Lindblad Expeditions is an ideal family vacation for exploring the world one trip a time. Their nature based cruises showcase hands-on learning activities and adventures for a diverse range of interests and fitness levels, perfect for explorers of any age and multi-generational groups. Young explorers get hands-on science using video microscopes and learn about conservation projects, plus nature lessons with naturalists who are trained to work with children and are excellent role models. Your children may even discover hidden talents and gain confidence while having the time of their lives. Since every expedition sails with a Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor, and some ships with a National Geographic photographer, you’re guaranteed to go home with some top-notch shots from your days exploring. Children under age 18 get a $500 discount on their cruise fare. Book by the end of this year and also receive free airfare or air credits on select 2015 sailings to Alaska, Antarctica, the Arctic, the Azores, Polynesia, South America and Galapagos.
MSC Cruises has introduced a limited baby care service as part of its partnership with Chicco baby care manufacturer. The MSC BabyCare service — which is available fleet wide — offers babysitting with trained staff during lunch and dinner hours. You can prebook your space for babies and toddlers from ages 1-3 from 1:00-2:00 p.m. and from 6:00-7:00 p.m. on sea days. It is the latest kid-friendly move from MSC: in July, it launched MSC Baby Time which allows families to play with their children in the Mini Club at certain times during the day. Dedicated Chicco-designed Infant play areas will be built on MSC Armonia and MSC Lirica, as well as the two new ships currently on order.
Children sail free next year on A-ROSA Cruises per each paying adult and when sharing a cabin. Choose from river boat sailings along the Danube, Moselle, Main, Saone, Rhone and Rhine. A-ROSA is an upscale and German-owned river boat line that has three ships catering to active traveling English speakers. On their newest ship, the A-ROSA FLORA, new Family Cabins can accommodate up to four people (rare for a riverboat). Triple can are also available. The ships feature open bar at all times (not just at lunch and dinner as on most river boats), complimentary bikes, free internet access, complimentary laundry, a spa, gym, heated pool, giant chessboard, putting green and mini golf along with several dining options.
Book a Royal Caribbean cruise by September 15 for all sailings departing after October 15 and choose one of the following offers:
1) Buy One Guest and Get Second Guest 50 Percent Off
2) Kids Sail Free – No Age Restriction
3) Book ChoiceAir and Receive Up to $1,000 Off Your Stateroom (for Balconies and Suites only)
Note that sailings from December 15-31, 2014 and on the new Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas are excluded from this sale.
Princess Cruises is also offering an end of summer promotion with savings on more than 150 cruise vacations to sunny destinations such as the Caribbean, Tahiti, Hawaii, Panama Canal and Mexico. The Endless Summer Sale runs through September 10 and can save your family up to $1,400 on select cruises departing between November 2014 and February 2015. In addition to special cruise fares, book a balcony stateroom or above receive an onboard credit of $200 (for cruises 11 days or longer) or $150 (seven- to 10-day cruises); and those booking interior or ocean view staterooms can get credits of $150 (cruises 11 days or longer) or $100 (seven- to 10-day cruises).
Norwegian Cruise Line is selling a bundled, all-inclusive package through September 30 for your 2015 sailings. The package costs $899 per person when sailing for seven nights and comes with a 10 percent cruise fare discount, prepaid dining and beverage packages with a $200-per-person shore excursion credit, 250 minutes of Internet access, prepaid gratuities, 20 photos of any size, a bottle of wine, six bottles of water, one bingo session and chocolate-covered strawberries. An excellent value overall if you are a family that accesses all the extras available on board. Packages are available for three to 14 night sailings at varying rates. Unfortunately it is not available for Hawaii sailings.
Starting in 2015, all Windstar Cruises’ itineraries will feature a spectacular onshore private event created exclusively for Windstar guests. These complimentary events are crafted to give you an in-depth and authentic local experience that compliments your voyage making their sailings appealing to families. Private events include activities such as an after-hours tour and dinner under the stars in the magnificent Celsus Library of Ephesus or a private ballet performance in the famed Odessa National Opera and Ballet Theatre. The cruise line’s goal is to provide a deeper involvement into the local culture. Windstar debuted its first exclusive private event on its Dreams of Tahiti voyage in May. The event, included on all 2014 sailings through the South Pacific, features an evening of entertainment with music and a dazzling performance by local fire dancers on a secluded island or “motu.” The evening also includes a dinner of local Tahitian cuisine with tender suckling pig slowly steamed in a traditional ”ahima’a” earth oven.
Norwegian Cruise Line is expanding their exclusive Nickelodeon entertainment with new activities, themed dinners in the buffet, Nickelodeon-inspired menu items and additional meet and greets, allowing more interaction with your favorite characters. And what’s Nickelodeon without Slime? Guests on many of NCL’s ships will soon have the opportunity to get slimed on the cruise line’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay, as part of the expanded Nickelodeon beach activities. Plus, NCL is adding more Nickelodeon experiences in Splash Academy kids club. Currently 5 ships feature Nickelodeon experiences. And coming fall 2015, NCL’s newest eco-friendly cruise destination in southern Belize will be transformed into a 75-acre experience featuring a floating pier, island village, marina, tours to the mainland, a lagoon for water sports for a fun beach day.
One of the most baby-friendly cruise lines will get a little less friendly next year when Disney Cruise Line raises the minimum age for babies permitted on its ships from 12 weeks to 6 months. Beginning January 1, 2015, the age of babies on longer sailings, including transatlantic crossings, Hawaii voyages and Panama Canal transits will also go up to 1 year old. Disney explains that this puts them in line with most other cruise lines. And now is a great time to take your babies and toddlers on a Disney Cruise as they are currently offering a rare 20 percent or more off week long sailings out of San Juan on September 20 and 27 on the Disney Magic. The wonderful itinerary includes Antigua, St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados and St. Kitts. The special is for ocean view cabins and full payment is due at time of booking.
Disney Cruise Line plans to return to Hawaii and the Mexican Riviera in the fall of 2015. The Disney Wonder will sail September 7 from Vancouver for Oahu, with stops at two other Hawaiian islands. It will make the reverse journey on Septermber 17. The ship will also offer six cruises on the U.S. West Coast to Baja Mexico and then do nine sailings from Galveston, Texas, to the Bahamas, Key West and Castaway Cay. In October, the Wonder will sail several cruises from San Diego on itineraries that include Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It will transition to Galveston in November and do mostly seven-day cruises to the Bahamas, Key West and Castaway Cay, with a sprinkling of other lengths and itineraries mixed in.