Britney Dearest: What You Need to Know Before Planning Your First Family Cruise

/ Friday, March 18, 2016

What You Need to Know Before Planning Your First Family Cruise

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As with the Branson post, I had my bonus mom's help with writing this post. She and my father have been on multiple cruises and are very knowledgeable about how it all works.

If you have never planned a cruise, you will soon find out that there is a lot of information and extra expenses that you must be aware of so that you can plan and save accordingly. Hopefully, this list will give you a lot of insight into those extra things you may not have already considered.

We cruised on the Norwegian Sky. I'm not sure if all other ships have the same procedures and protocols, but this list can help regardless :-)

Let's begin!


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  • Use Expedia.com or another similar site to book your flight and ALWAYS buy on Tuesday mornings for the best rates. I’m talking, a 50% difference!
    • Our total round trip flight cost was $1,300 for 5 people, to and from Miami, FL, with 1 layover each way. We saved up for about 4 months to pay for our flights. We paid late January, a little over a month before the flight dates.
  • Use CruisesOnly.com to find good rates and your ideal locations. Pricing fluctuates depending on the dates you sail out (e.g. Spring breaks may be more expensive) and depending on which room you have on the ship (e.g. rooms with an ocean view  cost more).
  • Be aware of mandatory gratuity fees. These can be paid up front or afterwards.
    • Ours was about $13 per day and for 7 people totaled $144. They were paid when the reservation was made.
  • If you plan to arrive the day before your cruise departs (recommended), find a hotel that provides free transportation from the airport and to and from the port.
    • Have cash to tip the drivers- they help load up your luggage.
  • Book your hotel far in advance.
    • We stayed at the {Comfort Suites} hotel the day before our cruise and one day after.

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  • You will need a debit or credit card for the cruise ship because all on board and excursion purchases are made with your cruise card. It's also the key to your room. Cool, right? :-)
  • There are free food and drinks, however, some fancier restaurants on board will cost extra.
  • Our ship offered free child care with licensed staff. The only times that were not free were during lunch time and after 10:30 p.m. and the cost was $6 per child. 
    • Our kids didn’t spend a lot of time there but they begged to go back after they did.
    • My daughter noted that a couple of the teachers didn’t seem to be having a lot of fun although they were helping the kids have fun. She said they weren’t smiling or laughing.
  • There were a lot of night entertainment for adults. There was a club, a comedian, variety performances {singing & dancing}, games, singles meetups, a casino, all types of events.




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  • There are fun excursions to partake in off the cruise ship in Nassau, Bahamas and on their private island, Great Stirrup Cay. Those activities cost extra. Some are on the low price end, like snorkeling and paddle boats, and some are more costly, like parasailing and wave runners.
    • Riding the WaveRunner was an AMAZING experience. They’re like Jet Ski’s. I highly recommend them- if you're not a scaredy cat! lol
    • We bought a paddle boat but didn’t get to ride it because of the wind and waves. The charge was refunded.
    • There’s also scuba diving, kayaking, swimming with dolphins and stingrays.
  • A day at the Atlantis Paradise Island in Nassau is $99 a head for the day. I wish we could afford that at the time, but nah.
  • Save for extra beach charges.
    • We purchased a large clam shell sun shade (shown on the left side of the photo above) for my parents for $30.

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  • Plan about six months or more in advance so you can save up for all the expenses.
  • You don't need passports! They're expensive for a whole family. A birth certificate for everyone with an ID for the adults work just as well. Just keep them safe and don't loose them!
  • Check the weather so you can pack your outfits accordingly.
  • Have cash for tips and island market shopping.
  • There are no taxes on items purchased on the ship outside of the Miami port. Yay!
  • Reserve a rental car in advance.
    • When we got off the ship we were shuttled to the rental car service at the airport. From there we went to get lunch, went to the beach, and went out for dinner.
  • Sometimes weather prevents you from partaking in planned activities.
    • During our day in Nassau, Bahamas it started pouring raining. We ended up soaking wet while heading back to the ship.


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*All photos are mine all mine :-).



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About Me

Hi! I'm Britney. I'm a wife and a mother to 3 children + 1 fur baby. Britney Dearest is a family lifestyle blog where I share my personal experiences as a wife, mother, homeowner, and creative to provide a virtual space where moms can find encouraging tips and inspiring resources for family, home, and mom life. Read more

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