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Cruising with Kids … and Grandkids

Multigenerational travel continues to be on the rise, with more families taking cruise vacations together. Parents and kids, grandparents and grandkids, and grandparents, parents and grandkids … and aunts, uncles and cousins!

Journalist Cynthia Boal Janssens recently took a cruise on ms Oosterdam with her family and blogged about it for All Things Cruise. Here are some excerpts from her daily blogs so you can see how Cynthia enjoyed cruising with her family. And if you want to read her blogs on the All Things Cruise site, click HERE.

We are going to Seattle to spend a few days before boarding a Holland America cruise on the ms Oosterdam to Alaska. We will be meeting up with my daughter Jennifer, her husband Steve, and their three children: Vivian, 12, and Dominic and Cynthia, 9-year-old twins.

For several years I have been planning to sail to Alaska when they reached this age…not yet teens, but old enough to venture around the ship on their own and to be awed by the majesty of Alaska.

Multigenerational cruising is all the rage, haven’t you heard? So we are giving it a try. How is it sharing a cabin with a grandchild or two? Will they like the children’s programs as much as I hope they will? Will their parents get some much-needed rest and alone time?

We have some activities planned and are open to other possibilities.

 Jennifer signs Vivian, Cynthia and Dominic up for Club HAL.


Jennifer signs Vivian, Cynthia and Dominic up for Club HAL.

SEA DAY: Yesterday was a full day at sea and the children spent the time delving into the children’s program, Club HAL. The 9-year-olds, Cynthia and Dominic, took to it immediately. They love being with other kids and all the organized activities.

Vivian, who is 12, is a bit on the fence….as a “Tween” she is a bit old for her group, yet too young for the teen club. But she seems to be adapting and spent the entire morning in the Club HAL program today, while opting to go to the gym with her mom after lunch. She is pretty adaptable – she is also our roommate!

JUNEAU: Because we were focusing on bringing Alaska to our three grandchildren, we chose the Sled Dog Discovery and Musher’s Camp tour, booked through the ship. When it was our turn, we got into the sleds and took off, with musher Emily at the helm. As she guided the dogs with the commands, “Gee” (left) and “Haw” (right), she explained how they loved to run and that this summer training keeps them strong and fit for their winter races.

After our ride, we had a chance to meet our team lead by Diego and then the highlight for the children…meeting and holding three two-week-old huskie puppies. The mushers explained that this socialization is very important for all of the dogs.

During the afternoon, Cynthia, Vivian and I perused the shops and Dominic went to Club HAL. Grandpa Chet took a nap. So nice to have options!

FINAL THOUGHTS: There are many good reasons to take your grandchildren on a cruise. I will be writing more about this in the future, but Dom and Tia identified a few key points here. Eating meals together, having memorable adventures together (dog-sledding, in this case) and the joys of buffet dining. Who knew? And I know the twins will long remember that pillow fight…

Cruising can be a tremendous experience for families. These days, in many families both parents work and it is hard to get “family together time.” A cruise provides that (sometimes too much so when you are sharing a tight cabin!). Meals together, but time apart as well.

THE KIDS’ PERSPECTIVE: I have asked them to write what they liked about the trip and the twins were the first to respond.

Here is Dominic’s vivid report. I have maintained the spelling and punctuation for authenticity:

Dear Nona and Grandpa Chet,

I had a tremendous time on the Holland America line. The best part was when I made new friends like my friends Braden, Zach and Ethan.

The reason why I was looking forward to this amazing cruise is because it was fun spending time with you at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

What I wished to do everyday on the cruise is play basketball with my dad. Some activities I really enjoyed (in Club HAL) were ping-pong, chess and Sorry.

I really did have a fun time in Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan. The best thing we did was dog sledding in Juneau. I can’t believe that 15 huskies pulled 6 people that were eating a lot on the cruise ship.

Another thing I loved was eating at the buffets. The Lido buffet because it (had) everything I loved for example the pesto spaghetti, hot chocolate with milk and cream, the fruit, and the oatmeal with brown sugar and colered raisans.

On Saturday June 8 we did pillow fight rounds. So first 2 kids get ready to fight each other And then you have to fight against your opponent and if you hit them in the head with the pillow they get to smack you in the butt with the pillow. And whoever puts the pillow on the ground with there face on it wins.

I had a spectacular time at the Holland America Line cruise.

Love, Dominic

 Dominic hides in the tree roots on our walk through the woods at Sitka.


Dominic hides in the tree roots on our walk through the woods at Sitka.

His sister twin Cynthia is a woman of fewer words:

Dear Nona,

These are the favorite parts (of the cruise).

I like the Lido and and the pool and the dog sledding and Club Hal.

There were fun things to do.

I hope you had a great trip.

Love, Cynthia

Cynthia exploring the Sitka beach on a wildlife tour.

Cynthia exploring the Sitka beach on a wildlife tour.

Blog readers might also remember that recently Jeanette Hurt set sail on a 14-day cruise with her three-year-old son, parents, sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law. Here are some of her tips for cruising with kids.

Jeanette's son.

Jeanette’s son.

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