02 October 2017
It’s never too early to start introducing your children to the joys of travelling around this big, beautiful world of ours. But for parents it can be nice to have some home comforts on hand as well! That’s why family-friendly cruises are becoming more popular every year. You can set sail with your little adventurers in a ship that’s made for families, safe in the knowledge that your every need will be catered to.
New to cruising? Travel Counsellor Lani set sail for the first time with her family in 2016, having never thought about a cruising holiday and said, "we loved it so much we’re already looking at another!" Lani admitted that she hadn't previously considered a cruise holiday but that it was perfect for everyone in her family: "Pre-children, my husband and I never thought of ourselves as cruisers but with all the inclusions on-board, its appeal has definitely grown to the point where we felt it was time to try one with our kids (now aged 6 and 3). And now we are completely sold!"
From family-friendly food and activities to comfortable cabins and babysitting services, cruises can achieve that delicate balance of entertaining children while treating their parents to some well-deserved relaxation in a way that other holidays just don’t. As Travel Counsellor Lani points out, "with nearly everything included you know upfront what your holiday is costing you (aside from drinks and shore excursions) and it’s entirely up to you how much you do – if you like being on the go all the time, then there is a full program of activities that could have you running from one end of the ship to the other every day, but you can also choose to just sit on a deck chair and stare out to sea (with a cocktail or two if you so desire!) and be equally as happy."
And it’s certainly not just an underwhelming ball pool and some colouring in that’s on offer for the children these days. Read on to discover some of the incredible adventures at sea for little ones and big kids!
Start to explore one of the impressive mega-ships and you’ll find all manner of surprising activities to enjoy, from rock climbing to skydiving simulators. Step aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship to race some laps of an ocean-faring go-kart track, soar into the skies on a bungee trampoline, or learn to juggle at circus school.
Meanwhile, on Royal Caribbean ships you could find climbing walls, FlowRider surf simulators and white-knuckle zip wires. Travel Counsellor Dinah tried the FlowRider and other daredevil activities on a five-night voyage on Ovation with her daughter in 2016: "We tried our hands with the bumper cars, I think my daughter had a hit out on me as everyone seemed to crash into me! We even went skydiving, yes, you heard me correctly, skydiving on-board! Ovation has her own wind tunnel where you can go and learn different tricks with professional instructors. Also much like her sister ships, Ovation has the FlowRider, where you can learn to surf. I learned neither myself or Laura could surf but that we do bruise easily!"
Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas ship boasts the spectacular North Star observation pod – a London Eye-style capsule that moves up to 300 feet above the ocean waves to bring you truly breath-taking views. Or there’s Carnival’s BikeSky Ride, which sees passengers pedalling around a lofty circuit 150 feet above the upper deck. Just don’t look down!
Every parent knows that the captivating power of the silver screen is a real holiday winner. While most cruise ships have a cinema of some kind, look out for those with futuristic 4D cinemas for a fully immersive experience and Carnival’s enormous outdoor screens, perfect for a warm, relaxing family evening. Some ships go a step further and bring the movies to life, with themed cruises and activities. Try Royal Caribbean’s ‘DreamWorks Experience’, where children can meet characters from film favourites like Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, or Disney Cruises with their themed deck parties, lively performances and the ever popular princess transformations on offer in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
Yes, you’re probably expecting to find a small swimming pool on a cruise ship – but a full-size water park? Families with water babies on their hands will love the aqua-tastic fun on-board many ships today. Carnival’s waterpark has everything you’d find on shore, from thrilling waterslides to child-friendly play pools. Love to get your adrenaline pumping? Try MSC Preziosa’s hair-raising ‘Vertigo’ slide, the longest to be found at sea. With over 390 feet of exciting twists and turns, including a particularly daring see-through section over the waves, this is watery fun at its best.
Clubs and classes
Young imaginations need plenty of stimulation and the dizzying array of kids’ clubs aboard cruise ships will give them plenty to do – as well as the chance to make new friends. Travel Counsellor Sarah Jane joked that on her first cruise with her six-year-old son (on Carnival Vista, in October 2016), as everyone else found their sea legs on the first day, "he tried every activity known to small child and then happily went to Camp Ocean - which was the very well-run kids' club. Considering there was 1,200 children on the boat on our sailing, it was very calm and everyone seemed very happy."
Younger children will love Disney’s Oceaneer Club, with movie-themed play areas like the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, virtual games and interactive animation studios. Crystal offers popular classes for families, with cookie baking classes naturally topping the list!
Teenagers can hang out in their own areas playing basketball and air hockey, indulge in teen-specific spa treatments or learn how to spin records at DJ academy.
Exploring new shores
Of course, one of the main appeals of a cruise is the temptation of distant destinations. And that’s what we want to show our families, isn’t it? There’s nothing more exciting than that ‘land ahoy’ moment, when it’s time to watch their little faces light up as you set off to explore exciting new lands. Whether you want to see the Northern Lights in Alaska, enjoy the watersports on a Caribbean island, or look around the vibrant cities of Europe, there’s so much world to show your little wanderers and their wide, curious eyes.
Ready to set sail and be an adventurer at sea? Get in touch with your Travel Counsellor to find the cruise that's right for you and your family!