Happy Together on a Family Cruise

Looking for a vacation everyone can enjoy? Take a family cruise.

The rock-climbing wall on Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas

Photo: Royal Caribbean International

Cruising is one of easiest ways to plan a multigenerational holiday. Shipboard trips are a great value—your rooms, dining and activities are all wrapped into one hassle-free package. And with cruise lines ramping up family-oriented perks, there really is something on board—and on shore—to please every member of your clan.

First things first—there’s more to cruising than savoring the good life at sea. How about spending a night getting to know your port of departure? Cruise lines are adding more pre- and post-cruise packages that include hotel rooms, transfers and city tours. Can’t get that much time away? Go for a short, close-to-home family cruise—like Princess Cruises®’ four-night West Coast getaway.

On the ship, everyone from grandparents to teenagers will find activities galore, from Xbox games to 3-D movies to, on Carnival Cruise Lines®’ Carnival Vista®, cruising’s first-ever IMAX® theater. Thrill-seekers will discover adventures far beyond rock-climbing walls. Imagine freefalling on Royal Caribbean International®’s skydiving simulator, thumping about in bumper cars or playing circus star on a flying trapeze. Multistory waterslides and ziplines are all the rage both on board and on shore, where you might consider having a private excursion arranged. (Be sure to check for age or height restrictions.)

Those who are less adventuresome can get hands-on by joining the chef in a cooking class. Holland America Line serves up fun classes for adults as well as for kids, who can learn how to make healthy snacks. Celebrity Cruises® pampers teens and parents with relaxing treatments at Canyon Ranch SpaClub®.

Relaxing in The Sanctuary on Princess Cruises’ Emerald Princess

Photo: Princess Cruises

When the adults need a break, they can head for Princess Cruises®’ adults-only pool and tranquil Sanctuary relaxation space. Meanwhile, teens can hang out in their own private lounge, and tots will have a ball in supervised kids’ clubs. Youngsters are even looked after while grownups enjoy a night out at an elegant specialty restaurant.

Youth center activities on Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess

Photo: Princess Cruises

Have a picky eater in your crowd? Not to worry. Ships feature multiple dining options. Regional cuisine, comfort food and Asian dishes are trending now, as are greater choices for any vegetarians in your group. To easily manage dining preferences and activities on your family cruise, more and more cruise ships are upgrading technological amenities, from iPad menus to touch screens for checking shipboard accounts.

Speaking of accounts, ask about ships where third and fourth passengers in a cabin sail at reduced rates. Large groups might receive an upgrade, even a free cabin, when booking multiple rooms. Other perks include shipboard credits, soda cards and family photos to keep your memories fresh—until your next family cruise.

AAA Travel offers many choices for family-friendly cruises to destinations worldwide. Call 877-396-7159 or contact a AAA Travel Counselor for the latest cruise deals and specials.

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Heidi Kazemi, AAA Travel Counselor, Roseville, Calif.

Customization is always my top priority when planning a client's vacation. I ask about their family and where they've been before. Their preferences guide our planning so the vacation is perfectly tailored for them.

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