Memories or money? That’s the choice that grandparents considering multigenerational cruises must face.
Ask grandparents what they would rather leave their children and grandchildren, and many will opine that memories of shared experiences have more value than money.
“I said I was spending their inheritance,” one grandmother quipped on a cruise in Alaska with her children and grandchildren. “They laughed at me… I’m in heaven with all five grandchildren in one place.”
Multigenerational cruises are especially popular for family groups since the easing of pandemic protocols. There are activities for all ages –even pickleball on Holland America ships — and food to suit all tastes. Everyone — or grandparents, if they are footing the bill — know up front what they’re spending (mostly.)
And with so many ports across the country, it’s easier than ever to drive to the port, saving money and the hassle of flying. Carnival Cruise Line, with the most domestic ports, notes that half of Americans live within a five-hour drive of one. Carnival’s newest ship, Fun Italian Style Venezia, will sail year-round from New York City starting this summer.
And some cruise lines, on Holland America and Cunard have solo cabins for any single family travelers.
Another plus for multigenerational cruises. With organized kids’ and teen programs, grandparents also can spend some unfettered time with their children away from home where there is the pull of never-ending chores, car pools, work….
However, it’s key to make sure the entire family is on board with the vacation plan. Choose a cruise line and ship that fits your family’s vacation style, needs and budget. A travel advisor cannot only help you find the best deal. A good cruise specialist helps you choose from the bewildering array of ships and multigenerational cruise itineraries. They also run interference if there are any missteps. Find one who is a cruise expert near your home at the Cruise Lines International Association website.
Besides making memories together on a multigenerational cruise, grandparents want their children to learn something. That’s why Alaska has proved such a popular choice for three generation families. Cruise with all ages and watch a glacier calve from a Zodiac or visit rescued bear cubs and raptors in Sitka.
Luxury cruise line Cunard recently announced a new partnership with the legendary Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS.) Cunard has booked experts from the RCGS on 2023 voyages in Alaska so you can learn something too. In September 2023, they will be aboard the line’s fall foliage routes through Canada and New England cruise as part of Cunard’s renowned Insights onboard enrichment program.
Holland America’s “Alaska Up Close” program deeply immerses guests with authentic onboard programming, cruise activities and shore excursions with experts leading the way. HAL, very popular with grandparents for multigenerational cruises, introduced Pickleball on its ships for active guests.
The company is committed to sustainably sourced local seafood as well. They partnered with Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) to highlight the local fishing industry so there’s feasting onboard HAL’s Alaska ships with salmon and halibut for all.
There’s plenty of news about food—an increasingly important part of the cruise experience for all ages. Specialty and celebrity chef restaurants (sushi anyone?) and trendy complimentary ones (Shaq’s Big Chicken is a huge hit for Carnival) are big.
Grandparents don’t need to worry about the finnicky eaters, the vegetarians or vegans, or the teenaged boys who never stop eating. There are plenty of options 24/7 for all, with no extra cost. Plus, a multigenerational cruise is a terrific way to encourage young eaters to try new foods.
There is increasingly a focus on local foods too. The menus aboard Princess Cruises’ Alaska ships feature dishes inspired by local eateries — everything from Juneau’s favorite crab cakes to Ketchikan’s fish tacos and Skagway’s famous seafood chowder.
Hungry? Convinced? Good, because there’s no better time to book than now, during Wave Season.
According to CruiseCritic.com, which updates wave season cruise deals throughout deals season, the cruise industry created wave season to combat traditionally soft bookings post-holidays.There are perks, upgrades and enticing deals to encourage cruisers to book. Look online for everything from deeply discounted deposits, free flights and cabin upgrades to complimentary WiFi and drinks packages. You’ll be delighted by the low nightly cruise fares.
For example, Carnival Cruise Line which historically carries more kids than any other, has some Wave Season deals that families can book now for less than $100 a person. (Check the websitefor the best deals.)
Princess Cruises’ Best Sale Ever is back up with to 35% off cruise fares, up to $150 onboard spending money and more. Plus, if you purchase the costlier packages like Princess Plus or Premier, the actual savings are even greater. Princess incidentally will be sailing in Japan starting in mid-March with 43 unique itineraries. Fascinating itineraries are ideal with tweens and older kids curious about anime, sushi and Asian culture.
Through Feb. 28, 2023, guests who book select Holland America summer 2023 to spring 2024 cruises receive a free stateroom upgrade and fare discounts. Ask about their free fares for kids and reduced deposits. Additionally, HAL offers complimentary tours, beverages, specialty dining and Wi-Fi with the “Have It All” premium package. Book by Jan. 31, and get up to a $400 per stateroom onboard credit, depending on the length of the cruise.
Cunard began transatlantic service over 182 years ago which continues today, complete with the only kennel at sea. We love watching the stewards walk guests’ dogs almost as much as their afternoon High Tea. For 2023, Cunard sails shorter itineraries in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Europe and more. Does this sound like a good bet for your youngest grandchildren? Besides organized activities for kids and teens, Cunard boasts a complimentary Night Nursery for children aged 6-23 months. This Wave Season, get up to 30% off and up to $2,000 onboard credit when you book a Grills Suite. Drinks are part of the deal. (Book by March 28, 2023 with your cruise advisor). Ready to plan?
Eileen Ogintz is creator TakingtheKids.com and an avid cruiser. This post is sponsored by Carnival Corporation & PLC, parent company of Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Seabourn and Cunard Lines among others.