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What should you consider when planning a family cruise? This free guide tells all

What should you consider when planning a family cruise? This free guide tells all
Cruise ships have become a lot more kid-friendly in recent years. Here, the penguins from the animated "Madagascar" films appear on Royal Caribbean International's Quantum of the Seas. (Royal Caribbean International)

Quick, what are the best cruise ships for slumber parties? For reasonably priced babysitters? For wow-factor shore excursions for your kids? Now you can find out for free.

The recently released 2016 Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner written by Heidi Allison, the co-founder of CruiseCompete, is packed with reviews and practical tips to help you choose which cruise line is right for you and your family.

The deal: This guide is a 133-page download with 22 chapters that starts with Allison's picks for the 10 best cruise lines for families.

It provides details you need to know -- minimum ages, what types of activities by age groups, etc. -- so you don't have to be looking at each cruise line's website to get answers.

She offers practical advice on topics such as cruising when pregnant ("Thinking of taking a cruise while you're expecting? Great idea!" is one chapter title), how to plan a family reunion onboard a ship and guidance on costs of ocean and river cruise lines.

When: The download is available indefinitely at CruiseCompete's website.

Details: Allison writes the introduction to the guide from a national park in Kenya ("Yes, it's part of a cruise itinerary" ) where she can see zebras drinking at a nearby watering hole. "Dear reader, my hope is that you find this story so compelling that you cannot wait to take a cruise vacation with your family."

Yes, the guide contains plugs for CruiseCompete, but that doesn't downgrade the value of the information she has compiled to help anyone figure out their next cruise vacation.

By the way, CruiseCompete isn't a cruise booking website per se. It's a site that allows you to compare cruises and matches you with a travel agent who can make a reservation for you.

Info: 2016 Family-Friendly Cruise Travel Planner

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