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  >  Advice   >  Tips for cruising with grandchildren

It’s no wonder grandparents can’t get enough of cruising with their grandchildren. It is possible to visit multiple cities – or even multiple countries – affordably and with ease plus you only have to unpack once. Whether you cruise close to home or head overseas, you’re sure to have a great trip. Australia and New Zealand cruises are smooth sailing as there is no need to learn a new language. Cruising in Europe is a great way to experience several different countries in the one trip and offers peace of mind for grandparents who might be apprehensive about visiting far flung destinations with kids in tow.

English speaking cruise staff, familiar onboard cuisine and sleeping in the same comfortable ‘floating hotel’ each night is the perfect way to soften any culture shock. Someone else takes care of the cooking and cleaning, and you can even enjoy a night or two ‘off duty’ while your grandkids have fun at the kids club. If you’re thinking about taking your first cruise with your grandkids – or dreaming about going on another one – this comprehensive guide provides plenty of information and inspiration.

Where to cruise with grandchildren

Deciding where to cruise with grandchildren is usually dictated by two main things: your budget and how old your grandkids are. South Pacific cruises are affordable and tend to be a hit with kids of all ages. New Zealand has activities like jetboating which appeal to tweens and teens. Ports such as Kuşadasi in Turkey, home to the sprawling Ephesus site, let kids engage with history in an active, hands-on way. Young children may not have the patience and stamina for long day tours (and you may not either), so try to avoid itineraries with ports that involve long drives to popular tourist sites.

When to book a cruise

If you are planning on cruising during the school holidays, it’s a good idea to book sooner rather than later. While it’s possible to pick up last minute deals, you’ll usually get a better price by booking early. Family friendly lines often sell out well in advance during the school holidays so don’t leave it too late. Some lines such as Royal Caribbean and P&O Cruises offer Kids Cruise Free deals which are valid during the school holidays. Sign up to cruise line mailing lists so you don’t miss out on these special deals.

Things to do onboard

Cruising with grandchildren offers the perfect mix of spending time together and apart, with plenty of onboard facilities available to ensure you all have fun. The youth programs on cruise ships aren’t just for little kids with age appropriate hang-out spaces and activities available for children aged up to 17. There are things you can enjoy together as well, such as mini-golf on the upper deck, trivia games, or watching a movie while you bob around in the pool. Don’t rule out trying a few of the more adventurous onboard activities too. Many such as the zipline on P&O Cruises and the iFly skydiving simulator and bumper cars on Royal Caribbean ships are suitable for most ages and abilities.

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Having fun onshore with grandchildren

Organised ship’s tours are generally aimed at older adults and most kids quickly get tired of waiting for an entire busload of passengers to catch up during walking tours and other activities. It can be better (and more affordable) to arrange your own activities in port. Get your grandkids involved in the planning process so they have a say about what to see and do on your cruise. If you don’t want to hand over full control, provide two activity options at each port and let them choose their favourite.

Doing the paperwork

Anyone who is not the parent or Legal Guardian of any child travelling with them is usually required to present a notarised letter signed by at least one of the child’s parents on boarding. This is just a formality but it’s an important one if you want to board your ship with no problems. Check your cruise line’s website for detailed information on what documentation you need to present at the pier.

Before you leave home

Whether your grandkids are tots or teens, setting a few ground rules before leaving home will help to avoid misunderstandings which could spoil the holiday mood. Are your grandchildren allowed to have friends back to the cabin? Can they join their kid’s club friends for dinner sometimes? If their parents are usually strict about things like set bedtimes and eating dinner as a family, relaxing the rules a little is worth considering on a cruise. After all, you are on holiday.

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.

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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.