Family cruise-Galapagos

Family Cruises

Ferries pop up in a lot of holiday itineraries whether it’s nipping across the Channel from England to France, getting from North to South Island in New Zealand or island-hopping in the Bahamas. Not surprisingly, kids love them. There’s space to move around, different decks to explore, horizons to scan and shops to peruse… some ferries even have soft play areas and games rooms.

But what about family cruises of a week or more? Are these also plain sailing? There used to be a time when cruising was considered rather dull and old-fashioned – fine for granny and the blue-rinse brigade, but anathema for parents contemplating endless days at sea with mutinous children. But now cruising is cool for kids!

Several cruise lines have children’s clubs for different age groups. Carnival, for example, caters for toddlers (face painting, crafts etc), ‘junior cruisers’ (cookie decorating, T-shirt painting, puppet shows), nine- to 11-year-olds (dance classes, scavenger hunts, talent shows) and teenagers (games tournaments, discos, late night movies and a special shore excursion program).

Most cruise liners also have dedicated kids’ areas, whether it’s somewhere cool for teenagers to hang out or a ball pit for five-year-olds to rampage through. The Fun Factory on Celebrity’s cruise liners is packed with craft activities, toys and arcade games. Of course, every ship also has a pool or three, but some operators really push the boat out when it comes to family entertainment. Royal Caribbean’s onboard activities range from ice-skating and mini golf to rock-climbing and surfing on a wave simulator. On Disney cruises, of course, you get to ‘feel the magic’ afloat with live shows, cinema screenings and character meetings.

Childcare, accommodation and meals are pretty much as you would expect from a good land-based family resort. On P&O’s Aurora, Oceana, Oriana and Ventura ships, for example, you will find a well-qualified Youth Crew, a night nursery and an in-cabin listening service. Accommodation ranges from inter-connecting cabins to staterooms with extra beds or sofa beds, while children’s dining arrangements usually feature a special tea, as well as a choice of meals.

>> For something more adventuruous, try a Family Galapagos Cruise