Nona and the Kids: Tips for Planning an Intergenerational Cruise


ABOARD THE NCL BREAKAWAY – It has been just over a week since my family returned from our cruise to the Western Caribbean on the Breakaway. I had thought I would be able to write about the trip on a daily basis but soon learned that we all were much too busy for me to accomplish that.

image courtesy of Cynthia Janssens
Our first evening on board we enjoyed very fancy mushroom soup in the Bistro restaurant on the Breakaway

So I have some catching up to do. But first I want to give you some tips on planning a family cruise.

  1. Book early. We did not do this. We booked in mid-May for the last week in July. But we had a reason. My husband passed away on May 8 and that week in July is when my girls and their families always came to our home in Michigan. This year, Grandpa Chet would not be there so we decided to do something different and create new memories. I consulted with a agent and based on my request – three cabins close together that would sleep three people in each on a cruise departing from Miami or Fort Lauderdale – the agent recommended the Breakaway.
  1. Take advantage of booking promotions. Norwegian was offering very generous inclusions: drink packages, specialty dining, internet minutes and shore excursion $$ were included for all the adults and we were able to purchase extra packages as needed. The total price for each cabin was around $3,500. We got a lot for our money.
  1. Consider the itinerary. We did not have a lot of choice in this regard as we wanted that specific week. This itinerary was to the Western Caribbean which is pretty much the eastern coast of Central America and Mexico. The ports were Roatan (an island belonging to Honduras), Harvest Caye in Belize, and Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. Of these, I had only been to Cozumel so it would be good for me to see new places.

    Image courtesy of Cynthia Janssens
    The children soon discovered the many delicacies offered in the Marketplace buffet
  1. Cabin location is important. My family group consisted of my two daughters, one husband, five grandchildren and me. The children were 18, 15-year-old twins, 11 and 9. We were fortunate that we were able to secure cabins near the elevator on deck 14 just below the buffet. The youngsters soon figured out that they could pop up to the buffet via elevator or stairs whenever they wanted a snack (soft ice cream was the favorite).
  1. Allow your children to plan the shore excursions. This ended up being critically important to me as my daughters Jennifer and Amy, assisted by 18-year-old Vivian, jumped on the internet and booked all of our excursions at They uncovered some very interesting options and I will be writing about those soon. By booking directly we saved a lot of money.
  1. Book some specialty dining and entertainment in advance. We did book tables in the Bistro and La Cucina before the cruise and it was nice to spend our first evening aboard being pampered in the French restaurant rather than standing in line to get into an included dining room.

We would discover that the Breakaway, which carries 4,500 passengers, was a good choice for all of us. I had not sailed on a ship this size for several years but found that getting around was not as difficult as I had anticipated. My grandchildren quickly hooked up with activities for their age groups and even the adults were wowed by the two production shows – “Burn the Floor” and “Rock of Ages.”

Next: Our outdoor adventures in Roatan

Story and photos courtesy of Cynthia Boal Janssens

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