Do you dismiss cruising because you think that you just wouldn’t enjoy it? Have you ever actually been on a cruise? If you just answered yes, then no, it’s time for you to put aside the stereotypes and open your mind to the possibilities of cruising.
There’s an astonishing range of cruise options on offer these days, to suit every kind of traveller, and cruises are great for families. It’s Plan A Cruise Month, and I’m working with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) to raise awareness of family cruises. Here are 10 reasons to go on a family cruise.
Cruising is a fantastic way to see lots of places in a short space of time – such as during the school holidays. There’s a huge diversity of cruise itineraries available, with new ones being added every year, in places all over the world, from the Caribbean to Antarctica to river cruises. How about touring the Eastern Mediterranean, as I did with my daughter just after she finished her GCSEs? (You can read a post which I wrote during the cruise about what it was like here.) We started in Venice and called at Bari, Katakalon, Izmir, Istanbul and Dubrovnik. We had a relaxing and interesting week, and we liked Dubrovnik so much that we returned there for a family holiday the following year.
If you’ve not been on a cruise, you may be surprised by the variety and quality of activities on offer on board. Our cruise ship (the MSC Preziosa) had, amongst other things, a spa, a gym, several pools, water slides, a 4D cinema, kids clubs, a bowling alley, a theatre, a F1 simulator and classes in everything from napkin folding to language lessons. But if you just wanted to relax and enjoy the view, there was no pressure to join in with or do anything. On its river cruises, Tauck offers activities such as a treasure hunt at the Louvre and a chocolate making workshop. Royal Caribbean offer climbing walls, Flow Rider surfing areas and an activity programme for kids from 6 months to 17 years old. Some Disney ships even have water coasters on board. We found that there was so much to do on our cruise that we didn’t have time to experience everything that we’d planned to.
Obviously this varies from ship to ship, but the standard and comfort of cruise cabins is generally excellent. Our cabin was spacious and had everything that we needed (you can read my review of our cabin here). I loved the ever-changing view from our balcony, and I don’t think that I’d enjoy a cruise if I couldn’t see outside from my cabin. The cabin was cleaned and tidied twice a day, we could order room service there, and it felt welcoming and relaxing. Family-size cabins and interconnecting cabins are available.
Value for money
Cruises offer great value for money, when you think about what they include. The price includes your travel, accommodation, food and many on board activities – although you usually have to pay extra for things like spa treatments and alcoholic drinks. If you work out the price of a cruise per person per night, it can look like a pretty good deal.
A chance to relax
I was surprised at how relaxing cruising was for us. As we usually travel independently, I’m used to planning the detail of our our trips. On the cruise, the only things to plan were which restaurant to eat at, which activities to try on board and what to do at each port (you can read my post about cruise excursions here). We were really well looked-after by our cabin steward and the rest of the crew and I found it a very restful experience.
On our family holidays we generally stay in several different places, and I find that packing and unpacking is a real chore. If you’re on a cruise, you visit various different places but you only have to unpack once. Result!
Being on a ship
It’s very exciting for kids to be on a ship – and cruise ships come in all shapes and sizes. Some cruise ships offer interesting behind the scenes tours which allow you to see what goes on in the kitchen and the crew areas. It’s fascinating to see how the views from your ship change according to the weather, the time of day and where you are.
Learn new skills
Many cruises offer families the chance to learn new skills. For example, Celebrity Cruises is introducing a summer camp at sea, with fun educational activities as well as mindfulness, Tauck offers cooking classes and Crystal Cruises run magic classes.
No need to fly
If you’d rather avoid the hassle and expense of flying, you can start your cruise from a port in your home country. UK ports include Southampton, Dover, Tilbury, Liverpool, Bristol, Belfast, Port of Tyne and Greenock. If you live in a landlocked country (hello Austria!), how about a river cruise?
Something for everyone
Cruises are excellent for multi-generational trips – everyone in the family can do their own thing and then come together at mealtimes. If my husband and son had been with us on our cruise, I know that my son would have been in heaven with the pools, the kids activities and the self-service buffet, while my husband would have used the gym every day and enjoyed exploring the places where we docked. My daughter loved having breakfast in bed, sunbathing and going to the spa (you can read her spa review here), while my favourite thing was looking out to sea, and visiting so many new places so effortlessly.
Over to you
Have you ever been on a cruise? If so, how was it? If not, is it something which you’d like to try? Do let me know if there’s anything that you’d like to ask me about our experience of cruising. If you’d like to, you can complete my three-question poll about cruising here.
Disclosure: I’m working with CLIA to raise awareness of cruises during Plan a Cruise Month.