A new kind of family vacation is on the rise — one that involves the extended family packing their bags for a trip together.
But let’s face it — as fun as these multi-generational vacations can be, they can also be a logistical mess to coordinate.
Cruising can eliminate many of the downsides that come along with planning and taking a large group trip. Here are 9 reasons why a cruise is the way to go.
1. It’s easier to plan.
On a multi-generational vacation, someone takes on the role of planner — a cruise director, if you will. On a cruise, you actually have a cruise director.
Families don’t have to worry about setting up activities, coordinating and researching multiple hotel stays, finding great restaurants or figuring out transportation between cities and countries.
Pick a date, select a ship and itinerary, pack your bags and go.
We recommend looking for a cruise that sails roundtrip from the same port. Many Caribbean cruises depart from Fort Lauderdale and Miami, both easy for families spread out all over the country to get to.
MSC Cruises, already the largest cruise line in Europe, is expanding aggressively in Miami with the launch of the new MSC Seaside in December 2017 to join the MSC Divina sailing to the Caribbean.
2. One price, a lot of value.
Deal Alert: Florida and Georgia residents can take a quick three-night Bahamas cruise on the MSC Divina for as low as $279 per person with this residents-only offer.
A ton of deals are available right now during “wave season”, which takes place from January-March. It’s like the Black Friday of cruise deals, when cruise lines offer some of their best prices and sales. Think perks like free upgrades, onboard credits and free 3rd and 4th passengers.
Money can often be the biggest stress point on a trip with multiple families. Cruising makes it much easier to stick to a set budget since most elements of your vacation are already included in the price: travel, accommodations, meals, entertainment, gratuities and taxes.
For bigger families that will book multiple staterooms, look into special group pricing. If you book eight or more staterooms on MSC Cruises, you qualify for additional discounts.
3. A room for you and you and you …
Someone in your group has a 5-star budget and someone else has a 3-star budget. How do you meet in the middle, keep the group together and keep everyone happy?
On a cruise, everyone can pick their staterooms based on their own budget. It’s not an all-or-nothing scenario and saving on the cabin doesn’t mean you’ll skimp on the experience. There’s still plenty of amenities — pools, restaurants, spa and so on — traveling with you on the ship.
Members of the family that want to spend less can choose an inside stateroom. Modest budgets might select an oceanview or balcony cabin. Those who want a luxury experience can have that without forcing that expense on the rest of the group.
On MSC Cruises, guests can choose to stay in the MSC Yacht Club, which provides an exclusive small-ship experience with large-ship perks. Passengers stay in lavish suites with amenities that include 24-hour butler service, a dedicated concierge, access to a private restaurant and unlimited drinks in the Yacht Club areas.
This option is so popular that MSC is actually expanding their Yacht Club offering on their newest ships launching this year — MSC Seaside and MSC Meraviglia.
4. Family-friendly perks like Kids Sail Free.
Larger groups can mean more savings for everyone. Cruise lines will often offer discounted prices for kids and additional passengers.
MSC Cruises offers a Kids Sail Free program on each sailing, where kids 11 and under sail free on MSC ships when traveling as the third or fourth guest in a stateroom.
Don’t wait if you want to score this perk. The MSC Kids Sail Free offer tends to sell out closer to the sail date so it’s best to book as early as possible, especially around popular spring break or summer vacation dates.
Booking last minute? Call to find out which sailings still have availability for Kids Sail Free. If you can be flexible on when you travel, you may still get the offer.
5. Staterooms specifically designed for families.
While cruise staterooms aren’t known for tons of space, MSC features Super Family cabins on some of their newer ships like MSC Seaside.
These staterooms are connected and can be opened up to make larger family suites that will accommodate up to 10 guests.
The new MSC Meraviglia, which sets sail this summer, will even feature Duplex Suites that are two decks high, with a main level living and dining area and a second level with a master bedroom.
When all this family time becomes too much and you can go hang out by the infinity pool, take a fitness class or go to the Aqua Park.
Beats hanging out in a cramped hotel room or hotel lobby.
6. You don’t all have to do the same thing every day.
It’s tough to keep everyone happy all the time on bigger family trips. Someone usually doesn’t want to do whatever the rest of the group does.
With a cruise, everyone in the group can choose to do different shore excursions and activities based on their interests. New ports every day mean new opportunities, experiences and excursions to choose from.
One day, the grandparents may take the kids to swim with dolphins. The next, there might be a mini girls shopping day on Grand Cayman Island. The day after that, everyone will go for a tour of Mayan ruins in Mexico.
If you want to do a large group excursion, plan ahead and book early as these can fill up quickly. You’ll also get better pricing and availability by booking excursions before you board the ship.
7. There’s so much to do on board.
Cruise vacations aren’t a one-trick pony. Even with seven days on board, you might not get to it all. If you find yourself at a port you don’t want to explore, stay on board while everyone else is off the ship and you’ll have the place to yourself. Think: no lines for gelato.
On-board activities on MSC Cruises range from Formula 1 race car simulators, 5-D Cinema, mambo and salsa dance lessons, sports tournaments, wine-making classes, luxury spas and more.
The new MSC Seaside will have 463,000 square feet of outdoor space — the most on any cruise ship in the water. This includes two glass catwalks that extend beyond the edge of the ship. You’ll feel like you’re walking on water.
In addition, there will be an open-air boardwalk that extends around the ship with outdoor dining, bars and shops. The boardwalk connects to an aft pool deck with plenty of space to relax under the Caribbean sun.
When you’re spread out on the ship, keep in touch via walkie-talkies and text messages, so you know when to meet for dinner or a quick snack. MSC Cruises offers a special app that allows families to message each other without having to pay for Wi-Fi. There are also Wi-Fi packages that offer unlimited access to social networks — so you can keep posting those vacation selfies.
8. Cruises will keep the kids busy, which means more vacation for the adults.
One of our deal experts was recently suggesting ideas for his next family trip and his wife asked him — “and what are the kids going to do”? Good question.
On a cruise ship, there are plenty of activities that are designed specifically for children and teens. It could be cooking classes, scavenger hunts, teen nightclubs or dining at kids-only restaurants. This means that parents can enjoy some free time on their own, knowing that their children are in a safe environment.
MSC Cruises attracts more international visitors than other cruise lines. For this reason, many kids’ activities are designed to translate into any language. MSC’s partnership with LEGO is an example of this — think specially designed playrooms, LEGO Master Builder classes and other events.
Mom and Dad can take advantage of the spa or head to the adults-only pool while the kids are running around doing their own thing. They can feel like a vintner for the day by taking part in one of MSC’s wine blending programs, enjoy a romantic dinner at a specialty restaurant like celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi’s Asian Market Kitchen on the MSC Seaside or try their luck at the casino.
9. You’ll finish the trip with a boatload of memories.
The reason multi-generational travel is on the rise is the chance to make memories as a family. A cruise vacation offers many opportunities for this to happen.
Your larger family can meet for dinner every night and compare notes on what they did that day. At the end of the trip, you’ll be reliving your bamboo rafting adventure in Jamaica, the Sea Turtle Farm visit in the Cayman Islands or the show you all saw the night before.