SOURCE: Disney Cruise Line

October 18, 2012 05:00 ET

The Ultimate Family Getaway

Planning the Vacation of a Lifetime for the Whole Family

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Oct 18, 2012) - (Family Features) There are so many options for a great family vacation that it can be hard to decide on where to go. One thing that will help you decide on a destination is to think about your family's vacation personality. Is your family laid back, or adventurous? Do you enjoy exploring on land or experiences at sea?

Once you know your family's vacation personality, you can plan the vacation of a lifetime. Here are a few exciting ideas to get you started on your ultimate family getaway.

Family Cruise
If fantasy, fun and the magic of the sea appeal to your family, then a cruise is for you.

Twenty-five percent of cruisers sail with children, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). And today's ships offer a wide array of onboard features and programs for all ages -- not to mention exciting ports of call along the way.

When choosing a family cruise, you want to make sure that everyone, from grandparents down to the toddlers, has something they can enjoy.

For example, Disney Cruise Lines' cabins are designed with families in mind, with extra storage space and split bath design. There are plenty of family-centered shows and activities available, ranging from lively deck parties and Broadway-style stage spectaculars to water-based fun on deck with pools, waterslides and splash zones. But you don't have to do everything together:

--Younger kids will love having their own elaborately themed play areas and activities and getting to meet Disney characters.

--Teens and tweens have their own private clubs, and activities geared just for them.

--And adults don't have to miss out on the fun -- there is an adults-only pool and spa along with activities like cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, or a champagne brunch.

When choosing a cruise, make sure you look for ports of call and excursion options that fit your family, too. Alaskan cruises are great for families who enjoy the outdoors. You can go fishing for salmon, hiking on a glacier, take railroad and helicopter tours, and ride with sled dogs. If warm, golden beaches are more your family's style, a cruise to the Caribbean will let you lounge, swim and snorkel in azure waters, or shop in exotic marketplaces.

With most cruises, all your meals and most onboard entertainment and activities are included in your stateroom price. The value of cruising over a traditional land vacation is unbeatable. And with many convenient U.S. ports to sail from, such as Galveston, Texas and Miami, Fla., getting to your ship is simple.

Family Adventures
If your family is always looking for new places to explore, a family adventure vacation is just the thing.

With guided adventures, you can explore and experience places and cultures you've only dreamed about -- and you have the benefit of experts to make it enriching and easy.

When choosing a family adventure, make sure the itinerary will satisfy the energy levels and curiosity of the different age groups in your family. For example, on a trip to Peru with Adventures by Disney, you can enjoy an Andean feast, go river rafting, explore ancient ruins, and take a privately guided tour of Machu Picchu. On their trip to Greece, you can go sea kayaking and swimming, explore a volcano, enjoy wine tasting, and visit the Acropolis and Olympic Stadium where the kids can participate in their own mini marathon. Or, you can explore the American West in Wyoming by whitewater rafting down the Snake River, touring Yellowstone National Park, going horseback riding, and staying on a dude ranch.

Family adventure trips mean you can enjoy an adventure without many of the hassles of pulling it off by yourself. Guided tours such as these can also provide special access to places and experiences you can't get on your own.

If your family enjoys gorgeous beaches and a laid-back atmosphere, a destination resort should be in your vacation plans.

Many families love the advantages of all-inclusive resort packages. You get to enjoy a wide variety of activities without worrying about expenses you weren't counting on.

You can find family-friendly resorts that feature variety of water sport activities, resort amenities such as spas and lounges, and sandy beaches perfect for relaxing with a good book. Tour desks often offer excursions for an additional charge. Popular excursions include swimming with dolphins, catamaran snorkel cruises or visits to local museums or galleries. There are plenty of options for everyone.

All-inclusive resorts are convenient, but before you book, make sure you know exactly what is included and what is available for an additional cost.

To find out more about taking your ultimate family vacation and to receive a free planning DVD, visit or

Family Vacation Apps
To help you plan your ultimate family trip -- and make the most of it while you're there -- here are some apps you should consider:

--Cruise Finder: Has itineraries for all major cruise lines, lets you search for deals, and includes photos, deck plans and more. Free.

--Frommer's Travel Tools: Has a currency-exchange calculator, metric system converter, a packing list function, flashlight, travel trivia and more. Free.

--Weather Channel: When you visit a different location each day, it's helpful to keep an eye on the weather. Free.

--Pack & Go Delux: Helps you keep track of everything you need to take on your adventure. $1.99.

--GateGuru: Has information about terminals in more than 100 airports. Lets you find hotspots, ATMs, coffee shops and more. Free.

--Simply Postcards: Choose a photo and recipient, and this app will print, stamp and mail your real postcard the next day. The app and first postcard are free, then prices range from $1.99 each to $30 for 30.

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