The perfect family holiday
Family cruising is the miracle tonic that parents who thought they'd have to wait a couple of decades to have another romantic dream holiday, have been waiting for.
Families, from small family units to multigenerational groups, are the fastest growing segment of the cruise market, with around 1.5 million children taking to the seas each year.
It's easy to see why. Family cruising can offer hard to beat pricing once accommodation, meals and activities are taken into account. Cruise companies have been quick to adapt to this competitive market, offering creative kid's programmes and family-friendly amenities on everything from mega-ships to luxurious ocean liners.
Parents can sneak away to enjoy some alone time, guilt-free in the knowledge that their children are not only having a blast, but are being well taken care of. Most cruise lines have specialised youth staff with professional childcare experience or are former nurses or nannies.
Video games, scavenger hunts, waterslides, outdoor movies, story-time and craft projects have become stock standard on most cruises. However, some companies have taken it to the next level by partnering with the biggest names in children's entertainment.
For instance, Norwegian Cruise Line has teamed up with Nickelodeon and Royal Caribbean has partnered with DreamWorks, the creators of Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. Your kids will be begging you to go back to relaxing by the pool and leave them alone.
Many cruise lines offer a boatload of amenities geared to different age groups, whether it's toddlers, tweens or teens, and each group usually gets different facilities and supervised programmes.
Some cruise lines are better than others at catering for different ages, so that may be a decisive factor as to which cruise is the best fit for each family.
For example, some lines offer more activity and learning programmes, while others may have a higher mix of movie-watching and video games.
When booking a family cruise, check what room sizes and options are available, like rooms that sleep five, or adjoining cabins, and even a family suite with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.
If babysitting is a consideration for your family group, check if private in-cabin services or group babysitting in the kid's club area is available.
On small and luxury cruise lines, children's play spaces are relatively small and activities limited during certain seasons. Holiday sailings are often the best option on these lines when children's activities are in full swing.
While many adults crave the opportunity to spend multiple days out at sea, lounging by the pool, and long, intimate, three course dinners, the same can't necessarily be said for children.
Therefore, it might pay to consider an itinerary that breaks up the journey with a mix of days in port and at sea. Also, if children are unlikely to be able to cope with a long dining room experience, look for cruise lines that offer more family friendly dining venues.
While there are a few things to consider when choosing a family cruise holiday, the great thing about it is that once the decision made, everything else is taken care of for you.
Feeling inspired? Get in touch with your local HOT holiday specialist to find out more.
Call 0800 838 747, visit houseoftravel.co.nz....or come instore!
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This article originally appeared on the House of Travel website.