Top
  >  Advice   >  5 tips for a Transatlantic cruise with kids

Taking your family on a Transatlantic cruise isn’t just exciting, you get better value for your holiday dollar as well. Transatlantic cruises are usually cheaper, especially if they only stop at a few ports. They also help you and your family beat jetlag as the ship’s clocks are set back by one hour every second day while you’re at sea. On a recent cruise from Rome to Fort Lauderdale on Holland America’s Nieuw Statendam, we gained an extra hour each time the clocks changed. We got even better value for our cruising dollar with more time onboard. When we arrived in Fort Lauderdale, we were well-rested and ready for fun at Disney World and Universal Studios in nearby Orlando. However, a Transatlantic cruise can be anything but smooth sailing for parents (and kids) who aren’t prepared. These longer crossings are very different to a trip with lots of ports. Here are 5 tips for doing a Transatlantic cruise with kids.

Transatlantic kids activities

Whether you’re travelling with tots or teens, bring your own family entertainment options to keep everyone entertained. Card games, puzzle books, or travel board games are ideal. Some ships also have these available in the onboard library. Consider creating a tournament which lasts the entire cruise to create a friendly competition. It’s a great time to teach your kids how to play games like chess. If they’re young and likely to loose often while they’re learning, promise a small reward if they beat you before the end of the cruise.

Play chess
Teach your kids how to play chess

Transatlantic Kids Clubs

Even if your child usually loves going to the onboard kids club, they might not be so keen on a Transatlantic cruise. While the kids club will offer a program of age appropriate activities for every age group, the same as any other cruise. However, there probably won’t be many other children on the ship. It’s a good idea to prepare your child for this so they’re not disappointed when they get onboard and discover there are no other children to play with.

This isn’t usually a major problem for young children who are usually happy to spend an hour or two doing puzzles or crafts with kid’s club staff to pass the time. Tweens and teens can find this tricky though, especially if they don’t have internet access. That’s not to say you have to spend a fortune on internet to keep this age group happy. However, you may like to give them the option to split the cost so it’s more affordable for both of you. This way they can stay in touch with friends back home and socialise with peers, even if there aren’t any kids their own age onboard.

teenager
Tweens and teens can miss socialising with their peers

Pack Children’s Panadol etc

Sure, you can get some at the onboard shop, but it’s probably going to be the most expensive bottle of Panadol you have ever bought. It probably won’t be the one your kids prefer either. Of course, you could always pick up whatever you have forgotten at the next port but these can be few and far between on repositioning cruises which can spend up to eight days in a row at sea. Think about any essentials you might need and pack accordingly.

Transatlantic cruise crossing

Crossings on large stretches of open ocean can equal high seas so come prepared. If you don’t want to give your children strong seasickness medication or they’re too young to take it, ginger tablets can work wonders. Look for Travel Calm tablets at the chemist or supermarket and bring some with you. My son and I don’t suffer from seasickness but Trevor does occasionally. He takes these and has never been sick, even in 10 metre swells crossing Bass Strait.

Seasick pill
Pack seasickness medication just in case

Transatlantic passenger mix

Even if you usually prefer to spend time together as a family on holiday, striking up a conversation with other passengers can be an enjoyable way to pass the time when the ship is at sea on a Transatlantic cruise. Look for activities like shuffleboard which the kids can also play in the daily program. Most adults are fine with children joining in, provided they are able to play without disrupting others.

Transatlantic cruise activities

You will have lots of time to fill on sea days so why not try something different as a family?  Many onboard activities such as trivia challenges, towel folding classes and foreign language lessons are complimentary. Who knows, you could discover a new passion.

Transatlantic port tips

On shorter sailings it can be tempting to leave shore excursions to chance or even skip a port in favour of a relaxing day on the ship. However, there aren’t many stops on a Transatlantic cruise so you should definitely make them count. Do your research and make sure you have something family-friendly locked in at each port, even if it is just a stroll and gelato.

Cruise port
Get off the ship at every opportunity

Best Transatlantic cabins

While budget is obviously a consideration it is still possible to make a smart choice, no matter how much (or how little) you have to spend. Study the deck plans to see if there are any areas or cabins to avoid on the ship. For example, cabins in the bow of the ship may not be the best choice for those who suffer from seasickness. Guarantee Cabins which do not give you the option to choose your stateroom should also be approached with caution as you’re onboard for a long time. You could be lucky – or not.

Want more great cruise advice? Check out our tips for choosing the perfect cruise, cruising with grandchildren, cruising with tweens and cruising with kids of all ages, solo cruising, the best activities on Ovation of the Seas, doing a Transatlantic cruise with kids, cruising in Australia or Papua New Guinea, Iceland cruise tips, cruising on a megaship, scoring a bargain cruise fare, cruising the Mediterranean, making the most of a cruise ship kids club, luxury cruising with kids, and the Byron Beach Club onboard P&O Cruises. We have also reviewed Disney Wonder, Pacific Adventure, Celebrity Edge, Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, Pacific Encounter, Carnival Splendor, Voyager of the Seas, Nieuw Statendam, Viking Helgrim, Pride of America, Coral Expeditions in Tasmania and the Great Barrier Reef, Celebrity Solstice, and Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. If you use these links to make a purchase we will earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Please click here to view our disclosure policy.

Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.