Taking a cruise is one of the best ways for families to see the Mediterranean. It’s so easy. You just get onto the ship and into your cabin. Then, the ports and destinations come to you! They work well for families who have some divergent interests since the kids can go do their own things but then you can meet up for meals or excursions. But, careful planning is the key so that you get the dining arrangements that you want and the best excursions.
I always wanted to go on a Mediterranean Cruise, but was reluctant to take the family. Some of the things to consider were whether the kids could handle long days, lengthy flights, time zone changes and getting up early? Also, picking the right time to travel was important. For us, the ideal time is during the summer when the kids are off of school. I tried to avoid going in August because it’s the prime vacation month in Europe. Also, some attractions are going to be over crowded and it could be scorching hot.
When choosing a ship for our family Mediterranean cruise, I looked for the ships features, itineraries, amenities and strong points that were important to our family. It’s also a good idea to try to plan it together. Make sure the kids are involved and get everyone’s input to drive your choice of itineraries and ports of call. If you have teens, discuss the potential pace of the cruise, organized tours, and what’s important to them about the ship to get the lay of the land and see what they can handle.
Learn about your ports of call in advance. Know what you want to do even before you get on the ship. Talk things over with your kids and teens in advance and see what they want to do. If you have “must-do” excursions, book them in advance before you get onto the ship. Popular tours sell out – sometimes well before the ship sails.
- Plan as much as you can before you get on the ship. This includes shore excursions, specialty dining, spa appointments, and other activities.
- Register your children for their programs in advance of boarding the ship.
- Pack bathing suits in your carry-on luggage so that kids can hit the pool as soon as they get on the ship.
- Make sure your kids and teens go to their programs on the first night of the cruise. Friendships form quickly on cruises and it’s easier for kids to bond if they are involved from the outset.
- Get your family together each night and go over your ship’s program for the next day. Plan what you’d like to do, always set a time to meet for dinner, and arrange to do some fun things together as a family.
- Be aware that your kids will make friends onboard the ship and you might not see them as much as you might want to. Or maybe that’s the way you want it! Relax and have fun. It’s okay to enjoy your time alone.
- Pace ourselves.
Consider looking for ports that have great flight connections, good airfare rates, and a wide variety of hotel options, and attractions that you want to spend lots of extra time exploring. Plan on arriving at your embarkation city a day or two earlier before your cruise. This allows you a few days to catch up on sleep and unwind.
We arrived two days earlier in Venice and really enjoyed our time their before our cruise by visiting Venice.
Mediterranean family cruises are a great way for kids to learn about different cultures and sample many destinations. The family gets to go to Mediterranean destinations and experience a walking history book.
Try to stay flexible and keep your expectations in check. Schedule some “me” time and let family members do things separately.
If you do it right, you might find that your kids have a new appreciation for their world, their country, their family, and what a family vacation can be. It may take a while, but that’s a goal worth achieving. In my opinion, giving your children that kind of worldview is the best family vacation souvenir ever.
Enjoy your Mediterranean Cruise!