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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cruising with Your Family | Fitting into One Cabin

Not everyone who takes a cruise is a picture perfect couple who will spend a romantic cruise dining on delicious food and kissing under a moonlit sky.  For the rest of us, a cruise might look much different.  Maybe you have one, two, or three children and unfortunately, that can mean trouble when trying to find the right size cabin while booking a cruise.

Why is that? Considering the size of a cruise cabin is significantly smaller than a hotel room, even one in New York City, cabins were never designed as large living spaces.  Two people in 180 square feet is tight so how could you possibly fit four or five people in that space.  What exactly are your options?

Quantum of the Seas deck plan (photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)
Depending on the cruise line, you most likely won't be able to squeeze five people into one cabin and while you can probably get four into a cabin, there are some other options available to you.

1. One cabin: Go ahead and squeeze in that cabin, but spend all of your time (and I do mean all of your time) outside of your cabin.  Reserve the cabin for sleeping and showering only.  In fact, if you're super clever, you'll send people to the gym to shower to reduce the number in the queue outside of your bathroom.  You'll have one bed for the parents and maybe a sofa bed or a pull down bed from the ceiling or a combination of both.
2. One larger cabin: Cruise lines generally have more than one type of cabin within a cabin category.  Some of the top cabins within the category (that usually equates to more money) often mean slightly larger cabins. More space for slightly more money can mean a significantly better overall vacation.

Disney Cruise Line Family Cabin (photo courtesy of wdwinfo.com)


3. Family cabin: A breath of fresh air in the cruise line was the introduction of family cabins by Disney Cruise line.  Yes, you can cruise with your entire family in one cabin and you'll even have the luxury of one and a half bathrooms where one has the sink and toilet and the other has a sink and even a bathtub!  Cabins have a curtain that separates the sleeping area to provide extra privacy at night as well.
4. Connecting cabins: Most cruise ships have several connecting cabins that are cabins that are side by side with a connecting door.  The majority of the time the door is inside the cabin, but Celebrity Cruise ships have an interesting alternative.  The cabins sit side by side with a small foyer in the front and another door in front of that.  This allows the cabins to stay connected without losing valuable cabin footage with the space of the doors open inside.
5. Cabins across from each other: If you're traveling with children that are older, like teenagers, you might be able to make due with cabins across the hall from each other.  This option allows maybe the parents to stay in a balcony cabin and the teens to occupy an inside cabin.  Some cruise lines, like Royal Caribbean, allow the parents to stay in one cabin and the family's minors in another.  Carnival states the the minors can only be up to three staterooms away from the parent's stateroom.  However, other cruise lines might not allow this.  Do people still do it?  Of course they do.  Some parents will book the cruise with one adult and one minor in each cabin and when they arrive at the cruise port to check in, they adjust the cabin arrangements at that time. Best advice is to plan ahead and make sure you understand the individual cruise line's policy before you arrive on board your ship.

The Haven 2-Bedroom Family Villa and Balcony on the Norwegian Breakaway (photo courtesy of ncl.com)


6. Suites: Maybe you're rocking a huge bonus check from work or a big tax refund and feel it's time to splurge on your family.  If you can afford it, consider a suite especially during one of the cruise line's special sales. The larger space will mean less rubbing of elbows inside the cabin and if mom (and dad) are happy, everyone's happy.  Norwegian Cruise Line has great two and three-bedroom villas on their ships and if you want to spread out and relax on your next cruise, this might be the answer.  In fact, you might even want to invite the in-laws along for the cruise, too.

Keep in mind that like you, other families are also thinking about cruising with their families, which means the best time to choose the best option for your family is sooner than later.  The specialty options such as connecting or family cabins and those in the best locations on the ship will sell out the fastest.  Definitely contact your travel professional as soon as you consider a cruise to allow you to choose the best cruise cabin for your family, which ultimately will mean a great overall vacation.

Have you had different experiences sailing with your family that you want to share?

Marian Krueger
Email: mkrueger@travelshopgirl.com

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