Family cabins are great when you’re travelling with children. They mean that you can economically fit your whole tribe in one room and clever uses of space make this not only possible, but easy. However, with young kids – it’s not always plain sailing to use bunk beds.
Most grades of cabin come with family options (usually up to 4 people), whether a sofa bed or bunks which fold down from the walls or ceiling at night and this means you don’t need a suite to be able to accommodate your family.
Having taken a pre-schooler on several cruises – I know that the use of a top bunk can be a worry for some parents but upper bunks are great fun for kids and it can also be made child-proof.
There are a couple of options to ensure that everyone gets a good night’s sleep and no one needs to top-to-toe!
If you’re sailing in a cabin with an upper bunk:
You can use an additional bed-rail.
All bunks come with a bed rail in part (at the head end), but my kids tend to do a kind of one-person tango whilst they’re asleep and the protection offered isn’t enough. Some cruise lines (like P&O Cruises) provide an additional bed-guard on request, and some bunks have an additional set of holes to slot another standard guard rail in. If you’re not sure, they can be bought from general retailers (like Argos) and can be folded down to fit into your suitcase.
You can have the lower beds made up as a double.
Not all cruise lines will allow this, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Cunard Line don’t – but Royal Caribbean definitely do. Making up the lower bunk as a double means that if your bundle of joy ricochets out of the bed – they’re guaranteed to have a nice, soft landing (on one cruise Mrs Anchor Man woke up when 2 stone of sleeping child landed on her from the upper bunk). You can check the configuration options with your cruise line or travel agent.
You can sleep in the upper bunk.
Why should your kids get all the fun?! I’ll admit to inner-child excitement when I slept in one last year. They’re pretty cosy actually – but your kids may not see or agree to the benefits of you taking the fun spot.
You can use a ReadyBed.
This is probably my preferred option and we used one on Azura due to the risks of an upper bunk. Toby was turning 3 and we took a ReadyBed with us.
They fold down to nothing and are easily inflated by mouth, and whilst you get an attached sheet to it – our cabin steward happily provided all the bedding to go with it. Toby slept in his out of the way at the end of our bed, but you can put it wherever you want in your cabin.
When the bed is not in use, it just slides under one of the beds (and can be taken out for daytime naps). ReadyBeds can be bought from retailers like Argos or Tesco.
Of course, if you’re sailing in a cabin with a sofabed or your child is using a lower bunk – you can look at using the bed rails – cabin floors can be quite hard. We also found that getting extra towels and rolling them into a ‘lip’ at the edge of the bed will stop any unwanted mid-night rollouts.
Some ships and cruise lines offer designated family cabins, though often these are sold very quickly. If you’ve got more than two children, you could look at interconnecting cabins – where a door links one cabin to another next door.
We take holidays to come back revived and refreshed and I hope these suggestions help you do the same next time you take your kids away.