For many years, cruises were primarily enjoyed by couples and even single folks who just wanted to get away from the hectic pace of everyday life. Over time, more and more people began demanding family-friendly cruise options, as moms and dads looked for unique new ways to enjoy a full-fledged family vacation. Over the past few decades, cruise ships have become much more amenable to families and now offer a wide array of services, programs and features that cater specifically to families and children. More recently, though, multigenerational cruising – in which relatives beyond the nuclear family unit enjoy a cruise together – has boomed in popularity.

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As busy as people are these days, it is often difficult to find the time to get together with parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents. All too often, family members live in wildly divergent places, making get togethers a logistical nightmare. Rather than try to round everyone up at a single home, then, more families are choosing to create ultra-special memories by enjoying multigenerational cruise vacations – and cruise lines are answering their increasing demand for programs, services and amenities that will appeal to a wide range of generations, ages and interests. If you’ve been thinking about booking a multigenerational cruise, be sure to keep the following points in mind.

How Much Room Will You Need?

In the past, when large family groups traveled together on a single ship they had to make do with separate rooms and the inconveniences that went along with them. Happily, many modern cruises lines are rolling out more connecting staterooms, suites and cabins than ever before. Indeed, with the trend moving toward mega-ships, it is safe to say that massive suites and connecting rooms will only become more prevalent. Whether it’s a couple of huge suites – or a cluster of smaller, connected rooms – accommodations are definitely being made for multigenerational groups of travelers.

When rooms on a ship connect, families can enjoy the pleasure of being together without the hassle of having to hop from room to room – or from suite to suite. Better yet, many cruise lines offer balconies whose partitions can be removed, creating a single, large family gathering area. Connecting staterooms are abundant on Disney cruise ships; Royal Caribbean and Norwegian’s cruise ships also make similar options readily available. When planning a multigenerational cruise, then, be sure to check with the individual cruise line and look for one that boasts these spacious and convenient options.

Keeping Everybody Happy

Some cruise lines are known for catering to specific groups and ages; there are cruise lines that are heavily favored by seniors, for instance, and those that are best known for their exemplary teen programs. With multigenerational cruising, though, it is imperative to find a single ship – and a single itinerary – that will keep a huge range of ages and sensibilities satisfied. Back in the old days, this was no easy feat. Today, though, it’s increasingly becoming easier and more convenient to find such cruises.

When looking for a sufficient cruise ship for a multigenerational cruise, look closely at the kinds of programs that it offers. In some cases, the kids’ programs dominate the scene, leaving little for older folks to enjoy. Other times, the vast majority of the programs on a ship are geared toward a more mature audience. The trick is finding a ship that has a pleasant array of activities for people of all ages. Ideally, it will have activities for kids that are broken down into relatively small age groups, along with plenty of activities for a wide range of older people as well.

Beyond the activities and programs, though, you’ll want to take a close look at the kinds of public rooms that are offered. Teenagers thrill at having their very own place on the ship, so look for one that has a teens-only nightclub or coffee bar. At the same time, you’ll want to zero in on a cruise ship that has a reasonably sized children’s area where the younger set can frolic and play at will. Finally, adult diversions and areas like casinos, Internet cafes and even adults-only swimming pools are all wonderful ways to give the grown ups in the group a nice haven away from all of the kid-centric areas of a ship.

Location Matters

When planning a multigenerational cruise, you’ll more than likely have to contend with the logistics of bringing many far-flung people together. Therefore, choosing a cruise that departs from a centrally located homeport is key. Take a look at where various people will need to depart from, then try and choose a homeport that is reasonable and fair for everyone who is invited. That way, no one will have to make a dramatically longer journey than anyone else. Ideally, everyone who will be participating will be able to do so without any major inconvenience.

Enjoy Your Time Together

The number one, most important part of any multigenerational cruise is simply being together. Plan on dining together as a group as frequently as possible, and try to tour ports of call in groups as well. Play “musical chairs” among various people in your travel party so that everyone has the opportunity to spend time together. In the end, everyone will return home with memories that they will cherish for the rest of their lives.