Smooth sailing: Cruising with the grandkids made easy

Cruising with the grandkids made easy

ON FOR YOUNG AND OLDER: Why not share some playful fun next time round?

ON FOR YOUNG AND OLDER: Why not share some playful fun next time round?


With plenty of fun onboard facilities available, you can spend time together and apart.


IT is no wonder grandparents can't get enough of cruising with their grandchildren. It is possible to visit multiple cities - or even multiple countries - affordably and with ease. Plus you only have to unpack once.

Australia and New Zealand cruises are smooth sailing, since there is no need to learn a new language.

Cruising in Asia and Europe is a great way to see a lot in the one trip and offers peace of mind for grandparents who might be apprehensive about visiting far-flung countries with kids in tow.

English-speaking cruise staff, familiar onboard cuisine and sleeping in the same comfortable "floating hotel" each night is the perfect way to soften culture shock.

AARGH, ME LITTLE HEARTIES: The grandchildren will have their suitcases packed in seconds flat if you mention the word "cruise".

AARGH, ME LITTLE HEARTIES: The grandchildren will have their suitcases packed in seconds flat if you mention the word "cruise".

Someone else takes care of the cooking and cleaning, and you can even enjoy a night or two "off duty" while your grandkids have fun at the kids' club.

If you're thinking about taking your first cruise with your grandkids - or dreaming about going on another one - this guide provides plenty of information and inspiration.

Where to go

Deciding where to cruise with grandchildren is usually dictated by two main things: your budget and how old your grandkids are.

South Pacific cruises are affordable and tend to be a hit with kids of all ages. New Zealand has activities like jetboating, which appeal to tweens and teens. Ports such as Kusadasi in Turkey, near the Roman ruins at Ephesus, let kids engage with history in an active, hands-on way.

Young children may not have the patience and stamina for long day tours (and you may not, either), so try to avoid itineraries with ports that involve long drives to the city and popular tourist sites.

When to book

If you are planning on cruising during the school holidays, it's a good idea to book sooner rather than later.

While it's possible to pick up last-minute deals, you'll usually get a better price by booking early. Family-friendly lines often sell out well in advance during the school holidays so don't leave it too late.

Some lines such as Royal Caribbean and P&O Cruises offer Kids Cruise Free deals, which are valid during the school holidays.

Sign up to cruise line mailing lists so you don't miss out on these special deals.

Onboard fun

Cruising with grandchildren offers the perfect mix of spending time together and apart, with plenty of onboard facilities available to ensure you all have fun.

The youth programs on ships aren't just for little ones, and include age-appropriate hang-out spaces and activities for children aged up to 17.

There are plenty of things you can enjoy together as well, such as mini-golf, trivia or watching a film while you bob around in the pool.

Don't rule out trying a few of the more adventurous onboard activities too, such as the zipline on P&O Cruises and the iFly skydiving simulator and bumper cars on Royal Caribbean ships.

Shore things

Organised ship's tours are generally aimed at older adults, and kids quickly get tired of waiting for an entire busload of passengers to catch up during walking tours and other activities.

It can be better (and more affordable) to arrange your own activities in port. Get your grandkids involved in the planning so they have a say about what to see and do. If you don't want to hand over full control, provide two activity options at each port and let them choose their favourite.

The paperwork

Anyone who is not the parent or legal guardian of any child travelling with them is usually required to present a notarised letter signed by at least one of the child's parents on boarding.

This is just a formality but it's an important one if you want to board your ship with no problems.

Check your cruise line's website for detailed information on what documentation you need to present at the pier.

Before you sail 

Setting a few ground rules before leaving home will help to avoid misunderstandings that could spoil the holiday mood.

Can they invite their new friends friends back to the cabin? Are they expected to dine with you each night? If their parents are strict about things like bedtimes and eating together, relaxing the rules a little is worth considering on a cruise.

After all, you're on holiday.