It’s that time again: a time for ice creams at the seaside, day trips to the zoo and a relentless battle between keeping the kids occupied and keeping a close eye on your purse strings. Yep, the school holidays have arrived. With the first week of the summer break underway for the majority of lucky kids across the country, we thought we would give already ailing mums and dads some holiday inspiration. With the price of resorts skyrocketing, cruising has become an incredibly popular option for families looking to combine fun, food and fantastic destinations in one awesome trip.
Despite its explosion in popularity and the fact that more and more cruise lines are designing their ships with families in mind, some still find it difficult to get past the misconception that cruising is the holiday of the aged. Here’s our A to Z of cruising with kids, to prove that you couldn’t be more wrong!
A – Adrenaline
From skydiving, surfing and rock climbing on ships in Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class, to walking the plank and negotiating the largest ever ropes course at sea on board Norwegian Breakaway; teen adrenaline junkies are guaranteed to be right in their element.
B – Burgers
Wagyu Beef Burgers in Norwegian Cruise Line’s Cagney’s Steakhouse, Marco Pierre White’s Laverstoke Park Smoked Wild Boar Burger in P&O Cruises’ Ocean Grill, or The Original from 1950’s style Royal Caribbean institution Johnny Rockets; however the kids like their burgers, they’ll find the best of the bunch at sea.
C – Cookery Schools
Make the summer holidays the time they finally learn to throw together a meal, thanks to cookery schools at sea. You’ll find kid’s cookery schools aboard many cruise ships, including Princess Cruises’ [email protected] programme and Royal Caribbean’s Chefmakers Cooking Academy.
D – Dance Classes
Whether they prefer hip hop, ballroom or that somewhat unique dance that little boys do at discos, they’ll have the opportunity to brush up on their skills whilst on board.
E – Excursions
If you thought excursions were all about architecture and art, think again! From whale spotting in Alaska to 4 x 4 safaris in the Mediterranean, football stadium tours in Barcelona to high speed boating adventures in the Caribbean; cruise excursions are anything but boring.
F – Food, Glorious Food!
Keeping the whole family happy at dinner time is a mission in itself, never mind when you add in the cost of them all fancying something different. Shun the extra spending; a family cruise includes all food and you will find something for all tastes on board. Buffet, poolside grills, gourmet cuisine, oriental influences, pizza by the slice, gelato and ice cream on tap…the list goes on!
G – Great Outdoors
With kids spending more time than ever glued to the latest computer game, a full week of days spent on the beach, exploring rainforests, discovering cities and seeing the world’s most exciting sights isn’t something to be sniffed at. The fact you can see it all in a single holiday makes it even better.
H – History
School’s out for summer but that doesn’t mean you can’t encourage some extra education on your travels. Seeing the sights they learned about in class appearing right there in front of them will grab the attention of even the most reluctant learner.
I – Ice Cream and Cupcakes
Everyone knows you’re never too old for ice cream and cupcakes, but there comes a time when you have to disguise your excitement at realising you can decorate your own on board!
J – Jamie’s Italian
Remember that retro red View-Master that clicked to a new slide at the press of a button? You’ll find one of those on the tables at Jamie’s Italian on board Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas. There’s a ‘Shake-me Salad’ and ‘Happy Chicken Lollipops’ on the menu too, plus loads of good grub for older eaters with mammoth appetites.
K – Kid’s Clubs
Family-friendly cruise lines go all out when it comes to kid’s clubs, with age-specific groups and activities for ages 2 through to 17 in most cases. Banish the word boredom and prepare your bikini; child free afternoons are only a signature away!
L – Late Nights
Late nights mean many things on a family cruise; late nights catching up as a family with dinner and a Broadway show, late nights just for grown-ups while little ones are looked after in the nursery, and late nights spent watching the ocean while live music plays on deck.
M – Mocktails
When the cocktails are this good, it seems only fair to let the kids have their own version. Luckily, the only intoxication you need worry about is the sea air.
N – Nightclubs
Nothing cramps a teen’s style like dad throwing shapes on the dancefloor. Luckily, embarrassing parents are nowhere in sight when it comes to teen-only party nights, with cruise lines such as Princess Cruises even opening up a designated teen zone for pool parties too.
O – Outdoor Cinema
A movie night on board is a movie night with a difference, especially when your viewing takes place beneath the stars. Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean both feature a gigantic outdoor screen suspended above the pool. Warm popcorn, blankets and chilled drinks come as standard.
P – Pool Parties
When teens grow tired of games rooms and action-packed activities, they can head to their dedicated teen pool deck to make the most of the sun. Here, entertainment leaders are on hand to make sure party doesn’t stop until the sun goes down (or sometimes even later), with pool games, food and drinks, and plenty of music!
Q – Queasy
If you’re worried that seasickness will lead to a stateroom full of poorly kids, don’t be; seasickness affects only a small proportion of those who cruise and there are medicines available to ward it off. Modern cruise ships are built with enormous stabilisers, so you can usually expect a smooth sailing.
R – Robotic Bartenders
Some innovations are a novelty but others never get old. The Bionic Bar on board Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas features two robotic bartenders, who will mix your chosen drink in a matter of seconds. The mechanical mixologists mix non-alcoholic cocktails too, so the kids can get in on the action.
S – Skating
Roller blading and ice skating are a great laugh for all ages, and you will find both on board certain family cruise ships. A huge floating ice rink in the middle of the ocean? Why not!
T – Turntables
If your teenager is rarely spotted without music blaring through their earphones, they’ll be in their element on a family cruise. Turntables are everywhere, from teen-only parties to DJ classes and suspended overhead while the kids go wild on the dodgems below.
U – Underwater
Regardless of age, the sights that come with snorkelling never cease to amaze. Where can the kids get an early introduction to the underwater world better than with snorkelling in the Caribbean or along the Great Barrier Reef? Endless excursions will take you to the best spots.
V – VFP’s (Very Familiar Passengers)
Youngsters will spot some familiar faces whilst on board, from Dora the Explorer to the Penguins of Madagascar and more. Breakfast with their favourite characters will get mornings off to a flying start!
W – Wanderlust
You’re never too young to develop your sense of wanderlust and a family cruise is the best way to show the kids the world from a young age. Why spend countless days in the same place, when you could visit multiple destinations in a single holiday?
X – Xbox
Prising today’s teens away from their computer games is a mission itself, even with the promise of a week in the sun. Luckily, many of today’s cruise ships feature games rooms jam-packed with the latest consoles. There’s internet too, so they can slip on their headset and talk to their mates at home, albeit with a sunnier background than their usual bedroom walls.
Y – YouTube
The launch of Royal Caribbean’s latest ships saw hordes of teenage girls searching high and low for YouTube superstars Alfie Deyes, Jim Chapman and Zoe London, who had come aboard for the launch celebrations. If your own teenagers are reluctant to cruise, show them the YouTube videos and they’ll be clambering to get on board.
Z – Zip Lines
Daredevils can zip line high above the decks on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and you’ll also find excursions offering zip lines through the rainforests of Belize, Cozumel and more. It’ll make for quite the story when they go back to school!