So, for some reason I never hear many people say they want to cruise with children. I on the other hand, thought it would be a great experience for my son to sail the seas on a fantastic ship and discover new and interesting places.
The next few years are going to be pretty much about saving for a house, so this would be our last holiday for a while. My son had only been abroad once before and I wanted him to see a bit of the world before we started saving. A cruise seemed perfect; we could visit lots of places on one holiday.
And I knew exactly who I wanted to cruise with – Royal Caribbean! They are the only brand of cruise liners that actively use children in their advertising and as a marketer I think this is important. Their ships have plenty for everyone to enjoy and children from 0-16 are catered for.
Eager, we booked the holiday a year in advance and saved ourselves some money by booking on the day next year’s cruise dates were released. The only decision we were unsure of was the itinerary. A Caribbean getaway would have been lovely but was way over budget so we settled on the Italian Med.
Next we booked some excursions, which was a little difficult as there are not many child friendly trips – unless your child doesn’t mind sitting on a coach for an hour, or visiting about 20 historical monuments! For this reason we only booked two excursions, not with Royal Caribbean (as they were overpriced) but with Cruising Excursions – which turned out to be a good decision.
Anyway, I feel I’m going into too much detail; basically we had a fantastic time and here’s what you can expect from a family cruise:
The service we experienced was fantastic, exactly what you’d expect from a cruise. Ok, it wasn’t like what you see on the Titanic (the film) but to be honest I don’t think I could handle that in the modern day.
The wine bar in particular was home to a really nice guy who never let your drink go down! A good thing only I’m not the biggest drinker.
In kids club the staff tried their hardest to always be upbeat but sometimes I felt they weren’t fun enough. My little boy loved it though and even though I’m not the biggest fan of using kids clubs too often he preferred to be their f an evening.
Meeting new friends
Everyone was friendly and liked to talk, it was nice to meet people from all around the world although my partner somehow found three families who live around the corner from our home. He was excited about this, but me not so much.
You even meet lots of people in the ports whether on an excursion or just walking around taking the culture and surroundings of the destination.
The strange thing is every day you see people you’ve never seen before, maybe that just shows how big the ships really are.
Wondering how it floats
One of the main conversations that took place virtually every day was how the ship floats. After googling several times and watching many YouTube videos my partner felt satisfied he understood how we were sailing.
Most of the time it was a really relaxing journey, come rain or shine and it did rain for a couple of days, in fact one evening whilst in Villefranche there was an amazing storm – this was probably one of my favourite memories!
Anyway we digress. As you’ve probably heard many people say you generally forget you’re on a ship. But there was one day I felt really sick, this was whilst making the journey from Spain back to the UK. Thankfully it didn’t last long; I saw some dolphins jumping through the waves along the side of the ship which totally took my mind off it and made me feel so blessed and happy. I will never forget that moment.
Enjoying the scenery
Whether looking out and being surrounded by the sea or waiting eagerly as you arrive at a port, every day is different. Each port has something different to offer and each time you make unforgettable memories. Obviously it will depend on where you cruise but if you like travelling and seeing new places a cruise is perfect.
Eating and drinking
Honestly this was my least favourite thing about cruising with Royal Caribbean. There were some really nice meals in the main dining room (we were in Romeo and Juliet) but the buffet area was a little too full for me, even though if the kids are fussy eaters it’s the perfect place.
There are plenty of places to drink although I’d strongly suggest getting a package; you’ll save yourself a fortune. Our package was included in the price and included beers, wines and soft drinks –plus most champagne but we didn’t realise this until the last night!
It was a holiday never to forget but there are few things you need to consider:
- Organise your drinks package either before you go or on day one, find out what is included, and exactly where you can eat and drink.
- Allow yourself to explore some destinations as a family instead of part of an excursion – just be wary of time changes.
- Get off at every stop and experience the destination.
- Pack well and take a variety of clothes as you’re visiting many places and it may not always be sunny. Plus there are those lovely formal evenings of which there were three of during our 14 nights.
- Visit as many places on the ship as possible, including the very front where you may see some dolphins (my favourite memory)
- Ensure the children don’t miss the themed nights; they’re a lot of fun.