Guide to Cruising as a Single Parent
Life as a single parent is not always easy and planning your annual holiday can sometimes be daunting. But with many cruise lines now offering dedicated youth services, options for child care or family fun, a cruise holiday could be the answer you're looking for.
Offering a safe environment where both parent and children can enjoy time together as well as alone time, a cruise will open your mind to a whole new experience as a single parent.
Choosing your cruise
The great thing about cruising is the range of different cruises available and all cruise lines offer different amenities. Whether you want a cruise to relax, to explore or to indulge on a variety of cuisine, there is a cruise line out there to suit everyone.
When travelling with children, your cruise choices are endless and these floating resorts offer an array of fun and exciting facilities for all ages.
Children’s cruise clubs are often award winning and known for having some of the best programmes in the realms of children's entertainment. When choosing your cruise, consider which programme's are available to suit your childs age group as cruise lines often have varying programmes to suit different ages.
It is a good idea to look into the cabin configuration on your cruise so that you can work out if you want to share a cabin with your children or have adjoining rooms. Children under 18 will not be able to stay in a room by themselves but adjoining rooms are a great idea for those who want to be close to their children and still have some privacy.
Explore the world together
When choosing your destination, cruising with children enables you to visit anywhere you want. With the convenience of only having to unpack once, you and your children can explore an array of fascinating destinations and enjoy a variety of activites and experiences together. For those who just want to get away to spend time together, staying on the ship can present the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with your children. From splashing around in the pools together, to taking part in a craft lesson, there is often just as much going on around the ship as there is ashore. Popular destinations for children include the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Norway, due to the hugely popular Disney film Frozen. With several cruises also departing from UK ports like Southampton, you can leave the stress of coordinating ariports and flights behind.
Child friendly cruise lines
You will want to choose a cruise line that has a focus on children’s entertainment so they can benefit from all of the fantastic amenities on offer to them. Disney Cruise Line are famous for making dreams come true and they bring this to their ships with no limits, from Disney shows, character parades and children’s clubs.
Royal Caribbean is another good choice and they have won numerous awards for being the best cruise line for children. From children’s theatres, science labs and arcades, the facilities for the little ones are as extensive as the adult areas. They also have a partnership with Dreamworks so children can enjoy character meet and greets, Dreamworks activities and breakfast with their favourite characters from Madagascar, Shrek and Kung Fu Panda.
Other popular lines for children and families include P&O Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Lines.
During your cruise
A cruise is a great option for single parents as everything is under one safe and organised roof. With dedicated youth clubs staffed by trained childcare crew members you can rest assured your children are having fun in a supervised, safe environment.
Everyone’s safety is paramount during a cruise and cruise lines have many procedures in place to ensure the safety of you and your family members. Some cruise lines will issue your child with a coloured wrist band upon embarkation. This is to ensure that even when you are not with them, the crew know where to take them in the unlikely event on an emergency. Children are also given their own cruise card so crew can find out their full name, emergency station and look up their cabin number should they need to. It's worth considering how your child will carry their cruise card during the cruise. Lanyard necklaces are very useful for this and often available to purchase in the onboard shops. Children are not permitted to leave the ship by themselves in any port.
For those who worry there will not be enough to do on a cruise, this is an old myth that can be proven wrong from just one cruise. Cruise lines are the ultimate playground for both adults and children and very few land holidays can match the amenities at sea.
With their own daily schedule from morning to night, children can choose from educational activities, organised games, shows, parades, arcades and all day fun in the children’s clubs. Having as much to do as the adults, you can relax knowing your children are close by and safe while you take time doing the things you enjoy; whether it be soaking up the sun, wine tasting or indulging in some spa pamper time.
During the day parents can spend time relaxing with a book by the pool, taking a treatment in the spa or learning something new like cocktail making or participating in a cookery class. While knowing your children are having a great time, you can take advantage of some 'me time' before meeting your children to dine together, watch a show together or take part in a family activity. When evening time approaches, if the children are enjoying sleepovers or late night parties, allow yourself to enjoy shows, bars, nightclubs, get-togethers and dancing. It is not hard to make friends on a cruise and enjoy time with like-minded single parents onboard. Check out our blog on why we love solo cruising for more tips on making the most of your down time.
Babysitting and child minding services
For times when you want to have an evening by yourself certain lines offer a babysitting service. Although the age may differ between lines, most lines provide this service for babies up to three years. Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean offer group babysitting services. Taking part in specific areas of the children’s club, you can leave your little ones with qualified child care staff for a certain period of time. Space is limited and you will need to sign up as soon as you embark. Ask at your point of enquiry about child care services and how to book.
Cruising with a baby
It is not only children that cruise lines have thought about, even babies have everything they need to enjoy their first cruising experience. Infact, a cruise is one of the best holiday choices for a single parent travelling with a baby.
Royal Caribbean have a 'Royal Babies and Royal Tots' nursery. A place where little ones can make new discoveries in a safe environment while parents can watch them build their skills. Babies from six months can enjoy interactive playgroup sessions developed by childhood expert Fisher Price. Most ships also include a daytime and evening drop-off service for an hourly fee.
Other lines offering facilities for babies include P&O Cruises, Disney Cruise Line and MSC Cruises.
See our blog about Cruising with a six month old on P&O Cruises
The teenage years are said to be one of the hardest to deal with as a single parent so taking some time out to bond together in a new environment is a special time. Teenagers are too old to be playing in a children’s club but too young to go away by themselves and can often feel forced into the idea of family fun. With this in mind, cruise lines have managed to master a "cool cruise getaway" for teens. Giving them the space and time to enjoy getting to know new friends if they wish.
With separate venues including arcades, discos, Nintendo wii areas and trendy hangouts, they have everything they need to ensure they can enjoy time with mum or dad, as well as have their independence to make new friends and take part in age appropriate activities.
Cruise lines great for teens include Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Costa Cruises.
After your cruise
After realising how convenient, safe and hassle-free a cruise is for a single parent, you will probably already be thinking about your next one. However, before you do this, take time to reflect on all of the incredible memories you have just made.
Share the memories, look through pictures and laugh about the time you spent together.