Part 4: Cruises

So many of our influential contributors wrote extensively about Cruises as a wonderful vacation for the Single Parent Traveler, therefore we decided this deserves a section of its own!

At Last! Some Free Time Away from the Kids

Dave Beers, Editor of Cruise Reviews enlightens us on some of the joys of the cruise ship:

"One of the most appealing vacation choices for the single parent is taking a cruise. There is a cruise line to fit any lifestyle or budget, and more importantly a cruise also offers things for children to do so the single parent doesn�t have to spend all their time supervising the kids.

"All of the major cruise lines have youth programs that cater to various age groups. Each program is strictly supervised and staffed by well-qualified counselors. This can be a great source of relief to the single parent who wants to get away for some fun and relaxation but not leave the children at home or with relatives. The kids have their fun with others their age, while Mom or Dad can have some private time just a deck or two away with no worries. In fact, many cruise lines will provide parents with a pager that the youth staff can call if needed.

"The new large ships such as the Norwegian Epic or the Oasis of the Seas (and sister ship Allure of the Seas) offer excellent facilities and variety for the single parent. With loads of different dining and entertainment options, the single parent and kids can have almost endless possibilities for doing things together or on their own.

"An important thing to note for divorcees is that cruise lines can and do ask for proof of custody should the children be cruising with the single parent. For those still legally married but living separately, a notarized letter from the other parent granting approval for the kids to go on the cruise will be required. It is important to know the rules and make sure you have the necessary documentation before you arrive at the pier. To that end, I strongly encourage single parents traveling with their children to use a travel agent who specializes in cruises."

You can even swim with Dolphins!

Anthony Parker, Discovery Cruise Line adds:

"Single Parents have the challenge of finding the right vacation choice for both parent and child. They also have to be concerned about the high cost of air travel, especially if there is more than one child. A single parent should want a method of travel that is kid friendly and safe. Discovery�s All-Inclusive All the Way Cruise provides the perfect, fun way to travel. Discovery�s destination of Grand Bahama couldn�t be better for children. The waters are among the most beautiful in the world, you can snorkel, enjoy water sports, sail, and even swim with the dolphins. There is a wide range of resorts, from budget to deluxe to all-inclusive. Cruise to Grand Bahama with Discovery and start the day with an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. Onboard, there�s a kids club with arts, crafts and games, as well as a Wii room, movies, spacious sun decks, a pool and activities like limbo, hoola hoop contests and more. Parents can relax, knowing that once they are on board they don�t have to pay one cent more; sodas, milk, food, games, even premium cocktails for mom or dad are all included. Discovery offers special rates for kids. The staff couldn�t be friendlier and the service is great. So why fly when your vacation begins the moment you board Discovery?"

The Ideal Vacation for Single Parents

Greg Nacco of Cruise Specialists weighs in with an equally compelling opinion:

"Cruising is an ideal vacation for single parents. Whether the parent is actually single or traveling solo with child, cruising affords a myriad of activities for both child and adult, inclusive and exclusive of one another. Many of the cruise lines have developed extensive onboard programming to assist in entertaining and educating children of all ages. Adults can enjoy the variety of shipboard activities and shore side excursions, knowing that their child or children are in professional care. Cruising is also an ideal multi-generational vacation as well. Not all cruise lines are best suited for children, so make sure you contact a professional travel agent or do your research so you match expectation with experience."

"Cruises certainly seem to be an extremely popular choice for the single parent traveler. However contributor Ross A. Klein of Cruise Junkie would still counsel the Single Parent to exercise the usual cautions.

"When thinking about a cruise, a single parent needs to consider whether the cruise ship offers age-specific activities. In addition, no matter which cruise one chooses, a parent needs to treat the cruise ship like any big city with anonymous others. So take the usual precautions. Don�t be lulled into a belief that a cruise ship is virtually safe. There are other crimes as well, such as theft and simple assault. This isn�t an argument against cruises or should it suggest you are likely to be victimized on a cruise. Instead, it is an argument for going aboard with the proper state of mind in order to reduce the possibility of something happening. Bon voyage!"

Some advice for those Cruise �Shopping Days� in Dock - Nail down that Bargain folks

Steve Dasseos of Trip Insurance Store offers us some particularly expert advice for those days when you dock at a local harbor for a day out shopping, with money now as tight as ever - worth taking note:

"Are you cruising to Cozumel, Mexico? Want to save some money at the docks?

"As a tourist, how do you know if the vendor or merchant is giving you and your child(ren) the best deal? Of course you don't really know. And in the course of your day out shopping, isn't it frustrating to find the same item for a lot less money?

"You can ignore the following advice if you are one of those single parents, who as portrayed on TV, have plenty of money for anything you want to do. On the other hand, if you are a normal, hard-working and dedicated single parent, I hope these tips will help you save some money.

"The last time I cruised into Cozumel, I noticed some signs hidden behind the vendors' booths. What was I doing back there? I was showing one of my friends a colorful bird perched up on a ledge. Later, as we were returning to the ships, I saw the vendors getting those signs out. The signs said Big Sale & Prices Slashed.

Here are two useful tips to save you money on souvenirs at Cozumel's cruise ship docks:

  • 1. Don't buy at the shops near the docks when you come off the ship in the morning. Wait until the afternoon when people are starting to head back to the ship. At that time, you'll see the vendors putting up their Big Sale & Prices Slashed signs. They do this every day. You may notice the signs are a little worn, too.
  • 2. Always always make an offer or bid on the things you're interested in buying. In Latin America, bargaining is a way of buying things in the marketplaces or from street vendors.

You might be thinking but the prices are already low to start with. Sure, the merchant would be happy to take your money at full price, but have some fun, and enjoy yourself. Every seller has a lowest price that they'll part with an item for, so don't worry about paying too little for an item."


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