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Whether you’re traveling with a grandfather, son, daughter or all three, there are cruises that will make for a memorable family vacation. Below, we interview a few family cruisers.

Courtesy of Fathom

Whether you’re traveling with a grandfather, son, daughter or all three, there are cruises that will make for a memorable family vacation. Below, we interview a few family cruisers.

Will a multigenerational cruise bring your family closer?

4 cruisers share their own family experiences to help you decide

Planning a multigenerational getaway — especially when your group spans a wide age range — can be a little daunting. You have to account for different mobilities and energy levels, interests, food likes and dislikes.

 
  CRUISING AS A GROUP
 
An ongoing series
 
 

But cruise lines have your back. Whether you’re traveling with an 80-year-old grandfather or 8-year-old daughter — or both — there’s an itinerary, ship build and style of cruising that’ll work for you. (See my roundup, 10 top options for a multigenerational cruise.)

To give you a better flavor of what multigenerational cruises are like, we asked some Cruiseable readers to share their multigenerational cruise experiences and takeaways — the good, the bad and the ugly (fortunately, the stories were mostly positive) — to help you home in on your perfect trip.

Desiree's family at the Dr. Seuss Green Eggs & Ham breakfast on board
Courtesy of Desiree MillerDesiree's family at the Dr. Seuss Green Eggs & Ham breakfast aboard Carnival Sensation.

The family: The Millers

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Desiree Miller, who lives near Atlanta, cruised with her children Payne, Kayla and Daly; their father, Shawn, and her mother, Laura.

The cruise line: Carnival

Aboard: Carnival Sensation sailing to the Bahamas, February 2016

Why did you decide to take a multigenerational cruise with your family?

Desiree: We travel quite a bit to all kinds of places in lots of different ways, but we've found that a cruise is best for making sure the kids are off their phones and focused on family for a few days — it's hard for them to be on social media if we don't pay for them to have Wi-Fi.

Why did you choose this particular cruise?

“We've found that a cruise is best for making sure the kids are off their phones and focused on family for a few days”

Our children are 21, 18, 17 and 10 years old. Between college, work, marching band, cheer and so on, their schedules are crazy. We had about five days when we could all coordinate a getaway, so we took it. (Port Canaveral) is close to my extended family, so we always try to travel from there and squeeze in a family visit first. In this case, we brought my mother along with us.

Which activities did you do together or separately?

My mom didn't want to go ashore our first day in port, though she joined us for our second day when we met up with a childhood friend who now lives in Nassau.

What were the advantages and disadvantages of cruising together?

The advantages were getting in more quality time together. Living in another state, we don't get a lot of time with Grandma, and this was a great way for my kids to see her in a relaxed setting, just enjoying life. The disadvantage was feeling guilty that she couldn't stay out as late. I worried a bit about her in her room, but as she ended up sharing with the two oldest kids, I could count on them to help her if she needed anything.

Any funny or embarrassing moments?

We had a great time at dinner one night when a magician came to the table and played a magic trick with my mom. She enjoyed being part of the fun and we loved seeing her in that fun role.

What would you say to anyone considering a multigenerational cruise?

Do it, do it, do it! Now! It's such a wonderful way to get to know each other better and connect on a deeper level.  It's important to respect each other's needs, so if one wants to stay out late, while another insists on a nap, allow for that. Everyone doesn't have to do the same thing all day long. I would do it again in a heartbeat — I should probably plan it now — and since it went so well with Carnival, I'd try that again.

 


Wine, anyone? Jessica and her family get to the bottom of things
Courtesy of Jessica HartmannWine, anyone? Jessica and her family get to the bottom of things aboard AmaSerena.

The family: The Hartmanns

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Jessica Hartmann of San Diego cruised with her parents and her grandparents on her mother’s side.

The cruise line: AmaWaterways

Aboard: AmaSerena on a river cruise along Europe's waterways through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany, June 2015

Why did you decide to take a multigenerational cruise with your family?

Jessica: My mom and I often travel together, just the two of us, but as my grandmother was about to have knee replacement surgery two months later we decided to invite my grandparents.

Why did you choose this particular cruise?

“I remember telling my Grandpa to grab the Chardonnay as we were leaving, and to this day, they will never let me live that moment down”

Because the dates worked in between our other life commitments and we all agreed on the itinerary. As Ama’s ships are small, there wasn’t a lot of walking up and down stairs. My grandma was also very concerned about having thousands of people on a ship. Ama was perfect, as there were only around 120 passengers.

Which activities did you do together or separately?

We liked that Ama was all-inclusive with tours that fit each of our needs — gentle walkers, fast paced walkers, bike tours, etc. 

What were the advantages and disadvantages of cruising together?

While we were on the cruise, I appreciated the space we were able to have between my family members. Touring Europe for three weeks can be straining on relationships. I think cruising was perfect for us in many ways because we were able to each do our own thing on our own schedule and come together when we wanted. 

Any funny or embarrassing moments?

When we went wine tasting in Vienna on an excursion, I had two bottles of Chardonnay by myself, and I was feeling … good. I remember telling my Grandpa to grab the Chardonnay as we were leaving, and to this day, they will never let me live that moment down. Any time I have a glass of wine, they remind me.

What would you say to anyone considering a multigenerational cruise?

I would recommend a cruise to anyone thinking of traveling with their family. I had a positive experience — it was a great way for everyone to enjoy the trip!

 


Gemma and her mum aboard Silver Spirit.
Courtesy of Gemma Price & Shelley PriceGemma and her mum aboard Silver Spirit.

The family: The Prices

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British-born Gemma Zoe Price (that would be me!) of San Francisco, mostly. I cruised with my mum.

The cruise line: Silversea

Aboard: Silver Spirit sailing a Venice to Venice itinerary, including Italy, Croatia and Montenegro, August 2013

Why did we choose this kind of cruise?

Gemma: I’d been living overseas for almost a decade and didn’t get to spend much time with my mum, so I wanted to take a trip together. A cruise was perfect as we didn’t have to plan any transportation, we only had to unpack once, and — because Silversea is all-inclusive — my mum could order as many snacks and cocktails as she wanted without being nickel and dimed for every indulgence.

Why did we choose this itinerary?

“We did wine tastings at an olive farm, ate oysters straight from the water (with some sort of grappa chaser) and walked the streets of every city together”

We chose a seven-day itinerary as it would give us time to connect without eventually getting on each other's nerves. In terms of ship size, 500 or so passengers hits my Goldilocks spot — it’s not too big, not too small, but just right. I love Silversea because the onboard experience is top notch, from butler-serviced cabins to all-inclusive food and drinks, anywhere on the ship, all the time. And the Mediterranean is gorgeous in August!

Which activities did we do together?

Pretty much everything. We were sharing a cabin so we hung out on the balcony and by the pool. We ate meals together every day. We did wine tastings at an olive farm, ate oysters straight from the water (with some sort of grappa chaser) and, even though she isn’t as mobile as she used to be, we walked the streets of every city together. My mum also came to the disco until at least midnight most nights — she's still got some juice, especially when the DJ plays anything by Abba.

Which activities did we do separately?

I spent more time by the pool while my mum napped in the room. Other than that, we were together most of the time.

What were the advantages and disadvantages of cruising together?

It was great that we could eat at a different venue every night, without being spoiled for choice — I think there were five restaurants on the ship — as my mum can be both hard to please and indecisive. She hates flying, so it was good that there was only a return flight to Venice to for her to cope with while the rest of the transportation on a cruise ship was taken care of. Activities in ports of call were also well organized and stress free. Disadvantages? Being a single girl on a cruise around the Med and sharing a room with my mother.

Any funny or embarrassing moments?

Watching my mum eat sushi for the first time. She wasn’t a fan.

What would you say to anyone considering a multigenerational cruise?

Do it — it’s a great way to bring everyone together while having your own space, to explore exciting new destinations without the little worries that often accompany traveling somewhere unfamiliar. Cruise lines make a great deal of effort to offer a breadth of entertainment for everyone and on-board restaurants take that cat-herding feel out of organizing group dinners.

 


Lysee Kaye and her family dressing up for dinner during their cruise.
Courtesy of Lysee KayeLysee Kaye and her family dressing up for dinner during their cruise.

The family: The Kayes

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Lysee Kaye cruised with her mother, father, sister, two aunts, two uncles, four cousins, and grandmother.

The cruise line: Royal Caribbean

Aboard: A 7-night Western Caribbean sailing a few years ago.

Why did you decide to take a multigenerational cruise with your family?

Lysee: It gave us the chance to be together as a family while also building individual trips. Parents felt safe allowing the younger generations to find activities that were appropriate — the children found friends in the activity center while the older cousins hit the casino and disco late into the evenings.

Why did you choose this particular cruise?

“My grandmother was celebrating her 80th birthday and we also had young children in the family — cruising was the easiest way for us all to be together”

Because the dates, price and range of activities available on the ship worked for everybody.

Which activities did you do together?

We ate every meal, together, attended the evening show and played bingo.

Which ones did you do separately?

We separated in ports of call, and for things like exercising and massages. When the kids were in the activity center, the adults were hitting the bar, pool and casino — and eating too much!

What were the advantages and disadvantages of cruising together?

My grandmother was celebrating her 80th birthday and we also had young children in the family — cruising was the easiest way for us all to be together with plenty to do without stepping on each other’s space. On the downside, we all got seasick one night (that really wasn’t fun), and a lot of the aspects from dining to entertainment felt a little mass-produced.

Any funny or embarrassing moments?

My grandmother made us all perform in the talent show.

What would you say to anyone considering a multigenerational cruise?

It’s a great way to be together as well as have your own personal vacation.

Thinking of a multigenerational family cruise?

If you're considering a multigenerational cruise with the family, the travel experts in Cruiseable's business department can go to work for you (for free!) by whipping up a choice of itineraries that fit your traveling style and budget. Contact a Cruiseable travel advocate by email or by phoning 1-866-662-4460 today. If your group is big enough, Cruiseable can arrange big group discounts — see our Group Cruises Tool.

In our series Cruising as a Group

Gemma Z Price
Cruiseable team member Gemma Price left her native England over 10 years ago and has since lived in Japan, Australia and Vietnam, covering all things luxury travel and lifestyle for titles such as WWD, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, WSJ, Time and Departures.

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