envious of those with boats.

The Maritime Museum is small and perfect for younger families with kids with small attention spans. Visiting the museum takes about an hour including the two outbuildings.

150321 Sandusky Maritime Museum (2)

150321 Sandusky Maritime Museum (3)

150321 Sandusky Maritime Museum (4)

150321 Sandusky Maritime Museum (5)

150321 Sandusky Maritime Museum (6)

150321 Sandusky Maritime Museum (7)