2011 Family Cruise Vacation Shopping Guide

Tips For Finding A Family Friendly Cruise

Making memories

There is no better remedy for combating the short, cold days of winter than planning a family cruise vacation. For some reason, just looking at itineraries and ship diagrams is enough to lift the spirits. But before long what started as a fun search for your next family vacation quickly becomes a nightmare as data-overload sends you over the edge.

To help keep things in balance, Family Cruise Advisor has put together a few tips to help make the cruise buying process a little more user friendly.

Think Value, Not Price

Disney Dream It

Although price is a good motivator, value is a better indicator that a cruise will be a success.

Consider what is included in the cruise price.

  • Does the ship have adequate care for infants? Some ships charge for babysitting infants because they do not have facilities for babies.
  • Does the ship offer kids programming for the ages you need?
  • Are soft drinks and juice included in the price? Disney Cruise Line has generous soda fountains and juice available around the clock. Other cruise lines do not.

Consider A Slightly Older Ship, But Watch The Size

When looking at price make sure you are comparing apples-to-apples. New ships typically have a higher price tag than slightly older ships.

Although Royal Caribbean International’s new Oasis-class ship Allure of the Seas has a lot of great features, pricing is significantly lower on Liberty of the Seas and her sisters in the Freedom-class. The cruise experience is almost the same: great kids programs, specialty restaurants, surf simulator, rock climbing wall, ice-skating rink, arcade, etc.

Royal Caribbean

Speaking of Royal Caribbean, watch the size of the vessel you select. For example, there are many features that are not available on Monarch of the Seas due to her smaller size. This is an example of too much of a good thing. Savvy shoppers will notice some great cruise fares on Monarch of the Seas, but this ship does not have the bells and whistles found on the larger ships in the fleet.

When to spend money for a cruise on a new ship

Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship Disney Dream is fetching top dollar for a product that is completely different than Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. The updated technology and innovations on Disney Dream are well worth the additional investment in vacation dollars.

Destination

Disney Cruise Line

In most cases when cruising as a family, the ship is the destination. However, families must also consider where the ship sails. Popular family cruise destinations for 2011 are: Europe, Alaska, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Depending on the age of your children and their tolerance for long flights, a realistic destination will become obvious. I say go for gold and head to Europe. But I am also the same person that took a three-month old baby on an six-hour flight to Hawaii.

Show Me The Money!

A lot of people think that if they wait long enough, cruise lines will offer deep discounts. Although this could be the case, when traveling with a family it is better to plan ahead to avoid disappointment.

Remember that there is little risk to putting down a deposit in advance. In most cases (Disney concierge class suites exempt) deposits are refundable. Final payment is due 90 days before the cruise. Some travel agencies and cruise lines will guarantee the price, which means that if the cruise fare goes down before final payment, you are entitled to getting the lower price.

Family Cruise Basics

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