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Cruising with a Large Family

Three generations of my family recently headed down to Miami to embark on a 4 day Western Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Ecstasy. I can’t recall a time when planning a family vacation was this easy. I am so excited to partner with Carnival Cruise Line for this blog post and share some of the things that made planning my family’s cruise a piece of cake.


Cruising is such a great way to get your family together with minimal planning. Once you get there, the itinerary, dining and entertainment are all taken care of, so you can just enjoy time with family. Spending that little extra time pre-cruise will help make your family’s cruise go more smoothly.

After cruising aboard Carnival Ecstasy with my family last month, I’m excited to share a few tips to help with planning your family’s next cruise.

Tips for Planning a Cruise for a Large Family

Staterooms. While looking at cruises on the Carnival website, I found a lot of different options. When booking your cruise for a large family take time to explore the various stateroom options. Carnival offers a variety of staterooms that will work for large families. I recommend booking early to have the most options. Don’t be intimidated by booking two staterooms. Carnival does offer some adjoining staterooms, and if you are traveling with teenagers consider booking one outside stateroom and the inside stateroom across the hall. That’s exactly what we did for our recent cruise.

Activities. A cruise is the ideal family vacation if you are traveling with children of different ages. There are a variety of activities for all ages. Days can be spent relaxing by the pool, or racing down water slides. You can catch a show before or after dinner. Enjoy a massage while the kids are spending time with their grandparents. The possibilities for fun are endless.


I was excited to learn about Camp Carnival where the younger kids can get involved in kids club activities. On a Carnival cruise, kids can enjoy all the best parts of summer camp and family vacation at Camp Carnival. Kids are split up into three different age groups: 2 to 5 years, 6 to 8 years, and 9 to 11 years. The best thing about Camp Carnival is that it’s free.

Dining options. Our cruise ship, Ecstasy, has so many different dining options that are included with your cruise. There are some buffet options which is great! With kids I think the buffet is always a safe bet. There is surely something that everyone in your party can eat and enjoy. All drinks, on the other hand, are not included with the cost of your cruise. I recommend checking with your cruise line to see what drink packages are available. We opted for the Bottomless Bubbles drink package which includes unlimited soda and juice. You can sign up for a beverage package ahead of time or once onboard.

Shore Excursions. Shore excursions come at an additional cost. If your cruise visits more than one port, consider booking an excursion for just one of them to cut down on the expense. If money isn’t an issue, shore excursions can be a lot of fun and are a great way to have new experiences like snorkeling and swimming with the dolphins. Planning a shore excursion that will be fun for grandparents and kids of different ages is a lot easier than you might think. My family did a beach excursion in Cozumel that was loads of fun for us all. Getting to sunbathe and swim in the ocean during the month of December was such a treat. The water was still plenty warm and the private beach was breathtaking. It was an amazing day for us!


Packing.  I always worry about over-packing, especially since I am usually traveling with teenage girls. It happens so often. You want to put some thought into what you pack for a cruise. It’s a lot less stressful to go on vacation when you have less to haul around. Warm destinations require less bulky clothing, and with the exception of one or two dinners you don’t need to pack anything fancy. Pack mix and match items that can be worn more than once. The girls and I ended up spending most of the cruise in our swimsuits and cover-ups.

Plan a getaway

One of the things I learned on our cruise is that a hair dryer is provided in each stateroom. We didn’t need the two that we packed, and could have avoided the extra weight in our luggage.

Bring proper documentation. Of course, passports are the recommended documentation for everyone in the family. However, for most cruise ships, kids can board with a birth certificate only, and adults with a birth certificate and a government issued picture ID. Some cruise lines allow a picture of the birth certificate, if you don’t want to bring the original. Make sure you bring multiple copies. Check with your cruise line to make sure what you need.

Make sure you have all of your documents well in advance of your cruise, in case you are missing something. The night before our cruise my sister was going nuts trying to locate her travel documents. Whew! It was a stressful evening for her and me too. Remember, make sure you have these documents together well in advance.

I was amazed by how simple it was to plan a cruise for my large family. Our cruise was such a great bonding experience, and a chance to have fun and let loose. Visit Carnival online to learn more about planning your own cruise. Will you be planning a cruise anytime soon?

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.