Taking the Kids: A cruise for the whole family
If you want luxury, an all-inclusive experience and an opportunity to help hurricane relief efforts, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is donating $750 per suite booked now through Oct. 31, 2017 on eight select 2018 Caribbean voyages aboard the Seven Seas Explorer. Travelers making will save $750 per suite, even shore excursions are included.
If you are planning ahead, Princess Cruises is touting a "Three for Free" deal good from next summer till well into 2019 which offers a stateroom upgrade, tips (valued at $15.50 per person per day) and an onboard credit.
As long as you book by Oct. 31 Norwegian Cruise Line's popular Free at Sea deal allows you to choose two from five onboard amenity offers like free bar, free Wi-Fi or Norwegian's Friends and Family Sail Free offer that allows the third and fourth guests to sail for free on many 2017 and 2018 sail dates.
The most important thing is to get everyone on board with the idea from the get go. Choose a ship that has programming targeted toward the kids in your group (and if you are traveling with adult kids, look for a sailing that won't have a lot of kids or organized kids' programs.) Our Taking the Kids Family Cruise Guide can help you narrow your choices. Cruise Critic’s deals round-up can steer you to more deals.
For first-time cruisers, the most important decision is to choose your destination, says Chris Gray Faust, as there are hundreds of options around the world. Next, he suggests, "compare the available options to your personal travel style. ... Are you a traveler who likes a more intimate experience, heavily focused on the places you're visiting? Choose a smaller ship, or even a river ship -- they carry a few hundred passengers (sometimes less), and have the ability to visit less-visited ports. If you'd rather be busy and consider the ship to be a destination itself, a larger ship -- carrying a few thousand guests -- is most likely up your alley."
Just as important, read the fine print. What's included in your fare? Often smaller ships, Faust noted, including river cruises, include more beverages, gratuities and shore excursions. On a large ship, the extras can add up, whether frothy drinks, specialty restaurants or shore excursions and tips.
And this is one time you want to get travel insurance, as you are paying upfront. The classic product from Allianz allows families to cover kids 17 and under for free when they are traveling with a parent or grandparent.