As an only-child who went on vacations frequently with my parents growing up, I understand the benefit of families sailing during spring break. Classes are out of session, and it’s prime time for a school holiday, particularly a weeklong cruise.
Last year Cruiseable listed 10 favorite spring break cruise vacations for 2016-17, ranging from a Caribbean getaway on Oasis of the Seas to a Princess cruise to the Mexican Riviera. While those are still great ideas for specific cruise getaways, here's a good starting point: 7 tips to help you plan a smooth spring break cruise for your family.
Reserve your voyage well in advance
With so many children off school, spring break (like Christmas) is one of the busiest times of the year for family trips, and that means plenty of people will want to book a cruise during the same exact window as you.
Parents of schoolchildren with schedules slightly staggered — Easter break versus spring break, for instance — from mainstream schedules have a slight edge, but ships will fill up quicker during either period. To make sure you get the cabin choice you want, book early. Doing so even a full year or longer out is not a bad idea, so it's not too early to consider a cruise in spring 2018.
Budget for higher cruise fares at that time of year
Regardless of how soon you make a spring break booking, it is likely to be more expensive than those made for the off-season — supply and demand, after all. So, expect higher prices and budget accordingly. Alternatively, keep an eye out for cruise specials during the year that may apply to spring sailings to try and save some money. In many cases, third and fourth guests in a cabin can sail for reduced rates or completely free. (See Cruiseable's Deal Flow.)
Expect more children & teens
It should go without saying, but your family will not be the only family on board. Spring break cruises see some of the greatest numbers of children and teens of the entire year. That means kids clubs, pools and the buffet will be far more crowded, especially on family-friendly cruise lines like Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean.
Book an alternative cruise line
If you’re a family with older children or teens less interested in traditional kids facilities at sea, you might do well to consider a different cruise line to find more breathing room away from lots of youngsters.
Even premium, upscale and luxury lines are likely to receive more families during spring break than usual, but they will be less overrun with children than standard mainstream brands. Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line still feature kids facilities, for example, and are great for multigenerational travelers as well.
Be considerate of passengers without kids
Not everyone else on board for spring break has children of their own. Everyone on board will appreciate good behavior from all offspring, whether they're parents or not. So, please remember that you're sharing this vacation with strangers who will thank you for keeping your children from screaming and running up and down the halls. A little discipline goes a long way.
Take advantage of exclusive venues
Family members like to sail because of the great travel memories that can be made together, but everyone occasionally enjoys some time to themselves. That’s why cruise lines include spaces just for children and just for adults to escape to.
Mom and Dad might enjoy a cocktail and entertainment in the evening while their children are having a blast in the kids club. The benefit of a cruise ship is neither group is ever far apart, and a rendezvous back at the cabin afterward or over dinner is super easy.
Consider another time of year
Ideally, to avoid the need to adhere to any of the tips above, your family might prefer a different time altogether. School holidays in the middle of the year are compressed with little wiggle room for planning.
However, summer vacation time between school years is a broader period with more options and less density of people during any singular week. As such, this is a better alternative for scheduling a cruise longer than seven days, or there’s always the option to take shorter weekend getaways during the year with minimal time required off school or work.