Q: Peter: In a cruise we were on recently, the occupants from the cabin next door would often leave their children unattended. Our headboard would shake from the running, jumping and slamming of the balcony door. Guest Service was notified but they acted like we were the problem for letting them know of the situation. How would you have handled this issue?
- Jeff Tackett, Belfry, Ky.
A: Jeff, this is a tough situation. No one likes the idea of confrontation on a cruise ship, or in hotels and on planes for that matter, but you're paying good money to have an enjoyable experience, right? Bottom line is, kids' behavior is the parents' responsibility, even if they're on vacation.
You did the right thing by getting the ship's staff involved. The idea of speaking directly to the parents may be unappealing (or unfruitful). Staff members are better equipped to handle delicate situations. But sometimes it's all in how you approach it:
"Mr. Guest Rep (Concierge/Flight Attendant): I've been having trouble sleeping with the noise coming from the kids in the cabin next door. Would you please talk to them?"
Sounds very different than:
"That kid is ruining my hard-earned vacation. What are you going to do about it?!"
If you're using honey and still catching no flies, ask to speak to the guest relations manager, keeping track of all names, titles and ID numbers.
If all else fails, you do have the option of approaching the children's parents yourself. The trick is to keep it polite, not confrontational. Parents have a tendency to get defensive when outsiders criticize their kids, but a little camaraderie can go a long way in getting them to see the situation from your side. Perhaps an offer of coffee or cocktails can ease the tension.
For your next cruise, plan your voyage around your tolerance for kids or even young adults. Avoid trips that leave around spring break or the holiday season. These cruises are generally more kid-laden because they're on break from school.
Even during the busy seasons, cruise lines like Holland America, Crystal Oceania and Regent Seven Seas tend to carry fewer passengers under 18 than Carnival, Disney, Princess and Royal Caribbean. Also, most cruise lines offer adult-only areas like "quiet pools," casinos or the spa. Keep in mind that the larger the ship, the more space to escape to, though then again, small-ship cruises will likely have no young kids at all.
Finally, pick the right itinerary — more exotic destinations tend to have fewer families. Think Asia, South America, French Polynesia or Northern Europe. Bon voyage!
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