Last summer, we went on our first cruise. We booked it rather late and simply did not over think things.
Fast forward to almost a year later. Both of our boys were bit by the cruise bug. They loved the activities for kids, swimming, relaxing, and food. We all had fun and never had to think too much once we were on the ship.
NHL really wants to go on a cruise for his Bar Mitzvah. He does not want a party and would like to go away. I am over thinking everything and there are very few options in times that work for us. School and the actual Bar Mitzvah complicate things. In addition to this, there are not a lot of cruises out of the New York City area.
So what are we looking for? Here are are a few things:
- Family friendly cabins – We need a room that sleeps all four of us. Last summer, we learned how to make a very small space work and know we will be fine.
- Kid and teen activities – The boys really enjoyed the kids club on our first cruise. Things will be different this time. On most ships, NHL will be considered a teen (whether he’s 12 or actually 13 when we sail). We need to make sure the cruise line we select has options for both of the boys to be happy. This also means that they must be autism friendly.
- Sensitive to kids with special needs – From start to finish, our last cruise worked with us carefully to help NHL not to be anxious and potentially ruin the cruise experience. We told them he was autistic and they helped us to get on board in the least hectic manner. In addition to this, the kids club was aware and knew how to get to us if there was an emergency. As a teen, I still need to make sure that NHL has options that are age appropriate, but has supports that he may need.
- Flexible dining times and options – Selecting a dining time is hard when on a vacation. With our first cruise, we were able to go to one of three dining rooms and a buffet any evening. We did not have a set time to eat. This allowed us to swim late, get dressed for dinner, and make shows at the early time for the kids to enjoy. We also found out that we enjoyed a sit down breakfast that looked out on the water over the hectic seating options found by the buffet.
- No required formal nights – While we dressed up for dinner, we were not in formal attire. TechyDad did not bring a sports jacket, and the boys wore dressy shorts and polo shirts. This is our style and we don’t want to be forced into something more.
- Seven day itinerary – While open to options, we really enjoyed our week long cruise. We had just the right amount of time on board to do many things and at the end we were ready to go home to larger quarters at night.
- Different itinerary – Our first cruise went from New York City to Orlando. After a day in Florida (we went to Kennedy Space Center), we were on the cruise lines private island in the Bahamas. The last stop before heading back up the east coast was Nassau. While we enjoyed most of our ports, it would be nice to do something different. We’re not fussy and would consider a different Eastern Caribbean, Bermuda, or Canadian option. If we can find nice air fare, leaving outside of New York City is a possibility that would certainly open up more ships. There are a lot of options up and down the east coast to look at, but New York City is still the most convenient for us.
- Family fun – Our first cruise experience was on an older and what many would now consider a smaller ship. This meant that it did not have a fancy water area and only had a small waterslide. It would be fantastic to have something with more water fun space, a mini golf option, and family friendly night time entertainment. Our boys adored the shows we went to on all but one evening. This is a must since it is something we can all enjoy together.
Now that we are no longer cruise virgins, we have some things that we hope for on our next getaway. While we enjoyed our last experience on a specific cruise line, we are happy to explore all options. It certainly can not hurt to check out other cruise lines and ships. Our first ship was big to us, but most newer ones are much larger.
If you enjoy cruise travel, what are your musts? Do you have any suggestions for cruising with a nine and almost thirteen year old?