1. Ask your kids to keep a daily journal.
Before leaving on the cruise, purchase a small journal (or ask your kids to assemble one themselves). Each day they can make written entries into the journal and even include cutouts, pictures, and autographs. Bring along some glue and maybe some peel-off letters or a small label maker, too.
2. Don't forget your kid's favorite toy, pillow, or blanket!
Packing means more than just clothes and toothbrush. For kids, "essentials" sometimes means bringing along "bankie" or a certain stuffed animal. Think back to your own childhood: how many times did your mom or dad have to turn the car around and go back home because you left your "Noodles," "Boo Moo," (or whoever/whatever) at home? Understand this: your ship isn't returning to port for Boo Moo.
3. Learn about the cruise line's Youth Program.
Once you've decided on a cruise, study up on their programs. Consult our web site, call us here at 7 Blue Seas, or consult the cruise line and find out as much as you can. Keep in mind that some cruise lines will vary their onboard activities based on the number of children onboard a given cruise. Give us a quick call a few days before your cruise and we'll do what we can to give you updated information.
4. Bring along favorite games & toys.
Most cruise lines have plenty of board games, puzzles, and toys for kids but their use is usually limited to the activity rooms. For on deck or in-cabin fun, bring along some of their all-time favorites and encourage your kids to invite other kids over. Keep in mind that space in your cabin is problably limited; a jigsaw puzzle or Monopoly® game is not the best choice.
Walkie-talkies are fun and useful; they can help you keep in touch with your kids and your kids can keep in touch with one another. They can create shipboard games with them - but they can also create complaints from passengers if used improperly. Put them away at dinnertime and show time. (Keep in mind that, depending on your service, cell phones generally will not operate while out to sea or in foreign ports.)
6. Bring along the basic children's medicines.
Children's aspirin, cough syrup, adhesive bandages, iodine, etc. - all are available at the ship's Medical Center but you might want to bring along your own supply for convenience and savings. If your child has a special need or requires special care, be sure to let us know so we can notify the cruise line.
7. Ask your kids to create a photo album.
Take along an empty photo album and maybe an instant camera or two. Make it even more interesting by asking them to get pictures of all the ship's officers or all the friends they've met on the cruise. Most ships offer onboard photo processing so your kids can work on and share their album with others during the cruise.
8. Schedule an onboard "Surprise Party."
Keep it a secret. Before the cruise, pick up and pack away some balloons, crepe paper, party favors, paper hats, piñatas. Leave the noisemakers at home, however. Then, while your kids are off on a scheduled shipboard activity, decorate the cabin for their return. Don't forget to decorate the outside of your cabin door, too.
9. Create your own fun!
Your cruise line will probably have a few things to teach you about finding fun things for your kids to do, but you can be creative, too. Arrange your own scavenger hunt, trivia game, or pool games. But don't go overboard and compete or conflict with the cruise line's activities or schedules.
10. Pack some treats and favorite snacks.
Like you, your kids will hardly be struggling to find food onboard. But it doesn't hurt to pack a few granola bars, maybe some cookies, or other treats for your cruise. Snacks can be especially handy during shore excursions or other times away from the 24/7 food access of ship!
11. Carry colored flags or bring distinctive hats during times off the ship.
You don't want to lose your kids while touring a crowded Caribbean marketplace. You might want to carry a flag so everyone in your family can see you in a crowd. Or, have everyone wear a hat or t-shirt.
12. Give your kids "IDs" to keep with them while ashore.
You can use extra bag tags, index cards, or something you print up on your computer at home, but be sure to have your kids pocket an ID with at least their name and the name of their cruise line and ship every time you leave the ship.
13. Book a cabin that "fits" your needs.
Try to reserve a cabin (or cabins) that offers the most room you can afford. Getting a family of four ready for dinner in a space the size of a walk-in closet gets old real fast. Some cruise lines offer "family staterooms" that accommodate four, five or more. Adjoining rooms might do the trick, too. Also, if you've got little ones onboard, consider a bathroom with a tub — it'll be much easier to bathe them!