EER129: Cruising With Children — Tips on the Best Family Cruises for Kids

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Today I talk with Jeff Bogle about cruising with children and his tips for the best family cruises for kids. Jeff is a parenting blogger and travel writer, but he never thought he’d want to take his kids on a cruise. Once he took one, however, he was hooked…

EER129: Cruising With Children — Tips on the Best Family Cruises for Kids Bogle Carnival+Sunshine Bonaire

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Tips on the Best Family Cruises for Kids

Jeff Bogle is dad blogger and a travel writer, but he never thought he’d be cruising with kids, let alone giving tips on the best family cruises for kids. He had heard of family-friendly cruises of all kinds, but he had thought that taking a cruise with kids would be “antithetical to the way I like to travel,” he said.

It took a press trip on a cruise ship to turn him around.

Now after several times cruising with children for work, he and his wife have booked their own family-friendly cruise for Honduras and Belize next year. “When a travel writer starts ponying up their own money to do something,” he says with a laugh, “then that’s the best endorsement they can give.”

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Why Family Cruises for Kids?

Jeff cites a number of reasons why his family enjoys taking kid-friendly cruises. Whether your cruising with toddlers or cruising with teens, the best family cruises have something for everybody. Jeff spoke highly of the food. Despite being “discerning” when it comes to cuisine, Jeff was impressed with what the ships had to offer. His kids were happy with 24-7 ice cream, as well.

The best cruises for kids also have waterparks onboard, as well as kids’ clubs for all ages. Jeff also liked that this gave his children some exposure to kids from all over the world.

The guests were not the only international presence it turns out. Jeff describes how the staff of the Carnival cruise his family took was like a mini United Nations, with representation from Mexico to the Baltic States. The waiters, cabin crew and kids camp counselors held nationalities from across the globe, he describes. This gave his children a chance to interact with people far removed from their hometown. An exposure that Jeff thinks is important.

Tips for Making it the Best Family Cruise

EER129: Cruising With Children — Tips on the Best Family Cruises for Kids Bogle Carnival+Sunshine

For the longest time, Jeff never thought taking a cruise with kids would be enjoyable. His expectations were turned upside down after his first family-friendly cruise. Here are a few things I learned from Jeff about making the most out of your cruise with kids.

Make the Most of Port Calls

When the ship pulls into port, get out and beyond the tourist area. Rent a car or take a bus and go, when it’s a reasonable option. “I’m not an assimilator,” he says, and until his first cruise with kids, he thought all activity on a family cruise would have to be in a herd of tourists.

Then on a trip to Bonaire, in the Caribbean, he and his family rented a car and started driving. They saw flamingos. They saw wild goats. The girls were thrilled, and so was Jeff.

On another family cruise, he and one of his girls jumped on a bus in Turkey. The conversation that followed between father and daughter is something he believes was life-changing.

Take Some Time for You and Your Spouse

What many people don’t know is that some of the best cruises for kids also double as the best cruises for couples. Those couples are the parents. Once your children head for the kids’ club or the waterslides, now moms and dads have a chance to catch up with their spouse over a dinner, a movie, or perhaps just a little private time in the room.

Pack Less & Do Laundry on the Ship

The large cruise ships have laundry facilities, so you don’t have to pack a new set of clothes for every day. Bring a smaller suitcase. It makes everything easier and gives you more space in your cabin.

It doesn’t always work when cruising with kids, though, and Jeff is the first to admit it. “I always try to get my family to pack less…and I always fail.”

Beyond Cruising with Children

Kid-friendly cruises are only part of the Bogle family travel adventures. Living in Philadelphia Pennsylvania in the US gives them a wealth of road trip opportunities. For example, they are a few hours’ drive from New York City and Washington DC, and the Canadian border is only a day’s drive away.

Jeff tells me that now that he’s traveling with a teen and tween, planning travel has become a much more democratic process. When they were younger, he involved his daughters by having them plan an activity wherever they were going. Now he asks them where they want to go.

With one daughter, he went to Ottawa. With the other, they planned a trip using the musical Hamilton as a source of inspiration.

In their home, they keep a wall reserved for pictures of their travels and the flags of the countries visited — a constant reminder of what they’ve seen and what have left to explore.

Final Family Travel Tips

EER129 EER129: Cruising With Children — Tips on the Best Family Cruises for Kids Jeff bogle and teen daughter in Carnival.

Jeff has a lot of great family travel tips. In fact, his piece on preparing for international travel is a must-read for newbies or anyone unfamiliar with flying overseas.

Money, Mail, and Plugs

Among his tips, he recommends calling your bank and credit card companies to make sure they know you’ll be away. He also talks about putting your mail on hold and researching the power plugs at your destination so you’ll have the right plug converter when you arrive. And never, ever use the currency exchange desks in your home airport. Wait until you arrive and pull local currency out of an ATM. More details and tips on the podcast.

Be in Awe

Jeff surprised me when I asked him for his recommended travel resources. None, he said. Many of my previous guests talk about doing extensive research before they arrive at their dream destination. They also look up lots of beautiful pictures and videos to show the kids and get them excited.

In contrast, Jeff tried to avoid doing too much research beforehand. He tries to avoid Google Image searches, too. Why?

“I want to be in awe,” he says. It’s easy to build up expectations once you seen your destination after it’s been shot by a professional photographer in its best light. Instead, Jeff tries to look at the place online as little as possible so that it’s new and fresh when he sees it with his own eyes.


  • 02:20 Intro
  • 05:04 Pre-trip Planning
  • 12:44 Travel Routines
  • 16:34 More Pre-trip Planning for International Travel
  • 22:32 Family Cruises for kids
  • 33:06 Cruising the Caribbean with kids
  • 37:29 Travel Gear
  • 45:39 Resources (Don’t Use Too Much)


  • Names: Family blogger & Iris Award-winning photographerJeff Bogle, his wife, and teen/tween daughters
  • Hold passports from: USA
  • Type of travel: Short-term travel, family cruises for kids, road trips
  • A few places they’ve been: 20 countries and counting, including Turkey, Greece, the UK, Spain, and France. Heading to Honduras, Belize & Norway in 2018.




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Disclosure: This post on cruising with children and tips on the best family cruises for kids contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book a room using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel. Whether you’re looking for the best cruises for toddlers or the best cruises for teens, I hope that these family cruise tips help you plan the best family cruise for kids ever!