Multi generational family on a cruise ship

9 Mistakes Families Make on a Multigenerational Cruise Vacation

Are you planning a multigenerational cruise? If so, you need to read this so you don’t make these common mistakes that can ruin your cruise vacation. Cruises are a very popular multigenerational vacation. According to a cruise industry report, a third of cruise travelers sail with at least 2 generations, and 28% of cruise travelers sail with 3 to 5 generations! Here are common mistakes made by families on a multigenerational cruise. 

Multi Generational Family Cruise Mistakes

1. Don’t Force Everyone to One Shore Excursion

It’s a common mistake for families on a multigenerational cruise to book the same shore excursion for everyone. The reality is that one size does not fit all when it comes to shore excursions. It’s sometimes better to split up! 

Some family members may prefer a less strenuous and more relaxed experience, while others will want a more exhilarating one. 

For example, choosing a less active shore excursion that accommodates grandma with mobility issues is not always the best option. Because the teenagers in your group will want a more thrilling adventure. It’s simply not possible to please everyone with a single plan.

I learned this lesson the hard way during a British Isle Cruise in Edinburgh. I chose a shore excursion labeled “easy,” which means it’s not very physically demanding and suitable for individuals with mobility issues. 

It was perfect for my mother-in-law, but my kids found it incredibly boring and slow-paced. My kids would have enjoyed a more exciting shore excursion!

Multi-generational cruise mistakes

2. Don’t Book Guaranteed Cabins

When planning a multigenerational cruise, don’t make the mistake of booking guaranteed cabins. It might be tempting to book guaranteed cabins since that is the cheapest option, but choosing it lets the cruise line decide where you’ll be staying. 

Since you’re traveling with a large group, it’s better to have some control over your cabin locations to ensure that you’re all close to each other. Choosing guaranteed cabins will most likely mean your group will be split up, and your cabins will be spread out across different decks and sections of the ship. 

I personally think it’s worth spending a little extra to be able to choose your cabins and try to get adjacent ones, so you can all be near each other during the cruise.

3. Keep Everyone Together

In order to keep your family together, it’s important to book the same tier cabins for everyone in your group. For example, if part of your group is in a suite, make sure everyone is booked in the same category. 

Some cruise lines, like Norwegian and MSC, offer exclusive categories, such as Haven and Yacht Club, with suite cabins that have access to special dining rooms, private sun decks, and lounges. 

When planning a multi-generational cruise, it might seem appealing to book grandma and grandpa in a Yacht Club room, but this means they will be separated from the rest of the family since they will dine in their exclusive dining room while the rest of the family can’t join them.

4. Pre-Book Your Shore Excursions

Many people make the mistake of not pre-booking their shore excursions when going on multigenerational cruises. It’s important to plan ahead and book them online, especially since popular shore excursions tend to sell out, making it difficult to accommodate everyone in a large group. You want to plan ahead and pre-book, so your group gets its first choice shore excursions.

Multi-generational cruise mistakes

5. Book Private Shore Excursions

Before booking shore excursions, you should always compare the prices of private tours for your family with those of regular tours. 

Private tours can sometimes be cheaper for large groups. They’re also more attractive because you don’t have to share the tour with strangers. 

Make sure to compare prices between the cruise shore excursion and independent tour operators such as viator. In my experience, independent tour operators often offer lower prices compared to the cruise.

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6. Don’t Overschedule Shore Excursions

Multi-generational families often make the mistake of overscheduling their shore excursions during a cruise. Going on tours every day can be exhausting for everyone. The kids will complain, and grandparents will be too tired to participate. 

To avoid this, it’s best to take it easy and don’t book too many consecutive shore excursions. Give your family a break from shore excursions. They will welcome the downtime to explore the port on their own. 

If some family members want to go on shore excursions, splitting up the group is okay. For example, the grandparents can stay on the ship during one of the port days, and the kids can stay in the kids club while some of the adults go out on shore excursions. This way, everyone can enjoy their vacation without feeling overwhelmed or overexerted.

7. Pre-Book Cruise Transfer

It’s important for families to plan their transportation before and after a cruise. Trying to figure it out at the last minute is not ideal. Since you’re traveling with a large group, getting taxis or Ubers to and from the cruise ship can be tough because you’ll need multiple cars.

Play it safe and call your hotel ahead of time to ask about reserving a large van for transfer. 

You can also check with independent travel sites like Viator to arrange port transfers for your group. Doing this will eliminate the stress of waiting for taxis or Uber, so you’ll have a more relaxed trip.

8. Book Your Table in the Main Dining Room

One common mistake many families make is not booking dinner reservations in advance. Since you’re with a large group, showing up at the Main Dining Room without a reservation means you’ll have a long wait. 

Be smart and make your reservations for each night of your cruise right from the start. This way, you can avoid the hassle of dealing with hangry adults and cranky kids while waiting for a table! 

Trust me, you’ll want to book your tables in advance so you can walk right into the main dining room without having to wait for a table!

9. Keep Expectations Realistic

When going on a multigenerational cruise vacation, it’s important to set realistic expectations about doing activities together. It’s simply not possible logistically! 

When I cruise with family, I make it clear that we always have dinner together. This allows everyone to do their own activities during the day, and we regroup for dinner. Don’t make it difficult for your group- even coordinating breakfast can be tricky due to different waking times! 

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