Family Cruises Going on a Family Cruise

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When you're a child, the summer holidays last for a very long time. When you're grown up, nothing lasts as long as those summer holidays did. until you become a parent. Then it's a matter of life and death to think up ways to stop your kids climbing the walls during those endless holidays. There are short term measures involving Playstation or sweaty car trips to zoos and theme parks, but sooner or later you are going to need a holiday too. That's where family cruises come in. If you pick a suitable cruise liner and there are many this really is a very good way to get the best of both worlds: happy kids and the chance of a bit of peace and quiet.

The obvious line catering for children is Disney. Since 1998 Disney's two ships, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, have been offering week long and three/four day trips around the eastern and western Caribbean, stopping off at the private Disney Island, Castaway Cay. If your children want to be Pirates of the Caribbean (and let's face it, who doesn't?) this could well be the trip for them. Bear in mind however that they, and you, will be subject to the highly organised Disney programme. It's good to know that your children will be safe and monitored at all times, but the queuing and registering may begin to grate after a while.

Disney isn't the only line to offer family cruises, though virtually all the big lines have child friendly ships, including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Cunard, Princess, Carnival, Star and PO (which, conversely, also has adults only cruises). If you have very young children, though, check the facilities on the ship you are considering the Disney ships, the QE2 and the Queen Mary 2 are among those which are good for babies and toddlers, but not every 'family' ship is. For slightly older children, don't discount more adventurous tours on smaller ships. Even if they are not specifically aimed at children, cruises which explore areas rich in wildlife, for example, will surely be a hit: what kid would be bored by whale watching, spotting monkeys in the jungle, or hiking around a glacier? Better than Playstation any day. A cruise where you get to help out, such as Windjammer Barefoot Cruises, could also be suitable for energetic older kids.

Services on family cruises should include an air/sea package, kids' clubs with games and competitions, cartoons and video games, babysitting and crib facilities, special children's menus, a child only pool (very important!), family cabins, and for those who are just leaving childhood, a teen disco and meeting centre.

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