Though multi-generational trips continue to trend in the travel world, there’s no denying that for all the family fun and bonding time, the logistics can get ugly.
One of the easiest fixes? Cruising, which ensures that no one in the family has to worry about coordinating hotel stays, finding restaurants that work for everyone or figuring out transportation between points on the itinerary. A Caribbean cruise, in particular, tends to suit almost any age and activity level — and with December’s launch of MSC Seaside in Miami, the prospect is even more appealing. The Cruise Critic Editors’ Pick for Best New Ship of 2017, this tech-savvy, vista-maximizing and all-around experience-obsessed ship touts new features such as longest zip line at sea and an AquaPark with four slides.
Here, seven more reasons to consider a cruise with the family.
1. It’s one of the best vacation values out there.
Money can often be the biggest stress point on a trip with extended family. But cruising makes budget-adherence easier because most elements of your vacation are generally included in the price: travel, accommodations, meals, entertainment, gratuities and taxes.
For big families booking multiple staterooms, look into special group pricing. If you book eight or more staterooms on MSC Cruises, you qualify for additional discounts.
2. A room for you and you and you …
Someone in your clan has a 5-star budget and someone else has a 3-star budget. So how do you keep the pack together — and happy?
Cruises offer staterooms to suit a wide range of budgets, from modest (choose an inside stateroom) to extravagant (on the MSC Seaside, go for a cabin with a hot tub on the balcony).
Another high-end (and popular) option on Cruises: Stay in the Yacht Club, where you’ll get an exclusive small-ship experience with large-ship perks. Amenities include 24-hour butler service, a dedicated concierge, access to a private restaurant and unlimited drinks in the Yacht Club areas.
Of course, whatever lodgings you’ve booked, the same major amenities — pools, restaurants, spa and so on — are traveling with you on the ship, so no one’s skimping on experience.
3. Family-friendly perks (think: Kids Sail Free).
Large groups can mean extra savings. Cruise lines will often offer discounted prices for kids — or in the case of MSC, a Kids Sail Free program.
On select sailings, kids 11 and younger go gratis when they’re the third or fourth guest in a stateroom. The catch: This offer tends to sell out, so book as early as possible, especially if you’re planning to travel during spring break or summer vacation.
Still, if you’re booking last minute, you can call to find out which sailings still have availability for Kids Sail Free. If your dates are at all flexible, you may still get lucky and find free passage for the kiddos.
4. Staterooms designed for families.
While cruise staterooms aren’t generally known for their spaciousness, MSC has installed Super Family cabins on the MSC Seaside, among the line’s other new ships.
Connected to one another, these staterooms open up into large family suites that accommodate up to 10 of you.
The new MSC Meraviglia, which set sail earlier this summer, features Duplex Suites that are two decks high, with a main level living and dining area and a second level with a master bedroom.
As for your backyard, it’s even bigger: The MSC Seaside has 463,000 square feet of outdoor space (that’s more than any other cruise ship out there). This includes two glass catwalks that extend beyond the edge of the ship to let you feel like you’re walking on water.
There’s also an open-air boardwalk that wraps around the ship with outdoor dining, bars and shops. It connects to an aft pool deck with plenty of space to relax under the Caribbean sun.
Of course you’ll still want to be able to find each other: When you’re spread out on a MSC cruise, keep in touch through a special app that allows families to message each other without having to pay for Wi-Fi.
5. You don’t all have to do the same thing every day.
A truism of big family trips: There’s usually someone who doesn’t want to do whatever the rest of the group is doing. But that negotiation (which never ends well) need never arise on a cruise, because everyone can select from a vast menu of activities, both onboard and off.
To get a feel for the range of MSC’s onboard activities, consider this small fraction of them: chef-judged cooking challenges, sports tournaments, Formula 1 race car simulators and a 5-D Cinema.
The shore excursions are equally varied, whether you want to see the Caribbean from a clear-bottomed kayak, take a tequila- and margarita-making seminar, ride horses on the beach, bike through the countryside or shop til you drop.
6. The kids will be kept busy, which means more vacation for the adults.
On cruises, there are typically entire menus of activities that are designed just for children and teens — from cooking classes to scavenger hunts to teen nightclubs to kids-only restaurants.
And because MSC Cruises attracts a lot of international passengers, many kids’ activities are designed to translate into any language. One of the best examples: MSC’s partnership with LEGO, which involves specially designed playrooms, LEGO Master Builder classes and an entire LEGO-themed day per cruise
Meanwhile, parents and grandparents can take advantage of the spa, the adults-only pool, the wine-blending programs, the specialty restaurants (don’t miss celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi’s Asian Market Kitchen on the MSC Seaside) or — of course — the casino.
7. You’ll leave with a boatload of memories.
Even if subgroups have peeled off from the family to do their own thing during the day, the whole clan can meet for lunch or dinner to compare notes. Who knows — you may even find the one elusive show, activity or excursion the whole group is into. Either way, by the end of your trip, you’ll understand exactly why this kind of trip is trending: Little else in modern life gives families such an amazing opportunity to connect.
In between these activities, find a spot to relax and start planning your next big family trip — and your next cruise.