Cruise Critique: How to Plan a Cruise and Itinerary to Suit the Family

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A Brief History

In 1822, the birth of leisure cruising began with the formation of the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company.  Today, choosing a cruise line and itinerary can be overwhelming- with so many options and children to consider.  Here is how to plan a cruise to suit everyone!  According to one source, about 20 million people will end up going on a cruise sometime this year.   A cruise can be a great way to spend time with your family and create memories you all will never forget; however, choosing a cruise line and itinerary can be overwhelming- with so many options and children to consider, here is how to plan a cruise to suit everyone!

Digging Deeper

Decide Where to Go

Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line embarkation point, Port of Seattle Bell Street Pier.  Photograph by MarmadukePercy.

Before you can plan your cruise, you will first need to decide where you want to go.  Cruises travel to all different parts of the world, so there will definitely be something you and your family can agree on.   Some cruises sail to the Dominican Republic, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, and even parts of the Caribbean.  If you are interested in the Caribbean, get ready for your favorite Caribbean cruise now!

Pick a Date

Once you have decided on a destination, you should try to find some dates that work for you.  Some cruises sail all year, and most of them have itineraries that vary in length.  Shorter cruises will last anywhere from two to five days; however, longer cruises will give you more chances to explore and enjoy your vacation.

Find a Cruise

Disney Cruise line terminal in Port Canaveral.  Photograph by Workman.

Once you have picked a date, now you will just have to find a company to take you.  You should also think about the price when booking a cruise, but it should not be your only determining factor. When researching different cruises, check out what kind of activities or amenities they offer.  If you are traveling with little kids, you want to make sure that they have entertainment to keep them busy. You also probably want something relaxing or fun to do yourself as well.

Book a Room

Once you have decided on a cruise line, now you will need to book a room on the ship.  You should do this as soon as possible because the rooms will be reserved quickly, especially for the popular vacation months.  When considering which room to book, you should consider how many people are in your party and how big the room will be.

Start Packing

Luggage label from the SS Canberra is from an Argentine soldier who was repatriated in Puerto Madryn after the end of the 1982 war.  Label by P&O Cruises.

Now that you are all booked, you need to start getting ready for your exciting vacation!  A cruise is one trip where you really want to remember everything that you need, because once you get on the ship, you will have limited access to what you can buy.   So, you should consider packing such things as:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellent
  • Prescriptions
  • Medical supplies
  • Clean clothes
  • Towels
  • Books/movies/entertainment

Keep in mind, you may be able to buy some of these supplies on the ship, but they will be more expensive than you could have bought them for on land.

Learn More about How to Plan a Cruise

If you have never been on one before, figuring out how to plan a cruise can be really challenging at first; however, if you break it up into small steps, it becomes easier to plan and manage.  Besides, you want to make sure that your trip is enjoyable and stress-free.   If you want some more tips on travel and how to have an enjoyable vacation, make sure you check out some of our other blog posts!

Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever been on a cruise?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Munsart, Craig.  A Cruise Ship Primer: History & Operations.  Cornell Maritime Pr, 2015.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by Maprie (talk) at English Wikipedia of MS Celebrity Solstice view at night in dock at en:Meyer Werften:Papenburg, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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