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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cruisin' With Kids! (Part I)

It's our first Worldwide Wednesday when I get to talk about one of my very favorite passions - Travel!

Yes, I am frugal. And yes, I use the Envelope System and cut coupons. The thing is...I do those things so that I can afford to travel!

I so love traveling with my friends and family. Getting away from the town and the routine and the culture and the people you are used to and making memories in a foreign land is basically my favorite thing to do in life. And traveling as a parent has brought even more joy to the experience. Watching my baby see things he's never seen before and watching other people delight in his presence has really taken my love of traveling to a whole new level.

I seriously think about it multiple times a day.

To that end - one of the things I've been thinking about most lately is cruising! We LOVE to cruise! You see more than one destination, have unlimited food and entertainment, and there are always a million things to do!

In planning for some vacations as a parent, I've done research on the various cruise lines' policies on cruising with kids. The breakdown of their childcare programs is below. Hopefully, this will be helpful to you as you plan your next awesome family vacation...and helpful to me as I daydream about not being at this desk...

Norwegian Cruise Lines
Minimum Age for Childcare: 2 Years
Childcare Hours Offered: 8:00pm - 10:30pm on Embarkation Day ... Departure from Port - 10:30pm on Port Days ... 9:00am - 10:30pm on Sea Days. This is all FREE. They also offer late night childcare from 10:30pm - 1:30am for $6/child/hour.
Is Childcare Offered During Excursions: Yes, however if your child is not potty trained, someone from your party must stay on-board and not attend the excursion because Norwegian staff will not change diapers. You are given a beeper when your child needs changed and you must come change their diaper.
Holland America Cruise Lines
Minimum Age for Childcare: 3 years for the group care that is offered
Childcare Hours Offered: 9:00am - 10:00pm for FREE. Care is offered from 10:00pm - 12:00am for $5/child/hour. Another option only Holland America offers is "In Room Sitting" where front desk staff who are not on-the-clock can opt to babysit in your stateroom to make extra money. There is no age limit for this and the charge is $6/hour. You set the times and it can be whatever the employee is willing to do. This typically books up quickly because of how convenient it is to have someone in the cabin so your little ones can sleep. I know it sounds creepy to have a stranger with your baby, but these are wonderful people. We had Martin as our son's babysitter when he was 9 months old. We would put him down for bed and watch TV quietly until Martin came in around 10:00 to allow my husband and I to enjoy the entertainment on the ship. When we came back, Martin was always sitting in the very same place we left him, reading a book or just waiting for us to come back. I highly recommend this service and it greatly helps the hard workers on the ship to have more money to send their families back home.
Is Childcare Offered During Excursions: Yes, from 8:00am - 4:00pm for free
Other Comments: Holland America frequently runs deals for 3rd and 4th passengers staying in the same room to cruise free or at a greatly reduced rate. This is awesome for those of us with kids!
Carnival Cruise Lines
Minimum Age for Childcare: 2 years until the late night care, which has no minimum
Childcare Hours Offered: 9:00am - 10:00pm is FREE and only available for 2+ years. From 10:00pm - 3:00am, all kids 0-11 can be kept in group babysitting for $6/hour for the first child and $4/hour for subsequent siblings.
Is Childcare Offered During Excursions: Yes! Check with the Camp Carnival staff for hours. Carnival staff even change diapers, so no parent has to miss out on the excursions if one of your kiddos isn't potty trained!
Other Comments: Carnival also offers morning time care occasionally for the under 2's. Check with the staff for hours.

These are the three cruise lines I have cruised with before. Please let me know if you have ANY questions about cruising on any of these. Next week, I'll give the low-down on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Princess cruises.

I really want to encourage families with kids to still get out and enjoy life! Travel! See this awesome world God made! Make lasting memories with your kids! Even if they are too young to remember aren't. There are sweet, sweet times waiting. Let's all have a garage sale and use the money to book a cruise for next week! I want outta here! =)


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