7 Things Kids Can Learn on a Cruise

by Fran Golden

7 Things Kids Can Learn on a Cruise

by Fran Golden

Vacations are all about having some fun, while breaking routine and getting outside your comfort zone. Since you’ll be traveling to lots of different places and meeting people from all over the world, bringing kids along means they will be exposed to different cultures and may actually (gasp!) learn something. Best of all, they'll be having so much fun that they won't notice they're getting an education at the same time. Here are seven reasons to take your kids on a cruise.

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Animator's Studio on Disney Dream / Disney
Hiking in Hammerfest, Norway
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1. Geography

Map out your route with the children, starting with leaving your house and arriving at your embarkation city, plus all of the ports on your cruise. Then, read up on the destinations you’ll visit, researching the topography, which could include rain forests, mountains, fjords, volcanoes, and even glaciers. Kids will get more out of the excursions if they already have a base knowledge about the hills they're hiking and rivers they're kayaking.

Map out your route with the children, starting with leaving your house and arriving at your embarkation city, plus all of the ports on your cruise. Then, read up on the destinations you’ll visit, researching the topography, which could include rain forests, mountains, fjords, volcanoes, and even glaciers. Kids will get more out of the excursions if they already have a base knowledge about the hills they're hiking and rivers they're kayaking.

Arts and crafts at Norwegian Gem's Splash Academy
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2. Arts and Crafts

With kids clubs full of toys and programs, including everything from hands-on science experiments to drawing and art projects, you might be surprised how many new things children can learn to do onboard. On Disney Cruise Line ships, for example, kids can try their hand at animation or take "Ratatouille"-themed French cooking classes.

With kids clubs full of toys and programs, including everything from hands-on science experiments to drawing and art projects, you might be surprised how many new things children can learn to do onboard. On Disney Cruise Line ships, for example, kids can try their hand at animation or take "Ratatouille"-themed French cooking classes.

Native Alaskan dancers in Ketchikan
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3. Culture

Your children can meet other passengers, as well as crew members, from around the world on most cruises. And that’s just while you’re on the ship: Spend time in port seeking an experience that’s unique to where you are, whether it’s shopping at markets full of authentic indigenous crafts and you-can't-get-that-at-home produce, or watching music and dance performances that celebrate the local culture. Getting a taste of reggae in Jamaica, for example, or eating fresh lilikoi in Maui can be the most memorable part of a cruise to the Caribbean or Hawaii for some kids. 

Your children can meet other passengers, as well as crew members, from around the world on most cruises. And that’s just while you’re on the ship: Spend time in port seeking an experience that’s unique to where you are, whether it’s shopping at markets full of authentic indigenous crafts and you-can't-get-that-at-home produce, or watching music and dance performances that celebrate the local culture. Getting a taste of reggae in Jamaica, for example, or eating fresh lilikoi in Maui can be the most memorable part of a cruise to the Caribbean or Hawaii for some kids. 

California Gray Whales in Mexico
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4. Wildlife

Depending on your itinerary, there can be lots of opportunities for wildlife spotting. The Pacific coast of Mexico is prime for whale watching, while Alaska also has brown bears, harbor seals, and bald eagles. If you are heading to the Caribbean, book an excursion to swim with dolphins or stingrays, or rent snorkeling equipment and have a family adventure identifying the schools of fish swimming among the coral reefs. 

Depending on your itinerary, there can be lots of opportunities for wildlife spotting. The Pacific coast of Mexico is prime for whale watching, while Alaska also has brown bears, harbor seals, and bald eagles. If you are heading to the Caribbean, book an excursion to swim with dolphins or stingrays, or rent snorkeling equipment and have a family adventure identifying the schools of fish swimming among the coral reefs. 

Surfing in Hawaii
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5. Water Sports

Cruising in the Caribbean? Pretty much every port offers an opportunity to splash in the ocean. Keep things interesting by kayaking and paddleboarding. Alaska also offers kayaking and canoeing opportunities. On most large mainstream ships, smaller kids can still spend their entire vacation in their bathing suit, getting comfortable in the water in pools, splash parks, and waterslides and some of Royal Caribbean's ships even have surfing classes, which are great for older kids.

Cruising in the Caribbean? Pretty much every port offers an opportunity to splash in the ocean. Keep things interesting by kayaking and paddleboarding. Alaska also offers kayaking and canoeing opportunities. On most large mainstream ships, smaller kids can still spend their entire vacation in their bathing suit, getting comfortable in the water in pools, splash parks, and waterslides and some of Royal Caribbean's ships even have surfing classes, which are great for older kids.

Dinner in the main dining room
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6. Table Manners

Sitting down to dinner together every night in a dining room with formal table settings is likely not a typical week for most families. Use these opportunities to sit and actually have conversations about the day — free from the modern distractions of TVs and cell phones. Encourage younger children to interact with the waiters and order for themselves, either from the kids menu or the adult one.

Sitting down to dinner together every night in a dining room with formal table settings is likely not a typical week for most families. Use these opportunities to sit and actually have conversations about the day — free from the modern distractions of TVs and cell phones. Encourage younger children to interact with the waiters and order for themselves, either from the kids menu or the adult one.

Camp Carnival on Carnival Breeze
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7. Social Skills

Onboard kids' clubs give your children the opportunity to hang out with peers from other states and even other countries, and making friends is pretty much a given. Kids as young as 3 pair off to babble about the splash park, while older kids bond over whether or not they were brave enough to tackle the racing slides. They could even end the trip with new BFFs to email and text when they get back home. 

Onboard kids' clubs give your children the opportunity to hang out with peers from other states and even other countries, and making friends is pretty much a given. Kids as young as 3 pair off to babble about the splash park, while older kids bond over whether or not they were brave enough to tackle the racing slides. They could even end the trip with new BFFs to email and text when they get back home. 

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