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If Australia is one of your bucket list destinations, pivot back to cruises as one of the best travel options for this year!

It’s been a tough choice to weigh up; where to take our first international trip after the birth of a brand new bub. But it’s not only been about choosing a destination, but also a travel style!

While we can’t exactly take a 6 month old to the summit of Kilmanjaro, we can still pack in a ton of adventure, excitement, and countries, with cruising.  

Cruising is an exceptinally family friendly vacation, and there are just as many styles of cruising as there are destinations you can visit, and ships.

While we’ve been on a few couples cruises in the past, we invited cruise expert Eileen Ogintz from TakingtheKids.com to give us an update on options, safety, and what’s happening in 2022 – 2023 in the world of cruising!

Read on!

Vacation Planners Are Turning Back To Cruises

by Eileen Ogintz

New Cruises in the Pacific

Holland America has opened bookings for a season of new Pacific itineraries aboard Westerdam starting in fall.

Embark with them Sept. 25, 2022 through March 13, 2023 to explore Australia and New Zealand. The history and culture of Southeast Asia will be showcased en route.

Now in its 149th year of cruising, Holland America Line is doing something right. In addition to elegant ships, they are known for immersive Explorations Central programming designed to deepen your understanding of where you are sailing.

There are opportunities to connect with local experts, artists, chefs, performers and more. There are, of course, organized activities for kids and teens, too.

Great for Family Travel

Multi-generational families love cruises — and Holland America — because there are activities on and off the ship for all ages.

There’s no arguing over where to go or what to do as families can split up during the day, gathering for dinner to talk over their adventures. 

On cruises, adults enjoy time together since there are terrific, supervised on-board programs for kids and teens.

Holland America is known for its fine dining and sophisticated entertainment, including the Lincoln Center Stage.

Seven world-class chefs on the Holland America Line Culinary Council create signature dishes for the many onboard restaurants. And the youngest foodies in the crowd appreciate they can eat whatever and whenever they want without any extra cost.

No worries either if someone needs a special diet. Vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, sugar-free, all can be arranged without any muss or fuss.     

The Safest Option

Families recognize that cruises are one of the safest vacation options right now. The CDC has removed COVID-19 warnings for cruise ship travelers and has now relaxed a key pandemic cruise regulation.

This will allow more unvaccinated children to sail on “highly vaccinated” ships. For ships to be considered highly vaccinated, 90 per cent of passengers five and older must be vaccinated. (Children under five not eligible for vaccines yet aren’t counted.) Crew vaccination requirements remain at 95 per cent. 

The Cruise Lines Industry Association (CLIA) said this latest CDC change recognizes protective measures the industry has taken and will allow more families with unvaccinated children to cruise.

The cruise industry has developed a multi-layer approach to health and safety including proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding; regular testing of crew; an environment where every eligible person is vaccinated; ongoing sanitation of all public spaces and guest/crew rooms; social distancing, enhanced air ventilation, and other measures that public health experts around the world have endorsed. 

That’s why even families whose children are under five and not yet eligible to be vaccinated believe a cruise is one of the safest vacations they can take.

Best Cruising Destinations in 2022 & 2023

These days, you can cruise from some two dozen ports as more cruisers look for drive-to options. Most Americans, in fact, live within a 5-hour drive to reach a Carnival cruise.

Princess Cruises is touting its first summer season to Mexico, Hawaii, and the California Coast. Holland America has more cruises from San Diego, including up the California Coast in the fall, an extended Alaska season and then the new itineraries down under.     

Holland America Line has now welcomed its ninth ship back into service. Oosterdam has begun sailing in Europe.

Their ships are sailing in Alaska where Holland America is celebrating its 75th year cruising. Additionally, HAL ships are in the Caribbean, Mexico, the South Pacific and the California Coast.

Volendam currently is under charter by the government of the Netherlands, positioned alongside the port in Rotterdam accommodating Ukrainian refuges. The full fleet will be back in service in June.

Booking a Cruise

Book and save with the Have It All cruise fare and receive the most popular amenities. Families like that shore excursions, a Signature Beverage Package, specialty dining and Wi-Fi are significantly discounted in the bundled rate.

Military, Healthcare and First Responders get the package free plus an onboard $100 spending credit on select cruises.

Cruise lines are also making it easier to check in without waiting in long lines. Holland America, for example, has added mBark facial recognition that enables 10-second check in and the Verifly digital wallet for proof of vaccination and test results. 

What’s Your Cruise Style?

There is an option for every style traveler and budget. Carnival Cruise Line carries more children than any other and boasts the first roller coasters at sea on Mardi Gras.

Specially designed with families in mind, expect to find a big water play area as well as many more food options. Chow down on anything from burgers and pizza to the very popular and complimentary Big Chicken; Shaq’s Chicken Joint and Chibang!, a new specialty  restaurant touting a complete Mexican and Chinese menu.   

Her sister ship Carnival Celebration will set sail on her maiden voyage from Port Miami in November 2022. 

Or Luxury …

Opt for a luxury experience aboard Cunard, complete with a kennel at sea on the Queen Mary 2 sailing across the Atlantic.

Or, combine ultra-luxury with expedition style aboard Seabourn’s all-inclusive small ships in Alaska.

Onboard expedition teams include a marine biologist, ornithologist, geologist, historian, photographer, and wildlife experiences. Princess has an array of children’s programming and shore excursions developed in partnership with “Animal Planet.”

Because of the bewildering array of choices, this is a time to work with a travel advisor who is a cruise expert. They can not only talk you through your options, but guarantee you get the best deal — including a few extra perks.

How to Make the Choice

Consider what your family needs and wants most aboard. With adult kids, perhaps it is having a drinks and Wi-Fi package.

With grade schoolers and teens, organized youth activities can be important, especially for the days at sea. A travel advisor who is a cruise expert can help you sort out the options and find the best one for you.

Author Eileen Ogintz is an avid cruiser who has sailed Alaska many times, on all sorts of ships and in all sorts of styles. She contributed this post on behalf of sponsor TakingtheKids.com.

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