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Cruise Advice/Other Travel Suggestions
#1
Hi all - 

I LOVE to travel and because of my frequent business flights, I have collected quite a few miles over the years that I've used to take very cheap trips with my husband and older children.  (4 kids ages 23, 19, 12, and 10)     I recently decided that my younger kids are now old enough to do some international travel and we had a dream trip to Tokyo last November.     What I loved about that trip was that it was fun for the kids and for my husband and I.  They got to experience another very different culture and we all had a blast.

Instead of spending a ton of money on Christmas this year, I'd like to do another trip over Thanksgiving except I don't really know what to do.   I am seriously considering a cruise because I feel like the trip to Tokyo was more along my tastes and while it was enjoyable, it really wasn't totally a children's vacation.

We have already taken them to Disney parks, including in Japan, so I was wondering if a cruise would be fun for kids.   We could see a few different island countries, so I would get the international check box, but I would imagine that there is more fun and stuff to do on cruises that kids would like.

Here is my issue:   I can't sit still.    I hate sitting on beaches or by the pool unless I've been drinking heavily.    I don't like going to broadway-style shows and the thought of listening to people playing pianos  & singing covers of 1980's hits makes me cringe.   I socialize constantly for work so don't really want to have to meet-n-greet at every meal.  

So what do people do on cruises other than get drunk and eat too much?   I've read that the pool is always too crowded, so knowing that I don't like shows and don't want to sit around all day eating, is a cruise really for me?   Would the kids like it?  Is there a better international trip for kids in the 10-12 year old age range?   

Any thoughts or suggestions would be really helpful since very few people I know had any advice for me.   Be honest. 

Thanks!
Regis University, ITESO, Global MBA with a focus in Emerging Markets 4.0 GPA, Dual-university degree (Spanish/English) 
COSC BS, Business Admin

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#2
I've been on a bunch, both with and without my kids. The key for me is to pick one that has a lot of stops. Ones where you have a "fun day at sea" is not my idea of fun. I want to get off the ship and go explore the area every single day. I don't overeat on cruises (I've never gained weight on one, probably because we are super active and walk a ton, skip the elevators for stairs, etc. the entire time we're there). I am not a big drinker, plus I have to be careful because I can get seasick, so drinking doesn't pair well with that. We don't go to broadway shows, but we do go to other ones - we've seen good stuff like comedians, the Not-So-Newlywed game, stuff like that, and all of it has been pretty funny. There's plenty to do while on the ship, and you're not required to do any of it if you don't want to. I also love to read, and I swear I can read 2-4 entire books on a cruise, which is heaven for me.

Our kids (17 & 15 now) have been on 2 cruises, and they enjoyed both.

The first was Disney (they were 5 & 7), where it was 4 days at the parks and then 3 days on the ship. It was good. Lots of stuff for the kids in that age range to do while the parents had some free time. At dinner one night, the little boy at the table next to us was mad and started crying because "I don't want to eat with you, I want to go eat with my friends!" So obviously he was having a great time. The thing I thought about the Disney cruise part was that it's overpriced for what you get - I feel like most cruises are similar, and if you choose one with a kids' program, this isn't better than those.

The 2nd was a weekend cruise from LA to Ensenada, and the kids (older at that point, maybe 12 & 14) had a blast. On board the ship, they had a great kids program (separated by ages) until midnight every night. They would head out after dinner, and do scavenger hunts, dance, play games, have video game contests, all kinds of stuff. And I felt like I could let them go crazy and stay out because it's not like they could go anywhere or get into too much trouble.

I think the key is to find something that you can both enjoy - a cruise where they have stops daily (if possible) and one where there's a great kids program. I'm guessing if you do Europe, where things are closer together, you might be able to pull it off.
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