I know that traveling with a large family can be pricey. It can also be difficult to find a vacation destination that the whole family agrees on and enjoys. Lucky for us, cruises have become more mainstream and family-friendly over the years.
My husband and I started our cruising adventure a couple months after we got married. My work took us all (and our spouses) on a Carnival cruise. We had a blast, got to see some new destinations, got to eat whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted, and someone cleaned our room TWICE a day! It was amazing and really got us excited about vacationing this way!
Cruising is not for everyone. You have to be flexible – some ports can be missed due to weather, excursions can be canceled, and sometimes there can be a “sewer” smell in the hallway or a rocking sensation in rough waters. Sometimes you need to travel just to get to the cruise itself – I recommend getting there the night before you sail to prevent missing the ship from any unexpected delays. And you may deal with seasickness – I recommend Bonine because it is much less drowsy than Dramamine. However, although cruising can be an expensive vacation, it is filled with excitement, entertainment, food, and fun.
We recently returned from a Western Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas ship (Dec 2-9, 2018) to Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, and Falmouth, Jamaica. It was amazing. We had so much fun!
I booked this
This time around, I was able to snag a room for 6 on the Liberty of the Seas. It was also an oceanview room. It had 2 large windows whereas the regular oceanview staterooms only have 1 large window. Our room was also twice the size of a standard stateroom.
We had the Royal queen bed, which can be separated into 2 twin beds if needed, a sofa bed for 2 people, and a little “room” with a curtain door that had a set of bunk beds. One negative about the family stateroom is that there is only one bathroom. We only had 5 of us in the room that used the bathroom (the other being in diapers).
So, it wasn’t horrible, but it may make us rethink getting one room next time. We went with 4 of our 5 children (ages 14, 12, 4, 2). Our oldest is married and just had a baby, so they did not join us on this vacation.
Tip – Room location matters
One negative about our room: I would definitely not recommend staying on deck 2 or 3 (We were on deck 2). If you stay forward, there is no way to get from aft (the back of the ship) to forward. You have to go up 2 floors (outside or through the casino) or 3 floors with kids (inside) to get to the front of the ship, then back down the stairs.
It was a huge hassle and next time I would book a family room on deck 7. I am so glad they have the staterooms for 6 on higher floors, but book early! Also, there are no balcony rooms for 6. Inside (no window) and Oceanview (window) only. That is something to consider, as well.
Tip – Kids Clubs Rock!
The kids club area on Royal Caribbean was a lot of fun for all of the kids. My two older ones enjoyed the freedom of wandering the ship with their new friends, and the teen activities in the Living Room and Fuel. My 4 year old really liked his class in the Aquanauts (ages 3-5). Our 2-year-old was in the nursery, which does charge an extra $6/hr, but he did great in there.
We only put our little ones in the nursery/club for 3 hours (9am-12pm) on our 3 sea days. They went right in and stayed the entire time. The nursery gives you
Royal Caribbean clubs are much more structured than Disney, where kids can just run around and do whatever they want. On Royal, they have set times and structured activities. Some kids love that, my 4-year-old, not so much. That being said, he had a great time when he was there.
They have sessions for kids 9am-12pm, 2pm-5pm, 7pm-10pm each with a different theme. My son did Under the Sea, Dinosaur, and Lego themes. The teen group has it’s own schedule with activities 10am-1am, and for the nursery, you have to reserve times or see if they have any openings available if you didn’t reserve a time once you boarded.
Tip – Relax – Enjoy the Family Friendly Activities
The Liberty of the Seas has a lot of activities for families and kids which is why we chose it (that, and it sails from TX). There is free ice cream near the pool deck. It rotated between chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry (and twist flavors).
The pool area is huge and perfect for kids, teens, and adults. Even toddlers in diapers have a splash area they can play in. My kids loved it. Up one deck, they have a
They also have ice skating, mini golf, a basketball/volleyball court, table tennis, shuffleboard, and of course the rock wall. There are so many activities for you to experience. They have adults-only
Tip – Skip Sit Down Dining if you have Littles
We, unfortunately, did not get to experience all the wonderful dining areas onboard. The toddlers just weren’t in the mood to sit still for 2 hours and eat. We went to the main dining 2 nights and the
We also enjoyed many, many delicious pizzas from the pizza parlor. We would grab slices and take them back to the room. My husband, oldest son, and I also enjoyed the cupcakes they had onboard (for a fee). All were delicious! We ate at Chops Grille (steakhouse) one day for lunch. It was good, but not sure it was worth the cost. The 2 little ones were free, so that was a bonus, but again, I think it was just too long for them to sit still.
Tip – Shows may not be kid-friendly
The shows onboard were sometimes kid-friendly and sometimes not so much. (We are pretty conservative). So we did not see all the shows. The ice show Encore was fun, and the In The Air show was amazing. We also enjoyed viewing a 3D movie onboard (Incredibles 2). They had more movies playing, but we just didn’t have time to see them.
One thing I love about Royal Caribbean is the staff. Everyone we met onboard was so friendly, helpful, and so sweet with our kids. It truly made for a wonderful vacation!
Tip: Enjoy the Shore Excursions but Know When to Just Hang Out on Your Own
I booked three excursions on this cruise, I like to book through the ship. Some people prefer to wander on their own or choose excursions from local vendors. But when I have my little kids with me, I want to make sure the ship will wait for us, which is guaranteed when you book through the ship.
Although I booked the excursions before our trip, I knew I could cancel and get my money back. After we got fried at the beach, we canceled our planned Jamaica excursion. (Be sure to note each ship’s cancellation policy before you go.) So instead of a scheduled trip, we just walked around Jamaica and went shopping which was a lot of fun.
We had so much fun on our excursions that they deserve their own post!