Kids on a Cruise: 9 Things Every Parent Should Do

February 21, 2012 | By | 22 Comments

Kids in the pool, kids in the main dining room, kids in the theaters. They really bring out the worst — and best — in cruisers. As much as our readers debate the subject, there’s one thing most people agree on: It’s the parents, not the children, who are mainly to blame when the status quo on board is disrupted by thuggish behavior.
As a parent of two cruise-mad teens who’ve sailed on some 15 ships, I know what it’s like with youngsters onboard — and I’ve come up with my own code of conduct for parents on cruise ships.

Always know where your children are, and if they’re charging round the ship unattended, yelling and disturbing people, stop them. Just because a crewmember hasn’t intervened does not make this conduct acceptable. On a Norwegian ship, I even saw kids running in and out of the crew areas.
If a ship has a family pool and an adults-only pool, respect this and keep the kids out of the adults’ pool. And the hot tub.
Allowing kids to pee in the pool because you can’t be bothered to take them to the bathroom is never, ever OK.
Nobody expects a parade of mini-me toddlers in tuxedos on formal night, but make at least some effort to have the whole family dress up a bit.
Teach children to respect the crew and to say “please” and “thank you” when being served. Learning a few basic table manners doesn’t go amiss, either.
Put exhausted toddlers to bed at night (if the ship offers babysitting) or in the night nursery. Nobody wants to sit with a wailing child lashed into a carriage throughout dinner.
Same goes for the shows: If the entertainment isn’t suitable for children, don’t take them. Having them sit in the theater, playing noisy games on an iPad because they’re bored, is selfish, not to mention rude to the performers.
Show a bit of respect for the facilities on board. Members Brian and Carol watched kids breaking the free ice cream machine on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas and reported on the Cruise Critic UK blog: “All their parents could do was laugh!”
And think about safety. Don’t you care? Member Ken Roper comments: “On Grand Princess, in a rough sea, I saw three under 10s, unsupervised, on the promenade deck, SKATEBOARDING.
 When I reported this to the service desk I was told that it had been dealt with. I was also told that the parents knew that their children had packed the boards.”
Want to rein the kids in onboard? See our suggestions on Controlling Your Kids at Sea.
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    22 Responses to “Kids on a Cruise: 9 Things Every Parent Should Do”

    1. Kate
      February 21st, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

      I am going to add one on here- teenagers need to check in too. Recent sexual attacks on underage girls by older male guests on board show that just because you are on vacation you should not allow your kids to skip curfew.

    2. LAURIE Hopper
      February 21st, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

      Those are words to live by, be respectful, we want the kids to have a great time too, but sometimes parents forget that its not all about there little angels!! If all parents would do this more people would not mind kids being on board!!!

    3. Barbara Prisinzano
      February 21st, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

      Very well put,I was on the NCL last year alot of kids ,dont get me wrong i love kids ,Butt that cruise was a night mair, from Hell” The kids were sooo bad, Parents let them do whatever they wanted, to do,because it was their vacation to. I hope i dant go through that again. my next cruise is in April 2012 no NCL Gem, lets hope this one is better!! Barb

    4. Carolyn
      February 21st, 2012 @ 7:38 pm

      I wish we could take your article & frame it and have a copy on every ship, to be seen by all parents as they board. I love kids, I have three(now grown) and five grandchildren, so I’m not a “kid hater”. I do believe the responsibility for the children’s behavior lies with the parents and not the crew. Great letter, now if we could just get parents to pay attention to it. Lol

    5. Barbara Prisinzano
      February 21st, 2012 @ 7:40 pm

      next time i better check my spelling!!

    6. devans00
      February 21st, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

      Most of these apply on land too. Basically the message to parents is: realize other people exist and they don’t think your kids’ anti-social behavior is cute. Your job to teach them how to co-exist.

    7. Susan Doyle
      February 21st, 2012 @ 8:05 pm

      Don’t get me wrong…i LOVE children and I have loved cruising with my own daughter However, every parent considering taking their children should read this. It is disappointing to see adults take their children on vacation only to take a vacation from parenting as well…letting their children run wild and ruining the vacations of others. Sadly, we experienced the one example provided above first hand on our last cruise…a father and toddler were camped in one of the ships hot tubs when they suddenly left…soon after ship crew members roped off the area and began removing “debris”, cleaning, and sanitizing…it remained closed for the rest of the day. Many ships post age limits for certain areas or provide designated areas for children and families…yet this family chose to disregard those suggestions/rules as not applying to them and instead majorly inconvenienced many others…crew and passengers alike. Sad.

    8. Scott Lara
      February 21st, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

      Amen and Amen. Also, parents dont take a vacation from being a parent! Never allow your children to run down those VERY long hallways and tell them not to touch every cookie on the lido buffet until they find the one with the most chocolate chips. Lastly, tell your kids not to cut in line at the lido buffet.

    9. Jim
      February 21st, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

      Our kids were 18 and 15 when we went on our first cruise. They could enjoy it and remember it. If you can’t control your young kids, then don’t take them. It’s not rocket science, people.

    10. Duro
      February 21st, 2012 @ 11:26 pm

      I was on the Legend OTS one summer(2007) doing a Mediterranean I was amazed at how many teens and toddlers were on board, there was chaos everywhere children were on the stairs playing in elevators kids in the Dinning rms no curfew kids running down the halls where the cabins ,babies in the adult pools with thier pool toys I was so upset we couldnt enjoy the pool and talked to a crew member in the pool area that signs were posted about toddlers in diapers and all he did was shrug and did nothing, I make sure I never cruise during the summer or holiday breaks, the same happpened on the Independence they make such cute big pools for the children but parents still put thier toddlers in the adult pool and hot tubs and the solarium pools teens jump right in. I have heard about the Oasis and Allure that families with many children running everywhere I dont think I will be booking on those cruises I find Trans Atlantic are good for me not much teens or children but I pick carefully and follow the posting threads to see who have kids with them you can find out by just reading the post because they try to match up thier kids for companionship.
      But there are annoucements at the muster drills now that certain behaviors are not tolerated and they will have them exit on the next port. Don’t forget sometimes thier is no toilets working when kids plug them up we have had annoucements on one cruise that someones child had plugged up the system , now many cruise later for me I have carefully picked my cruises……Is thier really someone on the ship that enforces rules they should be noticeable like wear something that shows your the Ship police………….

    11. Christina
      February 22nd, 2012 @ 1:56 am

      Very good article, I wish every parent in the world would live by these rules. The only problem I usually have with kids on board ( and I have a 10 yr old who I have told NEVER to do this) is kids taking a running JUMP into the hot tubs! Then they proceed to swim around! Then they get out and do it over and over, sometimes hitting someone in the process. Meanwhile the parent is either in the hot tub doing nothing about it, or nowhere to be seen. I always say something to the kids, I don’t care. Hot tubs are for relaxing, not jumping and swimming. I can’t stand this!

    12. Jane
      February 22nd, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

      Wow…angry much? Here’s my code of conduct for bloggers: Don’t be so condescending to your readers and don’t paint us all with the same brush. Don’t assume everyone has the same kids you have.

    13. Gene
      February 23rd, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

      We have two young kids (2.5 and 4.5) and travel twice a year with them. Our kids are experienced travellers, but they are still kids.

      Rule # 1 Parents with kids on vacation need to be responsible and teach responsibility to their kids. Be fair to your surroundings.

      Rule #2 Pay attention to naps, food, bathroom, necessities of life. On airplanes, give your kids drinks to balance their ears on takeoff and landings.

      Rule #3 During travel is NOT the time to discipline your child. Give them their little toy to shut them up, it is only for a couple of hours and will not harm your long term discipline approach.

      Rule #4 Treats are OKAY on vacation, for everyone. Use the babysitting/camps services, and if the vacation doesn’t have one, why are you going on it? Disney and other lines have great camps, use them!

      those are my words of wisdom, they have served us well, enjoy!

    14. christy
      February 23rd, 2012 @ 2:40 pm

      I’m a confused mother of two little daughters who love to cruise. I mean why is this even a topic? Shouldn’t we be teaching our kids respect, good manners and boundaries everyday! Our kids are not saints but we can take them to any restaurant or on any vacation and they know the rules and know they will follow them. It’s not an option. Seriously parents, let’s get a back bone. Cruise ship employees are not there to raise up your kids. Keep them in check and you can still have a good time. OK maybe I’m less confused and more sassy. ;)

    15. randiq
      February 23rd, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

      Totally not a kid hater, but sadly, even on Disney, or maybe especially because its Disney many parents seem to forget that they are parents and let their kids do whatever, wherever. My son is 13 years old, on our most recently cruise we were watching an 11:00 PM movie in the theater. There were a group of about 8 teens, jumping back and forth over the chairs and chasing each other down the rows.

      One dad near the front of the theater ended up getting up and telling them to cut it out. I don’t think any of the kids were his. Two of them sat down, three others walked out of theater. The other three stood there in the theater telling him that he had know business telling them what to do and were horribly rude.

      We really couldn’t believe the attitude, my son was pretty surpised a not happy about how those other kids were bahaving and made the comment that no wonder people don’t like teenagers. It all comes down to parenting what we will and won’t tolerate and how much attention we pay to our kids.

    16. kathy kiger
      February 23rd, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

      Hooray for the few parents who teach and raise their children with courtesy, respect and civility. This is what cruisers would greatly appreciate. I do not believe that is asking too much. Parenting is not for the lazy.

    17. Charlene
      February 23rd, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

      Rules are rules and not meant to be broken..I don’t understand why there are some who try to break the rules!! On our cruise just 1 week ago I saw parents put their children in the audlt pool because the other was to full!! When the sign says \AUDLTS ONLY\ why do parents not understand that!!

    18. Linda
      February 23rd, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

      Seems like some adult kids fit this description! I use adult loosely! Especially in folowing dress code rules! “It’s MY vacation!” if you get my drift. Some ill trained children grow up to be ill trained adults.

      Whose the “Boss” parents? Seems the children are. Your so wanting to be their friend and liked that you dare not discipline. Be their parent they need you! They’ll ike you for it in the end.

    19. random australian
      February 24th, 2012 @ 12:26 am

      A couple of comments have suggested that people take a vacation from parenting, I’m very dubious of this. All the evidence I’ve seen suggests that people parent in much the same way regardless of time or place. If children run wild on a cruise and break stuff then you can probably assume that they do the same at home. There are certain types of misbehaviour that kids won’t even think of unless they have practiced their way towards it over a period of time.

      I agree that the rules should generally be obeyed, but reasonable people can determine exceptions to some rules. For example I took my child to a hot tub that was apparently reserved for adults (according to the ship plan although there were no immediate signs that I noticed) during a rain storm. Most adults just don’t want to be in a hot tub during bad weather so IMHO there’s no harm in a child having a chance to explore different hot tubs.

      Also I think that people should be careful about what types of unexpected behavior they make an issue out of. There are a lot of special needs kids out there who look quite average. A parent who wants to make things more pleasant for everyone else and lets their special needs child get away with minor things to avoid causing a big disturbance can look much like a loser parent who doesn’t care about other people.

    20. saverio campano
      February 24th, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

      on my daughter’s first cruise ( she was almost 3) she seemed a little mad. I asked what was wrong, and she was mad that no one told her the sun went into the water at night. That’s something I’ll never forget, and if she wasn’t there it would have never happened.

    21. virgil peugh
      February 28th, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

      am going on rcl-enchantment of the seas- on nov.1 2012 am asking if there is a way to find out how many children are going on that trip-am deciding if to take our grandchilden-please let me know how thank you so much

    22. kristine jessen
      April 4th, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

      FYI if your kids are misbehaving in a hot tub that they don’t belong in, i will nicely but firmly ask them to leave. if they chose to continue misbehaving i will remove them. and have a crew member deliver them back to you. the expectation is that the child will respect an adults request. i would like to believe that fully 7 out of 10 kids will comply. i simply refuse to let those other 3 kids (and their sorry excuse for parents) to wreck my first cruise.

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