Heaven knows why but cruises aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. People still mistakenly relegate them to the domain of oldies and have them down as something that’s really rather dull. This couldn’t be further from the truth and now with Royal Caribbean (25 ships and 272 destinations worldwide) giving us two ships setting out from Southampton, you can discover the fun that’s to be had on board for yourself. Independence of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas are bound for glorious destinations around Europe and the Mediterranean, giving you the chance to discover fabulous spots close to home and sample some of Europe’s finest art, architecture, food and culture.
But first you’ve got to get there and that’s no hardship on one of these ships. You can choose a cruise that’s only 3 nights long if you’re still finding your sea legs or opt for the full 14 day cruise giving yourself a chance to settle in. Travelling with children isn’t a problem as there’s plenty for them to do – either with or without you and no two days need to be the same. There are kids’ clubs with enthusiastic entertainers and evening shows of an extremely high standard to keep them (and you) occupied so you’re not tearing your hair out.
Northern Europe (including Scandinavia), the Mediterranean and Western Europe (including Spain, Italy and Portugal), the Canary Islands and North Africa, or a selection of Caribbean islands are all on the menu and unlike some ships that only dock for a few hours, when you do head ashore, you’ve got a decent chunk of time to have a look around, giving your kids a chance to see an array of cultures in a short space of time. You can pre-book excursions to make the most out of your time ashore.
Facilities on board are, quite simply, overwhelming. Expect the likes of ice-rinks, climbing walls, surf-simulators, mini-golf, a range of pools to head for, cinemas, shops galore and oodles of eateries offering casual dining as well as the chance to don a dress or black tie for the evening. Most of everything on board you’ll have already paid for so once aboard you and your wallet can take a break.
Rooms vary depending on how much or little you want to spend, but the family cabins are fairly spacious, with a separate area for the kids so you’re not all on top of each other, and come with interactive TV screens and 24-hour room service in all of them. If it wasn’t for everything else laid on in the rest of the ship, you might never want to leave the comfort of your own ‘cabin’.