It was a trip we had anticipated for the past several months: a one-week romantic getaway cruise to beautiful Alaska. After a long day of traveling and standing in lines, we reviewed the list of available activities for our first full day at sea. Being a couple that appreciates physical fitness, we intended to begin our day with exercise. My husband ventured off to the basketball court and I to the pool to swim laps. Not half an hour later, however, we found ourselves back at our room; the basketball court was full of small kids, and the pool left no room for laps among the screaming, splashing children. Later in the day, we decided to enjoy some entertainment in the lounge before dinner. We ordered our cocktails and found a perfect table close to the live performer. As we enjoyed his rendition of “The Girl from Ipanema,” a man appeared from nowhere with two small girls. He seated the girls two tables ahead of us, right in front of the entertainer, and then left the lounge. Within seconds, the girls began spinning in their chairs and tossing peanuts in the air, trying to catch them with their mouths. After about ten minutes of tolerating that, we decided to head off to an early romantic dinner. Lucky us! We ended up next to a family of five. Halfway through dinner, one of the small boys stood up, placed a hand on each of our tables, and proceeded to swing in the air between them. We turned in early to enjoy a quiet evening in the cabin, and we ordered room service the following night.
Quite coincidentally, the next day’s Good Morning America featured a report on restaurants that had introduced policies prohibiting children after 6 or 7 p.m. and the mixed reactions these new policies had elicited. Let’s look at the problem objectively. Should restaurants be childfree at the dinner hour? Many parents enjoy going on a date night without their children, so why should they not be able to pick a place where there will be no kids? Romantic dining is just that—an opportunity for a couple to share a meal and have an intimate conversation unbroken by fussing over children. Kids find romantic dinners boring anyway; they would vastly prefer a pizza place like Chuck E. Cheese’s that caters to short attention span customers addicted to mindless coin operated games. Or even a buffet style restaurant with its inevitable smorgasbord of dinners and desserts available to satisfy kid’s cravings of sugar and cheap processed foods. Kids love this type of atmosphere, and countless family restaurants provide it. So why shouldn’t some restaurants provide an adult environment for date night? Many restaurateurs may think it excessive not to allow children, but creative methods could be used to ease in the idea.
Rather than restricting kids from restaurants at the dinner hour, why not designate a few “date nights” per week when only couples are allowed as well as family nights when children are welcome? Another way to smooth the transition into a childfree restaurant would be to eliminate the kids’ menu after 6:00 p.m. The dinner menu would only include adult food with adult prices. Many couples who dine out are not shy about spending money for good food, service, and atmosphere. According to an MSN Money article titled “Business Is Booming at No-Kids Restaurants,” eating establishments that have introduced no-children polices have actually experienced a rise in profits. Because so many restaurants cater to kids’ desires, it is only fair that others tailor an environment friendly to couples wishing to dine in a relaxing, childfree environment.
As far as cruises are concerned, next time we’ll make it a point to find one that’s adults-only.