It’s known as ‘multi-generational cruising’ and more and more of us are doing it.
Family members from all parts of Australia convening at a cruise departure port is an increasingly common sight at overseas passenger terminals. In fact, around 25% of all Australian cruise goers are estimated to be part of a travelling family group.
Making that number even more significant is that a whopping 1 in 19 Australians has taken a cruise in the past year – around 1.28 million people – making us the highest per capita cruising nation in the world!
Whether it’s a big occasion, a milestone, a reunion or just as an excuse to have some fun together, conga lines of Australian families are walking the gangplanks to hit the high seas.
Grandparents, parents and kids looking for a family get-together have discovered that cruising keeps everyone entertained all the time, provides enough scope to take a break when you need it and of course, the joy of unpacking just once but visiting numerous destinations along the way makes cruising as a group very appealing.
The myriad food and dining options also mean if everyone wants to do their own thing on any particular day, meeting at restaurants or cafes are the logical rendezvous points to punctuate each day.
The reality is of course, patience can be tested if everyone’s sharing each other’s space 24/7 for any length of time so cruising offers plenty of opportunities to check-in and check-out as you wish.
Grandma and grandpa might enjoy some quiet time for example sitting by the adult-only pool at the same time the kids are going flat out on the water slides or conversely, the whole family may get together to enjoy a scheduled onboard activity or shore excursion.
Parents with very young children can also enjoy the convenience of a supervised kid’s club with activities and games to keep the little ones engaged for hours while they get some leisure time of their own.
Because of the rising popularity of this type of travel, cruise lines are continually adding options and facilities to cater for the demand. Group activities, all-age parties, family-friendly movies, educational classes, live shows … there’s a momentum underway that won’t stop anytime soon.
Royal Caribbean’s mighty Ovation of the Seas for example, which had her maiden season in Australia last summer, is one of the new age of super ships catering to all ages.
With everything from go-karting to skydiving, adult areas and robotic bars, rock wall climbing, outdoor cinema, day spas and a casino, it’s services resemble those of a floating township. And with a passenger capacity of almost 5000, it virtually is.
Each cruise line has particular ships better suited to family cruising and it pays to do your homework but it obviously starts with your preferred destination and holiday duration. Most cruise lines also offer group discounts depending on numbers travelling.
And if you do intend travelling as a group, you should enquire about pre-booking shows and dinner sittings if possible before you board. On some ships, it’s also possible to request inter-connected staterooms.
Serial family-cruisers recommend requesting rooms clustered toward the rear of the ship which are not only generally easier to get grouped together but also provide easy access to common areas that are generally not as busy as aft or mid-ship areas when the cruise gets underway.
Family friendly cruise lines we recommend…
- Carnival Cruise Lines Australia
- P&O Australia
- Princess Cruises
- Royal Caribbean
- Disney Cruise Lines
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Star Cruises
For South Pacific cruises…
P&O and Carnival offer a range of cruises from 7-14 nights to the family friendly islands of Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia, where beach time and water sports rule. All P&O and Carnival ships based in Australia have water playgrounds, kids clubs, kids dining, babysitting services and so much more.
For New Zealand cruising…
The scenic coastline of magnificent New Zealand can be breathtaking and with so many natural attractions, it makes for a fun and educational getaway. Princess Cruises call into ports such as Akaroa, near Christchurch, which are filled with whales, dolphins and seals most times of year. Learn about the delicate marine eco system as you pat stingrays in the port of Gisborne, and marvel at the natural beauty, plus the friendly sea lions, of Milford Sound.
For Australia cruises…
Exploring your own backyard can be just as impressive as sailing overseas. Most cruise lines in Australia offer trips along the Queensland coastline on the way to the impressive Great Barrier Reef. Circumnavigate the craggy coastline of Tasmania, or even consider a round-Australia-cruise calling into unique ports such as Broome and Margaret River in Western Australia, or Newcastle, Kangaroo Island or the soon to open Coffs Harbour port.
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