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Cruising with kids

by Lara

Kids on Carnival cruises
Kids on Carnival cruises

This February my husband and I decided to go on our first family vacation. We'd gone on a cruise just the two of us the year before and loved it so much we decided it would be fun for all five of us.

(A quick note here - we drove to Florida and back. That definitely added a whole other component to this trip which is very likely another post in and of itself :)

5-days in the Bahamas on Carnival

We took a 5 day cruise with three stops in the Bahamas. We all shared one cabin. We had a good time but I have a lot of thoughts and tips to share :)

- Food. The ship was a lot smaller than the one my husband were on last year. We really felt this in terms of the amounts of activities and especially food options. I expected food to be available all the time. Unfortunately all that was available 24 hours a day was lemonade, ice tea, pizza, deli sandwiches and ice cream. Not great for kids who need a mid morning or afternoon snack - especially when one can't have dairy. Solution: I started hoarding huge plates of plates of food in our room.

- Rooms. I was nervous about having all 5 of us in one room. Cruises aren't cheaper for kids, but each person's price goes down the more people you put in a room so all of us together it was! :)

All of us in one room went surprisingly well and the housekeeping attendants made it fun to come back to our room every night :)

not only did we get towel animals, our own friends got staged :)
not only did we get towel animals, our own friends got staged :)

- Camp carnival was an amazing option. My husband and I were able to get a break from the kids, which was much needed a few times :) Unfortunately the camp for kids 5 and under was 100% indoors - not exactly what I was hoping for from our trip to the Bahamas. We primarily took advantage of their evening program so that we could go and have a nice dinner. They came back tired and ready to go right to sleep.

swimming on board the carnival ecstacy
swimming on board the carnival ecstacy

- Kid friendly? This ship definitely wasn't "un" kid friendly but the options for things to do with the kids were very limited. There was one pool and 3 hot tubs (our previous ship boasts 10 pools and hot tubs!) and it wasn't very big. The only other activity was mini golf which was beyond our three year olds. There was no place on the ship where I could let my very active kids get their energy out other than in a not very big pool that required us in the water with them 100% of the time. For this reason, I'm fairly sure an all inclusive resort with options for running around outside in big spaces, where you don't have to worry about disturbing others would be a better bet.

- Port stops. My kids LOVED the beach/ocean (all the more reason to try an all inclusive next time I think) and I loved that they had the space to run and play but other than that, we didn't do much (we did walk around Nassau for a bit). We especially loved Half Moon Cay and the public beach in Freeport.

playing on the beach in Freeport
playing on the beach in Freeport

Overall, we had a great time. But if you're asking me if I'd recommend it, I'd say unless you're going on a Disney cruise or your kids are at MINIMUM 6 years old, I'd skip a cruise and try something land based. Now... I just need an affordable all inclusive to try out next year! :)