Krystal is full time single mother, secondary teacher and day dreamer, and part time fitness instructor and blogger. She currently contributes blogs for Single Mum Vine and is the creator of Positive Soul Recharge which can be found at Positive Soul Recharge . Follow her on Instagram @positvesoulrecharge.
Vacation with a Twist: Vacation Cruising as a Parent
I still remember laying in bed procrastinating on my phone in 2014 checking on some social media. My daughter Tayla was at her dad’s and I was feeling the exhaustion of the end of teaching term hustle.
Over the last few months, the talk of the staffroom had been ocean cruises as quite a few were going on them during school holidays. During these staffroom conversations I admittedly felt quite reserved about taking Tayla on a cruise, mainly due to the bad wrap cruise lines had in the past on the news….. and the fear my wonderfully cautious mother put over me.
Anyway…. Back to the scrolling…..
Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to check out some cruise holiday sale pages. Then absolute excitement when I discovered that Princess Cruises had a 7-night cruise around Tasmania for just over $700. I almost bounced out of bed staring at my screen – the mental wrestle began of whether to click the purchase button or not. Thankfully the mental wrestle only took ten minutes and in no time, I was bragging on social media with my countdown app that Tayla and I were off to Tassie for a cruise in December.
So rather talk about what we actually did in Tasmania, I wanted to some tips on how to cruise with your child as a solo parent:
Wait until at least three months before cruise dates to buy cabins.
In the last three months before a cruise takes off, they drop the prices quite significantly as to fill the rooms. Between Tayla and myself, we got our cabin for roughly $1400. That is brilliant considering accommodation, food, some travel and entertainment is covered for most of the trip. They allow you the option to pay it off over a few weeks, provided you pay a minimum deposit. There are sale finder companies such as (Cruise) Sale Finder which will seek out the best cruise deal for you. Some cruise companies even allow you to lay by a cruise. The only downside to this option is that you ultimately pay full price for the cabin, which is significantly higher.
Consider holiday seasons in relation to pricing.
I was really fortunate that our school term finished one week before the state schools and two weeks before southern schools so we still got flights and accommodation at off-peak rates. Be prepared that flights may possibly be a significant cost. Consider signing up for mail lists through flight companies. I sign up for Jetstar’s Friday Frenzy and check for deals regularly. That’s how I got some cheap flights to Japan two years ago…. But that’s another (story)!
Utilise online for booking where you can.
When you are booking online, you are pretty much taking out the Travel Consultant ‘middle man’, which makes things a little bit cheaper. The websites will usually have a chat room option if you need assistance and they are usually very positive to deal with. I had to book one night in Sydney before boarding the cruise and took advantage of (Expedia) to find the best deals. I got a night in a beautiful old (and VERY SAFE) pub hotel near Darling Harbour for $35 per night. You can even book your airport transfers online and most companies will offer a discount if you book your return journey online in one transaction.
Ensure you have any relevant documentation up to date
Ensure your driver’s license and medicare card are up to date as you may need them for ID, passports are current if your cruise leaves Australian waters and you have a list of emergency contacts in your wallet or somewhere accessible. I also print out two copies of ALL of my itineraries, receipts and confirmations and place one set in my handbag and one set in my suitcase…. Just in case!
Get your child involved in the journey.
Sit down with your child or children and actually get excited about the journey. Show them some photos of the places you will be taking them, let them help pack their bag (or even let them do it….. and then inspect!). Set up a countdown on a calendar and let them cross out the dates. Do an itinerary together. Also, create a small activity bag and/or fill an iPad full of apps and movies prior to flying. I remember when I went to Japan, Tayla unwrapped one present per hour on our 8-hour flight. Each present was something she could create or play with. Made the flight more bearable!
Yes, cruises are that amazing…. Especially as a parent!
I couldn’t fathom how amazing a cruise was until I actually went on one. There was an awesome free children’s program on the top deck that Tayla couldn’t get enough of. Whenever we were on the boat, she wanted to go straight there. She made loads of friends, the carers were so friendly and she was kept busy the whole time. This gave me some time to explore the boat, work out at the gym and just have some peaceful ‘me time’. We made sure we ate plenty on the boat so that we didn’t eat too much on land during the day trips which helped us save money (they even did 24-hour room service!).
Tayla and I loved coming back to a clean room every time we left with chocolates and animal cloth origami on top – the service was spectacular. 80% of things on the cruise are included with the exception of gift shops, tipping workers, a couple of restaurants, alcohol and cigarettes. Outside of reception, the cruise itself was cashless so I used my cabin card to put any purchases on a tab which was paid before I departed the cruise.
There is a mountain of help on the cruises so don’t ever hesitate to ask a staff member if you have questions – they want to help you!