Planning a family cruise? Tiana Templeman reveals the top options for a holiday at sea.
Going on a cruise with your family isn’t just a fun holiday – cruising immerses children in different cultures and teaches them how to master new skills, such as surfing, hip-hop dancing and filmmaking. But it’s not just the kids who get to have all the fun. Grown-ups are not forgotten, with adult-only options including luxurious spas, cooking classes and serenity decks. With kids’ club facilities for tots, teens and every age in between, entertainment and dining options galore and accommodation to suit every family, one of the following cruises is sure to float your boat.
If your cruise-loving family is also into Disney, then Disney Cruises is the line for you. Disney ships offer princess-themed dining, character meet-and-greets, Disney movie marathons featuring Marvel, Pixar, Disney and Star Wars films, and adult-only restaurants for ‘date nights’. The family dining program ensures kids are served within 40 minutes and collected by kids’ club staff so adults can enjoy the rest of their meal at leisure. From January to March 2020, Star Wars fans can set sail with their favourite heroes (and villains) on a series of special five and seven-night themed sailings from Florida, in the US, to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Marvel superhero sailings are also available.
Have fun with your kids at P&O Edge Adventure Park, an outdoor activities area on the top deck where you can fly through the air on a zipline, challenge yourself on the ropes course or choose from a dozen other activities including a Titanic experience, which recreates the iconic moment from the famous movie. Some P&O ships have waterslides, others have a teen club with VR gaming, or a luxe adult-only pool area: the choice is yours. Older kids (and their parents) will laugh out loud on a comedy cruise – a long weekend sailing, with stand-up shows from some of the country’s top comedians.
Book a culturally immersive small ship cruise on Captain Cook Cruises Fiji’s 130-passenger Reef Endeavour. The most popular itineraries for families are the weekly three to seven-night cruises to the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands. Activities include visiting villages, talks by an onboard marine biologist and glass bottom boat tours. A traditional feast is also offered on cruises of seven nights or more. All cruises include a stop at the company’s private island, Tivua, for snorkelling, swimming and relaxing on the beach. A kids’ program for children aged five to nine is available throughout the year.
Are you game to take on the fastest, steepest waterslide at sea? Children taller than 120cm and (brave) adults can ride the squeal-inducing Green Thunder on Carnival Spirit, which starts with a freefall drop before reaching speeds of up to 65km per hour, and the Green Lightning on the Carnival Splendor when it arrives Down Under in December. If you and your kids are feeling less adventurous, the tamer Twister waterslide is the way to go. Littlies will enjoy the Carnival Waterworks SplashZone, which includes a huge tipping bucket, squirters and a tot-sized waterslide. Carnival ships also offers dance lessons, pool games and dancing waiters in the dining room every evening.
Sailing in Australia for the first time this year, Dream Cruises’ departures are available from Brisbane, Sydney and Newcastle. Explorer Dream has more than a dozen food and beverage venues, a state-of-the-art spa, a signature suite enclave with butler service, and a virtual reality/augmented reality arcade filled with immersive gaming plus simulators, arcade games and bike racing games. Dream Cruises is ideal for families seeking something new and for those who prefer a smaller ship, as Explorer Dream carries a maximum of 1,856 passengers. dreamcruiseline.com
Princess Cruises’ ships feature Camp Discovery – a Discovery Channel-themed kids club for kids aged three to 17. Children can learn as they play, with activities including The Greatest Catch and Just Squiddin’ Around. In the evening, settle back with complimentary popcorn and warm cookies and milk, and catch a movie under the stars. There is also The Voice of the Ocean, an entertaining onboard talent quest inspired by popular TV show The Voice.
The fun never stops on Royal Caribbean, with activities such as ice skating, circus school, onboard surfing and iFly skydiving included in the fare. It’s free to ride the FlowRider surf simulator, which is available on every Australian-based Royal Caribbean ship, except Radiance of the Seas. Boogie boarding is the best option for families as it’s easy to master and suitable for all ages. Pack swimmers in your carry-on bag and why not hit the waves on the very day you embark? While you might need a holiday after your holiday on these action-packed ships, there is little chance you’ll hear those dreaded words” “I’m bored”.