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Save Your Travel Sanity with a Multigenerational Cruise

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If you’d prefer getting a root canal to going on a holiday with your parents or in-laws, take heart. There is a way to vacation with the folks while minimizing family blow-ups. Booking a cruise with extended family is a fantastic way to be together, as much or as little as you’d like. And nobody has to cook or wash the dishes. Here’s why cruising is great for multigenerational travel sanity.

Alaskan Celebrity Cruise with kids

My family’s Alaskan Celebrity Cruise

We’ve done many trips with our extended family (both sets of grandparents and siblings) over the years, from beach and resort vacations to driving holidays through Europe. There are many benefits of multigenerational travel: sharing the costs of accommodations, food and travel; fostering family relationships across generations; celebrating family milestones; and creating lasting memories.

Of the many multigenerational vacations we’ve enjoyed, the one with the least amount of stress and internal strife was our extended-family cruise to Alaska in the fall of 2011.

Prior to this, we’d never cruised before, and frankly, I was skeptical of cruising. I thought, “We’re independent. We like to go at our own pace. We’ll be stuck on the ship. All we’ll do is eat all day.” I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Multigeneration cruise toast

A multigenerational toast at sea

Cruising offers a solution for everyone’s travel sanity

When considering a multigenerational vacation, there are so many factors to include in the decision-making process: the age, health and mobility of family members, everyone’s personal dietary and accommodation preferences, schedules and habits, personal finances, etc. It can be really difficult to come to any kind of agreement at all.

With cruising, all you really need to agree upon is the three keys – destination, dates, and cruise line. This can be tough enough, if Uncle Ben wants to cruise to Hawaii, Grandma is dreaming of Alaska, and the kids want to spend time in the Caribbean. It’s important to keep in mind what destination and cruise line works best for your family, and the type of holiday your group desires. But, once these three elements are decided upon and the cruise is booked, you really don’t have to worry about much else!

Multigenerational Cruise = relaxation for all

When you book a cruise, everything is taken care of. A multigenerational cruise = concierge, chauffer, waiter, butler, laundress and barista. Nobody has to drive, (or ask for directions!), shop for groceries, cook, do the dishes or the laundry, or make the beds. Every family member can truly relax and enjoy the holiday, whether it’s in the kids club, computer lab, casino, or by the pool.

Celebrity Cruise kitchen

A tour of Celebrity’s impressive kitchens

Food, glorious food!

Food is a big part of the appeal of cruising. It’s plentiful, delicious, and available 24/7. The fact that someone else has prepared it is icing on the cake for those of us who have to menu plan on a daily basis. Food quality can vary widely by cruise line. We traveled to Alaska with Celebrity Cruises. Although our cruise was much more than just eating all day, Celebrity is known for their excellent service and cuisine, and they certainly lived up to the reputation.

The variety of food and menu items offered, and the attention to dietary needs (i.e. diabetic, vegetarian, kosher, gluten-free, kids’ menu, low salt) is staggering. All you have to do is choose what you want to eat! I toured the galleys of our Celebrity Cruise ship and was amazed by the size of the kitchens, the quantity of the food stocked, and the number of meals prepared daily.


When traveling with older or less-mobile family members, health and ease of getting around can be important considerations. Cruise ships are wheelchair accessible and equipped with elevators. Medical care is on-board, in the form of ship’s health clinic with 24/7 medical staff. This provides peace of mind for anyone, no matter the age.


Cruising allows togetherness as well as independence. Each family unit occupies a different stateroom, which can vary in cost and luxury, and may be side-by-side or on different levels of the ship (a necessary separation for some traveling families). Kids get their own access cards and, depending on age, can come and go as they please, or as Mom allows. Nap schedules (for young and old) can be easily maintained, and families can meet at formal mealtimes and catch up on the day’s events. When someone needs a break, he or she can always seek refuge in the cabin, or go for a walk around the ship.

Alaskan multigenerational cruise

Bundled up on our Alaskan cruise


With the multitude of on-board recreational options and age-specific kids clubs (from babies to teens, depending on the cruise line), everyone can happily go off in many directions doing completely different activities, or nothing at all. On our Alaska cruise, the naturalist lectures appealed to half of our group, while the other half enjoyed activities of their own choosing. For shore excursions, we chose to go whale-watching in Juneau as a group of nine (with ages 5-75), but in Ketchikan, our family of four toured the town and the Saxman Native Village on our own.


Destinations and cruise lines vary widely in cost. It’s important to find a cruise package that will appeal to the majority of family members, and remain within everyone’s budget. You should also consider from where everyone will be traveling to depart on the cruise, and the costs involved in getting to that destination of choice. Fortunately, pricing has become more competitive and consumers have benefited from some great deals this year.

Are you nervous about sharing your family holiday time with your mom, or your mother-in-law? Or have you taken the multigenerational family travel plunge?  Let us know in the comments!

All photos by S. Laroye

About Claudia Laroye, The Curious Travel Mama

Claudia Laroye lives in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and two sons. She started traveling at a very young age, and has never stopped. She’s had the fortune of visiting more than 20 countries on four continents, and has also lived abroad in Sweden. Claudia is passionate about the travel experience and the value of traveling as a family. She is the founder of, and contributes to many online and print media publications around the world. Connect with Claudia on Twitter as @travelling_mom or Instagram as @itsclaudiatravels.

  1. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Claudia – I have been trying for years to convince my parents and siblings that we should all go on a cruise together! I so agree that cruising is a wonderful way to spend SOME time together, but not TOO MUCH time. I love that everyone can choose their daytime activities and easily convene for dinner & dishing about the day!

  2. Claudia Laroye says

    Keep working on it Colleen! It may be work to organize the many details, but it’s so worth the effort. The reward is that everyone will have a really great time, whether together and/or on their own.

  3. Nomadic Samuel says

    I have to admit going on a cruise ship was not something I thought of highly until recently hearing about the experience from a couple of my friends. I’m now trying to convince my parents to join me on one next year 🙂

  4. Claudia, I agree completely! We have been on three cruises with my in-laws (one in Alaska and two in the Caribbean) and they are the perfect way for everyone in the family to have the kind of vacation they want. We tend to do our own thing during the day and then meet up for dinner which is just the right amount of togetherness for me!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Lisa and Claudia – You two have convinced me. I am forwarding this post to my family as another plea to plan a family cruise! 🙂

  5. Claudia Laroye says

    Thank you for the comments Samuel and Lisa! After waiting so long to take our first cruise, we won’t hesitate to book a future cruise – somewhere warm this time!

  6. Terri @ Travel 50 States with Kids says

    My in-laws treated the entire family to a Caribbean cruise last Christmas. It was an amazing gift. We did some excursions together and some separately, and we also had three full days at sea. It was really nice to sit down together for dinner every night. I like independent travel when it’s just our immediate family, but for extended family, a cruise was ideal.

  7. I love this. My extended family has been saving up for a multi-generational Alaskan cruise in the next few years. Hopefully we will be able to all go.

  8. Claudia Laroye says

    Thanks Terri and Jen. A Caribbean cruise would be amazing. I could do with some poolside time right now.

  9. @kevinthepang says

    I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but
    your sites really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back in the future. Many thanks

  10. HokieKate says

    I agree that cruises are great for multigenerational families. For me, a huge advantage is THEY AREN’T IN MY SPACE!!! Also, everyone is billed separately and there isn’t any confusion about splitting checks.

    In 2012 we asked my husband’s parents if they’d be willing to watch our toddler at home while we went on a cruise to the Bahamas. They said they’d rather go on a cruise than babysit, so we all went together. I don’t particularly like when they visit our house, but being on the cruise with them was great. This year we’re cruising to Alaska with them, and taking two kids (the toddler is now three and we have another toddler!).

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Thanks for the input, HokieKate!

    • Claudia Laroye says

      Thanks for your comment, HokieKate. It’s all about establishing those comfortable boundaries, and keeping everyone happy. Sometimes you can be together too much, and a cruise ship allows for space. Enjoy your Alaskan cruise!

  11. Whitney Tidmore says

    In April 2011, my (now) husbands family and I went on a 7 day cruise. There were 18 of us in all. It was the best experience of my life! It was PERFECT because our ages ranged from the teens to the 80’s, and there are activities for every age! My husbands grandmother is wheel chair bound, and a cruise is by far the best thing to do with a grandmother in a wheelchair! We were able to have formal family dinners every night. Some of us did excursions with family members on different days, we would all have hang out times, and then times to ourselves. Cruises are perfect if you want to do a LARGE family vacation because you don’t have to worry about all the little issues when it normally comes to traveling, so family fights are MUCH more limited than they would be anywhere else.

    Saying all this, we loved it so much, we all booked another 7 day cruise for Feb 2016. We are so excited!

  12. jennifer oblander says

    Great post, thanks for sharing!! I have been with my extended family several times on a cruise. You have it right, it’s wonderful because it allows for as much time together or apart as you’d like and I find that there is something for everyone to do (or not do) the entire length of the cruise.
    Thanks again for posting!


  1. 50 Tips for Cruising with Family - R We There Yet Mom? says:

    […] making your cruise a Family Vacation.  Here is a great article on why a multi-generational cruise is so great.  Claudia Laroye of Travel […]

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