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december new york morning sky

A Worthy Transatlantic Cruise From Islands to the Big Apple

Embarking on a transatlantic cruise is a dream adventure for many, but it can be a daunting experience when traveling with children. The thought of spending several days at sea with young ones might seem scary, but fear not! While challenges may arise, they can be managed with proper preparation and a little creativity. With some helpful tips and tricks, you can ensure a stress-free and enjoyable journey for the entire family as you navigate the vast Atlantic Ocean.

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Setting Sail: Tips for a Stress-Free Family Cruise Vacation

Plan ahead: Create a checklist of everything you need to pack, including passports, visas, tickets, and any necessary medications. Make sure the essential items that could be needed in an emergency are always close by.

Research your destination: Look up the local customs, weather, transportation options, and family-friendly attractions in advance so you can plan accordingly.

Book early: Try to book flights, accommodations, and tours as early as possible to avoid last-minute stress and potential price hikes. The best time to plan is at least 9 months to one year ahead in order to fully be ready for a trip like this with children.

Get travel insurance: Consider purchasing travel insurance to protect against unforeseen events such as flight cancellations, lost luggage, or medical emergencies.  There are just too many things that can easily become complicated, get the insurance and have some peace of mind knowing you’re covered.

Pack smart: Pack light and bring only the essentials to avoid overpacking and extra luggage fees. Try to plan for seasonal ease – swimwear and summer wear are usually lighter and easier to pack.

Keep important documents handy: Keep important documents like passports and boarding passes in a designated pouch or folder for easy access.  

Notify your bank and credit card company: Let your bank and credit card company know you’ll be traveling to avoid any unexpected account holds or fraud alerts.

Have a backup plan: Always have a backup plan in case of unexpected changes or emergencies, such as a canceled flight or illness.

Involve the kids: Involve your children in the planning process by letting them help choose activities or pack their own bags.

Relax and enjoy: Remember that vacation is meant to be a time to relax and enjoy time with your family, so don’t stress too much and be flexible with your plans.

Booking the Cruise and Cabin

When booking a transatlantic cruise with kids, it’s important to consider the cabin type and location. Families should look for cabins that are spacious, with plenty of room for everyone to relax and sleep comfortably. It’s also a good idea to choose a cabin with a balcony, as it will provide a private outdoor space for your family to enjoy. 

When it comes to booking the cruise, consider working with a travel agent who specializes in family travel. They can help you find the best deals, choose the right cabin, and ensure that you have all the information you need to make the most of your trip. Additionally, be sure to book early to secure the best cabins and prices.  Most cruises also offer payment plans that will help with affordability for those that would prefer to pay over time.

Packing for the Trip

When packing for a transatlantic cruise with children under 10, it’s important to bring items that will keep them comfortable and entertained during the long voyage. Here are some suggestions:

Clothing: Be sure to pack plenty of comfortable clothing for your child, including shorts, pants, t-shirts, and long-sleeve shirts. Also, bring swimsuits and beach towels for when you stop at ports with beaches or swimming pools.

Sunscreen and hats: Protect your child’s delicate skin from the sun with sunscreen and a sun hat.

Medications: If your child takes any medications, be sure to bring enough for the entire trip, including any prescriptions and over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers, allergy medicine, and motion sickness medication.

Toiletries: Pack travel-sized toiletries for your child, including toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, and soap.

Snacks: Bring plenty of healthy snacks for your child, such as fruit, granola bars, and crackers. This will help keep them from getting hungry between meals.

Entertainment: Bring books, toys, and games to keep your child entertained during the long days at sea. Also, consider bringing a tablet or portable DVD player with headphones for watching movies or TV shows.

Comfort items: If your child has a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, be sure to bring it along to help them feel more comfortable and secure.

Remember to pack all necessary items in a carry-on bag in case your checked luggage is delayed or lost. 

I like to take those plans a step further and advise to try to keep luggage to carry-on only when traveling internationally.  Luggage weight limits are less when flying abroad so you won’t be able to carry as much anyway.  

How to Pack:

  • A carry-on for each person with all of the needed clothing safely tucked into it.  
  • A personal item with medications, snacks, and entertainment. 
  • Then we’re able to use one medium hard suitcase to hold additional shoes, toiletries, and miscellaneous items.  
  • Sometimes, we even pack a carryon inside a larger suitcase that gets checked as a way to ensure we have extra room for purchases.
  • Use packing cubes.  Roll each outfit and fit them into one packing cube for each child.  Then another cube for underwear and sleepwear.  And one more for swimwear.  It all fits! Pack an empty one or a pop-up hamper for dirty clothes along the way.
december new york morning sky

Aboard the Ship: Activities and Amenities for Families

Choosing the right cruise for your family is essential for a memorable experience. But with so many options out there, it can be overwhelming to decide which one to pick. Here are some activities and amenities to look for when booking your transatlantic cruise:

  • Family-Friendly Cabins: 

Cabins designed specifically for families will include interconnected rooms, suites with balconies, and cabins with bunk beds. There are also options for staterooms with ocean views or balcony rooms, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean right from your room.  You may need to book 2 rooms if you have more than 4 family members or just want more space.

  • Kids’ Programs: 

Kids programs should cover children of all ages, including a dedicated Mini and Junior Club for children under 13. Kids can participate in activities such as arts and crafts, sports, games, and even cooking classes on some ships.  

  • Teen Programs: 

Teenagers usually have their own dedicated Teen Club onboard with activities such as dance parties, movie nights, and video game tournaments. They can also participate in onboard sports activities and take part in special excursions at port.

  • Dining: 

Most cruises offer a range of dining options, from formal dining rooms to casual buffet-style restaurants. There are also specialty restaurants that cater to different tastes, such as Italian or steakhouse. Kids’ menus are also available with options that cater to their taste buds.  If all else fails, you can usually ask for certain items with ease in the main dining room even when it is not on the daily menu like fries or some type of pasta.

  • Onboard Entertainment: 

From Broadway-style shows to live music performances, cruises offer a variety of entertainment options for the entire family. There are also movie theaters, sports bars, and lounges for adults to enjoy.

  • Pools and Water Activities: 

There are typically several swimming pools, including an indoor pool and kids’ pool, as well as thrilling water slides and splash parks. There are also pools and hot tubs exclusively for adults to enjoy.

  • Sports and Fitness: 

For active families, there’s a range of sports activities onboard, including basketball, mini-golf, and a jogging track. Some ships also have a fully equipped gym and offer fitness classes such as yoga and Pilates.

  • Excursions: 

Look for shore excursions at each port that allow families to explore and discover new destinations together. From scenic tours to adventure activities, there are options for every interest and age group.  Pay close attention to the level of activity designated and that it corresponds with your family’s activity levels.

FAQ’s About Cruising with Kids on MSC

  • What are the age requirements for kids to sail on MSC?

The minimum age to sail on an MSC cruise ship is 6 months old for most itineraries, but there are some itineraries that require children to be at least 12 months old. Children under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who is at least 21 years old.

  • Can children get off the ship?

Minors can only go ashore if accompanied by their parents or a legal guardian traveling in the same cabin.  You can add a guardian by signing a form at Guest Services.

  • Can I bring a stroller on board the ship?

Yes, you are allowed to bring a stroller on board the ship. However, keep in mind that space may be limited, so it’s a good idea to check with the cruise line for any specific guidelines or restrictions. Additionally, some areas of the ship may not be easily accessible with a stroller, so you may need to navigate around these areas.

  • Are there babysitting services available on MSC?

Yes, MSC offers a babysitting service called “Group Sitting” for children aged 1-11 years old. The service is available during specific hours and at an additional cost. It is recommended to make a reservation for the service as soon as possible as availability is limited.

  • Are Kids Clubs free on MSC?

Yes, it is included in your fare.

  • What are the dining options for kids on MSC?

In the main dining room, there are special menus for kids that include classic favorites like pizza, pasta, chicken fingers, and burgers. Additionally, there are several specialty restaurants onboard that offer kid-friendly options such as sushi, burgers, and ice cream.

  • Are there any age restrictions for using the swimming pools or water slides on MSC?

Yes, there are age restrictions for using the swimming pools and water slides on MSC. Children who are not potty-trained are not allowed to use the swimming pools or water slides. Children who are potty-trained and are at least 3 years old can use the swimming pools, and those who are at least 4 years old can use the water slides. Children must be supervised by an adult at all times.

  • Are there any restrictions on kids participating in shore excursions?

Each destination will have designated family fun excursions. Kids get a special price on shore excursions!

– Babies and Infants 2 years old and younger will be free of charge

– Children 3 – 13 years old will get a discount up to 30% vs. adult prices

– Book before you cruise to save 20% VS the onboard prices

view of madeira island from cruise

A Floating Family Adventure: Our 11-Day MSC Seascape Review

The Ports of Call: Madeira Island, Bermuda, and New York City

Embarking on a transatlantic voyage with your family is an unforgettable experience that you’ll cherish forever. And the MSC Seascape, the newest addition to the MSC Cruises fleet, offers a 10-day journey from Madeira Island to New York City with a stop in Bermuda. Here’s a closer look at the itinerary and the family-friendly aspects of this cruise:

Day 1: Madeira Island

As we bid farewell to the stunning landscapes of Madeira Island, we eagerly embarked on our next adventure: a transatlantic cruise aboard the magnificent MSC Seascape. But before we boarded the ship, we took the time to explore the beauty of Madeira, spending our days discovering the island’s natural wonders and iconic landmarks. From exhilarating sled rides down the streets of Monte to strolling along the picturesque promenades and admiring the historic doors of Funchal, we soaked up all that this enchanting destination had to offer.

Day 2-6: What to Expect During Your Days at Sea on the MSC Seascape: Activities, Entertainment, and More!

Highlights of Typical activities on Sea Days:

  • Sunrise stretch
  • Ring Toss by the Pool
  • Morning Trivia
  • Name that Tune
  • Dance classes (from 3 – 5 options daily)
  • Friends of Bill W.
  • LGBTQ+ Get Together
  • Shopping Sales Shows & Raffles
  • Live music
  • White Party
  • Midnight DJ
  • Dueling Pianos
  • Karaoke
  • Theater shows
  • Movie nights by the pool

The Kids Clubs on board the MSC Seascape are a haven for children of all ages, with exciting and engaging activities tailored to their specific age groups. From Lego competitions to Family Disco parties, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

For parents looking to unwind and relax, the daily Spa Specials offer a perfect opportunity to indulge in some much-needed pampering. From massages to facials, the Spa Specials are a great way to rejuvenate and recharge, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the next day of your adventure at sea.

Day 7-8: Bermuda

One of the biggest draws of this cruise itinerary was the opportunity to spend not just one but two days in Bermuda.  Even though it was December when we arrived, we still enjoyed seeing its pink sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and stunning ocean views. We also took the opportunity to learn about Bermuda’s rich naval history and explore its charming towns and villages.

If you’re planning a visit to Bermuda, we highly recommend taking advantage of the local tour guides. As soon as you disembark from the boat, the official tour guides will be waiting to help you plan your day. We were lucky enough to be directed to a wonderful older gentleman who went above and beyond to ensure we made the most of our time on the island. He offered insightful advice on some of the lesser-known spots to explore and customized our tour to our interests. Thanks to his expertise, we were able to see and experience so much in just a few short hours. It just goes to show that sometimes the best experiences come from getting a local’s perspective.

Bermuda is a destination that should not be missed, but for first-time visitors, navigating the island can be a bit tricky. If you’re considering exploring Bermuda on your own, you may want to think twice. The island does not offer regular car rentals, only electric cars that can be quite costly. While the bus system is an option, it’s not always reliable, and if you’re on a tight schedule, you don’t want to risk missing the boat.

For the ultimate first-time experience, we highly recommend booking a tour. This is one of the few stops where you won’t want to go it alone. With a local guide, you can explore the island’s hidden gems, get a taste of the local culture, and learn about the fascinating history of this unique destination. From the naval dockyard where the ship docks to the stunning pink sand beaches and charming towns, there’s so much to see and do in Bermuda. And with a tour guide, you’ll have the opportunity to make the most of your time on the island without worrying about getting lost or missing out on any must-see sights.

Day 9: One More Day At Sea

As our cruise drew to a close, we couldn’t help but feel a bittersweet mixture of emotions. The last few days of any trip are always the saddest, no matter how rough or rocky the journey may have been. However, this is also the time to enjoy the last hurrah and soak up every last bit of the experience.

Thankfully, the ship seemed to have mellowed out, and the once-cold and rocky conditions had given way to a more pleasant atmosphere. As we looked back on our journey, we couldn’t help but feel grateful for the memories we had made and the people we had met. We spent our final days on board relishing in the beautiful ocean views, savoring delicious meals, and taking part in the last of the onboard activities.

Day 10-11: Overnight in New York City

As the ship pulled into port for the final time, we knew that it was time to say goodbye to our home away from home. But even as we stepped off the ship and back into reality, we couldn’t help but feel a sense of contentment and satisfaction. We had lived life to the fullest on this incredible adventure, and that was something that would stay with us for years to come.

nyc from the harbor

Must-See Attractions in New York City

What an incredible moment to arrive in New York City, just in time for the festive Christmas displays and MSC Seascape’s Naming Celebration! As soon as we stepped off the ship, we knew we were in for a treat. The air was crisp and filled with the buzz of the holiday season, and we were eager to explore everything that the city had to offer.

To our surprise, we quickly realized that we had never experienced the true magic of Christmas in NYC until this very moment. Everywhere we looked, there were beautiful lights, stunning decorations, and a palpable sense of joy in the air. We set out to explore as much as we could, squeezing in iconic stops along the way while leaving plenty more to see and do for another day.

Thanks to the convenient location of the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, we had no trouble walking to some of the city’s most famous landmarks. We started with a stroll through the bustling Times Square and continued on to Hudson Yards, where we marveled at the impressive architecture of the Vessel and took a leisurely walk along the High Line.

Of course, no visit to New York City during the holiday season would be complete without a visit to the Bryant Park Winter Village. Here, we enjoyed delicious food, perused the unique holiday shops, and soaked up the festive atmosphere.

As we made our way through the city, we couldn’t help but feel grateful for this incredible experience. We had traveled the seas, explored new lands, and now found ourselves in the heart of one of the world’s most exciting cities. It was the perfect end to an unforgettable journey, and we knew that this was just the beginning of many more adventures to come.

The Cabin

Imagine waking up to the sound of waves crashing against the ship, stepping outside to your own private balcony, and being greeted by the most breathtaking views of the open ocean. The Balcony Aurea Suites are not only spacious and luxurious, but also offer a unique vantage point at the back of the ship. As you relax on your balcony, you’ll have an unobstructed panoramic view of the vast sea and the horizon that stretches as far as the eye can see.

I woke up at 3 am just to be sure I didn’t miss passing the Statue of Liberty from my balcony, the only vantage point that could offer such an incredible view. As the ship sailed into NYC, I couldn’t resist the chill of the December morning, as it added an extra layer of excitement to this unforgettable journey. Planning for the perfect cabin paid off, and I felt privileged to witness Lady Liberty up close and personal, in all her majesty.

But it’s not just the views that make these suites special. The extra space and larger bathroom provide a comfortable and convenient stay, allowing you to fully unwind and enjoy your time on the ship. And if you want to take your relaxation to the next level, the Aurea category includes unlimited daily access to the thermal spa, complete with saunas, steam rooms, and hot tubs. It’s the perfect way to soothe any remaining stress and rejuvenate your body before disembarking at your destination.

MSC Seascape Transatlantic Family Cruise Review

We were thrilled with this entire family adventure. The MSC Seascape has everything you need to keep the kids entertained and happy for the entire voyage. From the latest arcade games in the state-of-the-art game room to the heart-racing excitement of the Robotron ride, your little ones will never want to leave. And when it’s time to sit back and relax, head to the XD Interactive cinema for an immersive movie experience that will transport you to another world. As for dining, the options are endless with a wide range of delicious cuisines to satisfy everyone’s tastes.

I highly recommend Hola Cantina, it was so good, we ate there twice.  That’s impressive because I rarely like to dig into my pockets to pay for specialty dining.  

There is an all you can eat option which is great if you’d like to try several fajitas, tacos, and everything else on the menu. Get ready to have your taste buds blown away! These aren’t your average run-of-the-mill tacos. Each bite is like a fiesta in your mouth, bursting with vibrant colors and an explosion of flavors that will leave you wanting more. These tacos may be small, but they pack a punch that will leave you dreaming about them long after your cruise is over.

But the highlight of the meal was the make-your-own-guacamole experience. The server brings over a platter filled with fresh cut avocados, tomatoes, onions, and spices, along with a molcajete (a traditional mortar and pestle) and a giant spoon. You get to mash up your own guacamole to your liking, adding as much or as little spice as you want. It’s a fun and interactive experience that the whole family can enjoy.

Hola Cantina is a must-visit for anyone looking for a delicious and festive dining experience on board the MSC Seascape. Make a reservation early because it gets pretty busy during the cruise.

Cons of a Transatlantic Cruise

There are a few things we realized during those 6 days that make a transatlantic crossing a little unappealing and we feel you should be fully aware of what you’re signing up for.

As we ventured further away from land and towards the heart of the Atlantic Ocean, Mother Nature decided to show us her true power. The weather, though not stormy, was absolutely brutal. It was slightly rainy and the waves were nothing short of massive, making it a challenge to keep our balance sometimes. Even for the most experienced sailors, the swells were intimidating, causing the ship to sway and rock in a way that made some passengers and staff feel a little uneasy. This massive boat, which usually glided across the water with ease, now seemed to struggle to maintain its composure in the tumultuous sea. It was a humbling reminder of the immense power of nature and a thrilling adventure for those brave enough to ride out the stormy seas.

As we set sail on our journey, the first few days on the ship were filled with excitement and anticipation. However, as the initial thrill wore off, the harsh reality of life on the open sea set in. The Wifi systems that once worked seamlessly began to falter, making it nearly impossible to stay connected with the outside world. The TV programming was limited to very few channels in English, leaving us yearning for more options to pass the time. The onboard entertainment, while enjoyable at first, quickly became repetitive and mundane. By the fifth day of our voyage, the monotony had reached its peak, and we eagerly awaited our arrival in Bermuda for a change of scenery and a chance to stretch our legs on dry land. As we crossed the ocean, the weather turned cold, and some of the onboard amenities that we had been looking forward to were no longer available. It was a challenging experience, but one that taught us the importance of adapting to new situations and finding joy in the simple pleasures of life.

msc seascape wake

How to Save Money on a Cruise

Timing can make or break your travel experience, and booking at the right time can save you both time and money. For us, the timing of our booking couldn’t have been better. We lucked out and found a special deal that offered a whopping $500 credit on board with MSC Cruises USA, which turned out to be a godsend. This extra money allowed us to indulge in additional entertainment options that we may have otherwise skipped due to cost concerns. 

We were able to take advantage of all that the ship had to offer, from the fine dining restaurants to the exciting excursions and activities. With the extra credit, we were able to splurge a little more and make our adventure even more memorable. It just goes to show that taking the time to research and book at the right time can pay off in ways you never expected. So, if you’re planning a trip, make sure to keep an eye out for special offers or deals that could save you some extra cash and make your experience all the more enjoyable.

We were determined to make the most of our time on board the MSC Seascape and decided to pre-book the Fun Pass Package. It turned out to be a brilliant decision, as not only did it save us some money, but it also gave us access to an incredible range of activities on board. With a whopping $140 credit to use, we spent our days trying out the XD Interactive cinema, the thrilling Formula 1 simulator, and challenging each other to games. And when we needed to unwind, we indulged in some much-needed spa treatments and delicious cocktails – all thanks to the Fun Pass Package and Booking credits.

As the saying goes, loyalty has its rewards, and this couldn’t be truer when it comes to cruising. For those who are frequent cruisers, there are a wealth of perks and benefits to be had. As Diamond members, we were treated like royalty from the moment we stepped on board. We were invited to a private club party, where we mingled with other loyal members and enjoyed exclusive drinks and appetizers. (Okay, we didn’t mingle but you could if you want to.) The welcome back cocktail was a nice touch too, making us feel like valued guests. But the perks didn’t stop there. 

As loyal members, we received a discount on our booking, making our trip more affordable. And the complimentary dinner at one of the specialty restaurants was the icing on the cake. The food was exquisite, and the service was top-notch, making it an experience we’ll never forget. These perks not only add to the savings of your trip, but also make your experience all the more special. If you are a frequent cruiser and want to try MSC, you can apply for a loyalty match and experience all the perks.

In conclusion, the transatlantic voyage on the MSC Seascape provided a unique and memorable experience for us. From the stunning island paradises of Madeira Island and Bermuda to the bustling city streets of New York, there was always an adventure during the 10-day cruise. With a wide range of activities and amenities available on board, there was something for everyone, especially the kids who were thoroughly entertained throughout the journey. The family cabin and specialty dining options added to the comfort and enjoyment of the trip. Overall, our MSC Seascape experience was positive, and we would recommend it to anyone looking for an unforgettable cruising experience.

Happy Wandering across the Atlantic!

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