Cruising with Kids – a Family Guide

A cruise can offer you and the kids the holiday of a lifetime – and we’re hear to tell you how. We know it can be a bit daunting swapping from your usual beach holiday to one on the high seas, but trust us when we say cruising with the kids is a way of holidaying like you’ve never known before.

The perfect family holiday

Cruise ships aren’t just for pensioners – quite the opposite! Many cruise ships are now geared specifically towards families, with designated accommodation options, an array of fantastic, family-friendly entertainment and a seemingly endless list of dining options meaning there’s always something for even the pickiest of eaters.

The kids will be more than kept happy, and the greatest part of all is that it’s still a holiday for you, too. We’re talking about kids clubs that give you and the other half some precious alone time, as well as sophisticated itineraries that take you to some of the dreamiest destinations on the planet – all on one holiday.

Why the kids will love it

Once upon a time, the terms ‘kids’ and ‘cruising’ wouldn’t have been put in the same sentence. Those days are long gone though, as today, cruise ships are far from old-fashioned. In fact, they’re bursting at the seams with fantastic facilities to make your hard-earned holiday more spectacular than ever!

Sometimes kids can get bored on holiday – but believe us when we say there’s no chance of that happening on a cruise! For one, there’s so much for them to do that they can get up to something different every day. More than just your standard pool to splash in, you’ll find everything from a mini-golf course to a gamer zone, with cool hang-out spots at every corner. Here’s just a few of the things kids can enjoy whilst onboard, depending which ship you go for …

  • Kids club activities – meet the captain, arts and crafts and even pyjama parties!
  • A teen-only spot – the Hideout – featuring an air hockey table, games consoles and karaoke
  • A mini-golf course
  • A climbing wall
  • A swimming pool
  • Hot tubs
  • Cinema
  • Movies by moonlight
  • Baby centre
  • Babytainment
  • Virtual reality experience
  • Breakout challenge
  • Gamer zone
  • Kids club
  • Broadway show lounge

And that’s just the start! They’ll love setting sail each night and waking up in a new destination just as much as you will. How about a bedtime story on the balcony? The sound of waves gently crashing against the side of the ship will be their new favourite sound to drift off to.

Picky eaters – not a problem

Talk to any seasoned cruiser about why they love cruising, and you can bet your bottom dollar that one of the main things they’ll shout about is the quantity and quality of cuisine. Forget having to coax the kids to eat something off the same-y buffet every night – when you go All Inclusive with a cruise line like Marella Cruises you really are spoilt for choice.

Take Marella Explorer for example. She boasts a brilliant 10 different dining options! You’ve got the main waiter service restaurant, Latitude 53, which serves up traditional dishes with a modern twist. It’s always a three-course affair at least!

Then you’ve got Vista, the onboard Italian where authentic flavours are a given. Pizza, pasta, gelato – it’s all on the menu here. If you can’t decide what you’re in the mood for you can head over to The Market Place, a buffet-style restaurant. It serves up an abundance of breakfast options, and is also open for lunch, dinner, and even snacks in between. You’ll find home-cooked favourites like chilli con carne, soups with freshly-baked bread for dunking, a carvery section, as well as stacks of delicious desserts for afters.

At the very back of the ship, you’ve got The Mediterranean. Specialising in Med cuisine, here you can create your own pizzas and pastas – so the kids can get as creative as they like! It also does light bites like sandwiches and jacket potatoes for lunch, too.

If you even have room for anything else, there’s always the Snack Shack! A popular choice with the kids, take your pick from grab-n-go snacks like cheeseburgers, hot dogs, french fries as well as handy fridges full of lighter bites like sandwiches, wraps and salads. There’s always fresh cookies at the ready too!

All of that is included as standard when you choose to cruise with Marella Cruises. And if you don’t mind paying a few quid extra, there’s even more choice available! Marella Explorer also has some incredible speciality dining venues, which means they come at an extra charge – but oh, they’re worth it!

For super posh nosh, there’s The Dining Club – the home of fine dining on the ship. You’ll be treated to French-inspired cuisine like scallops swimming in a Champagne butter and chateaubriand. Its’s the perfect spot for a special evening.

If you’re into sushi, you must visit Umi Sushi on Deck 7. Sushi, sashimi and nigiri rolls are prepared right in front of you, with dim sum, cooked dishes and delicious desserts on the menu too. If you’re feeling the Asian cuisine, there’s more where that came from down at Kora La. You’ll find curry dishes, divine noodles and an oriental interior to match.

If surf and turf’s more your thing, then there’s a steakhouse also on Deck 7 serving up just that. Mains come in the form of pork chops, lobster, grilled chicken and of course, the 28-day-aged steaks.

On an evening The Mediterranean restaurant offers tasty tapas dishes as well as meat and veg skewers showered in tasty herbs and grilled to perfection. And last but by no means least, is Scoops. Those with a sweet tooth will love this vintage-looking ice-cream parlour, with flavours that range from a classic scoop of strawberry to the more unusual G&T gelato!

The only hard part is deciding where to go! Luckily you’ll have a full seven or 14 nights to try them all out. Your taste buds are always in for a treat on a cruise!

Picking the right accommodation

Picking both the type of cabin you have and whereabouts it’s located on the ship is key to a good cruise. If you’re cruising on a budget, then Inside Cabins are always the cheapest type of accommodation. These are cabins that don’t have a balcony or window, but if you don’t think you’re likely to spend much time in your cabin anyway – why would you when there’s so many fantastic places to be on the ship – then they’re a great way to save on costs.

For families of four, you’ve got the choice of Inside and Outside cabins, both of which there are four-berth options available. Normal Balcony Cabins can hold up to three people if you’re a trio, and after that you’ve got Family Balcony Cabins which can accommodate a family of five.

There’s also a limited number of Executive Suites which can accommodate four people. It’s important to have a look at the cabins available and to decide what’s important to you, such as the size of the cabin and whether or not the cost of balcony is worth it for your family.

Once you know which cabin you’d like, it’s worth choosing whereabouts on the ship you’d like to be situated. It costs a little extra to pre-book your exact cabin, but we think it’s totally worth it for the peace of mind of knowing where you’re at, and not just accepting the luck of the draw.

Would you be like to be a stone’s throw away from the Kids’ Club? Or close to the theatre so you can always nab the best seats in the house? If you’re at all worried about travel sickness – although you’ll rarely feel a thing thanks to the ship’s stabilisers – then a cabin that’s as low down and as central as possible will ensure a restful night’s sleep.

Take advantage of the Kids Clubs

Kids of all ages will love the kids clubs onboard – and they give you and your partner a chance to enjoy some quality time together, knowing the kids are in safe hands. While they’re having fun at a pyjama party or coming up with crazy inventions at arts and crafts, you can enjoy the more grown-up areas of the ship.

Head off for a romantic meal for two in one of the specialty restaurants, or treat yourselves to His n’ Her treatments at the onboard spa. You could even go for a sunbathe on the adults-only deck known as The Veranda, where you’ll find plush pods as the seating and the best views out to sea. Add in a cocktail or two and you’ve got date night sorted.

The best cruise ships for families

With all the cruise lines and the amount of ships there are nowadays, it’s easy not to know which ones are suitable for families and which are catered to adults. Marella Cruises offer the best of both worlds, with ships that are geared towards making sure families have the most amazing holiday as well as ones which are ideal for couples seeking a relaxing retreat.

Take your pick from the ships below – when it comes to serving up family fun, these ones do it best…

Marella Explorer

10 restaurants, 10 bars, and a Champneys Spa that’s utterly perfect for His n’ Her treatments. Sound divine? Marella Explorer boasts the perfect combination of grown-up facilities with family-friendly ones too. With an entire Sports & Family Deck, you can have fun challenging each other to games of mini golf, basketball and footy. Then there’s the Hideout for teens, M Club for the little ones and that’s without mentioning the Gamer Zone and the Cinema.

Marella Discovery

Marella Discovery lives up to her name alright – you’ll be wowed by how much there is to discover on this ship. A favourite for families, you can get the adrenaline pumping when you take on the rock climbing wall at the back of the ship or you can wind things down by snuggling up with some popcorn and a hot chocolate at the outdoor cinema. Plus, this ship is the only one in the fleet to have the brilliant Breakout Challenge! Work as a team to make your way out of the real-life escape game by solving puzzles before the time runs out. You don’t get that in a hotel!

Marella Discovery 2

Say hello to the sister ship to Marella Discovery, meaning she shares a lot of the same fantastic features – an outdoor cinema, a rock climbing wall, a mini-golf course and both an indoor and outdoor swimming pool. 3-11 year old’s can take full advantage of the Kids’ Club, with the Hideout remaining the go-to chill out spot for teens. Marella Discovery 2 is also the only ship in the fleet to have the Virtual Reality Experience. Slip on a headset and explore whole new worlds with the Space Pirate Trainer, or whizz through the solar system on Universe Sandbox 2! All the family will love it!

Is it time to book your next family adventure? Find the cruise for you here.