Taking a family cruise has been a popular vacation choice for years, perhaps now more than ever. The Cruise Line Industry of America (CLIA) reports nearly 22 million passengers traveled on cruise ships last year and over 50 percent of them were American. As a result, many cruise lines have added more sailings from U.S. cities, giving us more choices now than ever before.
While we don’t know exactly how many of those passengers identify as LGBT, we know that, historically, cruising has been a popular choice—particularly once kids enter the picture. And for good reason.
Cruises tend to be “easy” in that you only check in once but can visit a lot of places your family is interested in without having to pack and unpack for each destination. And, due to the many restaurant choices onboard, you never have to worry about where you’re going to eat your next meal, unlike when you may be traveling on land. And, importantly, cruises are fun! On most ships, there are a wide variety of onboard activities everyone can enjoy, regardless of age.
The biggest challenge for most people is selecting the cruise line (and ship) that fits your families’ needs, budget and personalities. With so many options, that can be a daunting task.
GayFamilyTrips.com has put together a primer to help you navigate the cruising waters (pun intended). We reached out to representatives at each of the major cruise lines that market to families to find out more about them, including:
- How LGBT-welcoming they are
- Their diversity training programs for employees
- Special onboard features that may appeal to families
- Their most popular routes
We’ll be posting short profiles of the various cruise lines individually over the next few months. We’ve also created a helpful list of potential costs that you may want to take into consideration before booking a cruise (see below).
If you and your family have sailed with any of the cruise lines we profile, we hope you’ll share your experience with our readers in the Comments section.
Use our helpful “cruising” tag to find all the specific cruise line posts, or use the links below:
- Royal Caribbean International
- Disney Cruise Line
- Holland America Line
- Carnival Cruise Line
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Celebrity Cruise Line
Included and Hidden Costs of Cruising
While cruise fares are often advertised as “all-inclusive,” the fact is that what’s included can vary greatly by cruise line. Make sure you ask your travel agent about additional fees and costs before booking so you can budget for them in advance. Not surprisingly, the more luxurious and expensive cruise lines often have fewer more amenities included in the base fare.
Here’s a list of things you should ask about or take into consideration when budgeting:
- Taxes and port charges
- The deck and location of your cabin (higher deck, bigger cabin and balconies cost more)
- Airfare and transportation to and from the ship
- Travel insurance
- Beverages (specialty drinks, alcoholic beverages, coffee/tea, soda and bottled water)
- Surcharges for specialty restaurants
- Spa treatments and gym facilities
- Specialty fitness classes
- Gratuities for crew (per passenger)
- Kids Clubs and Babysitting
- Ship to Shore Communications (Internet access)
- Ship photos, souvenirs and keepsakes
- Specialty sweets and treats