It’s common for people who are considering taking a cruise holiday for the first time to feel overwhelmed by information and not know where to start. This can be even more of a problem for parents, as they not only have to think about what they want from a cruise, but also what their children want.
One good place to start is to think about where you actually want to go, then you can look at which cruise ships sail there. Lets’ start by looking at which cruise destinations are most popular with UK families…
The Mediterranean Sea is a great option for a family cruise. Sailing around Spain, Italy and France and even as far as Croatia, Greece and Malta, there so many interesting ports to visit right here in Europe. The best time of year to cruise the Mediterranean is between April and October for the best weather. You’ll also find the widest choice of ships at this time as many cruise ships relocate to the Caribbean for winter sun.
It’s possible to cruise from the UK to the Mediterranean. As cruise ships travel at around 20-25 miles per hour, it takes about two weeks for a return trip from Southampton to Italy, calling at a port most days. If you’d like a shorter cruise, you can fly to a city such as Barcelona, Venice or Rome to start your cruise.
2. Northern Europe
If you’re looking for a seven-night cruise from the UK, the Mediterranean is a little too far, but there are still plenty of great ports to cruise to in the north of Europe. In fact, you can book return trips to Bruges which last just two nights – perfect for anyone who’s unsure as to whether their children would enjoy life at sea. Other popular family cruise destinations in Europe include Guernsey, Amsterdam and Hamburg. Popular all year round, these cities have an abundance of museums, playgrounds and, importantly, culture.
The Caribbean is the world’s most popular cruise destination, and is a great destination for a really special holiday. Here you’ll find great weather all year round, with sunshine pretty much guaranteed (as long as you can avoid the hurricane season in the autumn).
Whilst many people assume that a Caribbean holiday involves nothing more than all-day sunbathing with maybe a dip in the sea, in fact there’s lots for families to enjoy. Whilst younger kids will probably be satisfied with a bucket and spade or a fishing net, older ones can enjoy a whole range of water sports such as kayaking, snorkelling and zip lines. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, take a glass bottom boat ride or go swimming with dolphins.
The Bahamas are located between Florida and the Caribbean islands. There are many three- or four-night Bahamas cruises sailing from Florida, which can be combined with a three-or-four-night hotel stay in Florida to create an excellent family cruise and stay holiday. What could be more exciting than a visit to Disney World and a cruise, all in one holiday?
The Bahamas is home to several private islands which are owned by cruise lines and are only accessible by cruise ship. For example, Royal Caribbean’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay is an exotic wonderland with stunning sandy beaches, a huge freshwater swimming pool plus loads of activities that kids will love. You can take a zip line ride, go up in a helium balloon or experience the tallest water slide in North America.
Choosing a destination
A lot of factors may influence your choice of cruise destination, such as your budget, the age of your kids and whether you want to fly or cruise from the UK. Once you’ve decided, take a look at the best cruise lines for families and narrow down your favourite cruise lines, and then favourite ships.
Each cruise line is very different. Cunard, for example, is quintessentially British and very civilised. The cruise line doesn’t charge for babies, so it’s great for tots who are easily entertained. NCL cruises on the other hand are full of activities like laser tag, go karting, escape rooms, high ropes courses and water slides. These types of cruises are perfect for teenagers, but might not be appreciated by young children who can’t take part.