Kids' clubs can make a cruise fun for the whole family, writes Tiana Templeman.
Most cruise ships have an on board kids' club but figuring out how to make it work for your family isn't always child's play. Read on to discover how to help your kids have their best cruise yet with these cruise ship kids' club tips for every age group.
Babies and tots
Call the club from your cabin to check how your child is going instead of dropping in. Little ones can become upset and confused if you stop by, then leave without taking them with you.
With so much fun to be had toddlers can leave toilet trips until the last minute. Avoid clothes that are hard to get off as too many "accidents" can see your child removed from the programme.
If you only leave your pre-schooler for an hour or so the first few times they're at the club, any worries about Mum or Dad not coming back will quickly disappear.
Consider scheduling an afternoon nap for children this age if they are attending the evening programme. Fun, busy days combined with late nights can cause tears and tantrums in under-5s.
Primary school age
Join your child for some of the scheduled family activities. These are usually fun, team-oriented games designed to be enjoyed as a family. The family treasure hunts are great fun!
Children can often sign themselves in and out of the club from the age of 9 (with parental permission). Unless your child is very level-headed, you might want to wait until they're older.
Teens who aren't sure about participating in the programme should attend the first session, just in case. If they skip this but decide to join in later, it can be hard for them to form friendships.
Though many adults prefer to avoid school holiday sailings, these can be great for teens as there will almost certainly be kids their own age to hang out with on board.
General kids club tips
Register at the club on the first day and check if there are any special activities, like parades or parties, scheduled during the cruise.
Don't panic if the club is too full for your child to attend on the first morning. This session is always busy but once the rush dies down there should be space available for the rest of the cruise.
For young children who aren't accustomed to kids' clubs, the first session can be overwhelming due to the number of excited children. Consider delaying their visit until the second day.
Hold off booking that romantic dinner until the second night of the cruise as many kids club programmes start the day after passengers board the ship.
Check the programme each day to see whether your child needs to bring anything special, like togs for the waterslide or closed-toe shoes for a game of basketball on the sports deck.
Always be on time (or a little early) for pick-up. The staff will love you for it.