You only have to do the math, to realise cruising offers one of the best value family holidays going. What with accommodation, food, entertainment on tap, and transport bundled into the one price, it surely is the ultimate all-inclusive vacation.
And the good news is you know upfront what your holiday will cost you.
Australia is about to witness another record summer cruise season, with more than 600 cruise ship visits scheduled for ports around the country over the coming months, according to the peak cruise industry body.
As the popularity of cruise holidays continues to surge, figures compiled by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia show that its member cruise lines will have 36 ships cruising Australian waters between now and April 30 next year, making a total of 642 calls to Australian ports.
CLIA general manager Brett Jardine said the all-inclusive nature of the typical cruise ship product is hard to match when compared with a land-based holiday. In addition to accommodation, meals and entertainment, cruise ships are a destination in their own right meaning not only do holidaymakers wake up somewhere new most days, but the cost of transport is factored into the fare, he said.
On top of that, cruise lines offer a host of services designed to take the stress out of planning a holiday with many offering special deals on flights and accommodation in the cities where a cruise begins or ends, as well as transfers to the ship.
"Cruising makes for a fantastic family holiday because there's something for everyone onboard, from toddlers to grandparents and everyone in between. And unlike other holidays, the experience begins the moment you board your ship – so there are no cries of "Are we there yet?" enroute to your destination."
Families will find endless hours of entertainment with dozens of activities across the day and night including iceskating, sky diving, surfing, rappelling, bumper cars, rock climbing, dance lessons, water parks, live shows and outdoor cinemas. Kids clubs and babysitting services give parents time to relax child free, while early meal times allow families to get together and share a meal before heading off to their respective evening activities.
If you really want to bag a bargain, Jardine recommends booking as far in advance as possible to get the best deals and choice of stateroom, especially in the case of family groups who might want to take advantage of interconnecting cabins. Some cruise lines also offer special group deals to families.
Cruising is the kind of holiday that ticks all the boxes - from fantastic dining and entertainment to brilliant sightseeing in picturesque destinations. And most ships operate like clock work. While optional shore excursions and some onboard activities and experiences (like the spa, alcoholic drinks, specialty restaurants) are an additional cost to your cruise, this is the same as it would be for any holiday. The good thing is the bulk of your holiday is paid for – so you never have to worry about going back for seconds, or letting your child enjoy as many ice creams as their heart desires.
Sheriden Rhodes is a travel writer and photographer who travels the globe with her 'frequent small flyer', Ella. You can follow their adventures and pick up family travel tips on the Frequent Small Flyer Facebook page.