Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cruising with Family: Older Kids and Teens

Cruising with Family
Family Cruise Vacations are wonderful for families with Teens

We've covered kids, toddlers and babies in previous posts of the Cruising with Family series, now let's look at the opposite end of the childhood spectrum: the t(w)eenagers.  Family vacations can be a challenge when some family members are (ahem) less than thrilled with the idea of never-ending family togetherness.  A cruise allows for a nice balance of fun, kid-centric activities with just enough of family time.  Plus, the relatively safe confines of a cruise ship can be a wonderful place for an older kid or teen to experience some independence.  

Here are some things to keep in mind as you and your teens prepare for your cruise:   

  • Well before your vacation, determine how long their leash will be and talk it through, so kids and parents all have the same expectations. 
  • How will you stay in touch when kids are off doing their own thing?  One option is to set a meeting place, and meet up at predetermined times throughout the day.  Another idea is to bring a set of walkie-talkies for easy communication. 
  • Research the kids program options for their age group; depending on your teen’s personality and interests it may – or may not – be a good fit. 
  • The kids program may allow kids over a certain age to sign themselves in and out.  Determine if this is appropriate for your child.
  • Establish ground rules for safety: for example, you may require that they don’t go into staterooms other than your own. 
  • Be sure your kids are familiar with the ship’s safety procedures.  Point out crew members that they could go to, if they’re lost, in trouble, or simply have a question. 
 What does your tween or teen enjoy doing while on a family cruise vacation?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Beach of the Week: Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia

Cenang Beach, Langkawi, Malaysia
Cenang Beach; a beautiful place to play

Langkawai, an archipelago off of Malaysia, is officially known as the Langkawi Jewel of Kedah – and for good reason!  This beautiful group of islands is host to miles and miles of – you guessed it – gorgeous beaches.  Take Cenang Beach, for example – its white sand and warm turquoise water are bordered by swaying coconut palms.  This is a beach, not only of beauty, but also of action packed fun.  Take your pick of water sports, jet skiing, volley ball, and the like.  Go for a swim, then pick from a wide variety of bars and restaurants for some snacks and libations.  Be sure to stay for the glorious sunset.

What’s your favorite beach activity?

Beach bound?  Stop at SolEscapes.com to stock up on chic sun hats, quick drying swim shirts, travel beach towels, and all those must-haves for your sunny destination!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cruising with Family: Babies (and Toddlers) on Board

Cruising with Family
Cruising is a great way for kids to get a taste of the Tropics

Our last post of the Cruising with Family series talked about packing for a cruise when the kids are coming along.  Let's take that a step further: if you have an infant or toddler, packing has the extra challenge of dealing with the “big gear”.  Babies may be small, but they sure require a lot of stuff!  Luckily, you don't have to tote all of it along, here are some pointers:

Stroller: Many suggest bringing a stroller for younger children, as it will come in handy for shore excursions, walking through airport and cruise terminal and even for naps on the ship.  An umbrella stroller may be your best bet, since it’s lightweight and compact (a large stroller may be difficult to get in and out of stateroom, and is bulkier to store).  Find out if the ship rents strollers by the day, this could be ideal if you’ll just need one for shore excursions.

Sleeping arrangements: Cruise ships will have several options, depending on the age of your child.  For infants and toddlers, contact the cruise line beforehand to reserve a crib or pack n’ play for your stateroom.  For preschoolers, find out how tall the bed is, and if it has a bed-rail.  Some parents feel comfortable placing a rolled up blanket at the edge of the bed (underneath the fitted sheet) to act as a quasi-bed-rail.  Some family staterooms have bunk beds, so be sure that such an arrangement is appropriate to the age of your child.

Bathing:  Does your stateroom have a bathtub, or just a shower?  For the tub-less, a small inflatable bathtub is useful for bathing infants and tots.

Feeding: Baby food availability and guidelines vary by cruiseline and even by ship, so do your homework.  Find out if your cruise line permits baby food to brought on board, if they sell baby food on board, or if the kitchens will puree or mash food for infants.  Formula and breast milk are allowed; find out if your ship will have bottle warmers available, or if you’re able to bring your own. 

Basic Necessities:  Some cruise lines sell diapers and formula on board, others don’t.  Find out what your ship will stock, and be sure to pack accordingly (when in doubt, pack more diapers!).  Many cruise lines contract with services that will deliver diapers and other baby gear to your stateroom before you board.  

Do you have a favorite trick for cruising with an infant or toddler?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Beach of the Week: Palm Beach, Aruba

Palm Beach, Aruba: perfect place for a fun day in Paradise

Aruba is more than the first word in the chorus of a famous (and earworm-y, sorry) Beach Boys song.  It’s a beautiful destination, full of gorgeous and fun beaches.  Take Palm Beach, for instance, it’s a 2 mile stretch of sugar white sand, calm aqua water, luxury accommodations, and activities galore.  It would be a wonderful place for a family vacation; the calm waters are suitable for swimming and snorkeling, and the range of water activities and beach amusements keep everyone happy. 

What’s your favorite family beach destination?

SolEscapes gets your family resort vacation ready!