The first overseas trip for many Australian families is a cruise in the South Pacific, with the lure of warm weather, great beaches and friendly culture. Typically, Aussie families go on seven to 12-day voyages. As well as the South Pacific, close-to-home destinations such as New Zealand and Hawaii are firmly on the agenda. And it’s not only mum, dad and the kids who are taking family cruises. One of the boom areas in cruising is multi-generational travel, with grandparents included in the shipboard fun. Before you get your heart set on a particular cruise, check on age restrictions for infants. Some cruise lines have a rule not to carry infants under six months, while others have an age limit of 12 months.
What Will You See?
Tropical islands, deserted beaches, cultural villages, whales, dolphins. On board there will be Broadway-type shows with lots of kid appeal. Some cruise lines put on special parades featuring characters such as Shrek (on Royal Caribbean).
Most likely destinations
Short cruises around Australia, South Pacific, New Zealand, Hawaii, Caribbean, Alaska.
Three of the best
1. South Pacific
Family cruises involve snorkelling and plenty of beach time to complement onboard kid-friendly activities. Vanuatu, Fiji and Noumea might be included on your island itinerary.
2. New Zealand
The beautiful Bay of Islands is likely to be on the itinerary, along with Maori cultural performances, and major cities such as Auckland where the attractions include whale and dolphin safaris, a skywalk at the Sky Tower, and Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium. Browse more of our family fun shore excursions here.
This part of the world can’t be ignored with the Disney Cruise Line, one of the leading providers of family-friendly trips, offering a range of itineraries there. Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, is likely to be on the agenda, along with ports of call such as Florida’s Key West, Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands, and Falmouth in Jamaica.
A moment to remember
A movie under the stars while tucked up under a blanket on a deck chair.
The list of kid-focused activities on board family-friendly ships is a never-ending story: there are kids’ clubs for all ages (usually included in the fare), waterslides, ice-skating rinks, surf-simulator swimming pools, rock-climbing walls, arcade games, discos, mini golf, kids’ only dinners, pyjama parties, karaoke, in-room TV channels for children and stage shows (condensed performances of hits such as Hairspray).
The good news for parents and grandparents is that family ships also provide entertainment for grown-ups. There will be bars on board, possibly casinos, cooking demonstrations, seminars, libraries and even running tracks.
Bring a stroller. It can be very handy for moving around the ship, as well as for shore excursions. Depending on your shore excursions, you may also want to consider bringing a car seat. Check with your cruise line whether you need to bring your own baby food and formula. The answer is probably yes. It’s a good idea to BYO snorkelling gear, too.