Cruising with kids
Cruising is not only for pensioners - some lines go all out to attract families. It's also a relaxing way to holiday somewhere adventurous with children.
Cruise has really moved on over the last decade or so but, chances are, you still associate it with pensioners and formal dinners. Yet, with the right line, a cruise can be one of the most family-friendly holidays you’ll ever take.
On some ships, kids clubs and the likes of climbing walls, activity programmes, even wave machines keep even the most hyper children amused, while adults get some precious free time. Older children can be given liberty to roam the deck, with parents safe in the knowledge they can’t stray far. Everything from food to entertainment to excursions are laid on for you, really taking the strain out of your holiday planning.
Think of it like the kind of all-inclusive holiday you’d take on land with the added excitement of new places to visit almost daily. In fact, while the Mediterranean and Caribbean (the latter easily combined with Florida’s theme parks) are the most popular destinations for cruising families, you can get a lot more adventurous, exploring places you might be nervous to with a family on a regular holiday.
Princess Cruises is one of the lines with a squarely family focus. It has family suites, and Camp Discovery youth clubs with separate dens for 3-7s, 8-12s and 13-17s with air hockey, ping pong, XBoxes and the like. Nature and science-themed activities are linked to the destinations the cruise is visiting. There are also talent nights, themed nights, crafts and inventing fun. Sports onboard include basketball and mini golf. Oh and there’s free lemonade, ice cream and ‘the best pizza at sea’ on the pool deck.
On land, Princess offers specific Discovery family excursions. Children are also encouraged to get involved in the full cruise experience from eating lobster and dressing up for formal nights to enjoying outdoor movies on deck.
We asked for the line’s tips on some of the more adventurous places you could chose to head on a cruise as a family beyond the usual favourties of the Med and the Caribbean.
On a recent Princess voyage to Alaska, of the 3,200 passengers aboard, 550 were children, and this number typically rises to nearer a third come August. Take a tip from American and Canadian tourists who see Alaska as very much a family destination. Lumberjack shows, wildlife from bears and bald eagles to porpoises and whales, (plus husky puppy meets back on ship with Princess) make it a winner. Alaska suits ages seven to teens best and it’s common to see multi-generational families on these cruises because the higher price tag makes it more of a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Like the sound of Alaska but want to try something nearer? Norway ticks a lot of the same boxes for scenery and outdoor adventure. You can cruise the fjords departing from Southampton so don’t even need a flight. Glacier visits and Viking heritage are part of the appeal.
The Mexican Riviera
This Caribbean facing coast is big on beaches and watery theme parks. Whale watching and dolphin encounters are possible. Often included as part of a western Caribbean cruise, you can take an excursion to the famous Mayan pyramids at Chichen Itza. You can also continue to LA and stay on to visit the theme parks there, ringing the changes from Orlando.
For more information on family-friendly cruising check out Princess Cruises or drop into a branch of Baldwins Travel Group in Lewes or Uckfield in East Sussex or Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Maidstone, Cranbrook, Sevenoaks and Tenterden in Kent.