One of the things I’ve been asked most about cruise holidays is: are they any good for families?
Well after spending five days on Liberty of the Seas I can say with absolute certainty that cruise holidays are PERFECT for kids, and their parents, and anyone else who wants to come along.
It’s not just the FlowRider, the ice rink, the swimming pools, the mini-golf, the carousel, the basketball court, the climbing wall, the cupcake decorating sessions (more on that story later), the family karaoke sessions or the flexible dining. And frankly, all this would be enough for most kids (and, let’s face it, their mums and dads).
But there are also the Dreamworks characters on board – all your favourites from Madagascar, Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. You can have breakfast with them, see them on parade, and dance with them, should you so desire (or simply cuddle them, a la the Royal Mums).
And then there are the kids’ clubs, aka the Adventure Ocean programme. We were taken on an extensive tour of all the clubs:
Aqua Babies (18 – 36 months): Sessions encouraging toddlers to develop their imaginations and build confidence
Aquanauts (3 – 5 years): Features fun activities including dressing up, finger painting, music activities, castle and fort building
Explorers (6 – 8 years): Artistic, adventurous and mind boggling activities including Wacky Painter Caps, Nutty Nicknames and Scavenger Hunts
Voyagers (9 – 11 years): Activities include Balloon Volleyball, adventure science and themed ‘nights’
Navigators (12 – 14 years): Kids can join in activities and games or just chill out with new friends.
Guests (15 – 17 years): Options to join in events, get away from it all and hang out or party in Fuel, the teen-only nightclub. There’s even a scratch DJ academy.
And I was very impressed – the spaces were big, with everything kids might want, and we were assured that they make friends quickly. All the staff we spoke to were very clued up and inspired confidence. As with everything on board, the beauty is that children can do as much, or as little as they choose.
My only (small) reservation as the mum and aunty of teenage vampires is that there wasn’t an outside space for them (because as all mums of this age group know, it’s hard enough to get them outside during daylight hours, particularly when there are video games on offer), but there’s certainly enough going on on the decks. No not those decks. The other ones.
*I feel at this point I should probably tell you how much these kind of cruise holidays cost. The answer is, not as much as you might think. For example an eight-night cruise on Independence of the Seas (sailing out of Southampton, UK, calling at Flam (Norway), Skjolden (Norway), Olden (Norway), Alesund (Norway) and Stavanger (Norway) before returning to Southampton, departing on 18 May 2013, costs from £649, including meals and entertainment on board and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. Caribbean cruises can be even cheaper, although of course you do have to factor in flights. But when you consider everything you get for your money, they’re still incredibly good value. And I haven’t even told you about Jamaica yet.