All-inclusive trips, cruises good for families

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, November 28, 2009

A family vacation can either conjure up the visions of your own personalized National Lampoon Vacation movie or a carefree relaxed stress value added getaway.

Factors that will help determine what you will experience are your destination, trip inclusions and the interests of your traveling party.

When the Travel Professor hits the road with family in tow, I prefer the all-inclusive getaway, a cruise vacation or a resort that caters to families with children.

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These options may initially seem pricey up front but once you sit down and do a cost comparison I think you’ll agree that there can be a good to great value.

With the all-inclusive stay one price covers your meals, beverages, activities, entertainment, recreation and more. I look for a resort that offers golf, tennis and water sports.

Free organized children and youth activities along with special “kid & young adult” areas allow your younger ones to engage with like-aged friends while the adults are off enjoying other resort amenities.

Cruises are very comparable but I consider them to be fairly inclusive programs not all inclusive ones.

Your meals, many beverages, many activities and entertainment are provided in your fare but you will pay extra for green fees, evening babysitting, specialty dining and other services. Plus $7 cocktails and $25 per meal gourmet dining fees add up quickly.

For the family cruise vacation I really like Carnival Cruises and their wide array of programs. But other cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Disney or NCL provide great programs so be sure to check these out.

Camp Carnival for cruisers age 2 thru 11 includes a wide range of activities designed for children in three different age groups — toddlers, juniors, and Intermediates. All children are supervised by staff who have experience and/or education in child-care.

You’ll see your child’s excitement grow as soon as they meet their counselor and get assigned to their group.

And when it’s time to eat kids get their very own menus, featuring all their favorites like hot dogs, chicken nuggets, pizza, macaroni & cheese, hamburgers and more.

Circle “C” is the ultimate spot where children ages 12-14 can cruise, chill, and connect to others. Cool activities, awesome facilities and lots of great new friends to add to their text-mail lists.

The activities (think games, dance parties, outdoor movies and more) are supervised and created just for them.

Club O2 is where teens 15-17 can hangout around the clock. This special space blends friends, music, entertainment, sports and style for a teen-themed cruising experience unlike any other.

All supervised events, parties and activities are just for them. This amazing place is full of things to do, people to meet and stories to create.

Family and kid friendly resorts boast multiple swimming pools, Jacuzzis, tennis courts, sports centers, sand soccer, beach and court volleyball, fitness center, spas, beauty salons, game rooms, bicycles, a kid’s club, cinema and a variety of daily activities and sizzling nightly entertainment for adults and kids alike.

Florida, Mexico, the Caribbean Islands and some mainland U.S. resort destinations offer a wide range of family friendly lodging options.

For the all inclusive vacationer one of my favorite brands is Beaches. At Beaches all-inclusive Resorts, just about anything you could ever imagine is included.

Other brand favorites include Iberostar and RIU resorts. So leave your wallets (and your cares) behind, and get ready for the time of your lives!

Themed family hotels like the Great Wolf Lodges offer wonderful amenities and plenty to do. At Great Wolf Lodges the kids … er, cubs … sleep in the wolf den, an in-suite cave-themed area with a bunk bed. They can “rough it” with movies and Nintendo on their own 20” flat screen LCD TV.

In the main portion of the suite, adults can sprawl out on a queen bed and full-size sleeper sofa. They get their own TV too, presumably for movies and Nintendo as well. For a Great Wolf experience you only have to travel as far as Greater Cincinnati. There’s a lodge in Mason near Kings Islands.

On these vacations chance are excellent that you’ll experience stress-free days without cell phones, traffic jams, valet parking and rushed lunch hours. You’ll be able to sit back and soak up some quality family time.

Be kind to your travel agent and get out of town!