Setting sail on a transatlantic cruise is the kind of epic adventure that we dream of, but let’s be real—doing it with kids can feel more like a scary nightmare than a relaxing getaway. The idea of spending days on end at sea with your little adventurers might have you breaking into a cold sweat, but it is doable! Challenges? Sure, there probably will be some. But with some savvy planning and a bit of imagination, you can turn potential hurdles into memorable moments.
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Prep Like a Pro
First things first, preparation is key. Before you even step foot on that ship, make a list of essentials you’ll need to keep the kids entertained and comfortable. Think beyond the basics—snacks, games, and a first-aid kit are a given. How about a treasure map for an impromptu scavenger hunt or a mini-aquarium kit to explore sea life from the comfort of your cabin? Think about lightweight items that may get you through any unexpected downtime where you might hear the dreaded “I’m bored”.
Get Creative with Onboard Activities
Cruise ships are practically floating cities, complete with activities for almost every moment of the day. But don’t just rely on the scheduled events to keep the family entertained. Create your own fun! How about a family talent show or a DIY craft session using seashells you’ve collected? The sky—or in this case, the sea—is the limit! Create easy challenges and scavenger hunts as you go for impromptu fun.
Embrace the Power of Routine
Kids thrive on routine, even when they’re in the middle of the Atlantic. Try to maintain an easy schedule with regular meal times and bedtime, to keep everyone’s internal clocks running smoothly. However, don’t be scared to let loose and enjoy a night of stargazing or late-night pizza. You are on vacation!
Make It a Learning Experience
Turn the journey into a floating classroom. The Atlantic isn’t just a body of water; it’s a history lesson, a geography quiz, and a science experiment rolled into one. Whether it’s learning about maritime navigation, the ecosystems of the ocean, or the cultures of the ports you’ll visit, there’s a world of knowledge to soak up.
Capture the Moments
Document this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hand the kids disposable cameras or encourage them to keep a travel journal. Not only will this keep them occupied, but it’ll also give you all something to look back on and cherish.
Remember: a family transatlantic cruise isn’t just about getting from Point A to Point B. It is truly about the journey that will be filled with life-long stories and amazing moments together.
The Ultimate Pre-Trip Checklist
- The Ultimate Checklist: Create a comprehensive list of must-haves—passports, visas, tickets, and even an emergency first-aid kit. Keep these essentials within arm’s reach.
- Be a Destination Detective: Dive deep into local customs, weather forecasts, and family-friendly attractions. Knowledge is power, and power makes for a fantastic trip.
- Early Bird Specials: Aim to book flights, accommodations, and activities at least 9 months to a year in advance. Early planning equals less stress and more options.
- Insure Your Adventure: Travel insurance isn’t optional; it’s a peace-of-mind essential. From flight cancellations to lost luggage, be prepared for life’s little curveballs.
- Pack Like a Pro: Stick to essentials and pack light. Seasonal wear like swimsuits and sundresses are your go-to items for easy packing.
- Document Vault: Keep crucial documents like passports and boarding passes in a designated pouch for easy, stress-free access.
- Bank Alert: Give your bank and credit card company a heads-up about your travel plans to avoid any account freezes or fraud alerts.
- Backup Plans are Golden: Whether it’s a canceled flight or an unexpected illness, always have a Plan B ready to go.
- Kids in the Mix: Involve your children in the planning process, from choosing activities to packing their own bags. It’s empowering and fun!
- Relax, You’re on Vacation: Remember, the goal is to unwind and enjoy quality time with your family. Be flexible and savor every moment.
Booking the Cruise and Cabin
If you’re dreaming of a transatlantic cruise with your little shipmates, the first step to smooth sailing is nailing down the perfect cabin and cruise package.
Picking Your Family’s Sea Castle
- Room to Roam: When it comes to cabins, size does matter—especially with kid-sized roommates. Opt for a spacious cabin that offers everyone enough room to stretch out, play, and—most importantly—sleep.
- Balcony Bliss: If you can, go for a cabin with a balcony. It’s not just an outdoor space; it’s your family’s private sanctuary for stargazing, dolphin-spotting, or simply soaking up that glorious sea air.
Booking Like a Pro
- Family Travel Gurus: Consider partnering with a travel agent who’s a wizard at family travel. They’ll not only scout the best deals but also handpick the cabin that fits your family like a glove.
- Early Birds Get the Ocean Views: The best cabins at the best prices are like coveted treasure—they go fast! So book early to secure your ideal spot.
- Payment Plans for the Win: Many cruises offer flexible payment plans, making it easier to budget for your dream voyage without feeling the pinch.
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:
- Think comfort and versatility—shorts, pants, tees, and long-sleeve shirts that can be mixed and matched for any adventure on or off the ship.
- Don’t forget swimsuits and beach towels for those dreamy port stops where sandcastles and splashing are on the agenda.
- Sunscreen and hats: Protect your child’s delicate skin from the sun with sunscreen and a sun hat.
- Pack all essential medications, from prescriptions to over-the-counter must-haves like pain relievers and motion sickness meds. Better safe than seasick!
- Pack a personalized toiletry kit 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.
- 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. And don’t forget to bring a few foldable reusable bags for shopping, the pool, beach, or excursions as needed.
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:
The Carry-On Trio
- The Main Event: One carry-on per person, filled to the brim with all your clothing essentials. Think of it as your portable wardrobe.
- The Sidekick: A personal item that’s like your travel survival kit—medications, snacks, and entertainment all neatly packed.
- The Bonus Bag: One medium hard suitcase for the extras—additional shoes, toiletries, and those “just-in-case” items we all know and love.
The Packing Hack
- Double Up: Ever thought of nesting a smaller carry-on inside a larger suitcase? It’s like packing a secret treasure chest that you can fill with souvenirs and goodies from your travels.
The Cube Revolution
- Outfit Cubes: Roll each outfit and tuck it into its own packing cube. It’s like having a mini dresser right in your suitcase!
- Underwear & Sleepwear Cube: One cube dedicated to the basics keeps everything organized and easy to find.
- Swimwear Cube: Because nothing ruins a beach day like digging through your bag for that elusive swimsuit.
- The Laundry Solution: An empty cube or a pop-up hamper is your best friend for separating dirty clothes along the way.
With this strategy, you will be well organized in a compact way and still have everything you’ll need handy. If you really have to bring a checked bag, we recommend only one and don’t put things in it that could ruin your vacation if it somehow gets lost.
Aboard the Ship: Activities and Amenities for Families
Your Floating Home: The Cabin
- Family-First Design: Look for cabins that scream “family-friendly!” We’re talking interconnected rooms, suites with balconies, and yes, even bunk beds for that summer camp vibe.
- Room with a View: Ocean-view or balcony rooms let you soak in the Atlantic’s majesty without leaving your cozy nest. Got a big crew? Consider booking two rooms for that extra stretch-out space.
For the Little Buccaneers: Kids’ Programs
- Mini & Junior Clubs: Aim for ships with dedicated clubs for the under-13 crowd. Imagine your kids as mini-chefs in cooking classes or pint-sized Picassos in arts and crafts sessions.
The Teen Scene
- Teen Clubs: Teens get their own cool hangouts, complete with dance parties, movie nights, and even video game tournaments. It’s like a VIP club, minus the age restriction.
Feast Like Kings and Queens: Dining
- Culinary Variety: From elegant dining rooms to laid-back buffets, the options should be as diverse as your family’s taste buds.
- Kid-Pleasing Menus: And don’t fret, picky eaters have their own menus. Pro tip: Most dining rooms are super flexible—think off-menu fries or pasta on request.
Lights, Camera, Action: Onboard Entertainment
- Showtime: Broadway-caliber shows, live music, and even movie theaters—your ship should be a floating entertainment palace.
Make a Splash: Pools & Water Fun
- Water Wonderland: Multiple pools, including kiddie versions, plus water slides and splash parks for the ultimate aquatic playground.
- Adult Oasis: And hey, parents need their fun too—look for adult-only pools and hot tubs for those “me-time” moments.
Get Moving: Sports & Fitness
- Active Adventures: Think basketball courts, mini-golf, and jogging tracks. Some ships even offer yoga and Pilates classes for the wellness warriors among you.
Off the Ship: Excursions
- Family-Friendly Exploration: Choose excursions that offer something for everyone, from scenic bus tours to adrenaline-pumping adventures. Just make sure the activity level matches your family’s energy.
FAQ’s About Cruising with Kids on MSC
What are the age requirements for kids to sail on MSC?
- Baby on Board: The youngest sailors can be as little as 6 months old on most MSC itineraries. Some special routes require your little one to be at least 12 months old.
- Teen Scene: All kids under 18 must have a parent or legal guardian who’s at least 21 to set sail.
Can children get off the ship?
Minors can only disembark if they’re with their parents or a legal guardian. Need to add a guardian? Just swing by Guest Services and sign a quick form.
Can I bring a stroller on board the ship?
Yes, you can bring your stroller, but keep in mind that space can be tight and some areas might be tricky to navigate.
Are there babysitting services available on MSC?
MSC offers a babysitting service for kids aged 1-11. It’s not free, and spots fill up fast, so book early!
Are Kids Clubs free on MSC?
Good news! Kids Clubs are included in your fare. No extra fees here!
What are the dining options for kids on MSC?
The main dining room has a special menu just for kids—think pizza, pasta, and all their faves. Plus, specialty restaurants offer kid-friendly options like sushi and ice cream.
Are there any age restrictions for using the swimming pools or water slides on MSC?
Potty-trained kids who are at least 3 can use the pools, and the 4-and-up crowd can hit the slides. Adult supervision is a must, of course.
Are there any restrictions on kids participating in shore excursions?
Family fun excursions come with special pricing for kids.
- Tiny Tots: Babies and infants up to 2 years old go free.
- Little Explorers: Kids aged 3-13 get up to a 30% discount.
- Early Bird Special: Book before you sail and save 20% compared to onboard prices.
A Floating Family Adventure: Our 11-Day MSC Seascape Review
The Ports of Call: Madeira Island, Bermuda, and New York City
Can you picture this, you and your family, sailing from the idyllic Madeira Island to the iconic skyline of New York City, with a tropical pitstop in Bermuda. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, pinch yourself, because this is the real deal aboard MSC Seascape, the newest gem in MSC Cruises’ crown. Let’s set sail on a 10-day journey that promises to be the stuff of legends.
Day 1: Madeira Island
The thrill was strong as we waved goodbye to Madeira Island’s beautiful views. We were about to embark on a transatlantic cruise onboard the magnificent MSC Seascape. But first, before we ever boarded the ship, we lost ourselves in the magic of Madeira.
Imagine speeding down Monte’s steep streets in a classic wicker sled—it’s as exciting as it sounds! Then we strolled down Funchal’s beautiful promenades, where every door tells a story, each more enthralling than the previous. Madeira was a sensory overload, from the gorgeous botanical gardens to the bustling Mercado dos Lavradores.
So there you have it, Day 1 of a journey that promises to be as unforgettable as the destinations themselves. Madeira Island, you were the perfect prologue to our epic tale of adventure. Next stop: the open sea and beyond!
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
- Theater shows
- Movie nights by the pool
The Kids Clubs on board the MSC Seascape – think of them as enchanted islands where your little ones can unleash their wildest imaginations. We’re talking Lego showdowns that would make master builders jealous and Family Disco parties that turn the dance floor into a swirl of colors and giggles. Whether they’re treasure hunting or crafting their own sea monsters, there’s a world of fun tailored just for them.
Spa Specials: Your Slice of Heaven at Sea
Now, let’s talk about you, the hardworking captains of your family ships. Imagine slipping away to a sanctuary of serenity—the spa. Daily Spa Specials are your golden ticket to cloud nine. From soul-soothing massages that melt away the knots of stress to facials that give you that vacation glow, this is your time to recharge. You’ll emerge revitalized, ready to dive back into your epic family adventure.
Day 7-8: Bermuda
Bermuda—the island gem that’s as mysterious as the triangle it’s famous for. When we found out our cruise itinerary included not just one, but two glorious days in this paradise, we were over the moon!
A Winter Wonderland, Bermuda Style
Even though we dropped anchor in December, Bermuda’s allure was in full swing. Those famous pink sand beaches that look like they’re blushing, crystal-clear waters that rival a gemstone, and panoramic ocean views that belong on a postcard. But Bermuda isn’t just a pretty face; it’s steeped in naval history and dotted with quaint towns that are as charming as a storybook setting.
The Local Legend: Our Tour Guide Extraordinaire
If you’re Bermuda-bound, do yourself a favor and seek out the local tour guides as soon as you disembark. We struck gold with an incredible guide—an older gentleman who was a walking Bermuda encyclopedia. He tailored the tour to our whims and fancies, leading us to hidden spots that aren’t in your typical guidebook. It was like having a backstage pass to Bermuda!
Navigating Bermuda: Go Guided or Go Home
First-timers, listen up: Bermuda’s not the easiest place to navigate solo. Forget about regular car rentals; they offer electric cars that’ll cost you a pretty penny. And while the bus system exists, let’s just say it runs on “island time.” So, if you’re on a cruise schedule, you don’t want to gamble with that.
Why a Tour is Your Best Bet
Booking a guided tour is like having a local best friend who takes you under their wing. You’ll uncover Bermuda’s secrets, from the naval dockyard where your ship calls home to those Instagram-worthy pink sand beaches. Plus, there’s no fear of missing the boat—literally or figuratively!
So, if Bermuda’s on your cruise itinerary, consider it a double win. With its natural beauty and rich history, it’s a destination that deserves a top spot on your travel bucket list. And with a local guide, you’ll experience Bermuda like an insider. Trust me, this is one port of call where you’ll want to savor every moment.
Day 9: One More Day At Sea
You know that feeling when you’re nearing the end of a spellbinding book and you just don’t want to turn that last page? That’s exactly how we felt as our voyage on the MSC Seascape approached its curtain call.
The Last Hurrah: Savoring the Final Moments
The final days of a journey always come with a cocktail of emotions—part nostalgia, part anticipation for what’s next. It’s like the universe’s way of reminding you to soak in every last drop of the experience. And soak it in, we did!
Smooth Sailing: A Serene Farewell
As if the ship itself knew we were saying our goodbyes, the once choppy waters and brisk winds transformed into a tranquil sea, mirroring our own sense of peace and gratitude. It was as if the ocean was giving us a gentle send-off.
A Toast to Memories and Friendships
Looking back, we were awash with gratitude—not just for the jaw-dropping destinations we’d explored, but for the incredible souls we’d met along the way. Our final days were a love letter to the journey itself. We feasted on culinary delights that danced on our taste buds, took in ocean views that seemed to stretch into eternity, and participated in the last round of onboard activities that had us laughing and bonding like the first day.
So, as we sailed into the horizon, hearts full and spirits high, we knew this was not a “goodbye,” but a “see you later.” Because adventures like these don’t end; they simply set the stage for the next grand escapade. Until then, anchors aweigh and hearts aglow!
Day 10-11: Overnight in New York City
Saying goodbye to our floating haven was like closing an enchanting book you never wanted to end. But as we stepped back onto solid ground, a sense of deep contentment washed over us. This voyage had been a tapestry of unforgettable moments, and we were richer for it.
A New York State of Mind: The Festive Edition
And then, as if orchestrated by the travel gods, we found ourselves in the heart of New York City—just in time for the holiday season and the grand Naming Celebration of MSC Seascape! The air was electric, tinged with the crispness of winter and the buzz of holiday magic.
The City That Never Sleeps—Especially at Christmas!
Let me tell you, we thought we knew Christmas, but we hadn’t truly experienced its magic until we set foot in NYC. The city was a winter wonderland, adorned with twinkling lights and jaw-dropping decorations. It was like stepping into a holiday movie, complete with a soundtrack of laughter and joy.
Iconic NYC: A Whirlwind Tour
Thanks to the prime location of the Manhattan Cruise Terminal, we were perfectly poised to dive into the city’s iconic landmarks. Our first stop? The ever-vibrant Times Square, where the energy is as dazzling as the neon lights. From there, we ventured to Hudson Yards, a marvel of modern architecture. We stood in awe of the Vessel, that intricate honeycomb of staircases, and then took a leisurely saunter along the High Line, New York’s elevated urban oasis.
Our New York escapade had one more sparkling gem up its sleeve: the Bryant Park Winter Village. Imagine a holiday wonderland tucked away in the midst of skyscrapers, where the aroma of roasted chestnuts mingles with the laughter of ice-skaters.
This place is a holiday dream come true! We indulged in mouthwatering treats that tasted like Christmas in a bite. Think hot chocolate that warms your soul and artisanal pastries that are little pieces of art. And let’s not forget the holiday shops—each one a treasure trove of unique gifts and festive trinkets. It was like stepping into a snow globe version of New York City.
A Journey Wrapped in Gratitude
As we navigated the bustling streets of the Big Apple, a profound sense of gratitude enveloped us. We’d sailed across oceans, discovered hidden gems in far-off lands, and now found ourselves in the pulsating heart of NYC. It was the grand finale to a journey that had been nothing short of wonderful.
Let’s talk about the sanctuary that was our Balcony Aurea Suite—a slice of heaven on the high seas. Imagine this: You wake up to the symphony of waves serenading the ship’s hull. You slide open the balcony door and step into your own private oasis, where the ocean stretches infinitely, kissing the horizon in a poetic embrace.
A Room with a View—And What a View!
I couldn’t resist the allure of witnessing the Statue of Liberty from this unparalleled vantage point. So, at 3 a.m., wrapped in the excitement of a December chill, I stood on my balcony as we sailed into New York Harbor. The sight of Lady Liberty, standing tall and dignified, was a moment etched in time. It was as if she was welcoming us to the city, and the thrill of it all made every planning detail worth it.
More Than Just a Room: A Haven of Comfort
But let’s not forget the suite itself. Spacious, luxurious, and designed with an eye for comfort, it was our home away from home. The bathroom was a roomy affair, offering all the conveniences you’d want for a refreshing start to your day or a relaxing wind-down in the evening.
The Aurea Experience: A Spa Day, Every Day
And here’s the cherry on top: Booking an Aurea Suite grants you unlimited daily access to the ship’s thermal spa. Picture this—saunas, steam rooms, and hot tubs, all at your disposal. It’s like having a wellness retreat right at your fingertips, perfect for melting away any lingering stress and recharging your spirit before you step off into your next adventure.
So, if you’re looking for a cabin that elevates your cruise experience from great to extraordinary, the Balcony Aurea Suites are your ticket to a voyage you’ll never forget.
MSC Seascape Transatlantic Cruise Review
The MSC Seascape is a playground on water that lit our eyes up at first sight.
A World of Entertainment: From Robotron to XD Cinema
There’s state-of-the-art arcade games that transport you into alternate universes, and the Robotron ride had our hearts racing faster than the ship itself! And when it’s time to dial it down a notch, the XD Interactive Cinema is your portal to other worlds, offering an immersive movie experience.
A Culinary Fiesta: Hola Cantina
Now, let’s talk about food. I’m usually hesitant to splurge on specialty dining, but Hola Cantina was so irresistible, we dined there not once but twice! They offer an all-you-can-eat option that’s perfect for those who want to dive into a smorgasbord of fajitas, tacos, and more. And trust me, these aren’t just any tacos. Each bite is a celebration, a burst of flavors and colors that dance on your palate.
The Guacamole Experience: A Family Affair
But the pièce de résistance? The make-your-own-guacamole experience. Imagine this: a server brings over a platter of fresh avocados, tomatoes, onions, and spices. You’re handed a molcajete—the traditional mortar and pestle—and a giant spoon. What follows is a culinary adventure where you’re the chef, mashing and mixing to create your own guacamole masterpiece. It’s a hands-on, interactive delight that had the whole family engaged and laughing.
Book Early, Feast Happily
A word to the wise: Hola Cantina is a hot spot on the MSC Seascape, so make your reservations early. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this culinary fiesta.
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 sailed deeper into the Atlantic, it was as if Mother Nature decided to give us a reality check. The weather wasn’t stormy, but it was unforgiving. We’re talking about waves that felt skyscraper-high, making even the most seasoned sailors among us take a deep breath. The ship, usually so graceful, rocked and swayed, reminding us all of the ocean’s untamed power. It was both humbling and exhilarating, a wild ride for those with the guts to face the high seas head-on.
The Reality of Life at Sea
The first several days were a blur of activity. But, let’s be honest, the excitement of the new can only last so long. We were soon wrestling with the peculiarities of living on the open sea.
The Wi-Fi, once reliable, became a fickle friend, making it tough to stay connected to the world beyond the waves. The TV options were limited, to say the least, and the onboard entertainment started to feel like a rerun. By Day 5, we were all itching for a change of scenery and counting down the hours to our Bermuda pitstop.
The Silver Lining
But here’s the thing: this journey taught us the art of adaptability. When the weather turned chilly and some amenities were off the table, we found joy in the simple things. Whether it was a hot cup of cocoa, a good book, or a heartfelt conversation with a fellow traveler, these became the golden moments that made the voyage worthwhile.
How to Save Money on a Cruise
Timing is everything. First off, timing isn’t just about avoiding jet lag; it’s the secret sauce to snagging killer deals. We hit the jackpot with a special offer from MSC Cruises USA that gave us a $500 onboard credit. Talk about a game-changer! This windfall let us live a little—think fine dining and extra excursions that we might have otherwise skipped. So, the moral of the story? Keep those eyes peeled for deals and offers; they can turn a great trip into an extraordinary one.
Pre-Book and Save
We’re all about making the most of our time, so we jumped on the Fun Pass Package. Best. Decision. Ever. With $140 of credit, we were like kids in a candy store—racing on the Formula 1 simulator, diving into the XD Interactive cinema, and even treating ourselves to spa days and cocktails. The Fun Pass was our golden ticket to squeezing every last drop of fun out of our cruise.
Loyalty Pays Off
If you’re a cruise aficionado, don’t sleep on those loyalty programs. As Diamond members, we were treated like VIPs from the get-go. Imagine sipping exclusive cocktails at a private club party (okay, we didn’t actually mingle, but you could!) and enjoying a complimentary gourmet dinner. These perks didn’t just make us feel like rock stars; they also shaved off some costs, making the trip even sweeter. Pro tip: If you’re a frequent cruiser with another line, MSC offers a loyalty match. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Our 10-day transatlantic cruise on the MSC Seascape was nothing short of epic. From the idyllic shores of Madeira Island and Bermuda to the electric pulse of New York City, every day was a new adventure. The ship was a floating paradise for the kids, and let’s not forget the family cabin and specialty dining that took our comfort to the next level. Would we recommend it? In a heartbeat. This cruise was a dream come true, and with a little savvy planning, it can be for you too.