Wendy chatted with Cruise Critic readers today, sharing her best advice and insights on family cruises. Here are a few highlights from the conversation, including how to make your trip less stressful, the best regions for cruising, and additional tips from Cruise Critic editor in chief Carolyn Spencer Brown.
Cruising with a family can be stressful. What are some of your tips on how to cope?
Wendy Perrin: Get a balcony (for extra breathing room) and a cabin location convenient to the kids’ club, the sports deck, or wherever the kids will be spending most of their time. (By “convenient,” I mean within two or three decks, so you can take the stairs rather than having to wait for the elevator.) Feed the kids at the buffet rather than making them sit through a long meal in the dining room. I’ve actually got cruise hacks for acing your family cruise.
In your opinion, are there better regions to cruise to than others?
Wendy Perrin: Yes: groups of islands (archipelagos) because a cruise is an economical, efficient, and logistically easy way to get between them and see a lot of islands you wouldn’t otherwise get to see.
Carolyn Spencer Brown: Also, beware that some ports of call, particularly in Europe and Asia, are deceptively far from where ships actually dock. Bangkok is one, Rome is another. This means a lot of time on a bus just to get there…very exhausting and not much time to really have an experience. Alaska is a particularly good place to cruise because a lot of its key places to see are only accessible via ship. Same goes for the Galapagos!
What European river would you recommend for someone taking their first river cruise? What about for someone who is more adventurous?
Wendy Perrin: Well, for my own family’s first river cruise, I chose the Danube, which gives you four countries in one trip and a mix of important cultural capitals and picturesque landscape. If you’re looking for adventure, I’m not sure a river cruise is the answer. Then again, you can make any river cruise adventurous just by doing your own unusual thing in each port.
Carolyn Spencer Brown: The Rhine is another excellent choice for a first-time cruise because the ports vary—you’ve got cities that are fabulous for cathedrals and others that are more recreationally oriented. But the Danube has the prettier scenery :)
What are some of the pitfalls people can make when they book a river cruise?
Carolyn Spencer Brown: The biggest mistake we see passengers making on river cruises is they over-sightsee! Partly that’s because many of the river tours are complimentary and so people want to take ’em all, get their money’s worth.
Wendy Perrin: They can pay a lot for a balcony they never use. Or they can assume their whole itinerary is on the river. In fact, here are 7 river-cruise mistakes you think you’re too smart to make.
What do you think of Disney’s announcement about river cruising. I think my kids are too young for Europe and river but not sure.
Wendy Perrin: I think it’s terrific that somebody is finally focusing on river cruises for families. I’m excited to watch the Disney partnership with AmaWaterways unfold! I’m not sure how old your kids are, but here’s what my 12-year-old thought of our European river cruise—and the advice he has for parents.
Check out the rest of the conversation at CruiseCritic.com, and when you’re ready to book your own cruise, be sure to check Wendy’s WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts for the best cruise specialists. The right travel agent has sailed many times on the cruise line you’re considering, knows all its ships’ pros and cons, knows the head of the cruise line, and can get you excellent rates and benefits you couldn’t get on your own.