What is the best way to travel with your kids to exotic or unusual destinations without dealing with multiple plane rides and dragging luggage day after day? Go on a cruise! Kids can definitely cruise, especially these days. Kids are big business and cruise lines, more and more, are catering to the younger crowd.

Research the various cruise lines. Ask your local travel agent for ideas. Many cruise ships allow children, but may not necessarily cater to their needs and interests. The great thing about cruises is that families can hang out, spend some quality time together and do a ton of activities all in one spot. It’s a relatively stress-free time because the kids can’t wander off … you know they are somewhere on the ship.

When traveling with the family, you are always conscious of your budget. One reason cruises are becoming more popular is because of the cost. For one price, you get food, transportation, accommodations, great entertainment, many ship activities and special programs just for kids. Also, there are often cruising specials where kids can cruise for free.

Cruise ships offer a secure place for kids to have fun and play while the parents partake of the ship’s many adult activities. Child care is taken care of and many times the cruise ship will offer beepers for kids and parents to keep track of each other. Youth counselors (sort of like the counselors you get at a summer camp) are on board to keep children active with many activities like crafts, sports, movies and more.

If you are unsure what the cruise line offers for children, there are a few basic questions you can ask your local travel agent. First of all, are there age restrictions? As with other businesses that offer discounts for smaller children, does yours meet the criteria for any price breaks? Do the ship destinations have activities suited for kids? Are there any special activities for kids?

If you have small children, be sure to ask if there are cribs or beds available for youngsters. How big are the cabins? This is a deciding factor on if you should try and book two cabins that have adjoining doors. Are there menus designed specifically for kids? Sometimes, ships may have several dining times. Ask if there is a certain dining hour that is best for families with children.

Availability of children’s activities could be a deciding factor on booking a cruise. What kind of activities are there for kids? Will there be lifeguards specifically for the children? Do kids have their own pool to swim in? Check into babysitting services and any extra fees. Parents may want to take a break from the kids and have a dinner date alone or go dancing.

Before making a decision, do your homework on what the best cruise is for your family. Keep the timing of your family vacation in mind as well. Spring breaks and other holidays from school are busy periods for a cruise line. If you want to set sail during one of these times, you may have to book up to a year in advance. Once you get on that ship however, be prepared to leave your worries behind and have fun with your kids.

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