We brought two kids along to test a cruise-holiday in the Mediterranean
MEDITERRANEAN: For long cruise ships have been seen as an escape for the golden child-free generation and associated with blue-haired retirees. A stereotype perhaps, but it would be accurate to say that the so-called DINKS, or Double Income No Kids, and WHOPs – Wealthy Healthy Older People – traditionally have dominated guest lists on cruise ships all over the world. But these days nothing could be further from the truth. More cruise companies are adjusting for Active Family. With this in mind, we brought Hanna (10) and Ida (8) on a Mediterranean cruise with Costa Cruises to check out kids and cruise from their view.
Large and spacious. An 11-deck high, closer to 300 meters long and 93,000-ton ship – in this case Costa Cruises’ Costa Luminosa – can be overwhelming for anyone. Just boarding the ship is like entering an international city with dozens of nationalities and languages. On our journey there were 2400 guests aboard, on top of the around 1000 crew members. Only the idea of all the logistics on board is enough to get dizzy: All passengers will be eating, drinking, shopping, swimming, exercising, playing and sightseeing for seven days to come. For first-time cruisers it takes up to several days just to get into routines with activities, offers, restaurant seating, time zones and information collection.
Just to know all of the potential activities on board is a major project. For example, it took us three days to find out that the ship actually had two swimming pools, four days before we stumbled into the ship’s own ice bar, and five days to run into the “shopping street” on deck 3. Getting lost on board is not a problem.
Entertainment. The main challenge for parents on holiday is as follows: How can we have a relaxing holiday while entertaining the children at all times? If Costa Luminosa is a good representative of today’s international cruise fleet, this is a relatively small problem. There are activities and entertainment for children of all ages, and as they feel safer in their new surroundings, the children can start moving between the decks to various activities on their own. This makes the need for iPad and other display-based entertainment services limited – at least compared to other types of holidays.
Activities. The main activities tested were the pools, the playground, mini golf, table tennis, youth club, photographer, children’s disco and 4D cinema. However, the brilliant slot machine room was most popular, as well as participation on their own “Princess for a day” activity with dresses, makeup and hairdressing for girls (the boys get their own captain’s day with a visit to the bridge and uniform). Entertainment such as dance lessons and bingo take place continuously by the swimming pool or the disco scenes throughout the ship. Costa has also acquired the rights to use the “The Voice” television concept, and two karaoke competitions qualify passengers to participate in a live music final.
After an exciting day with experiences on shore (which cruises offer in the form of a new harbour daily) combined with a variety of activities, entertainment and an overload of food, it is easy to get the youngest in bed and by ten o’clock the whole family is quite content and ready for a good night sleep. Late nights at the bar are left to the child-free.
Food for everyone. Cruise chips have food for even the fussiest of eaters and Costa Luminosa makes no exceptions. Here you will have a rich buffet-serving on the top deck, and further down the ship there are à la carte restaurants with menus adapted to many preferences. Bars and music entertainment is found everywhere, and payment is made with the key card. Food allergy was no problem at Costa, and gluten intolerant Hanna had her own menu at all meals.
Kids and cruise. If you don´t are afraid of sea and large crowds, a cruise vacation will probably suit you well. However, with children you must take certain precautions and follow a different schedule than other passengers. You will not return home totally relaxed after a week with kids and cruise, but all the activities, entertainment and new cities explored on the journey will guarantee you the best of memories for the whole family.
Make it Happen!
Touch Down: Our journey was conducted on one of the largest ships of the Italian Costa Cruise company, the Costa Luminosa (2009), which sailed an exciting route from Venice via Bari, Athens, Katakolon (Olympia), Kotor (Montenegro), Split and back to Venice. This means that you get to shore in four different countries, which created good variety of excursions.
Stay: There are cabins in several sizes and in several price ranges - inside or outside, with balcony
Eat: You can also buy so-called "drinks and food packages" that include all meals and access to drinks around the clock
Play: Children to the age of eight will also get a lot out of shows staged every night in the major theater. Program varies from Eastern European acrobatics to impressive musicals with dancers.
Mini Guide: Family cruise for four with Costa Cruises will cost between EUR 2500 and 5000 (one week) depending on season, ship, cabin standard and activities / excursions + flight to departure destination. The young ones will be entertained and meet friends their own age. Most importantly, adults can enjoy a break from cooking and cleaning.