Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Counterpoint: Some family policies on cruise make sense

Cruise Critic's Erica Silverstein wrote a thoughtful post on the "Worst Cruise Line Policies for Families." Many of her complaints are valid, but we think she misses the mark on more than one. We cruised with kids and without and think in general the lines do the best they can. They are trying to satisfy two unique groups -- families and those without kids -- on one ship. They have to strike a balance so that one group's needs and wants don't encroach on the other's good times. While we agreed with Silverstein that it is outrageous to charge a full fair for a baby or toddler, here are our counterarguments to the other issues.

  • Room service charges: We are already on record against room-service charges, but understand why cruise companies do it. They want you eating elsewhere and are pricing things accordingly. The policy may not be family friendly, but it applies to all on board.
  • Full-price specialty restaurant cover charges: We understand charging full-price here. These restaurants were designed to be exclusive. Why lower the price and take up multiple seats when full-paying customers could and would use those reservations? Plus most people expect an adult environment in the specialty restaurants. We are sure that your kids are great and well-behaved at dinner, but many (many, many, many) are not. They shouldn't be around to ruin other guests' experiences.
  • Buffets that close before dinner: Is food access ever really an issue on any cruise? Even if things are temporarily closed, food is always available somewhere on a cruise line and will be available again shortly in the buffet. This is a non-issue.
  • No diapers in the pool: We've seen several Splash Zones closed mid-day for cleaning after a little one had an accident. It happens and causes a bit of an inconvenience for your kids who don't understand the wait or why they can't go into the Splash Zone right now. Cruises can't risk shutting down and cleaning down a full pool daily because of the diaper issue. 
  • No teen activities for 18 year olds: Another non-issue? We haven't parented an 18-year-old yet, but remember being around that age on cruise ships. We wouldn't have been caught dead in the "teen club." In general, most 18-year-olds will figure it all out and have a good time without the organized activities of the teen club.
  • No baby changing facilities in public bathrooms: Even as ships get bigger, space is still an issue, especially in the public bathrooms. Having a few changing stations conveniently placed makes sense, but it doesn't make sense to have one in every bathroom. 

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