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Travel Blog

Latest Family travel articles

Carnival Miracle will offer four- to 15-day cruises from the Bay Area to Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico starting in 2020.

Carnival begins San Francisco departures in 2020

January 3, 2019

Last week Carnival Cruise Line announced that it will launch its first San Francisco departures in 2020, offering four- to 15-day cruises from the Bay Area to Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico aboard Carnival Miracle.

First up, beginning March 19, 2020, will be four-day weekend cruises from San Francisco to Ensenada, Mexico, followed by five and six-day trips to Ensenada, Catalina Island and San Diego this spring.

Fifteen-day Hawaiian cruises begin April 16, with stops in Maui, Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island, plus Ensenada. And summer will bring 10-day Alaska cruises — with stops in Juneau, Skagway and Icy Strait Point — that start from and return to San Francisco.

Dining options abound on Crown Eat Street

Crown Princess emerges from dry dock with new features that delight the appetite

June 4, 2018

New dining options and upgraded cabins greet passengers on Mediterranean cruises

Passenger sailing on  Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess this summer will be delighted and surprised by her recent facelift that includes additional culinary options and upgrades in cabins, public rooms and the Lotus Spa.

The ship debuted in 2006 and a dozen years later it was time for a facelift.  One of the most noticeable changes is the new signature logo on her bow, but of more interest to passengers will be the increased array of dining options, including: 

The Sky Pad is being called "the first virtual reality bungee trampoline experience at sea."

New on Royal: 'Virtual reality bungee trampolines' (video)

May 30, 2018

I've been waiting to see what Royal Caribbean was cooking up when it announced plans to add some "wow" factor to its older ships, and now we have a good idea: the Sky Pad, called "the first virtual reality bungee trampoline experience at sea."

Royal has put together a fun little 30-second video about the installation of Sky Pad on its 10-year-old Independence of the Seas taking place this month.

 Carnival Splendor sails in and around the Caribbean during winter months. Summer cruises include Eastern Caribbean destinations as well as cruises to Atlantic Canada and New England.

Carnival Splendor announces milestone voyage to Vietnam, Guam & Malaysia

May 16, 2018

Oct. 30, 2019, marks the beginning of Carnival Journeys with the start of a 24-day trans-Pacific crossing on Carnival Splendor from Long Beach, Calif., to Singapore.  The cruise is not only the lengthiest single voyage the line has ever offered but the first time Carnival has ever sent a ship to Guam, Vietnam and Malaysia on a North American departure.

Passengers on this trip will be offered a variety of activities that include sessions on photography, cooking, arts and crafts and celestial navigation, along with a 1980s-themed Throwback Sea Day. 

Queen Latifah will be named godmother of Carnival Horizon during a gala ceremony on the ship May 23.

Queen Latifah named godmother of new Carnival Horizon

March 1, 2018

She’s the queen of hip hop, a TV and movie actress, author, record company president and entrepreneur. And now Queen Latifah can add godmother to her royal portfolio.

It's a very cool choice. As Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy explains: ”With her fun-loving spirit and positive, can-do attitude, Queen Latifah embodies our brand and knows how to ‘Choose Fun’ in everything she does. ... Knowing that she is a long-time supporter of St. Jude and has performed and won ‘Lip Sync Battle’ made her the ideal candidate to serve as godmother to our newest ship.”

Carnival's Enhanced Internet Access, Including New Social Media Packages, To ... - MarketWatch

January 22, 2018

From via

Carnival Cruise Line's new social media Internet packages – which offer access to a variety of popular Web sites for just $5 a day – are now available on more than half of the line's ships with fleetwide implementation scheduled by the first quarter of 2016.

Additionally, the line's new mobile app – currently available on Carnival Breeze and offering an innovative "chat" feature – has been very well received with a third of the ship's guests actively using the app during their cruise.  The app is expected to be available on five additional ships by the end of the year and be fleetwide by summer 2016.    

"Fast, affordable and reliable social media channels and the Internet have become essential on today's cruise ships," said Gabriela Gonzalez, Carnival's vice president of guest technology.  "We have thoughtfully approached this area to ensure we are providing options that guests sailing throughout our fleet find truly valuable and reliable," she added.

Walter Christen's insight:

This is exciting news for those who need or want to stay connected during their cruise.  The social media package for 5 dollars a day sounds like a deal. There will also be a value package giving more access and a premium package that will even give access to video calling sites such as Skype.

I am also intrigued by the mobile app with a chat feature. It would be nice to be able to find my kids so we could do group activities or have meals together.

 Seems that all the mainstream cruise lines have realized that internet at sea is important to many of their passengers.

5 Tips for Planning a Fun Cruise With Kids - Huffington Post

January 22, 2018

From via

After our latest fun and relaxing cruise with our kids, I've come to the realization that I wouldn't mind cruising with them at least once a year. This is our third cruise as a family, my 10th in general, and, I have to say, each year cruising together gets easier. I think it's partially because the kids are getting older and I'm getting wiser. My secret to planning a fun cruise with my boys is to board the ship with a few loose goals that we've discussed as a family before we set sail.

Walter Christen's insight:

My wife and I have taken our 2 children on many of our cruises over the years.  I agree with the author of this article that it is one of the best vacations that can be done together with a little pre planning. Here are some of the tips we used when cruising with our children.

  • Luggage - each person had their own suitcase.  As we mainly drove to the cruise port this was not an issue and kept the suitcases smaller and would fit under the beds while on board.  Each of my children also were allowed to have their own carry on bag to bring what they wanted to keep themselves amused although my wife had final say on what they could bring.
  • Onboard entertainment - realize that what you may think to be fun to do or watch may not be the same for your children. Plan accordingly.  My children loved to play mini golf and also participate in some of the trivia contests.
  • Excursions - while it is great if you can find excursions that everyone wants to do, sometimes it is not possible.  My son and I like to snorkel and my wife and daughter do not.  We have on occasion split up and did different excursions while at a port of call. My daughter loved helping pre cruise to look at the excursion options for where we were going and was usually a topic of discussion at dinner. My daughter has found some very nice excursions for us like a zoo on Aruba.

Disney Cruise Line adds limits to alcohol policy

January 22, 2018

From via

Disney Cruse Line is altering its alcohol policy, adding restrictions to what passengers may bring onboard to consume during their voyages.

Starting with cruises that leave Sept. 30, Disney Cruise Line guests will be allowed to bring a maximum of two bottles of unopened wine or champagne — no larger than 750 milliliters — or six beers — no larger than 12 ounces — on board at the beginning of the trip and at each port-of-call.

These beverages must be packed in carry-on bags or luggage. They cannot be in checked-in luggage.

Bringing liquors and spirits onboard will be prohibited.

Star Wars on Disney Cruise Line!

January 22, 2018

From via

Star Wars on Disney Cruise Line?  It didn’t take a Jedi Master to foresee this coming!  In 2016, Disney Cruise Line Guests can celebrate the legendary adventures and iconic characters from the Star Wars saga during a brand-new, day-long celebration aboard eight special sailings on the Disney Fantasy: Star Wars Day at Sea.


Occurring one day during each of eight Disney Fantasy sailings, Star Wars Day at Sea will transport you to a galaxy far, far away – in the Western Caribbean. The event will feature a full day of Star Wars celebrations, including a deck party, meet-and-greets with favorite characters, Star Wars-themed youth activities, unique food and beverage offerings and special merchandise.  Can you expect to find R2-D2 serving drinks or meet Princess Leia in her metal bikini?  I do not know.

Walter Christen's insight:

What a great theme cruise.  Disney Cruise Line's Disney Fantasy will host a Star Wars day on selected Western Caribbean cruises January-April 2016.

This sounds like it will be great fun for any Star Wars fan.

12 reasons why family reunion cruises rule

January 22, 2018

From via

Over the holidays, 30 members of my family and I were lucky enough to have a family reunion on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas for 5 days from Ft. Lauderdale to Cozumel, Mexico and back. We had a fabulous time. Here are 12 reasons why family reunion cruises rule:

Walter Christen's insight:

I have been on many cruises over the years and do not think I have ever not seen a large family reunion group. On the last Royal Caribbean cruise we were on this past may, there was a group that had matching baseball jerseys and instead of their names on the back, they had their nicknames.  Some of them were very funny.

We have cruised with my in-laws and even had my niece join once.  The ability to get together was wonderful, but also being able to "get lost" on the ship if you needed some away time was good.

Royal Caribbean expands impressive array of entertainment on Anthem of the Seas

January 22, 2018

From via

When Anthem of the Seas arrives into the New York harbor in just 50 days it will bring with it a familiar cast of DreamWorks Animation characters. Po of "Kung Fu Panda;" Shrek, Fiona and Puss In Boots of "Shrek;" and Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, King Julien and the Penguins from "Madagascar" will be joining Anthem of the Seas when she begins sailing from her homeport of Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, NJ.

Guests on Anthem can enjoy events and activities based on DreamWorks Animation's popular feature-film characters, including a DreamWorks Character breakfast in the main dining room, 'meet and greet' experiences throughout the day as well as photo ops that can be shared with family and friends back home thanks to VOOM, the fastest internet at sea. Royal Caribbean's younger guests can enjoy an exhilarating line-up of activities, games and adventures rooted in the popular DreamWorks Animation films at the complimentary, award-winning Adventure Ocean youth program. Additionally, guests can watch the latest DreamWorks Animation films at the ship's movie theater or on a dedicated DreamWorks TV channel in their stateroom

Walter Christen's insight:

Royal Caribbean's inclusion of the DreamWorks characters on the Anthem of the Seas is a great move.  Definitely will be a hit with the kids. 

Set sail with Disney Cruise Lines for the perfect family vacation - Babyology

January 22, 2018

From via

There’s a time in life for back road adventures, and a time when you want to kick back in a deck chair, have Olaf from Frozen bring you daiquiris and watch your kids swimming in the pool. I’ve done the backpacking-around-Australia bit and spent six weeks with a sore neck from sleeping in the car every night. Two kids and a decade later, it’s Disney Cruise time! My brothers and sisters in parenting, we’ve earned it.

Disney Cruise Line has four ships in its fleet: Wonder, Magic, Dream and Fantasy, the latest addition. All the ships are designed with families in mind and cater for kids from babies to 17-year-olds. On board you can swim, eat at one of the many buffets and restaurants, drop the kids at kids club and go to the gym, eat, watch live entertainment, eat, hang out with Donald Duck. And did we mention eat? Because there’s lots to eat.

Walter Christen's insight:

Disney Cruise Lines knows how to cater to families with children. My kids, although are now young adults, still remember the cruise we did on the Disney Wonder when they were young.

Although you do pay a premium for the Disney experience, the activities aboard and the stellar service is worth it.