When chatting about cruises with people who have never cruised before, I often hear a lot of reasons why people don’t think that cruising is for them. Two popular ones are:
1. “My kids are too young; it would be hard work to cruise with a baby.”
2. “The kids are a bit old for kids’ clubs; I think they’d be bored on a ship.”
I can totally understand why people think both of these are valid reasons not to try a cruise. I’ve been on holidays abroad with babies and toddlers and it’s been a nightmare, if I’m honest. Not relaxing at all! However, after taking my first cruise with the kids when they were just six months and two years old, we decided that, from now on, we would always cruise. It was so much easier!
As for the people who think that teenagers could be bored on a cruise… The only way this could happen is if you pick the wrong ship. Choose a cruise ship with a go kart track, virtual reality gaming centre, laser tag arena and waterslides and you won’t see your teens for dust.
Choosing the right ship
The key to choosing a cruise which is enjoyable for the whole family is to pick the right ship. A cruise ship which is ideal for one family might be totally unsuitable for another. The first step in choosing the right cruise ship is to narrow down your choice of cruise line to one or two options. Once you know which cruise lines offer what you want (as well as things you didn’t even know existed), you’ll find it much easier to search for a cruise that your kids will love.
Cruising with a baby is so much easier than flying. With a whole host of cruise ships sailing from Southampton, you candrive to the ship, someone will come and take all your suitcases out of the boot of the car for you, and then you just walk on to the ship. Check in and boarding is over in a flash, with no hanging around like there is at an airport. And the best thing is that when you sail from the UK you can take an unlimited amount of luggage! We all know how much stuff babies need to travel anywhere, so having no restrictions on luggage is a real plus point.
Toddlers love to explore cruise ships – running around the open decks and sampling lots of new foods from the buffet. Many cruise ships have dedicated toddler splash zones with water fountains, spray cannons and mini slides. With P&O Cruises’ night nursery, parents get a break too. Mums and dads can settle under-fives into a bed or cot for the night, leaving them to be watched over by two trained members staff from 6 pm until as late as 2 am. You’ll probably be surprised to know that this babysitting service is totally free of charge!
School age kids
Cruise ship kids’ clubs are better than you’ll find in any hotel on land. Catering for children from the age of two or three up to teenagers, they’re open from just after breakfast until late in the evening. Kids are divided into age-specific groups and can enjoy a whole host of activities like arts and crafts, computer games tournaments, sports and dance classes, treasure hunts and so much more. My kids love the kids’ clubs so much that they’ll even eat vegetables to get me to agree to let them go straight after dinner. Meanwhile, you’ll find me in the theatre, casino or hot tub.
They may be ‘too cool’ for the kids’ clubs, but teens have their own dedicated hang out spaces on cruise ships. Supervised from a distance, by responsible youth staff who are usually in their early twenties themselves, teens can enjoy organised activities like mocktail making or DJ lessons. Or, if they prefer, they can simply do their own thing and play table tennis, pool and games consoles.
For those travelling with grown up children, a river cruise on the waterways of Europe offers an interesting holiday that families can enjoy together. Cruising with Riviera Travel, you can enjoy a choice of shore excursions in every port of call and on-board facilities such as sauna and steam room, putting green and a giant chess board. With everything taken care of for you, all you need to do is relax and enjoy your time together. Or, just do your own thing and meet up for dinner.
This is a guest post by Jenni Fielding