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Cruises with Kids: the highs and lows!

For Radian Couples, Personal, Radian Photography, Travel

September 3, 2019

This August, our family took our first cruise! 🚢 What’s our verdict? Read on to find out!

When we told people that we were going on a cruise, we experienced one of two reactions: either “Oh my gosh, that will be so fun!” or “Ooh…a cruise…do you like cruises?” The truth is, we were not expecting to love being on a cruise. Our family loves going all in when we’re on vacation — either we want a completely relaxing, luxurious experience or we want to have a full-out adventure. I think our perfect vacation would include GREAT food, a secluded location that’s full of history and charm, with lots of opportunity to both explore and relax.

flamingo in costa maya
dad and son in jamaica

So why go on a cruise?

Well, we booked this particular cruise because one of the destinations was a two-day stop in Havana, Cuba, and that’s been on the bucket list for a while. It’s a photographer’s dream! But then people-to-people tours to Cuba were nixed by our government this summer. We were given the option to either reschedule our cruise to a different time (and therefore destination), or accept a credit to use on board. Because we had planned this as a family vacation with Radhika’s family (her parents and brother), we decided to stick to this itinerary. We ended up stopping at ports in Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Costa Maya. Here were our overall thoughts about our trip!

The Highs:

  • Radhika’s brother, Ian, and Radhika got to go snorkeling in Mayan caves in Cozumel. It was an amazing experience to see and learn about — our tour guide was incredible!
  • The service on deck great! Everyone was so friendly and great with Everest. He loved all of the attention!
  • There’s a ton to do on board, and if you have a family or friends with different interests, it may be a great way for everyone to get to do what interests them. We all got massages, sat by the pool, went off deck to explore the port areas, and went to a show!
flamingo in costa maya
family in ocho rios

The Lows:

  • As we mentioned, we like having an amazing experience, and the best way that I can describe a cruise is that while there are a lot of experiences, they’re all…subpar. Nothing is bad, but nothing is excellent. The food is okay, the deck is fine, the rooms aren’t bad. But nothing left us thinking, “WOW.” While cruises are an affordable way to vacation, we would have gladly spent a little more to have a more memorable experience.
  • The ports were so touristy! We love getting to soak in the local culture of the places we go, and because so many of these ports are used to cruise ships coming in, while incredibly traveler-friendly, they didn’t let us truly experience those locations. So when I say we got to go to Cozumel, it just doesn’t mean a ton.
  • Cruising with a kid that can’t walk either means you’re navigating tight spaces with a stroller or you’re carrying someone…a lot! If your kiddo isn’t walking yet, you might want to choose a vacation where you’re not afraid that they might accidentally crawl off of a ship.
  • Cruises are so. bad. for the environment and that type of vacation just doesn’t align with our family’s values. We won’t get too far into this — you can do a quick Google search or read here if you’re interested in learning more!
palm trees
msc armonia
costa maya on film

Will we ever go on a cruise again?

We’ll never say never! We can totally see how a cruise with teenagers, for example, might be a win-win for the full family. We’ve also heard great things about smaller river cruises and wouldn’t be opposed to trying one of those! For the foreseeable future though, we’ll most likely stick to other types of vacations!

mom and baby on a cruise at sunset
msc armonia
palm trees in mexico

What about you? What do you think about cruises? Leave us a comment below and let us know!

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