The cruise ships are huge and offer plenty of things to do for all members of your family, so here are our tips on how to plan your family cruise.

If you are looking to have an enjoyable, stress-free family vacation, then consider a cruise your top choice. Cruises are getting more and more popular, so there are plenty of ports now where ships sail from, leaving you without the hassle of flying.. Once the cruise is booked, there is nothing else you need to plan for your kids to be entertained—it is all available on board, and mostly included in the price. Not only can a cruise be an easy and fun holiday for the entire family, but they are also budget-friendly. Here are a few tips on how to plan your family cruise.

Who is attending?

Before you can get into the nitty gritty of planning your family cruise, think about you and your family and what you are interested in and capable of doing. If you are travelling with much younger children, then your family might be more suited for a cruise line that offers baby-sitting services and has children’s pools. However, if your children are older, then a cruise that has water sports available or docks at sight-seeing destinations would be a better fit. Considering the one negative about taking a cruise is that you are stuck on the ship for quite some time, it is important that the activities provided and the atmosphere are age-appropriate.

What is the best destination?

If you are set on a beach-based destination, Caribbean cruises work well for families. However, maybe you and your family are more interested in exploring ancient ruins or having a cultural exhibition. In that case, you should look into the various European cruises. Even though this is definitely a water-side holiday, the boat will dock at several places, so make sure these locations are areas you are interested in spending time.

How long and when?

The next step is to determine the best time and length of your cruise. Are you hoping to take a cruise this winter to escape to somewhere warm? Or maybe the springtime is a better season for you to holiday. If you have to take time off from work or your children need to miss school, definitely book the cruise for the least disruptive time of the year when work is slow or after the kids finish their exams. Also, keep in mind that in addition to the length of the cruise itself, you will need to plan travel time for getting to and from the embarkation point of the ship.

So, what cruise?

Now that you have narrowed down your options to the sort of cruise you are interested in, what destination you want to head off to, and when you can set sail, begin to take a look at what the many different cruise lines have to offer. Take your time researching the child-specific accommodations your family would be interested in such as day-care facilities, teen clubs, and movie nights. At the same time, do not forget that this is a holiday for you and your spouse as well, so while the children may be your first priority, also think about a few things you would like, like beautiful spa amenities or a five-star restaurant on-board.

Is it safe?

Once you have a few cruise lines picked out and potential dates set, before you lock it down and enter your credit card information, check the safety and health codes of the ship you intend to board. The Department of Health maintains a list of cruise ships and their health records, as well as any health risks when travelling overseas so you can consult before making your purchase.

Where to sleep?

A big part of having a successful family cruise is picking good cabin options. If you have children, you will want to book an assigned cabin in advance so you can tailor the sleeping arrangements to fit your particular needs. Individual or unassigned cabins may not have what you need, and that is not something to find out once you are already aboard.

If you book multiple cabins, make sure they are located next to one another or across the hall. If possible, look into booking cabins with adjoining doors or common areas so if you and your spouse are placed in one cabin, your children are not staying in another at the other end of the long hall.

Are you insured?

Unfortunately, travel insurance for cruises is often overlooked, but purchasing travel coverage for your voyage is just as important as booking your cabin in advance. Medical costs can be exorbitant on-board, and if you have a condition serious enough to require evacuation, you can only imagine that price for an air ambulance. Or what if you have to fly to the dock where the ship takes off from, and your luggage is lost or delayed? You either do not get on the cruise, or you are stuck with the clothes on your back. Take a look at Cover-More travel cruise insurance to keep you and your family protected during the cruise, allowing you to have the most enjoyable time possible.

See Cruise Travel Insurance FAQs.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Thomas Quine; cropped from original