As a Travel Counsellor, when I talk to people about cruising, as I do a lot, because I love it so much, I get the impression that people have a complete misconception about it! Lots of people seem to think that it's for older people and that it's stuffy and formal. Well, maybe once that was the case but it's certainly not now. The larger cruise lines and some of the smaller ones too, now have facilities for families to rival and better any land-based holiday.
One of the big advantages of cruising for a family is that you can go from the UK, with Southampton being particularly popular as an embarkation port. That means that there's no flying necessary, so no waiting around at airports and no luggage restrictions, just take as much as you want. Check-ins are easy, so within a very short time you can be on the ship and your holiday has started! You can pre-plan everything in advance so you can already have your drinks packages, speciality dining and excursions already organised, you can just concentrate on exploring the ship and that's where the fun begins!
As far as entertainment and facilities are concerned, where do I begin? Royal Caribbean must be one of the leaders in entertainment and attractions for families, with technology influencing everything on board. There's everything from Laser Tag to Skydiving - unbelievable when you think that you're on a ship! It doesn't stop there either, some of the ships have bungee trampolines, bumper cars, roller skating, flow-riders, the first zip-line at sea, the Ultimate Abyss which is the tallest slide at sea and not forgetting the 360 degree North Star, which takes you high above the ship with views to die for! Of course, there's plenty for adults too with shops, cafes, bars with Robotic bartenders, dance classes and so much more!
It goes without saying, that there are kid’s clubs and Royal Caribbean will take babies and children from 6 months to 17 years, giving mum and dad the opportunity to spend some quality time together, knowing that the kids are well looked after. Parents with little ones can even have a pager so that they can rest assured that they'll be contacted should there be any problems. The focus on their Adventure Ocean Youth Programmes is for the kids to have fun but to learn lots too. Even children and teens with Autism or developmental disabilities are well looked after with trained staff, extra assistance, sensory films and toys. Fancy a nice quiet meal in a speciality dining restaurant without the kids? Well you can, because kid’s clubs are free up until 10pm!
So, what's the accommodation like for families? Perfect for all budgets! There are Family Staterooms that sleep 4 with either Pullman Beds or sofa beds in either Inside, Outside or Balcony cabins. There are also Interconnecting Rooms for larger or multi-generational families. On some ships there are Family Connected Staterooms that in effect combine 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms! There are also Suites with either 1 or 2 bedrooms and on Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas there's an Ultimate Family Suite. This has 2 stories with an in-suite slide to get from one level to the other, a games room with air-hockey and other games, a private cinema, a jacuzzi and table tennis on the balcony. Imagine the kids waking up and sliding down the slide for breakfast!
Talking of breakfast, what about the food? There really is something for everyone with everything from buffets, catering for all tastes and ages to American diners, sports bars, Italian, seafood, Mexican to name just a few. Oh and of course, let's not forget Ben & Jerry's or The Cupcake Cupboard!
Royal Caribbean also have a private island called Coco Cay, so if you fancy travelling further afield to the Caribbean, then this is a must for families. This is the first of 6 private islands for Royal Caribbean and is already proving to be a massive hit! There is everything that you can think of, much of which is complementary so included in your cruise fare, including your food at the Chill Grill or Skippers Grill. There are beaches, a massive waterpark, a zipline, a wave pool and a Helium Balloon that takes you 'Up, Up & Away'
I hope this blog has given you a very small insight into why I think cruising is absolutely perfect for families and if it has whet your appetite to find out more then please don't hesitate to give me a call. I love to talk cruise!