5 reasons why a Royal Caribbean cruise is a great idea for a family-friendly holiday – It may be cheaper than you think!

March 18, 2024

Now that the March school holidays are done and dusted, it’s time to plan for the next big holiday. So I thought I should write this article for parents who are considering a cruise vacation with their children. School holidays are always a popular period for cruises, so it pays to book well in advance.

We recently went on a short 4D3N cruise to Penang with Royal Caribbean in January. It was our first ever cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t believe I spent all these years thinking that a cruise was expensive and not worth it. Totally changed my mind after this cruise; almost everything is inclusive and there are minimal logistics to worry about, so it’s definitely a great value holiday.

Here’s 5 reasons why we enjoyed our cruise so much!

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Lots of activities

If you’ve seen the pictures of any Royal Caribbean ship, you’ll know that these huge ships are action-packed with lots of things to do. On Spectrum of the Seas (the ship we sailed on), we enjoyed a whole gamut of activities ranging from the FlowRider, Ripcord by iFLY, Bumper Cars, Archery, North Star, Bingo, Trivia Quiz, Beanbag Throwing competition etc.

There are also the swimming pools of course, including an adults only pool and jacuzzi area called the Solarium. Believe it or not, we did not have enough time to cover every single activity on the ship during our 4D3N cruise! There was just that much to do.

Kids can also attend activities (such as science experiments) at the Adventure Ocean, while the adults enjoy a bit of me-time at one of the numerous bars. In fact, they even provide baby-sitting services for the younger kids (at a relatively reasonable fee) as well.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to travel to the USA, you can even check out the recently launched Icon of the Seas. It is the latest and largest ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet to be launched and is even more crammed with action. It has eight neighbourhoods, seven pools, and six record-breaking slides at the largest waterpark at sea. Check out those neon-coloured water slides which seem to go on forever!

Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise, your kids will never be bored. Added bonus, screen time will be reduced!

Lots of food

Pictures of our food from the Main Dining Room, and is complimentary for all guests on board the cruise

I love that there are so many dining options on the ship, and many are included as part of the cruise package without additional charge. There’s no need to try and steer the kids towards cheaper food options, which admittedly, I sometimes do to keep within budget. If they want steak in the Main Dining Room, they are free to order steak! 

Being the foodies that we are, we were all very excited by the idea that the cruise would essentially be a 4D3N long “buffet” for us!

Minimal logistics

Once you’re on the ship, there’s no need to worry about changing hotels, or thinking about transportation. You can just simply walk to the activities or to the restaurants. This is such a convenience and time-saver, especially when you are in a large group or have young kids in tow.

Fuss-free diaper changes and nap times

One of the biggest worries when bringing a young child overseas is finding a suitable place to do diaper changes. You can’t predict when a baby will poop and the last thing you want is to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no clean baby-changing room in sight.

It’s relatively ok in Singapore because you are sure to find a decent baby-changing room as long as you stick to the malls. Dining at a restaurant in a hotel is surprisingly an iffy affair. Not all hotels, even the 5-star ones, have baby-changing rooms / stations. Tourist attractions can also be a harrowing affair. There will be baby-changing rooms but due to the sheer number of people using them, more often than not, the rooms are not in the best state of cleanliness. If this were the situation already in Singapore, imagine what one needs to navigate while overseas with a baby or a young child?

Kiddos having some downtime in the room while Papa and Mama down a cocktail on the balcony….

And that’s why having your own room on the cruise to run back to whenever you need is a god-send! There’s no need to be on the lookout for the nearest baby-changing room. It’s also easy to juggle holiday activities and naptimes. When baby looks tired, the room is just a short walk away.

Kid-friendly, from kids pass, menu and kids club

It’s no secret that all Royal Caribbean cruises are very kid-friendly. I guess I don’t need to repeat yet again that there are many activities that are suitable for kids. But it’s also the small touches which make the kids feel included and not as an afterthought. 

For example, soon after boarding, every passenger receives a Sea Pass. My son was overjoyed and felt very grown up at having his own pass, which he could use to open the room door, or even pay for things such as games at the arcade.

Also every sit-down restaurant has a kids menu with kid-friendly meals, which made my kids look forward to meal times even more. All the staff we met at the various restaurants and activities were very friendly too, often offering hi-5s to my kids!

The Adventure Ocean Kids Club, with a play area on the lower floor and a room with facilitators and activities on the upper floor.

Having a kids club on board the ship is great too. It means that the adults are able to get a breather from junior to enjoy the cruise facilities. Which means a more relaxing holiday for both young and old. Which means you’re more likely to want to bring your kids on a cruise than on a “normal” holiday where you might be completely exhausted by the end of the trip!

Do note though that kids who are still wearing diapers (even if they are swim diapers) are not allowed in any of the pools. They can go to the splash-about wet area (not a pool though) specifically for babies and toddlers. This is in the interest of hygiene, which no doubt has to be more stringent for a cruise as compared to on land.

Read the full review of our 4D3N cruise to Penang with Royal Caribbean Cruises

A cruise might be more affordable than you think

Our 4D3N Royal Caribbean cruise to Penang in a balcony stateroom for 2 adults and 2 kids if booked well in advance costs slightly less than SGD$2000. At first glance, $2000 might not seem that cheap. But let’s do the math:

Flights for 4 on a full-service airline = $200 x 4 = $800

Hotel x 3 nights = $100 x 3 = $300

Food for 4 pax x 3 days (assume $10 per person per lunch/dinner and $5 per breakfast) = $100 x 3 = $300

Transportation including airport transfers (assume taxis) = $200

Total = $1,600 spent

The total for airfares, accommodations, food and transportation already amounts to approx $1,600. This doesn’t include any activities or entertainment. And the food costs might be way more than $100 per day if you eat at restaurants (comparing apples to apples). Not to mention fuss-free logistics, which itself is worth something!

Although a port visit to Penang that spans half a day might seem like a short time for sightseeing, Royal Caribbean cruises offer shore excursions tailored to maximise one’s time there. Guests can go on a cultural trishaw ride around Penang landmarks or visit the famous temples and bustling markets to learn about the local heritage. On the longer sailings, there are also overnight stays at certain destinations (eg the 5 nights Spice of South East Asia cruise), which allow more time for exploration. Not forgetting that on a cruise holiday, there are so many things to do that would keep the kids entertained!

Just to note: The last available cruise on the Spectrum of the Seas departing from Singapore will be in April 2024. It will then make its way to China, where its home port will be thereafter. The Anthem of the Seas will then be based in Singapore starting from November 2024. The Anthem is a sister ship of the Spectrum, hence many of the activities and and restaurants are the same, although there will still be some exciting differences such as being able to catch the award-winning musical We Will Rock You, which features hit songs by Queen.

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