ALL IN! WHY CRUISES ARE THE ULTIMATE MULTIGENERATIONAL GETAWAY
Vacationing with nanna, grampy, all the cousins—and everyone in between—is growing in popularity. The top travel trend of 2019 was multigenerational travel. But why? Family bonding!
Grandparents enjoying the little ones outside of hosting a hectic holiday. Photo ops and memory-making galore! But then: Reality. Where exactly can seniors, toddlers, and the rest of the gang go where everyone enjoys an honest-to-goodness vacation? And somewhere everyone can actually afford? I’m here to tell you this magical place exists and it’s floating in the ocean just waiting for your family. Here’s why my family chose a cruise for our next multigenerational vacation.
Planning Is a Cinch
Picking dates that work for your whole family will, hands down, be the most difficult part of planning your multigenerational cruise. Why? Because planning a cruise isn’t difficult at all. Choose your dates, pick a ship, and a port, and you’re pretty much done. Because when you book time on a ship, you’re also booking transportation, lodging, meals, and entertainment all in one easy step. No extra thinking, no more coordinating, no more seemingly endless email chains. (The emails! Amirite?)
It Works With Everyone’s Budget
Your retired, teetotaler uncle doesn’t need to pay for your drinks or Wi-Fi package and you don’t have to shell out for specialty dining when your kids are in their only-chicken-nuggets phase. You can also pick the cabin that suits your needs. And bonus: With cruising, there’s a chance you’re in driving distance to your next vacation, with ports in Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and many other coastal cities. That means no pricey airfare. (That for one was a huge selling point for me!)
Together Time When You Want It
Of course, you want to spend quality time with your extended family, but it’s your vacation, too. Luckily, on a cruise, you can easily enjoy your own private vacation inside the big family vacation. Soaking in a hot tub with my husband in the only-for-grown-ups area and enjoying a couples massage while our boys went nuts doing who-knows-what in the kids’ club was a personal vaca highpoint, FYI. You can hit the pool or a wine tasting while your mom cashes in at the casino and when you’re all ready, there’s plenty for families to do together. Scheduling a nightly (or every-other-night) dinner with the crew is a great way to share your individual experiences and plan time together. Speaking of dinner...
Meals Are So, So Easy
Feeding your own family is hard enough, but add in your brother’s family, your sister and her boyfriend, your mom and dad, and a few aunts and uncles, a vegan, a low-salt, a few food allergies, an only-noodles-and-butter kid and, well, good luck! But you don’t need luck on a cruise. The ship’s staff is there to cater to all of your family’s dietary needs, quirks, and desires, like when my youngest thought it was a good idea to order two full entrees at breakfast. (PS: It wasn’t.) Kids can order from the adult menu, adults can order from the kids’ menu, there are buffets and sit-downs, fancy and casual options. And as a mom with a budget, I loved that I could say YES anytime one of my kids wanted to get filet mignon, shrimp scampi, or sushi that was 100% not on the kids’ menu. Not only are there oodles of choices, special requests are no-biggies—especially when you let them know ahead of time. Plus, if you’re not hitting up specialty restaurants, all meals are included, so no fighting with your dad about who picks up the tab.
Family Photos Are Everywhere!
I love big family get-togethers, but I hate that I’m always designated family photographer, corralling whiley toddlers, impatient grandparents, and eye-rolling tweens and 40somethings alike. Plus, I’m never in the gosh-darn photo. Another reason to love a cruise: There are like a zillion photographers stationed all over cruise ships. Take advantage and get yourselves in front of them. (No one in my family even complained when “just one more picture” was asked because it all felt so special and paparazzi-like.) If you don’t want to deal with waiting in line and distractible kiddos, you can simply book a private session. And they often just show up while you’re eating dinner. This is what I call an ideal two-birds-one-stone situation.
There’s Plenty to Keep Kids Happy
It’s a no-brainer that your multigenerational cruise ship needs to have a kids and/or teen club. All the big ships do. (If you’re traveling with a child under-3, make sure there’s a nursery or babysitting option if needed.) Not only will siblings and cousins connect over video games, learning the limbo, or making crafts, YOU get grown-up time. (See hot tub, above.) And there’s so much for children to enjoy—movies, water slides, laser tag, all-you-can-eat soft serve, mini-golf and more—that approximately zero kids (even tweens and teens) will even think to utter I’m bored. Like, for real. Not only were my kids never bored on a cruise ship, they were in a This-Is-So-Exciting mode throughout the entire vacation. While one focused on things like zip lines and rock climbing, the other couldn’t get enough of the pools, slides, and arcade.
Knowing that the kids are having a blast is fantastic, but what cruise lines do particularly well for multigenerational cruisers is making sure everyone—no matter their age—is having a blast, too. And, to be honest, I was pretty shocked how well this is pulled off. The cruises that I’ve been on host things for adults like martini making classes, cooking lessons, ’80s karaoke, an adults-only spa, guest lectures, art shows, fitness classes just to name a few.But perhaps the coolest part of multi-generational cruising is how you can mashup the interests of the young and young-at-heart. For instance, I rocked the ropes course and thoroughly enjoyed my Green Eggs and Ham on one cruise, while my kids got to see their very first live comedy show. And on another, I did laser tag and go-karts with the whole fam during the day, and at night we all saddled up to the piano bar. (My youngest made the most requests.) I don’t know what’s more special: Including my kids in my world or being allowed in theirs, but both are possible on a cruise.
While you may visit relatives for Thanksgiving, have an annual Fourth of July BBQ together, or even enjoy Sunday dinner with AuntieAnn every week, there’s something about sharing an adventure with your extended family that takes the bonding up a notch. How cool is it that a multigenerational cruise vacation allows your entire crew to enjoy new experiences and new parts of the world together? And no one has to host or clean up!