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Ultimate guide to cruising with children

Ultimate guide to cruising with children

Planning a fresh and exciting family holiday each year can be a difficult task. Not only are there a wide range of preferences to take into account, but there's the price tag to consider. A cruise in and around Australia and the South Pacific is the perfect option to appeal to young and old, with activities and facilities for all ages and people. The young ones will be entertained by a Kids' Program and teens can meet friends their own age, while adults can relax by the pool, work-out in the gym, join in a class or two and, most importantly, enjoy a break from cooking and cleaning. Port stops just add to the fun and are a great opportunity to spend quality time as a family.

A mother and child sail on a cruise ship.

Get the best ship for family fun

Australia's cruise market is on the up and up, meaning you have a wide range of lines and ships to choose from! Our top picks include P&O, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, which are all family-friendly lines offering their own flavour of cruising.

P&O Australia has a growing fleet, and all of its ships are great for budget-friendly cruise holidays. They have the widest variety of Australia cruises so there are plenty of options ranging from three-day jaunts to fortnight-long escapes. Fares can drop as low as $70 per person, per day, for all food and onboard activities, making a cruise a very affordable way to take the kids away on a holiday to remember. They also have a Kids' Club which caters to children aged 3-17, so the little ones will be well taken care of.

Carnival is a line focused on fun! Cruisers all over the globe have tried and loved their many ships, and families are especially sold on Carnival. As a 3.5 star line, they mix affordability and quality for a great and memorable holiday. The Kids' Club starts at the age of two, which is amazing for parents with toddlers who need a break, and the waterparks and slides on the top decks are ideal for time together as a family. Both the Carnival Legend and Carnival Spirit are based in Australia, with the Spirit there year-round offering itineraries to the South Pacific for winter getaways in the tropics.

Royal Caribbean is another line prominent in the Australia family cruise scene, occupying a slightly more premium niche with their rating of 4 stars. The ships are fitted out in truly extravagant North American style, and they offer similar entertainment and Kids' Club options as the other two contenders. In addition, cruisers Down Under get the Dreamworks Experience on the Voyager of the Seas, which is based seasonally in Sydney. Characters such as Shrek and Puss in Boots in costume stroll the ship to meet the kiddos, and the Promenade hosts evening Dreamworks parades.

The South Pacific is full of amazing cruise destinations for families, and is relatively close by.

Pick your destination

The onboard experience is very important, but the right destination can take a family cruise to the next level! Sailing out of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth (Fremantle) is the beginning of a South Pacific adventure. Highly recommended, especially for first-time cruisers, are the itineraries for New Caledonia, Vanuatu and sometimes Fiji. Lasting anywhere from seven to 14 nights, they are the quintessential tropical holiday. White sand, palm trees and clear waters are likely to appeal to all ages! Those with young children might like a shorter, Australia coastal cruise - and P&O Australia even allow babies younger than six months on some domestic cruises. Get in touch with one of our friendly cruise consultants for more details. New Zealand is a short hop across the Tasman and a great choice for a midsummer cruise with amazing scenery.

The whole package

Budgeting for your Australia cruise holiday is stress free. The cruise fare includes everything you will need for a great holiday - numerous dining options, a whole load of activities and evening entertainment, pools, gyms and all accommodation. Of course, there are extras such as alcohol, shore excursions and spa treatments, but the basics are included in the package so you can relax without a thought to making your funds stretch.

Book early

It will come as no surprise that school holidays are peak times for family cruises. Itineraries during the mid-term and summer breaks in Australia sell out fast, especially the interconnected and quad cabins which are great for groups. P&O and Princess lines also have caps on the number of children accepted onto any cruise, so it pays to get in early and make sure there is space for your family. Start planning as far in advance as possible to guarantee a spot on your chosen cruise- most lines require only a deposit to hold the reservation so you can make payments as the funds become available.

Babysitting available

The Kids Clubs' operate during daytime, but there are options for childcare when the adults want to take advantage of evening entertainment. P&O and Carnival offer babysitting services for a small fee by reopening the Kids' Club from 10:30pm to 1am, allowing the kids to have a slumber party while the parents head out. Royal Caribbean's option is pricier but more personalised, with in-cabin babysitting at $19 per hour for up to three children. This is subject to staff availability so book as early as possible for guaranteed childfree time.

Family Time dining on Royal Caribbean is another great feature for family groups. Around 45 minutes after the first seating begins, Kids' Club ambassadors will round up the kids and take them back to the clubrooms so adults can have a peaceful and unhurried conclusion to their meal.

Many cruise lines have cabin options designed for families with kids.

Choose your cabin

Housing the whole family in a single cabin may be possible on a Royal Caribbean ship if you get in quick, as the line offers cabins with 5, 6, 7 or even 8 berths. However, most ships cruising from Australia have a maximum of four passengers per cabin. Families with more than four members will be required to book multiple cabins, and our consultants can do their level best to make sure they are very close to each other, as long as you book early. Most ships offer small quantities of interconnecting cabins which are very convenient for parents and children, however they are limited especially during school holidays - so again, plan ahead!

Value for money family cruising in Aussie

Cruise fever is spreading in Australia, and it is clear why. You won't find much better value for money when it comes to a family holiday, and the mega-ships cater to all ages with their variety of entertainment, activities and facilities. The Cruise Sale Finder consultants can help you choose the best line and itinerary for you and yours - just give us a call and start dreaming of the memories you will create together!

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