Thursday, January 18, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Cruise with young kids was smooth sailing

My husband and I took six cruises before having kids, and we looked forward to the day when our kids were old enough to go along.

That moment arrived over spring break this month, and because our experience helped us avoid some cruise pitfalls, our 7-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter keep talking about how much fun they had.

We sailed out of Port Canaveral, an easy drive across the state, on Royal Caribbean because we prefer the eastern Caribbean, especially St. Maarten. We have taken cruises on Royal Caribbean, Princess and Disney and believe Royal Caribbean provides the best value.

With the savings and the fact we booked almost a year in advance, we were able to reserve adjoining staterooms, a huge key to cruising with your kids.

The two rooms give everyone more space, privacy and two bathrooms. The one downside of Royal Caribbean staterooms is that they don't have bathtubs, only showers. This can be tricky if you have small children who aren't used to taking showers yet.

Royal Caribbean does a great job of providing lots of activities and entertainment for kids. Though you won't see Mickey or Minnie, you can expect to see DreamWorks characters from Shrek, Puss in Boots and Kung Fu Panda on board and at the character breakfasts.

Also, when you're hanging poolside, kids movies play on the big, outdoor screen.

If you're looking for some adults-only time while onboard, Royal Caribbean offers complimentary supervised youth and teen activity programs.

Kids are divided into appropriate-age groups for games and structured activities. My son enjoyed it immensely and asked to go every day.

My daughter did not enjoy it as much, but that could be because at 4, she's not as comfortable. It's difficult to leave younger kids in such a program.

However, we simply took her with us and she sat quietly while we played trivia.

At night, we enjoyed eating in one of the three formal dining rooms onboard — especially seven consecutive nights as a family, something that rarely happens at home.

The kids enjoyed dressing up for dinner. Khakis and a dress shirt for my son, and Sunday-best dresses for my daughter fulfilled the "formal" requirements.

When we weren't eating, we explored the ship and ports of call. Ships offer pre-arranged excursions during days in port, but before booking anything, consider how much walking or travel time is involved.

Some tours are strictly sightseeing and informational, which may bore kids, especially if they require long bus rides.

Since my kids love the beach, we took an excursion to Orient Beach in St. Maarten, and enjoyed the white sands and turquoise water.

This vacation was such a big hit with our family that we've already booked another cruise for spring break next year.

Danielle Hauser is a married mother of two who lives in the Westchase area.

Comments
2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

2018 Children’s Gasparilla Parade: Guide and insider tips

On Saturday, the kids get first crack at the booty from the pirates at the Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza, the annual alcohol-free party on Bayshore Boulevard. To kick off the season of Jose Gaspar, the fictitious marauder whose legend has...
Updated: 3 hours ago
You can buy the balls from Amalie’s Beach Tampa exhibit at auction

You can buy the balls from Amalie’s Beach Tampa exhibit at auction

More than 100,000 people showed up at Amalie Arena in 2016 to frolic in a huge ball pit. It was a sea of 1.2 million white orbs so vast that grown men could belly flop and remain afloat. Almost two years after the Beach Tampa packed up, some 15,000 l...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Plan your weekend Jan. 19-21: Gasparilla Children’s Parade, Jake Owen, Riverdance, Florida Orchestra’s Dvorak

Plan your weekend Jan. 19-21: Gasparilla Children’s Parade, Jake Owen, Riverdance, Florida Orchestra’s Dvorak

Plan your weekend   Gasparilla Children’s Parade: A week before the more raucous pirate invasion, the G-rated version hits the streets. The Children’s Gasparilla Extravaganza and Parade kicks off Gasparilla season with a bicycle safety...
Published: 01/17/18
Top things to do this week: Steve Martin and Martin Short, Gasparilla Children’s Parade

Top things to do this week: Steve Martin and Martin Short, Gasparilla Children’s Parade

PICKING AND GRINNING: Steve Martin and Martin ShortThere wasn’t a lot of bluegrass being played around Hamilton, Ontario, when Martin Short was a kid. But his decades-long friendship with Steve Martin has made him a fan, which brings An Evening With ...
Published: 01/17/18

Tell Me About It: Mom needs reassurance of their gratitude

Mom needs reassurance of their gratitudeQ: Whenever my mother gives me or my family member a gift, she ends up asking about it several times afterward. Does not matter if it was $5 or expensive.We always thank her for gifts, and these comments feel l...
Published: 01/16/18

Tell Me About It: Sister-in-law’s gall is of epic proportions

Sister-in-law’s gall is of epic proportionsQ: I’m a two-time, currently-Stage IV breast cancer survivor. When I was told I needed a double mastectomy, I did the research and decided to "go flat."For dressy occasions, I wear prostheses, but they’re no...
Published: 01/16/18

Tell Me About It: Pregnancy makes move harder to bear

Pregnancy makes move harder to bearI’m 27 weeks pregnant and just moved to a new city for a great job, but I think I made a big mistake. I loved my old life and feel so homesick for it. But my husband and I bought a house, so moving is not a feasible...
Published: 01/15/18

Tell Me About It: Mom is floored by daughter’s pregnancy

Mom is floored by daughter’s pregnancyQ: I’m literally shaking as I type this. My 15-year-old daughter is pregnant. I can’t believe it. We had many good discussions about waiting until she was ready, using birth control when she was, but it all did n...
Published: 01/14/18

Tell Me About It: Social daughter pushes mom’s boundaries

Social daughter pushes mom’s boundariesQ: So I am an introvert, and it has taken me years to finally accept this and allow myself to be happy alone, rather than constantly trying to appease my extroverted family with attempts to socialize that ultima...
Updated one month ago
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Jan. 15-21

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Jan. 15-21

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Celebrations happen all around Tampa Bay today, including the MLK Dream Big Parade in downtown St. Petersburg. It includes 110 units and bands, including Florida A&M and Tuskegee universities, and ends with a Family Fun Da...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/14/18