What to splurge on during a family cruise


We just returned from an amazing family cruise. I have to admit, a year ago, I never would have been on a cruise (severe motion sickness and claustrophobia were reasons), but you guys, I WANT TO GO BACK! Our family had so much fun! A family cruise vacation is a great option because so much is included; your room, food, entertainment, childcare and more. Carnival provided us with one of their family cruise vacation packages and some extras and we paid for many as well! It was amazing.

what to splurge on during a family cruise

So many things were included in our family cruising, like ice cream and dessert. Get it every day. Yep. Every day. And, get some of the ice cream or pizza that is available 24/7. Because that is one of the kid-friendly cruise deals. I’ve got my tips for cruising with kids you can check out also.

family cruise | family cruse always get dessert

And WaterWorks (slides, water and more slides) are included in Carnival’s family cruise deals. When I asked our oldest three girls (9, 7 and 4) what their favorite part of our family cruise package was, they said the slides. When I asked their second favorite, they said the ice cream!

family cruses slides

In addition to dinner entertainment, shows for kids and movies, you can’t discount the joy of the towel animals on the beds. The girls loved these and were excited to see what was on their bed every night!

family cruise towel animals

Family cruise vacations make up a great time on their own. There are however some things that we splurged on and spent more on that we think are definitely worth it.

What to splurge on during a family cruise


You are going to all of these beautiful and amazing ports. We were very glad that we splurged on excursions to learn about history, see ancient forts and more. Some of the excursions only require a walk to see the most amazing of views from a ride up the top of a mountain.

carnival cruise exursion

{St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands | Paradise Point Skyride}

You can also get off in the ports and shop and walk around or grab a taxi, but we felt more comfortable paying for guided and planned tours so we got back in time to board the ship and also had everything mapped out for us.

family cruise | excursion

{Castile San Felipe del Morro in San Juan, Puerto Rico}

2. Bear Cuddly

We aren’t big on souvenirs. We have purchased them many times other places and the kids just end up losing them or not really caring. But, Bear Cuddly is totally a win. It’s inside Camp Ocean and there are various times throughout the cruise family members can go down to Camp Ocean and work together to create their own unicorn, polar bear, cat, penguin or more. The kids get to stuff them, put in special shapes and memorabilia, close them up and dress them. Then the kids get to name them and have their own birth certificate for when and where they were born. This is a special souvenir they created and more fun for them then anything we could have purchased randomly.

family cruise | bear cuddly

3. Drinks

Yes, they are costly, but if you check the schedule and signs, every day, there is a drink special. We wanted to be able to enjoy an adult beverage on occasion, so we did.

family cruises | carnival cruise drinks

4. Prime Steakhouse

On your cruise with family, you must take advantage of Camp Ocean for the kids and have the adults go to the Prime Steakhouse. There is an up-charge over the regular cost of dinner and it is worth every.single.penny. The restaurant is super quiet, the service is very custom and the steak is AH.MAY.ZING. Yes, you must say it just like that. The steaks melt in your mouth, the salad dressing is homemade and the appetizers are fabulous. (Try, try, try to resist the bread and save all of your room for the steak!)

family cruise | steakhouse

5. Night Owls

After Camp Ocean hours (10pm), for kids 0-11, you can pay extra for a sitter for your children. You can stay late at dinner, head to a bar, check out the comedy clubs or try your luck at the casino. Having a night out during an all inclusive family cruise is definitely a splurge item.

6. Cherry on Top

Sure, there is 24/7 ice cream. But, what about the person with the sweet tooth? One day, we all went into the Cherry on Top candy shop and all got a small bag of our own favorite candy from the bins. It didn’t cost much and everybody had their own special treat!

7. Cloud 9 Spa

Vacation equals spa and ultimate relaxation for me. While it’s still a splurge, on days the cruise ship is in port, there are cruise family deals to be had in the spa. Every day a schedule is placed in your cabin with the deals and specials the spa is running.

8. Wine at dinner

We enjoy a nice glass of wine at dinner. Each night there is a special Maitre D’ Wine Selection you can choose from for a special price. If you want, you can take the rest of the bottle to your room to enjoy later on your balcony! (Pro tip: Each adult can bring one 750mL bottle of wine or champagne in their carry on with a total of two per cabin to drink in your room, or you can pay a $15 uncorking fee to drink at dinner.)

family cruise | wine at dinner

9. Room Service

Say you just want to relax in your room for a meal or the kids are just pooped. Grab room service. Many of the meal options themselves are included, and you will just pay a gratuity/service fee to have it delivered. It’s totally worth it and can change the mood of your cruise.

family cruise | room service

10. Laundry Service

Cruise cabins don’t have a ton of room so packing requires you to be very minimalistic. If you get a stain on your formal dining clothes and planned to wear them again, the laundry service is very affordable. Or, if you don’t want to go home with a ton of dirty clothes, you can have them laundered before you head back to your port of call and go home with freshly cleaned clothes and no burden of loads of laundry upon your return.

11. Dr. Seuss Breakfast

On the last full day at sea, on many of the Carnival ships offering family cruise vacations, they offer the Dr. Seuss Breakfast in two sittings. For a small fee ($5/person), you can have a special breakfast with Dr. Seuss’ favorite friends and a silly, special menu with green eggs and ham, a pancake stack like the Cat in the Hat’s hat and more. I DO Like Green Eggs and Ham is a great post by Michelle with many more pictures of menu choices and more.

family cruise | dr. seuss breakfast

The breakfast is entertaining and tasty and a great way to round out one of the best vacation cruises for families with great photo opportunities and musical fun.

family cruise | dr. seuss breakfast

Family cruises are a great way to see many amazing places in a short amount of time and for a great deal! Carnival offers some of the best, cheap, kid-friendly cruises with some splurges that make it truly custom for adults and family alike.

Have you cruised before? What is your favorite cruising splurge?

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  1. Pat Chance says:

    I am glad you all had fun and you didn’t feel seasick.

  2. We have never cruised before but I’d LOVE to take the family on an Alaskan cruise! $5 for the special breakfast is a great deal. I love all these tips, too, as they’ll make our first experience better!

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