Cruising with Kids: 5 Family Friendly Destinations

Cayman Turtle Farm

Family vacations take a lot of work. It’s easy as a parent to get so caught up in making sure the kids have fun, that you come home, well, needing a vacation. That’s what makes cruising with kids such an attractive getaway for many families. Unpack once, but wake up in a new place day after day. Picking the right ship is important. Carnival carries more kids than any other cruise line, an impressive 700-thousand youngsters every year.

Cruise Ship Lineup
Photo Credit: Dana Rebmann

Their attention to young sailors shows with amenities like kids’ clubs, putt-putt golf and waterslides.  But just as important as the boat are the destinations it sails to. Some cruise ports are more family friendly than others. And some, well, are what family vacations should be made of:

Grand Cayman

Cayman Turtle Farm
Photo Credit: Dana Rebmann

 It’s amazing what you can do with your kids during one day in George Town.  The entire family can swim with stingrays, even touch and hold them at Grand Cayman’s Stingray City. It’s a quick boat trip to reach the popular sandbar. If your kids a younger and you’re not ready for an open water adventure, head to the Cayman Turtle Farm. Learn all about turtles while you wade in breeding ponds at this turtle hatchery. Make sure everyone has their bathing suits. There’s a 1.3 million gallon salt water lagoon for visitors to go swimming with fish and of course turtles.

 

Grand Turk

Gibbs Cay, Grand Turk
Photo Credit: Dana Rebmann

Once your ship docks, it’s a quick walk down the pier at Grand Turk and with the beach waiting right there it couldn’t be easier to just park yourself on the sand and call it a day playing in the gentle waves and building sand castles. If you’re up for an adventure, make the trip to Gibbs Cay, where stingrays come swimming at the first sound of a boat’s engine. Less known and wonderfully less crowded than Grand Cayman’s Stingray City, Gibbs Cay offers an entirely different encounter. Your boat will anchor just off the beach. It’s an island, not a sandbar, which means and you and your kids can walk into the water at your own pace and to the depth that is comfortable. The water is so clear, you don’t need snorkel gear to see the rays or fish. If you have older kids, add some other snorkeling sites into the mix before heading back to the cruise ship. There’s a rainbow waiting below the surf at Grand Turk.

Ocho Rios

Dolphin Cove
Photo Credit: Dana Rebmann

Swimming with dolphins is typically the first request at Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios, but it’s the love birds that stole my heart. Thirty of them to be exact, and they are anything but camera shy. You could make a day of it at Dolphin Cove, but Dunn’s River Falls is so close, it’d be a shame to miss your shot at climbing up a waterfall. Yes, you will get wet, but wear good shoes (water shoes or sneakers) and you’ll have plenty of fun splashing your way up river.

Aruba

De Palm Island
Photo Credit: Dana Rebmann

Spend most of the day wet, enjoying island living on Aruba’s De Palm Island. The toughest decision of the day might be what to do first. Will it be swimming, volleyball, snorkeling or the water park complete with slides and soakers. There are lifeguards on duty, snorkeling gear is included and life vests are mandatory.

Cozumel

Isla Passion
Photo Credit: Dana Rebmann

If a relaxing day of doing nothing is what your family needs, Isla Passion is waiting for you in Cozumel. Spread out on the beach, climb up and jump off an assortment of floating trampolines and toys. The buffet serves food all day long, and if parents need a break there’s a supervised, fenced kids’ club/play area. If snorkeling is on the wish list, Chankanaab Beach Adventure Park has a colorful reef teeming with fish and underwater statues. For additional cost you can add on extras like zip lining, swimming with dolphins and tequila tastings for mom and dad.

 

About The Author Dana Rebmann

Dana Rebmann has successfully trained her family to be able to pack a carry-on bag with just minutes notice. Weekends spent exploring the San Francisco Bay Area outnumber those at home in wine country, but her favorite trips require a passport and typically a destination with warm sand and blue water. Along with travel, Dana writes about food, wine and anything fun.