9 expert tips for cruising with kids

Cruising is such a great way to travel as a family, because it’s fun from the moment you step on board to the moment you sadly step off. It’s all about the journey, and not just about the destination. I love myself a cruise, because my family seems to be happiest while out at sea. If you’re thinking of choosing a cruise for your next family holiday, read these tips for cruising before you go.

We recently took a Christmas Cruise (highly recommend!) with Carnival, and cruise to the Pacific Islands. I recently hit my gold status with Carnival (meaning I’ve cruised enough times to get gold, woot!) so I thought I’d share my best tips for cruising as a family!

9 EXPERT Tips For Cruising with kids


Not all cruise lines are created equal so to have the best time possible, you want to choose a cruise line that is totally family-friendly, and is going to embrace your kids being on board. I’ve cruised on a few different cruise lines, and I always come back to Carnival because it’s made for families, especially for kids, and all about everyone having fun. There are activities for people without kids, people with kids, and then activities for kids. Everyone is catered for. So make sure when picking your cruise line, keep in mind which one caters to kids and family.


No doubt you’ll be keen as mustard to get going on your holiday, so if you live interstate arrive a day early so that you’re rested and ready to board. And then get on as early as you can so you can enjoy some lunch, settle into your room, unpack, explore and embrace the FUN.


While it would be refreshing to just show up, board the ship, and see what is in store for you… but you’d miss out on so much. Learn from me. The first cruise I went on I did little research, and while I had a blast, I only learned about all there was to offer on the last day. Big mistake. HUGE. I didn’t even know there was a dining room. I could have been eating three courses every day. So research. Join a Facebook group {generally each cruise will have a group to chat through all the excitement}, find what pools there are, find out about the theme nights, get tips for the regular cruisers and everything else you could need to know.


This is their holiday too! Sit down with them and let them choose what fun you’re going to have. I let the kids choose with us, even down to what lanyard they want to use for their cruise Sail and Dine Card. Carnival is all about family, so there’s so much to choose from {some might say too much, but not us!} and letting the kids decide just increases the fun factor a little!


Ice cream for breakfast? Sure. Stay up hours past your bedtime? Sounds like a fun idea. I know there is a place for rules and routine, but it’s also kinda fun to break the rules a little and let go of the parenting boundaries. Carnival has free ice cream available for 24 hours a day, EVERY day, so no doubt you’ll be asked a million times if they can have ice cream, and sometimes you’ve just got to surrender. It’s practically milk, anyway, right?

We also move the kids bedtime to later so that we can watch an early show after dinner. The shows start at 7:30pm, so you can still get the kids in bed by 9pm, but it means you get to experience the magic of the shows {our favourite thing next to the Chocolate Melting Pot in the dining room} and hopefully they sleep in a little in the morning to make up for the later night.


Our kids have always preferred to hang with us than go to Kids Club, until our last trip. It was the most peaceful trip {we didn’t know what to do with ourselves!} because there was a nice balance of family time, and then the kids hanging with their new friends at Kids Club. The great thing with Carnival is that they cater to all ages. I saw teens having the best time with their new mates that they met at Kids Club, and then babies are catered for too, and it’s FREE. Nothing extra to pay, all you have to do is take a deep breath and enjoy the serenity.

If you have hesitant kids like mine, take baby steps. The Kids Club coordinators can call you if you need to come back. I left them for an hour at first, and came back to check them out and they didn’t want a bar of it. They told me to go away and come back later. Much later.


On one of the first days of our recent cruise with Carnival, I took a walk with Lulu {6 years old} and then asked her if she could show me how to get back to our cabin. She got us back to our cabin without needing any guidance {not that I’d let her roam alone, but it was nice to know she knew how to get back if anything happened}. With Lacey being a tween now, and wanting a little independence, we allowed her to checkout of Kids Club herself. With the Carnival Hub App, we were able to text with Lacey throughout the whole trip, and she could tell us if she wanted to checkout and get an ice cream or grab lunch, or hang with her friends.


On every cruise there will be theme nights, and I think it’s fun to embrace it. The kids enjoy it too. Learn what the themes are before you leave, and take dress-ups with you. We had Mexican, 80’s and Formal night. It’s fun to get dressed up as a family, so embrace it!


While cruising is all about the journey, we still have to appreciate the destination too. I love the ports, each port during our last cruise my little family were the first off the ship every time. Keen beans! We wanted to make the most of our day in port, have a look around and then come back around lunchtime to enjoy the ship while it was quiet and everyone was out exploring too. Head down to the Activities Desk to talk about Port Excursions and find out what is great to do, and what they recommend. They have amazing advice.

In super exciting news, as of October this year Carnival Spirit will be cruising out of Brisbane which means that us lovely people who are in Northern NSW and Gold Coast can cruise with ease straight out of Brisbane. I am so excited. It’s never been easier. You can explore all the Carnival Cruises out of Brisbane here.

My family traveled as guests of Carnival Cruise Line. All thoughts and opinions are my own.