Homeschoolers are supposed to go on out-of-the-ordinary trips, full of educational
experiences, with life-enriching activities.   After all, we think out of the box and do
things differently.  So what do we do, but go on a cookie-cutter, everything planned
cruise.  And we had a blast!

We live and homeschool in Galveston, Texas. It's a wonderful convenience to just
drive down to the pier and board a cruise ship. Carnival Cruise and Royal
Caribbean both depart from Galveston. We chose Carnival because it is
inexpensive and short (only 4 nights). To prepare for the trip, head to the library to
check out books. Books on ocean life, books on your ports of call, books on
pirates. And maybe some books on tape, for when the kids are lounging on deck.
This would be a good time for a marine biology unit study.

This was our first time to cruise, so I had no idea there was to be a boat drill and we
were to muster at our designated muster station with life jackets.  Who knew!  Well I
quickly found out, as this is not an option. This part is for compulsive obsessive
people that need to do everything in advance.  Life jackets are provided in your
room (ask for children's sizes for your little ones) and a muster station is where you
go if the ship starts to sink (highly unlikely) or some other emergency.  Children
under 12 must wear wristbands to identify their muster stations throughout the
entire cruise.  This is so staff can direct them to where they need to be if they get
separated from parents in an emergency. Okay the compulsive obsessive people
can relax now.

My idea of paradise is lying on deck, looking out over the horizon while the children
play in the pools.  For those of you that need more, the ship is full of activities--art
auctions, musicals, games, arcades and more. Just exploring the floating city is fun
in and of itself.  You receive an activity sheet daily to be able to plan your day. Of
course some things are extra like the spa and sodas, plus the many shops to
browse through.  There are even seminars on shopping (like we ladies need that)
and seminars on the many different tours available at your destination.  Once you
leave Galveston waters, all purchases are duty free, up to a point. Of course much
of the fun is directed by those in charge to get you to part with as much money as
possible, but that is just about any prearranged vacation. So just decide ahead of
time, and keep to your budget.  The ship gives you these wonderful little sail & sign
cards that are credit cards for you to use, nothing is in cash, so be careful.

Come ready to eat.  The food is glorious and abundant.  You can eat 24 hours a
day.  There is gourmet pizza, ice cream, salad bars, dessert bars, buffets and that’s
for the casual diner.  The formal dinners are spectacular.  I would  recommend
going to the formal dinners.  You have the choice of early seating and late seating.
There are pros and cons of both.  A sense of elegance comes when your family
dons their best attire and attends a meal together.  It’s good for the children to learn
how to act in these situations and this was good training ground.  I think a short
unit study on formal manners would have been helpful for us, but it was a
beginning.  I must say the waiters made the dinners special, they work hard to
ensure that your family has a wonderful time.

There were some fantastic stage shows.  The music was good, the dancing good,
and it was fun to take in a show after dinner.  I must also give another warning:
check at the pursers information desk about the content of the shows; even though
they say family shows, their idea of family is not necessarily my idea of family.

I can’t speak for other cruise lines, but I can say that the kids really enjoyed Camp
Carnival. We checked in on them often, met the counselors and set rules ahead of
time.  The camp was a come and go camp.  We could sign the children in anytime
during the day and sign them out at our convenience, and we were responsible for
taking them to meals.  There was a babysitting service after 10pm, but we never
used it.  The older kids (9 and up) could sign themselves in and out. Under that age
only the parents could sign them in and out and the parents received a beeper to
notify us if necessary.  Now I did not like my 9 year old daughter having freedom to
go and come as she pleased so it was made clear to her and her counselor that she
was not allowed to do that and they abided by that.  Also, that group had a
scavenger hunt in which groups of kids set out to roam the ship without the
counselor with them for about 45 minutes.  Didn’t like that either, but it happened
before I realized, so double check with the counselor on activities. A great idea I’ll
use for our next cruise is walkie talkies. Several children had them to communicate
with their parents.

The counselors have experience in child care, and are given background checks.
They were from all different parts of the world.  One of the counselors was from
Croatia and the other from England.  So have your kids ready to ask questions
about where they live.  In fact, all the employees were international and it was very
interesting asking them about their homeland. Maybe even keep a journal of the
different countries encountered, the names of the people and details about their

Definitely look into aids to prevent motion sickness.  Most of my family used a
Transderm Scop patch, behind the ear.  I couldn’t. I’m one of the rare, odd people
that have adverse reactions to it, but no one else did. Ginger is supposed to be
helpful too; check at a health food store. If you feel queasy, never look down into
the water, always look out over the horizon, and keep hydrated.

Susan Richie

Copyright Susan Richie, Homeschool Travel Resource, 2014

A Caribbean Cruise
A Non-typical Homeschool Vacation
Homeschool Cruises

You would be amazed how educational a homeschool cruise can be. Dry, rote
learning goes by the wayside, as geography becomes mapping your ship's
course and history becomes learning about ancient civilizations.
Also, students can get in-depth education in marine biology. A cruise
is a floating marine biology lab! If it's in your budget, make it one of your
educational tools.
Smithsonian Journeys offers a cruise to the Galapagos Islands. Aboard the
National Geographic Islander, students will learn about marine biology and
the incredible diversity of this area. An experienced team of experts will be
on board to answer questions.
Homeschool Travel Resource