About 10 years ago, Jamie Margolis Ross took her first cruise on Carnival Dream. Now she’s a leading cruise travel agent with a Facebook community of 43,000 people, specialising on parents and mums cruising with kids.
Ms Ross’s cruise journey began to appease her now husband Michael, who came from a family keen on cruising.
Their cruising journey continued together, before eventually having a child and sailing with their daughter Audrey on Allure of the Seas with Royal Caribbean.
Ms Ross said she left the cruise a bit disappointed that she wasn’t previously aware of all the resources available on the ship for cruising with kids.
“We got off feeling a little bit defeated and deflated, because I had not known about all of the amazing resources [for kids] that they had.
“I didn’t even know there was a nursery onboard, so I didn’t utilise that the entire time.”
Ms Ross was intrigued to find out about a splash pad that children in diapers could use, eve
n though her research has pointed towards diapered children not being to swim on cruise ships.
Following this, Ms Ross decided it was time to start “Royal Caribbean Moms at Sea: A Family Cruising Guide
The group started as a resource for parents to ask questions and share advice on sailing with their kids and has grown remarkably to 43,000 users.
The group is now continually flourishing, with parents and cruisers coming for advice daily and being met with tons of positive and useful advice.
While other travel agents would post in the group, they wouldn’t have much luck, not having the trust with the members that Ms Ross has, she said: “If anyone’s going to sell these cruises and going to help these families, it’s got to be me.”
In 2021, Ms Ross decided to take it to the next step and opened her travel agency Moms at Sea. For a vignette of the success she has achieved so far, in the two days following Icon of the Seas opening sales, Ms Ross booked 232 passengers for a total of around $500,000.
Ms Ross says she envisions a future for travel, where you are supported by a community through your whole journey.
“My goal is to evolutionize family travel by not just selling a product but by creating supportive community and services that take a holistic and therapeutic approach to family travel. To many it may seem like just a cruise, but a cruise on the right ship for many parents, is the opportunity to escape, reconnect, and recharge.
” I see myself and my team as travel coaches. We strive to meet the whole needs of the family, which to me, extends beyond matching them with the perfect ship to understanding the emotional and mental health impact and benefits of vacation, and I focus on moms and parents.”
Ms Ross also writes a Moms at Sea blog, consolidating some of her best advice, deals and cruise news.
As one of the leading voices on cruising with kids, Ms Ross shared some of her best cruising knowledge with Cruise Passenger.
It’s an interesting time for kids cruising in Australia, with Disney Cruise Line’s arrival sure to bring plenty of new parents into the cruise game.
Why cruise with your kids?
Ms Ross says while vacationing with kids is often considered difficult, cruising is the exception.
“We’ve all heard the adage of “vacationing with kids isn’t a vacation, it’s a trip.” Or, “it’s just doing all the work you do at home, only in a different location” and cruises have a perceived added degree of difficulty for first time cruise parents- not having all the tools and resources of home available at sea. I’ll let you in on a secret: Cruising is the exception to the rules.
“With cruising, parents have a plethora of resources at their disposal that they don’t have with many other land based family vacation options.”
Ms Ross says the convenience and resources of a cruise can’t be matched.
“On a cruise ship you’re not planning meals and cooking, cleaning up after meals, you have children’s programming readily available (and the kids LOVE it!), numerous dining options, you have a nicely made a turned down bed to collapse into every night, and breakfast at your door every morning should you choose.
“While kiddos are off enjoying activities geared towards them, parents can take advantage of venues on the ship for an often long overdue date night. They can head out dancing, or cozy up in a quiet spot on the ship and reconnect over cocktails. They can escape from the world and be pampered at the spa.”
“Because cruises have so many activities for the whole family, parents are able to to find downtime to relax, and for moms specifically, cruises provide the opportunity to indulge in some much needed self care, whether that’s reading a book, or lounging by the pool, without feeling like she needs to hurry home or that her kids needs aren’t being met on family vacation.
“Simply put, cruises cover two important family getaway needs- entertainment for kids and a little R&R for parents.”
The best advice for cruising with kids
Ms Ross says get in touch with an expert, try and know what you want, and they’ll take it from there.
“Research, reach out to an expert, and set expectations accordingly. Cruise ships are going through an evolution bringing more and more features like roller coasters, high thrill waterparks, zip lines, etc. What I hear when many parents find Moms at Sea Travel is they didn’t realize the ship they booked didn’t have the features or resources they needed.
“They thought all the ships had a splash pad for kids in diapers or a nursery, only to learn after booking or boarding, that it doesn’t. This can be a costly, not to mention disappointing, mistake. A family cruise expert can help them explore options in more detail and ensure they are booking a ship that meets their needs and sets them up for an enjoyable cruise for the whole family.”
Whether or not you’re a parent, there are plenty of Facebook groups for Aussies to get advice from experienced cruises, arrange meet ups with other travellers and just chat cruise in general.