Forget quoits on the deck and dinner at the captains table, cruise holidays have been undergoing a transformation over the last few years. Many of the big players are marketing themselves as family-friendly; and both port parking and cruise insurance are popular with our customers. But is a week or two on the water with kids in tow really going to float your boat?
Will your little sailors enjoy a life on the ocean wave? Image courtesy of Kabacchi under Creative Commons licence.
According to travel industry news site TravelMole, Royal Caribbean claims it has seen a 33% rise in the number of British families booking its cruises in the past 10 years, many stepping on board for the first time.
If you are considering a cruise with your family for the first time, you will need to clarify your budget, the most suitable departure port, when you want to set sail, for how long, and where.
Then decide whether a full-on family-themed voyage or something less niche is more your style.
Royal Caribbean is firmly-focused on family cruising, recently introducing a Royal Mums & Dads advice line manned by parents who work for the company and have experience of cruise holidays with their children.
All ships have a kids club onboard, catering for children aged from 6 months to 17 years, and a babysitting service. In My Family Time Dining, children are served first and then collected by staff for games, allowing parents to eat in peace if thats what they fancy.
Royal Caribbean accommodates families of four to 16 members in a range of cabins or staterooms. Nappies can even be pre-ordered and delivered to your room ready for your arrival. Particular ships are more suited to family holidays and the company provides a quick reference guide for comparison.
Most cruise lines targeting the family market offer a variety of eating places; babysitting services and kids clubs; family activities which can include anything from ice skating, inline skating, mini water parks, climbing walls, zip lines, table tennis, basketball or golf, to theatre and variety shows, cinema, arts and crafts, cookery classes, TV character meet and greets and shore excursions.
When searching for a cruise, be sure to check what is included in the price and what will incur extra costs. This definitely isnt the cheap option, with two weeks on a Mediterranean cruise for a family of four in August coming in at around £4,000 for a basic cabin with the big name providers. To get the best possible deals work with a travel agency that specializes in cruises like, The Cruise Web. Travel agents have access to special promotions and lots of knowledge to help you find a cruise that meets all your family's needs.
For families, avoiding boredom is a big factor when planning a holiday so cruises score 10 out of 10 for activity. Cabin fever might be a different issue, as some people just dont like the idea of being confined in a floating theme park or shopping centre. Perhaps think of a family cruise as CenterParcs or Butlins on sea (without any cooking or cleaning) to decide whether your family are meant for the ocean wave.
The planned itineraries and ability to budget in advance are a real benefit for many mums and dads, making family holiday planning a little less stressful. But if you and your brood are not fans of organised fun, you might want to think again before committing to a cruise holiday.
Health and safety is a concern for many families considering a cruise, particularly for those with very young children. Cruise incidents in the news over the past few years havent helped the industrys reputation, yet thousands of families enjoy safe cruises and go back for more year after year. As with any activity, you need to evaluate the risks and decide if they are worth taking.