It’s always a thrill to pick out your next family vacation destination—will you drift down to the Caribbean for some snorkeling? Climb a mountain for hiking or snow play? Explore cities in Europe, rich with history and culture? It’s sometimes overlooked as its own destination, but a cruise ship can provide a wonderful vacation for kids. If you so choose, you don’t ever have to leave the boat—and you won’t run out of things to explore.
Cruise ships are massive. You will be stunned at all there is to see and do on the boat, and a good deal of it is kid-friendly. The most obvious activity for kids is swimming in one of the ship’s multiple pools. But, even better than that, are the waterslides! Most cruise ships have at least one and they twist and turn before tossing you into a shallow pool.
All great vacations for kids have opportunities to bond as a family and Carnival’s Hasbro, The Game Show is one way you can come together on the ship. While it may be better for kids that are slightly older, all ages are welcome in this fun show that features on-stage life-size competitions of some classic Hasbro games like Connect 4, Yahtzee, Sorry, Operation and Simon—and it’s all complimentary!
Relatively new to Carnival is Seuss at Sea, which is the perfect way to entertain the youngest of cruisers. Dine on green eggs and ham with the Cat in the Hat and other memorable characters, catch the Seuss-a-Palooza parade and visit brightly-colored Bookville to let your kiddos’ imaginations run wild.
The ship also has a mini-golf course, a running track and ping pong tables.
We took the Carnival Inspiration out of Long Beach, California. Our only stop was in Ensenada, Mexico. Ensenada has a ton of shore excursions that families can enjoy together. Most of these excursions take off via bus from where the ship docks and deliver you back at the boat once the adventure is over.
While there are plenty of options to choose from, the most family-friendly options are probably the Blow Hole Tour or the Gold Coast Tour, which each take guests along the Mexican coast. For children a little bit older (the minimum age is 8), consider the Jeep Adventure Tour, a three-hour trip through Mexican villages and the surrounding countryside. Or just hang around Ensenada for a day of shopping and delicious tacos!
If you’re thinking about going on a cruise and you haven’t been before, there are definitely some things to keep in mind. If you get easily seasick, prepare ahead of time by purchasing a patch or a pill to take. It will ruin your experience if you’re sick the whole time and you will definitely be surprised at first how much the boat rocks when you’re out at sea. And don’t forget your passport either, if you’re traveling internationally. You will likely have a very hard time getting back home.
Shore excursions can be fun, but while everyone is off enjoying the port, you can take that chance to relax and enjoy the pool with fewer crowds. This is a great tip for families because kids have more room to splash and play when less people are around.
Professional photographers are aboard the ship and you won’t want to pass them up. Although the fees are a little steep, they are so much fun to take and make for great souvenirs to remember your trip by. Each evening, they set up different backdrops and have props on hand to craft silly, unique, beautiful photos. From pirate-themed sets to the staircase from Titanic, there is something for all families to enjoy.
Also make sure to get your fill of food! It’s also included in the price of your ticket so you may as well get your money’s worth. We even tried escargot! Additional tasting stands are often available on board, which can be a great way to get kids to try new foods without having to eat a whole dish.