Land or sea? That is the question for parents planning their next big family adventure! I can tell you we have done both and found great options for both! In fact this year we are not only doing a ‘land’ getaway but also a cruise! Both of our options have been booked on previous experience and we can not wait to spend QUALITY time away together as a family. So which is best for you family?
(This post is sponsored by Paradise Resort on the Gold Coast. Please see disclosure below.)
Lets Start With Cruising.
The beauty of a cruise is that you get so much included in your price it almost makes it a better financial option, especially when you consider from Australia the Pacific Islands are a popular destination for cruises. Usually with a cruise you get all main meals supplied, a selection of deck activities free, some standard drinks and treats (when we went on our last cruise with Carnival we had free water, lemon cordial and soft serve free on the main deck), stage shows, musical entertainment, movies, kids club (usually you can get a session free at some point or you will need to pay), your own private concierge for your room and 9 times out of 10 some sort of room credit. The room credit is a big one as you can use this for off shore excursions or other costs on the ship such as meals in specialty restaurants or drinks packages. Previously when we have booked cruises (Carnival & P&O) there has been no mention on the intial cruise listing about any sort of room credit, however after we have booked and received our confirmation we have received $300 each time!
What we love about cruising is the relaxation of it all. There’s no hustle and bussel to drive through getting places. You are cut off from the distractions of social media and the fresh air is soooooo amazing out at sea! There is always something you can do when on a ship and lets face it there’s enough food to feed an army lol. You do not even need to do vacation meal planning and budgeting for a cruise as it’s all planned out for you. Well, that’s providing you stick to the free meal options and not go for the fancy costly restaurants, but really when your traveling with kids you do not want to be there anyway!
One of the best things about cruising for me is that we get to visit a lot of different places instead of being just in the one country/location. This really depends on what cruise you book of coarse, but as an example on our last cruise we visited 3 locations in New Caladonia (French Islands In The Pacific) and 2 locations in Fiji. This time we are doing a shorter cruise but stopping again at 2 locations in New Caladonia (one of which we havn’t been to) and then 1 location in Vanuatu (another place we havn’t been before). Not ready for international cruising? Then you always have cruises available that just stop at various locations around your own country.
Cruising is a lot more of a scheduled vacation than when staying on land. On a cruise you have your meals some what planned, days at sea with scheduled activities/entertainment and then your port stops set up with possible tours that are available that you may want to book. What ever cruise ship you are going on they have all of these options set up for you to choose from. It makes for a less stressful, more organized holiday as it is much more structured with the cruise schedule. On land all your activities, meals and other costs are things you need to research, plan and work into your vacation yourself. There is a lot more time and work involved, but you do have many more options than what you do on a cruise.
Choosing the right ship for you is really important. As we have children (and we are big kids ourselves) we chose Carnival Spirit for our first cruise and Pacific Dawn for this years. Both ships have a family focused approach providing waterslides/pools that both adults and kids can enjoy, water play areas, kids clubs, family entertainment & dining. I’ll be honest with you, the water slides & water play areas were the catch for us. Pacific Dawn has only recently renovated to include these otherwise we would not have booked that particular cruise with that ship at all. We would have opted for one of the other cruise companies or gone back with Carnival again. So pre look at cruise ship photos, deck plans and reviews before you decide on a ship you want to experience. Most ships from Australia do the same locations, its all just about choosing the ship you think best suits your needs. And even though they all go to the same locations the prices can vary between cruise companies, so look out for deals if you are really wanting something in particular.
This years cruise was a super deal for us with kids sailing free!!!! So we have only paid for my husband and I. The same cruise next year I have booked for my friend and her family and they got a super deal with only $1 deposits! I do all my bookings on www.ozcruising.com.au and have had a great experience. I actually found they were cheaper than booking with the cruise lines direct, with lower deposits required at times. They also give you the option of paying off your holiday rather than needing to pay all at once. So for us, I usually book at least a year in advance and its easily obtainable.
There are only a couple of downfalls I can personally point out. The first is the most obvious and thats the possibility of sea sickness. If you do have a rough day at sea and are prone to sea sickness this may effect you. Usually however the sea is flat with little disruption. This will depend on where you are going and what time of the year. So be prepared before you go with ‘incase’ medication. Personally I took some but never had to use it. Younger children also seem to be more resilient to the movement and less prone to sea sickness, but do be prepared with sea bands and any prescribed medication if you are worried. The other thing to be aware of is the traps of spending. You really need to keep track of your spending daily. Most cruises have you register a credit card and everything comes off there at the end, so be aware you are sticking to your budget as it is easy to get ‘sucked into’ the shop sales, fancy drinks & portrait photo opportunities!
Cruising has by far been our most relaxing holiday as it forces you to stop and enjoy while your out at sea. It did wonders for me (as a hopeless work-a-holic) in making me live in the moment, especially when I didn’t have technology at my finger tips! lol lol lol My husband and I both agree that cruising has been our FAVORITE HOLIDAY EXPERIENCE to date and we can not wait to go again with the kids this year!
So What About Land?
Land holidays really depend on where you choose to go and what experiences you want to have as a family. We always opt for somewhere sunny, near water and some great experiences for the kids (and us big kids).
If you have a family with young children the usual worry is how they will behave and if they will distrupt others. So choosing a hotel that is more for business travlers with little catering to kids needs is just not a good idea, no matter how luxurious it is! For us here in Australia, Paradise Resort on the Gold Coast is the number one spot to go! They have described themselves as ‘Australias favorite cruise ship on land’ and I can say from my cruising experience it is exactly that! This hotel is like no other we have experienced in Australia catering HUGLY for families with children. You will never feel out of place or stressed about what your child is doing. Everyone that is there is there with children and it is one big ball of fun!
Check out their activities page for and abundance of things to do! Not only do they have a pool & 2 water park areas (yes the adults can go on the slides too) they also have constant daily activities (a lot of them free) for children such as fancy dress Friday; family activities such as ice skating & outdoor movie nights; plus some special adults only entertainment for you too! A highlight is the awesome Kids Club for ages 0-12 yrs – usually with a session each for your children free daily within your booking. Joseph just absolutely loves their Kids Club and is looking so forward to it again this year when we visit for his birthday (instead of a big party with gifts we are going away here for a few days – so stay tuned for some awesome vlogs on the YT channel and a travel review on the blog). For us this type of land accommodation is perfect and something we look for. We truely have not found anything else like it here in Australia.
Choosing the right land accommodation within your budget can take some time if you want to do it right. There is a lot more you have to consider than what you would in booking a cruise such as:
Cost – The cost of land can be a lot more expensive depending on how far away you are going and what type of holiday you are doing. A cruise includes a lot more in its price so you know what you are up for from the start. On land you need to make sure you can work within your budget. Take into consideration if there are any hidden costs such as a large security deposit on arrival, weekend/public holiday rates etc. Paradise Resort quiet often have deals running where kids eat free during their stay, this something for a family that adds great value.
Location – is it close to activities and entertainment you want to be doing?
Room Structure – Look into how many people the room accommodates for. Do you need more of an apartment rather than just a room to ensure cooking/laundry facilities or separate sleeping spaces?
Inclusions - What is included in your accommodation price? Do you have to pay extra for parking, meals, kids club, activities/entertainment, toiletries & transport?
The thing I do love about land is that you are in the one spot for as long as you wish as oppose to cruising where you are only at a port for a day. So you do have more time to explore and really experience the area you are visiting. I think the most important thing really is to choose the most appropriate accommodation according to your families needs when it comes to land, especially when you have young children to consider.
So Which Is It Land Or Sea?
As having experienced both my self I can not necessarily say one is better than the other. It really is dependent on the type of experience you want to have with your family.
This year we have the blessing of enjoying both a cruise in the middle of the year and land holiday at the end of the year. This really is a treat for us, as usually we will enjoy one main holiday per year. However due to the amazing kids sail free deal and now working with Paradise Resort later in the year for a longer more inclusive time away for Josephs birthday, we do get to enjoy both and we are more than excited and truly feel blessed to have these opportunities together as a family.
If you havn’t been on a cruise I would say experience it, even if it is a small one to begin with. I love using Oz Cruising for my bookings. I have to warn you though cruises seem to be addictive for people once they have had the experience! If you love it, explore what other sea adventures you can do in the future. They truly are an amazing way of seeing multiple locations in a short amount of time. Just be prepared to sticking to a schedule for your daily plans being that the cruise schedule is set with port stops.
In regards to land you have most likely already done some sort of vacation and know what it is like. Perhaps next time think about anything you have not liked on previous bookings and look for something that will meet those needs. Land vacations can be as active or relaxing as you want them to be. Anytime we have gone away within Australia we are generally active doing multiple things every few days, but I have to say our vacation at the end of the year we are looking to just stay and relax at the hotel, really taking in all Paradise Resort has to offer. They have so much to offer we really wont need to go anywhere else for activities (well maybe we will go for a walk to the beach at some point) and will honestly be happy to have a much needed break from what is already a super busy year.
So In the end both are great options, you just need to be well planned and organised to get the best for your families needs. So let me know in the comments if you prefer land or sea for your family vacation. I would love to hear where your favorite destination is!
DISCLOSURE - Product reviews are my own personal experience & opinions only. Any products reviewed are not sponsored by the brand unless otherwise stated in the video or within a blog post. I take no responsibility for the products used by anyone, this lays with the companies/businesses and their owners. Please seek all appropriate advice before purchasing and using any of the products seen in my videos or blog posts. This blog post may contain affiliate links. Which means that I may receive a small commission if you purchase through my links. This helps This Mum At Home continue to create content for you all to enjoy!