I’ve just returned from a family cruise with Cruise & Maritime Voyages where we spent 12 nights sailing the ocean waves down to Gibraltar with plenty of food, drink, pool action, beach fun, jacuzzis, ice creams, family card games, entertainment and sightseeing to keep every member of the family happy.
Getting to our ship was really easy as we just hopped on the train to Liverpool. Urmston, where we live, is on the direct train line to the port and it wasn’t long before we were all unpacked and settled into our home for the next 12 nights. Our outside cabins were much lighter and more spacious than we were expecting, with big windows and lots of room and storage space for all 5 of us, and tea & coffee making facilities too (which you don’t often get on cruise ships).
We had the choice of a 5-course meal every night in the formal restaurant or buffet style in the lido restaurant depending on how dressed up we felt like getting each evening and the food in both was good with lots of options to please everyone. As we got to know our waiters better each night the children were ordering their favourite dishes ‘off menu’ which was no trouble at all for our friendly waiters. Cruise and Maritime Voyages most of the time are adult only cruises, but in the school holidays there are a few multi-generational itineraries available like this one. This made the crew on board miss their own children more than usual and be extra attentive to ours, which was lovely for the kids and crew alike.
We disembarked at every port of call and had a different experience in each:
- In Dublin we visited National Leprechaun Museum and fully leprechauned ourselves!
- In La Coruna we spent a hot day on the beach and wave jumping
- In Cadiz our youngest daughter enjoyed her "best birthday ever” – starting with breakfast in bed, a birthday mention in the cruise newsletter, a birthday card from comedian Jimmy Cricket, who was on our cruise, more fun on the beach, birthday ice creams - twice, our waiters delivering a candle topped cake and the whole restaurant singing happy birthday to her, and finished off with a screening of her favourite movie The Greatest Showman in the show lounge. Thankfully the next day was a sea day so we could all have a lie in!
- In Gibraltar we took the cable car to the top of the rock and met the friendly (and some not so friendly) wild Barbary Apes
- In Lisbon it was the hottest day of the year, with record temperatures reaching 42 degrees Celsius so all we could manage was the hop on hop off sightseeing bus, but even that was like sitting in the blast of a hairdryer on the top deck & after that we couldn’t wait to get back to the pools and cocktails on the ship to cool us down!
- My favourite port of call was definitely Porto. Porto is very hilly so thankfully the temperatures were a little cooler the day we were there. We walked both sides of the city - Porto, the historical centre, and on the other side of the River Douro - Vila Novia de Gaia, where the port wine cellars are located. Both sides of the river were buzzing with activity, street stalls, entertainers and pavement restaurants, all overlooked by the colourful buildings and the Dom Luis I bridge. There’s so much going on in Porto and I’d love to explore this city more (minus kids) and it’s now firmly on my city break and/or river cruise to do list
- Our last port of call was La Rochelle, which is a really pretty harbour town, filled with sailing boats and yachts. We took a leisurely stroll around the town, but you can also easily hire bikes here as it’s very flat. Other passengers on our cruise also recommended visiting the Aquarium, which we will have to save for next time. From our ship pool deck we had fabulous views over the Île de Ré and beaches of the Vendée and now we’re feeling a French camping holiday coming on so watch this space!
As this ship doesn’t usually have children on board there are no booming sound systems, waterparks or kids’ clubs, but I felt that this made for a more relaxing family holiday for us as the ship was not overrun with too many children. Having said that there were plenty of activities on board for both children and adults that you could dip in an out of as you wished, but our children were more than happy to spend hours on end in the pools and Jacuzzis whilst we worked our way through the cocktail menu! We booked the Premium Package which included all drinks and gratuities so that we didn’t have to worry about unexpected costs at the end of the cruise, but even if we hadn’t most of the cocktails were only £3.50 each, and the girls enjoyed the non-alcoholic cocktails very much also!
If you’d like to know more about our cruise or any other aspect of cruising, please get in touch. I’m a CLIA Cruise Ambassador so I’m always happy to talk cruising!