Cruising is a GREAT way to travel if you are a single parent! Most cruises are essentially all-inclusive, meaning your room, food, and most ship-board activities are pre-paid in the base cruise fare. The exceptions to this might be alcohol, specialty dining options, spa treatments, and gambling/bingo games. Most cruise ship itineraries also stop at several ports-of-call where you can engage in a variety of excursions at each port for an additional cost. However, it is entirely possible to purchase your cruise fare and not spend another penny while on the ship.

Cruising is also a great way to vacation and give your kid(s) some extra independence. Most ships offer kids-only clubs that offer a variety of activities – no parents allowed. This is a great way for your kid(s) make new friends and can be an especially important aspect of a vacation if you are the parent of an only child. It’s also easy for single moms and dads to meet other parents (single or not) and engage in some adults-only fun! I have to say, this was my and Junior Adventurer’s favorite part of our cruise vacation. He loved making new friends and having some control over how he spent his free-time (in the club), and I likewise enjoyed meeting new people and also having some “me time.” I also enjoyed the more laid-back atmosphere on the cruise. After multiple vacations that involved early mornings, set schedules, and rushing from place to place, it was nice to sit back and relax knowing that, for the most part, there was nowhere that we needed to be. So much so, that we will be cruising again in December 2015 for JA’s 11th birthday, at his request. A trip report for our Thanksgiving 2013 cruise out of Galveston, TX, on the Disney Wonder can be found here.

Cruise ships also said all over the world, including the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, and Europe. If you want to be able to visit multiple different ports of call but don’t see yourself schlepping luggage and sleeping in a different hotel every night, cruising is a great option.

So, what are the pros and cons of cruising, especially for single parents and their kids?

Pros Cons
  • Can be all-inclusive
  • Opportunities for parents and kids to socialize and make new friends
  • Laid-back, relaxing atmosphere
  • Cost – great deals can be found, if you are flexible on when you travel
  • Opportunities for parents and kids to have some independent free time
  • Seemingly unlimited access to food and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Inflexible dates of travel
  • Fixed itinerary
  • Limited ports of departure
  • Cost – can be expensive if you must travel during peak periods and/or need to fly to the departure port
  • Limited time to spend in each port of call

In the U.S., major cruise lines offer regular departures out of Port Canaveral, FL, Miami, FL, Galveston, TX, New Orleans, LA, San Diego, CA, New York, NY, and Seattle, WA. Typical itineraries range from 3-7 days.

While there are many cruise lines to choose from, there are some that are considered more-family friends. Links to the most popular cruise lines are provided below.  Each line offers multiples ships with different amenities and a variety of itineraries.

Disney Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean International

Carnival Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line

Celebrity Cruises

Princess Cruise Line

Holland America Line


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