Five Faves: Family Matters – When it comes to a group vacation, choose to cruise!

Porthole’s Five Faves


Family Matters

When it comes to a group vacation, choose to cruise!

This summer, I spent a weeklong family vacation with 14 family members ranging in age from 4 to 71. We gathered in a five-bedroom house on Lake Tahoe for a week of sun and fun… and a crazy amount of logistics!

It was awesome quality time, of course. But in the end, when we thought back to last year — when we decided to forego more than 40 years of Thanksgiving tradition for a Mexican Riviera cruise aboard Carnival Splendor — we came to a conclusion.

After experiencing two very different types of family vacations, it’s pretty obvious: When traveling with a large group, choose to cruise! Here are five reasons why.


Time Travel

In Tahoe: The average time it took to get 14 people from the house to the beach was approximately 3 hours, or at least that’s what it seemed. Loading up three cars with 14 peoples’ worth of beach chairs, umbrellas, bags, and towels; stopping at the store to pack up coolers with snacks, drinks, lunch, and ice; driving 17 minutes to go 2 miles, finding a parking spot (make that three parking spots), and then unloading and setting up all the aforementioned gear. You do the math.

On a cruise: Enjoy the kids’ clubs! Mommy will be by the pool if you need me! Ta ta!


Adults will be Adults

In Tahoe: As much fun as it would’ve been partying it up with all my siblings, it didn’t seem fair to ask grandma and grandpa to watch seven kids while we did so each night. So instead, we managed to polish off a few bottles of wine on the back deck followed by some other evening entertainment. (See Evening Entertainment.)

On a cruise: Let’s hit a bar — or 10! With so many choices within walking distance, the ladies can hit the piano bar and the guys can head for the sports bar, and then all meet up at the nightclub for late night. All without the need to worry about designated drivers or finding a cab? Even better.


Evening Entertainment

In Tahoe: Evening entertainment consisted of dinner (see Meal Time) followed by some TV watching, iPad playing, or occasional reading; a few rounds of Left, Right, Center; and one night, my poor brother was so desperate that he went to the local hotel casino by himself.

On a cruise: Production shows, comedians, live music, you name it. If you’re lucky, maybe your ship is staying late in port. Do your own thing or go as a group. Mix it up. You can pick something different every night. And don’t worry about the kids. They’re being entertained, too.


Meal Time

In Tahoe: When the question of dinner arose (usually at around 11 a.m.), first came trying to find a restaurant that would take a reservation for 14, then deciding if it was even worth it to go out with all those kids or if just ordering pizza was easier. (Pizza often won.) And then came dealing with the post-meal issue of paying the check, which led to a post-week receipt-wrap-up of who-owes-who-what, which basically required a VP of Spreadsheets to figure out.

On a cruise: If 14 people want 14 different things to eat, so be it. And when everyone is done eating? Just get up and go.


Seeing the Sights

In Tahoe: Oh, those logistics again! Figuring out activities that suited all ages, hopes, and dreams. Musical car seats and packing up for a day’s outing. Trying to make that night’s dinner reservations from an app on my phone… while on a boat somewhere on the middle of Lake Tahoe.
On a cruise: The shore excursion list is endless and everyone gets to do their own thing. One group can hit the golf course while the other heads for the dolphin encounter and another opts for the shopping tour. No worries! See you at dinner!


Ok, one more for good measure!


Mom’s on Vacation, Too!

In Tahoe: My mom. Gotta love her. Waking up early to feed seven grandkids breakfast (separately, upon each one’s awakening), washing loads of towels every night so we’d have fresh ones the next morning; hitting the grocery store (daily!) to stock up on toilet paper, milk, or whatever it was that we ran out of that day. The duties were endless!

On a cruise: The only thing mom has to worry about is what time her spa appointment is.


— Jodi Ornstein

Photo credit: Michael Geller

Now in its 25th year, Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine is published bi-monthly and available worldwide through digital subscription. It offers the latest news in cruise and travel, with in-depth features on voyages, new ships, the best destinations, readers' picks, onboard cuisine, entertainment, and more!