If you are traveling in a family of 4 or 5, many cruise lines actually offer you several different cabins or cabin combinations that allow your family to cruise in comfort. Be sure to consider all of your options when looking for family accommodations and learn the ins and outs of booking these rooms.
Family Size Cabins
One of the most convenient ways to cruise as a family is in a family size cabin. These cabins can vary from cruise line to cruise line and even from ship to ship with-in the same cruise line. Generally, a family cabin is about the size of two cabins or a suite, but configured to provide accommodations for 4 or more people. We have stayed in two different versions of these types of cabins on our Celebrity cruises and will enjoy the newest version on our upcoming Solstice cruise.
Family Ocean View with or with out Veranda on Mercury
The first one was a Family Ocean View on the Celebrity Mercury. Then we stayed in the same cabin on the same ship after it had gone through a dry dock refit and the previously public deck outside the cabin had been converted to a private balcony. This cabin featured a double bed (actually a little small for 2 adults), two lower single beds, and an upper Pullman bed. During the conversion they removed one of the lower beds to add the door the balcony and changed the lower bed to be used as either a pull-out sofa bed or a single day bed. The Mercury also has a few inside cabins configured with the same 5 person capacity.
Pluses: Extra space over a standard cabin, a sliding translucent partition for privacy, and a cost that is just slightly more than a standard outside or veranda cabin.
Minuses: Small master bed surrounded by walls on three sides so that you must climb over your sleeping partner to enter and exit the bed. Located on the back of a ship (Mercury) that tends to vibrate excessively when steerting thrusters are in use. (This is especially noticeable during early morning docking.)
Family Veranda on Summit
This room is quite a bit bigger than the family rooms on the Mercury, allowing for the full sized king size bed with access from three sides instead of one. This room also features a translucent sliding divider for privacy, two TV’s, an over size balcony and both a flip over single sofa bed and pull out double sofa bed.
Pluses: The huge over sized balcony is incredible. This room is extremely spacious and well laid out. Lots of closet space and even space to store luggage.
Minuses:The only negative is that you could have 5 people sharing one bath room.
Family Veranda Solstice Class
We have yet to take our voyage, but have one of these rooms booked for our upcoming Trans Atlantic. The cabin is really a three room suite witha living area, and two seperate bedrooms off of that room.
Pluses: This room sizes up at a whopping 525 sqare feet. The three seperate rooms offer complete privacy. The price is a bit more than a standard balcony room but not quite as expensive as a suite.
Minuses: The room is right up front on the ship which can mean quite a bit of movement during high seas. Also, while the 8th deck rooms have a large side balcony, the same rooms on the 7th floor have a much smaller partially closed in balcony.
Family Cabins on Other Cruise Lines:
All our our families recent cruises have been with Celebrity, but many other cruise lines offer this type of larger non suite cabin to help make cruising more affordable for families.
Disney: All of Disney’s cabins are designed for families easily accommodating 4 and with separate shower, toilet and vanity areas in the bath rooms to allow for easier access to the facilities.
Royal Caribbean: Voyager and Freedom class ships features several ocean view family rooms that can accommodate up to 6, as well as many options connecting cabin options. Oasis class ships will feature Presidential Family Suites that are ideal for families celebrating a reunion on the cruise. These rooms will accommodate up to 14 passengers in a room that includes two master bedrooms. In addition they will also offer the more traditional Family state rooms that will accommodate up to 6 passengers. Radiance class also offers larger state rooms to families.
Carnival: With Carnival your best bet for families is either two rooms either connecting or across the hall from each other. However, the typical standard room on a Carnival ship is usually slightly larger than some of the standard rooms offered on other lines.
Princess & Holland America: Again you best bet if you want more space than a traditional room that can accommodate 4, you’ll need to book more than one cabin.
NCL: Many of NCL’s newest ships feature family suites that are designed to accommodate larger groups.
Most cruise lines offer connecting rooms that could easily accommodate 4, 5 or even 6 passengers.
Pluses: These cabins allow parents to enjoy privacy while still being just a door away from their children. Younger children can even share the cabin with parents while the older children could stay in the connecting cabin. There are also two bathrooms available.
Minuses: The first four passengers in two connecting cabins would pay the full price for the cruise. Sometimes the connecting cabins are not available with balconies or in better locations.
Balcony and Inside
Sometimes cruisers will book a balcony cabin across the hall from a less expensive inside cabin. Most often one parent will have to be booked in each of rooms, but usually the cruise lines will issue keys for passengers sharing these two cabins to allow access to both. Parents of younger kids might want to split up and sleep in the different cabins with their children, while parents of responsible teens could sleep in balcony across the hall.
Pluses: This arrangement allows families to have extra closet space, two bath rooms, plenty of room space and access to a private balcony.
Minuses: I have heard of cruise lines or agents making mistakes and the rooms which were thought to be right across the hall from each other turned out to be on different sides of the ship. Also, it makes it more difficult for parents to keep track of their teens, which might not be a good idea with less responsible teens.
Parents might not like splitting up to sleep at night in separate rooms with younger kids.
Ins and Outs of Booking Family Accommodations
The secret to booking these types of cabins is to book early and take a further step to inquire into their availability. Often when you log on, your cruise line’s web site it won’t show any of these cabins available for booking even when they are not completely booked. This is the measure put in place to allow booking under special conditions. The cruise lines will sometimes hold these cabins for families of 5 or more. However, I have booked some of these cabins for my family of 4, so it may also depend on the particular ship or cruise. During holiday times when kids are more likely to be on board, they book early and almost always to larger groups. Early booking is also a key to getting one of these cabins. Often families planning reunions will book these cabins as soon as booking options are released. However, sometimes they are released back to general booking so if you inquire often, you may be able to upgrade a current booking to one of these cabins.