Cruises With Children – Should You Take Them?

My husband and I took a cruise last year on the Carnival Cruise Line Vista and we absolutely loved it.

We didn’t have much of a honeymoon when we got married and, of course, I had children before we got together; so we have never really been alone for very long.

We didn’t have that courtship and romance before kids, and we were having some issues in our marriage after 9 years of being together.

So, we decided to take a cruise without our children; and had such a beautiful time, that we decided to take another cruise this year, and even though my husband wanted to go without them again (all his friends were going as well), I told him that we were not leaving them again, it wasn’t right or fair.

Cruises With Children

So do you want to know the skinny on how cruises with children are? Oh I am so going to tell you every little detail and you make up your mind if you really want to do that as your family vacation.

First off, cruises are expensive even with only two people and especially if you do all the excursions through the cruise line; and all the special things on the boat. We spent a good $3000-$4000 just for the two of us, but remember this was our first cruise ever and we wanted to experience everything. We didn’t know any better.

Now on to the cruise with our children! Make sure you save and save and save some more because when we booked our cruise for the 5 of us in one room (more about that experience later), just the booking alone without anything extra was over $4000 (oh my heart just broke again).

Then we had to pay for the trip to where we had to board the ship and pay for meals and gas. Then we had to pay for any excursions we wanted to do and any extras we wanted to do on board. Food was free unless you ordered from certain restaurants and only water and juice are free (they do have a drink program you can pay for). On top of all that, we also had to pay gratuities, and then the trip home. You can only imagine how much our grand total for the whole vacation was, sorry, I just don’t have it in me to say it.

Now We Are On The Cruise

We board the boat and find out that we have to wait for our room to finish getting prepared, so we decided to explore the boat. We took the Carnival Magic this time so we didn’t know where everything was, so we thought we would take a look.

That didn’t work out so great! We ended up just sitting at one of the decks because we did not have our room key (this is used to pay for things on the boat); and we had to lug our luggage everywhere we went. Thankfully we were still able to give them our room number so that we could get something to drink.

The biggest issue we had now, was my children were not smart enough to wear their swimsuits or shorts so they were getting hot and bored. Yep the, “Mommy I’m bored”, was already starting; and we hadn’t even left the port yet.

Our Room Is Finally Ready

We sat there on the deck with all of our luggage for quite awhile before our room became ready, but they had just gotten back from another cruise, so they had some cleaning up to do.

We get to our room and realize that my husband and I are not going to have any privacy, well maybe a little privacy, there was a little curtain to close by the big bed. Which by the way, is just two little beds pushed together.

They had two bunk bed type beds near the ceiling that pulled down, but one of them was unusable because our bed was in the way. They also had a little couch that pulled out, but it was not big enough for two people to lay on it together.

Huge problem with this set up, or so we thought! My daughter took the one pull down bunk, my oldest boy took the couch, and my youngest child is so teeny tiny, and usually sleeps on a floor even though he has a bed, so he took the two cushions from the couch and made himself a pallet on the floor. Not ideal but he liked it.

So, we recommend, even though it is more expensive, to get separate rooms, unless you are okay with cramped space and no privacy.

What Happened After We Left Port

Another concern of ours was whether or not our children were going to get sea sick or not. I wasn’t too worried about my boys getting sick because they have never gotten car sick before. My daughter, on the other hand, gets car sick on long trips so I was really worried about her.

If you have this same concern, make sure to bring Dramamine with you, it worked great for me during my plane rides and will probably work fine on a boat as well. I ended up not having to use it at all. You can also get a patch for sea sicknesses.

We ended up just eating the free buffet to save money and didn’t attend any restaurants at all; and of course my children ate pizza and free ice cream majority of the time.

We also paid for their bubbles drinking plan because even though it cost a little over $200 for it (you have to get it for everyone in the room even if that person isn’t going to drink soda), it still saved us money in the long run.

The children were each part of their own youth programs there, but they didn’t attend them; which ended up irritating me because they complained they were bored.

I told them to go to the water park that is on board or go to their youth program and they would just simply say, “I don’t want to.” Then why are you telling me you are bored. You have things you can go do.

They didn’t want to go swimming very much because the pools were always over crowded; and they had already spent all the money we had put on their cards in the arcade so they couldn’t go there anymore.

“Mom, why can’t you get WiFi” “Mom I am so bored” “Mom there is nothing to do” “Mom I am going to the room to watch t.v. I will come back up when the movie starts”. This is what I heard every time we were out to sea.

Movies on the huge projection screen on deck was the only time my children weren’t absolutely bored and following me or my husband everywhere except the Casino.

Be very careful with the Casino because you can end up spending a good amount of money. Also, be careful with all the extra activities and opportunities to win something or money. These things will get you all the time and you will leave the cruise spending so much more money than you had intended to.

Would We Still Recommend Taking Your Children

So, would we recommend going on a family cruise vacation? Absolutely!

In spite of what I mentioned above about them being bored, if you ask my children if they enjoyed it, they will tell you, “Yes, it was so much fun, we want to do it again”. Pretty funny considering how bored they said they were.

You see, what I didn’t mention was the times when we were in port. That is where they had most of their fun. They got to see new cultures and try new foods.

They got to see wild dogs, donkeys, horses, and even huge lizards.

They got to see the beautiful crystal clear, blue, salty waters! This was one of their favorites, especially my daughter.

We went to Aruba, Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk, and Curacao and they thought it was the absolutely the best thing ever; and we didn’t do any excursions.

We just hopped into a cab and went to the beaches there; and went to a few shops; and we even rented a golf cart and explored one of the islands.

So even though it was a bit stressful at times, we wouldn’t change the experience for nothing. It is not only a fun experience, but also an educational experience for our children and they can now say they have been somewhere outside their own country.

I hope you have found my article educational, helpful, and maybe even a little funny.

Comment below if you have any questions about going on a cruise or would like to post your own experiences and I will be more than happy to reply back!

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  • Cindy

    About your last comment, “stressful at times” isn’t that life always with children? 🙂 That doesn’t seem like a deal breaker to me either.

    It was a good read and very good stuff to know if you ever consider taking your children on a cruise or if you never even thought about taking children on a cruise, which I never would of thought of doing it.

    • Kristena


      Thank you so much for stopping by and yes, having kids can be very stressful no matter what you are doing, but it can be so incredibly fun and fulfilling. Having kids is the scariest thing you will ever do in your life and the most stressful with all the worries while they are growing up and even after they are grown.

  • Colleen W

    Thank you for sharing your experience. You were able to have a comparison of a cruise with and without children which was great to read.

    I hear you as far as all the costs. A relative has received a “free cruise”. They are going to be paying for food, drinks, excursions, taxes and more. And of course, they do want to play in the casino.

    The post was a delight to read, I really enjoyed it. 🙂

    • Kristena


      Thank you so much for stopping by. I am so glad to hear that you liked it and found it useful. Your relative is going to absolutely love it, but they are definitely going to want to set a budget for it and stick to it or they may come over after that great vacation and be stressed out instead of feeling rejuvenated.

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