The family cruise holiday has opened up the big wide world, making multi-generational breaks easier than ever before. Much of Europe is only a short shuffle from the UK, jewels of the Scandinavian crown glimmer on the not-so-distant horizon, and lazy shores of the Greek Islands remain tantalisingly close.
Then there are fly-cruises to consider. The Mediterranean hasn’t quite lost its crown as the major family holiday hotspot; a two-, three- or four-hour flight will quickly transport you to balmier climes, intriguing cultures and some of the freshest, most incredible cuisine that’s ever existed. The beauty of a Mediterranean cruise means you won’t have to pick from a myriad of Mediterranean delights, think of it more as a tasting platter of all the best bits.
And, of course, there is nothing to say your multi-generational adventure should be confined to these European shores. Sticking a pin on a map may feel like your only option with such a big, wide and wonderful world of destinations to choose from. But help is at hand. Here’s a selection of some of our tried and tested family cruise holiday ports, perfectly poised to welcome your multi-generational holiday.
Our favourite family cruise holiday ports
Northern Europe is one of the easiest regions to cruise to from the UK, and Copenhagen is a destination worthy of a day of any multi-generational holiday. Create memories of the young – or should that be young at heart – tentatively stepping aboard their segways, ready to tear up the streets of the Danish capital. Zip past the colourful houses of Nyhavn and the coffee-savourers huddled in pavement cafes, admired by Mum who would much rather have kept her feet fully on the ground.
And what would a family holiday be without seeing at least one of the tourist sights? Experience the shared disappointment of realising the Little Mermaid lives up to her name and really is very little, indeed.
Norway lends itself perfectly to any sort of adventure. Stavanger is knee-deep in history and the freshest of air, making it a true delight to walk around. Little legs won’t get tired easily, and even the greatest of couch potatoes is distracted enough not to realise just how many miles they’ve covered.
Stavanger is also home to The Norwegian Canning Museum, one of the most impromptu visits we’ve ever made on a cruise. Don’t let the name put you off, the whole family will leave with their minds packed like sardines full of facts, and more importantly, recollections of one of the most shall we say, different, shared family experiences ever encountered.
Could there be anything better than sharing a bucket list experience as a family? The Northern Lights are one of the most easily accessible, and achievable, from these shores. Iceland is a magical place with or without nature’s greatest light show, but we’d recommend timing your visit between late-September to late-March to increase your chances of enjoying the aurora borealis.
It’s an out-of-this-world experience in every sense of the word and one that transcends every age group. Stargaze to pass the time as you wait patiently – as soon as the kaleidoscope of lights starts to dance across the night sky, even the chattiest of family members will find themselves dumbstruck.
As far as multi-generational destinations go, Rome is arguably the ruler of them all. Your ship will dock in Civitavecchia, a port that few can pronounce and even fewer can spell.
Enjoy pounding the streets together, seeing a city that has provided a backdrop for many Hollywood movies come to life right before your eyes. Angels and Demons, Gladiator and Mission Impossible III are just a few to add to the family film night list before your holiday gets underway. Oh, and make sure you find time for gelato. When in Rome…
St. John’s, Antigua
Each Caribbean island has its own identity, with cultures and traditions a far cry from what we’re used to. But what is the point of travel if not to expand the mind? What the younger generations learn in the classroom they can see, hear and taste first-hand, and the adults might learn a thing, too.
Antigua doesn’t disappoint in the aesthetic stakes, welcoming visitors with milky-white beaches lapped by barely-there waves. But behind this picture-perfect facade lies an island with more history than any textbook could ever do justice. Round up the family and head to Nelson’s Dockyard, where wide-smiled locals will bring tales of hardship, crusades and maritime battles to life. Once the only working Georgian dockyard in the Western Hemisphere, Lord Nelson described it as a “vile hole”. Today it is anything but.
Great Exuma, The Bahamas
Wildlife experiences span generations. If the Caribbean has made it onto your multi-generational holiday shortlist, then there’s a strong case to be made for swimming with pigs in the Bahamas.
Great Exuma is home to this crazy-yet-unmissable wildlife experience which you’ll collectively, and fondly, reminisce over for years to come. Step into the bath-water warmth of the sea where you will make friends with these far-from-pocket sized porcine creatures, and create some extra-special family memories along the way.
New York, USA
There are few cities on earth as iconic as New York, and few that satisfy the needs of a multi-generational holiday on quite the same magnitude. It’s big, it’s brazen and a few words quite frankly won’t do it justice. Spend your days seeing all the main sights, bolt down to Broadway or, if you plan far enough ahead, you might even manage to get tickets to the filming of a TV show.
Even for the city that never sleeps, there are pockets of calm to be discovered. Head to the inner-city oasis that is Bryant Park to rest those weary legs, sample a famous New York coffee and recharge your batteries before tackling the rest of your to-do list with renewed gusto.
An Alaskan adventure is plotted out with so many incredible ports. The 76-mile-long Hubbard Glacier calls this part of the world home, and you’ll sail just close enough to fully appreciate its majesty. Dad might reel off some geographical facts, while the rest of the clan stand there open-mouthed and awe-struck as Mother Nature shows off her finest wares.
Juneau, the Alaskan capital, maintains the sleepy vibe, but with the potential for a dog-sledding adventure, hushed gasps will soon be replaced with squeals of delight.