• 12 Tips for your Alaska Family Cruise 2018

    5/3/2018 10:19:05 AM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    Alaska Cruises, Cruising with Kids, Family Alaska Cruises, Tips on Cruising

    12 TIPS FOR YOUR ALASKA FAMILY CRUISE 2018


    Find the right ship for your cruise

    The decision of what cruise line you choose will have a major impact in the composition of your fellow cruisers as well as the selection of onboard entertainment. Families should consider Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, or Carnival ships.   Couples with older kids may want to try Princess Cruises or Celebrity Cruise Line. For those looking for a more subdued experience, Holland America has incredible enrichment programs or consider a luxury, boutique line such as Crystal Cruises.  All the above do have kid’s programs onboard.  The best idea is to find a good travel agent who can help you choose the right fit for your family.

    Alaska Family Cruising

    Pack your bag with layers

    Packing for an Alaskan cruise is not an easy task. Given the fluctuations in temperature, which can be up to 30 degrees in one day, you will need plenty of clothes in varying degrees of warmth. Layers that can be easily packed, and taken on and off during the day, are preferable. Viewing the glaciers from your ship, you will want to have gloves and a warm hat – this is the day that those layers will really come in handy!  Also set aside some separate outfits for afternoons and evenings on the ship.

    Plan for Rain during your Cruise

    Do be sure to bring a packable raincoat, an umbrella, and some waterproof shoes or boots. It will rain during your cruise. Chances are the rain will only show up occasionally, but Ketchikan is one of the rainiest places in the United States so it’s nearly a sure thing.  Even if the day starts off sunny, be prepared for some fog and rain to roll in eventually. Don’t let the damp weather impact your trip, just be prepared with the right gear.

    Budget Extra Money for Shore Excursions

    A cruise to Alaska is not cheap. The cruise fares themselves can run you double (or more) compared to a Caribbean cruise.  Shore Excursions in Alaska can also cost you a pretty penny. Be sure to budget accordingly as you will spend more for the once in a lifetime opportunity like a helicopter ride to a glacier, a float plane through the fjords, or a dog sled ride amidst snow and forest. These are truly amazing experiences and worth the splurge.

    Book Shore Excursions Before You Leave

    Since Alaska cruises have incredibly unique experiences and the cruise season is so short, shore excursions do sell out fast. We do not recommend waiting to book your excursions on the ship or until you arrive in the port of call – you wouldn’t want to be disappointed after spending so much time and energy planning this once in a lifetime trip!  Book in advance so you can look forward to the experience. Insider tip - you could save some money by booking your shore excursions via third party vendors, while also getting a more personal shore trip.   Thus, do some research or ask your travel agent to recommend Alaska shore excursion specialists.

    Upgrading to a Balcony is Worth it

    Paying extra for a balcony is definitely worth it on an Alaska cruise, especially when sailing amongst the glaciers.  Put extra money into a balcony cabin and you will get to see the amazing scenery from the privacy of your own space.  For larger families, consider 1 balcony for the adults across from an Inside stateroom for the kids which still gives you the viewing area but saves money on the kids staterooms. 

    The Least Expensive Rates Occur During Shoulder Season

    If costs are a major concern, consider traveling in either the beginning of the season (May), or toward the end of the season(September). The cruise fares will be the lowest during these times of year, and crowds will also be the lightest. Remember that weather could be an issue, as it tends to be less ideal during these months, but if you don’t mind some extra layers, the savings could be worth it.   It is also possible that certain shore excursions will not run due to weather conditions.

    The Best Weather is in July

    July is the prime month to visit Alaska, as it offers the best weather and greatest likelihood of seeing wildlife, including bears, eagles, whales, and more. That is not to say that you can’t have a fantastic cruise during the other months of the Alaska cruise season as well. But, if you are wondering why July cruises are so expensive, it is because travelers to Alaska know this is the prime time of year to travel way up north.

    Make Use of the Onboard Enrichment Programs

    When not docked at a port of call, most cruise lines will offer a variety of onboard talks and lectures. These are not your typical port shopping presentations but rather enrichment programs that provide valuable information about the history, culture, and wildlife of the ports of call you will be visiting. These talks are an informative, fun, and educational part of your cruise that should not be missed. Our onboard naturist and historian were amazing and really made the cruise that much more enjoyable.

    Go Casual Onboard!

    Over the years, getting dressed up for evenings on a cruise has become a fading trend. Furthermore, Alaskan cruises have always been more casual than their Caribbean and Mediterranean counterparts. Jeans are perfectly acceptable in the dining rooms, although shorts are probably not appropriate for multiple reasons. There are still “formal” nights onboard most cruise lines, but feel free to dress for comfort if you choose. After all, this is a vacation.

    Don’t Forget your Bathing Suit – yes really!

    Although the weather will not be of the sunbathing sort, the pools and hot tubs on the ship are still open.  Many ships sailing in Alaska also have indoor pools and extensive spa facilities so bring your suit and indulge! Of course, the outdoor hot tubs will make for an especially memorable soak as you bask in the warmth while viewing snow-capped mountains in the distance. 

    Bring Binoculars and have a good camera or camera phone

    As you sail you will want to investigate the wildlife and nature from the ship and a good pair of binoculars will allow you to do this like an expert.  To capture your memories, invest in a good camera or at least a phone with a superior camera function – you want to be able to share this trip with your friends for years to come!


    Alaska - filled with icy fjords that tower over the Pacific Ocean while snowy peaks stretch towards the horizon. Despite this boundless expanse, you also experience something incredibly intimate as you watch eagles nesting along coastal forests. An Alaska cruise lets you explore all sides of Alaska the way locals see it, up close and personal on an Alaskan cruise.  So take the plunge and experience a cruise like none other!

  • How to Book Cruises For Families of Five or More People

    4/23/2018 12:07:55 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    Cruise Advice, Cruise Tips, Family Cruises

    HOW TO BOOK CRUISES FOR FAMILIES OF FIVE OR MORE PEOPLE


    Trying to book a cruise for a larger family can be a daunting task for families of five or more, as the vast majority of staterooms on cruises are restricted to four person occupancy.  Here are some tips for finding the right cruise fit and accommodation for your larger family.

    1.) Look into the Mega Ships:  These newer ships are designed with families in mind and thus have a plethora of family-friendly accommodations.  Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruise Line all have stateroom options that will work for your family.

    2.) Book Two Staterooms:  One configuration that works well for families of older children is to book one Oceanview or Balcony Stateroom for the adults across from an Inside Stateroom for the kids.  While you will pay the adult price for the first and second person in each stateroom, the inside stateroom prices are often much less expensive (and the kids don't necessarily need a view!).  For those with younger children, two connecting staterooms is also a good option as most ships do have adjoining staterooms that have a connecting door between them. If cost is a concern, two Inside staterooms would work well!  Book early, however, as these prized connecting staterooms tend to sell out quickly.  If these are sold out on your chosen cruise, another option is to book two side by side balcony staterooms.  Simply have the cabin steward open the balcony divider between the two balconies and, voila, you now have an extra large balcony and can traverse between the staterooms via your balcony!  Make sure to check with Cruises For Families to ensure your ship has this feature.  

    3.) Cost-Conscious Family Staterooms:  Most cruise ships built in the last 15 years have regular 'family' staterooms that can accommodate up to six people, though there are usually only a few on each ship.  These are more affordable than family suites and while they can be a tight fight, this may be worth the cost savings.  They generally include a King bed that can be split into two twins, a double pull out sofa and two upper berths.  If you have a family of five and don't mind close quarters, Royal Caribbean's Oasis class ships have an unusually large number of staterooms that can accommodate five people - worth a look if you have a five person family!

    Family Ocean View Stateroom

    Family Stateroom on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, 271 square feet

     

    4.) Family Suites - Luxury at Sea:  If your budget allows, nearly all ships now offer luxurious Family Suites that can accommodate five, six and sometimes eight or more people.  Norwegian Cruise Line was the early leader in this option when it introduced the Family Penthouse Suites in an exclusive area of the ship called The Haven.  These suites come with Butler and Concierge service, a private pool and even access to private restaurants just for guests of the Haven.  Royal Caribbean is also catering to families with their Oasis, Anthem and Symphony class ships which have exceptional Suite accommodations.  On the Oasis-class ships, your Suite can be in an exclusive, private entrance deck called 'The Loft' where you will have access to many luxury amenities.  If you want the pinnacle of luxury, consider the aptly named 'Ultimate Family Suite' on the new Symphony of the Seas - but there's only one of these on the ship so you'll need to book early!

    Image result for ncl 2 bedroom family villa

    Layout of the 2 Bedroom Family Villa on the Norwegian Escape in the Haven

     

    5.) Infants, no free ride:   Keep in mind that infants under 2 years do count towards the maximum occupancy on nearly all cruise ships.  

    Thankfully, cruise ships offer large families many accommodation options, from budget conscious to over the top.  Contact Cruises For Families and let us help you navigate the best ships and deals for your family cruise.  We can be reached at 630-789-4400 or at kirsten@cruisesforfamilies.com. 

  • Symphony of the Seas 'Ultimate Family Suite' is over the top family fun!

    4/23/2018 12:03:05 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    RCI Main View

    Royal Caribbean introduced a new Suite option on the new 6,680 passenger Symphony of the Seas.  It is appropriately named the 'Ultimate Family Suite' and with a quick look at all the unique amenities it offers, one can see how it lives up to it's name. 

    The Ultimate Family Suite clocks in at a generous 1,346 square feet and can accommodate up to eight people in a family group very comfortably.  There are two bedrooms (a Master bedroom and Children's bedroom) as well as a pull out couch in the main living area.  There are also three full bathrooms - one for the master suite, one for the kid's room and a third on the main level.  Two have showers and the kid's room has a combo tub/shower.  Here are just a few of the features you will find in this suite:

    •  A colorful, twisting slide makes its way down from the children's bedroom to the main level
    • Families can have fun competition on the air hockey table which transforms to a dining table, and a ping-pong table is on the balcony.
    • The Private Cinema on the first level boasts an 85 inch HDTV.
    • Younger kids will love the floor to ceiling LEGO wall where they can create their own LEGO adventures.
    • Seven large flatscreen TV's throughout the Suite.
    • And much more!

    The Living Area

    This is the heart of the family suite with a bright ambiance and lots of natural light flowing in from the floor to ceiling windows that grows to two levels.  The main seating area has comfortable furniture and a unique 'swinging chair' that makes it a perfect spot for families to gather and share a conversation or watch the flat screen tv. This is also the location of the dining area which has the innovative table that can be either the air hockey game or, invert it and it is the dining table. 

    Turn the corner from the main living area and you will find the Private Cinema Room.  This is partitioned off from the main living area by a curtain that can be pulled to block out all light, allowing for a true cinematic experience with the 84 inch HDTV.  The TV is stocked with every kind of movie imaginable via a streaming service.   In this area you will find bean bag seating, video games from multiple consoles, board games and the giant LEGO wall.  A few unique touches are the popcorn maker and Coca-Cola cooler.   

    From the living area you can head out to the 212 square foot veranda/balcony which has several areas to lounge as well as the ping-pong table.  Another unique addition to this suite that kids will love is the 'Luckey Climber' on the balcony, which is a 3-dimensional vertical maze surrounded by safety netting.  Adults will be wowed by the oversize Hot Tub on the balcony.  

    Second Level

    As a loft-type suite, you will find a second level where the bedrooms are located that can be accessed by either a regular staircase of a spiral staircase.  At the top of the regular stair case is a small quiet area with a desk, perfect for writing or browsing on your computer.  The master bedroom is located here with a roomy closet, king bed and private bathroom with a sink and large shower.  

    Also on this level is the children's bedroom which can be accessed by a unique 'Magic Door', a crawlspace door on the bottom part of the regular door.  Kids have their own bathroom which, in kid friendly fashion, has two sinks and a large, full size tub.  The slide is also accessed from this area and makes for a fun way to make an appearance in the Living area in the morning.  

    And More:

    Perhaps one of the favorite features of this Ultimate Suite will prove to be the 'Royal Genie' which is the Suite's Private Butler.  This Butler is available at all hours to the guests of the family suite.  They can make reservations for specialty dining reservations and priority show reservations, though can really make just about anything happen as Ultimate Family Suite guests receive priority access to just about all venues on the ship.  

    This kind of luxury does come at a price.  Currently, the Ultimate Family Suite is priced at between $45,000 and $80,000 for a week-long sailing.  Definitely an investment for a one of a kind vacation!  However, Royal Caribbean plans to have more Ultimate Family Suites on future ships which could impact pricing down the road.  

    For more information on this unique suite or other family friendly accommodations on Royal Caribbean ships, contact Cruises For Families.  We are here to help you find the best family cruise deals!

  • Kids Sail FREE on select Norwegian Cruise Line sailings!

    3/5/2014 12:00:52 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    Bring the kids along on your cruise for FREE!  Choose from select NCL sailings in Fall 2014 on cruises of 3 days or more, and kids ages 17 and under will cruise for FREE as 3rd and 4th passengers sharing the stateroom with 2 adults.  Also receive reduced deposits, FREE upgrades and an E-Coupon book worth over $300 in savings onboard!

    Call us before March 31, 2014 to take advantage of this special offer.

     

  • Kids Sail FREE on select Norwegian Cruise Line sailings!

    3/5/2014 12:00:38 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    Bring the kids along on your cruise for FREE!  Choose from select NCL sailings in Fall 2014 on cruises of 3 days or more, and kids ages 17 and under will cruise for FREE as 3rd and 4th passengers sharing the stateroom with 2 adults.  Also receive reduced deposits, FREE upgrades and an E-Coupon book worth over $300 in savings onboard!

    Call us before March 31, 2014 to take advantage of this special offer.

     

  • New Enhancements on Navigator of the Seas February 2014

    1/15/2014 12:38:52 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    New Staterooms!

    Sail on the first ship to debut with virtual balconies! Enjoy the sights and sounds of the sea with expansive real-time views of the ocean and exciting destinations—all from the comforts of your interior stateroom. Plus, Royal Caribbean has added panoramic ocean view staterooms with floor-to-ceiling windows. With staterooms this innovative, you may never want to leave .

    More Specialty Dining Venues!

    More delectable ways to dine onboard are coming. Have dinner family style at Giovanni’s Table, and share Italian classics. Bite into the sumptuous pan-Asian cuisine at Izumi. Enjoy tasty treats from our Cupcake Cupboard which will be served in the Café Promenade .

    Additional Amenities for Families!

    Hang ten above sea level on the FlowRider®, the first signature surf simulator to debut on the Voyager-class. Or simply hang out by the pool and watch movies and sporting events on a 220-square foot outdoor screen. They are also adding the Royal Babies & Tots Nursery, and the Diamond Lounge exclusively for suite and Crown & Anchor® Society members. 

  • Royal Caribbean has Family Fun for all ages

    12/26/2013 8:05:54 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment

    Check out this new brochure by Royal Caribbean to see all Royal Caribbean has to offer to cruising families.  It describes the Royal Babies and Tots program, the new Barbie Experience, their DreamWorks connections and much, much more! Royal Caribbean Family Cruises Brochure

     

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