We have recently booked a week long cruise of the Med, and are taking our two young children aged 3 and 18 months. Does anyone have any suggestions about shore excursions, or any advise would be helpful. It is our first time cruising, and we are both excited and anxious about it.
I'm the family cruising editor here. My 8 year old daughter has been on 11 cruises so I have plenty of kids' cruising experience. I've cruised with Royal Caribbean a few times before and they have a great kids' program. Hopefully your three year old is potty trained so that he/she can participate in the youth program. (They MUST be toilet trained to participate.) You may also want to consider private babysitting at some point during your cruise for your 18 month old. (Private babysitting starts for those over 1 year and is done in your cabin.) We just had a private babysitter on our Royal Caribbean cruise last week for my infant and we were very pleased with the care. Book the babysitting as early in the cruise as possible at the guest relations desk.
What ports will you be going to? If you let me know, I can make some suggestions. You may want to take turns with your husband at some ports with one staying on the ship while the other goes on a shore excursion. Some of the Med shore excursions are very long (and pricey) and y our little ones would not find them enjoyable.
When do you cruise? I took a Med cruise with Royal Caribbean a while back (without kids) and loved it.
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Thank you so much for your reply. I can feel my nerves easing as I type. My three year old is potty trained so she will be able to participate in the kids club. Our ports of call are Barcelona (departing and returining), Civitavecchia (Rome) Italy, Livorno (Florence/Pisa) Italy, Naples Italy, Velletta, Malta, adn Villefranche (Nice) France. The shore excurision for Rome seems a bit long, so I think I may send my husband solo. Are there any things that I can see in the port towns with the kids? I think I would like to experience some of the culture of the area, as well as let the kids "run" a bit.
I was glad to hear that you had a good experience with teh on board babysitting service. I thought we may have to miss the onboard entertainment as the kids would probably not be allowed in most of the shows. Would you recommend attending the shows? Is there any that the kids would enjoy if they are allowed?
We are curising from August 11 through the 18th, on the Splendor of the Seas. Thanks again for your response and I am anxiously awaiting your reply!
......by the way should I do the online embarking froms on the Royal Carribean web site?
Glad to hear back from you. Will you be spending any extra time in Barcelona or will you be going from the airport to the ship and vice versa? If you are spending time in Barcelona, let me know and I'll make some suggestions.
I don't want to be intimidating but the hard part of this itinerary is that the ports for Florence and Rome don't offer much to see or do. As you mentioned, you may want to let your husband do a full day tour to one of the cities and you do a full day tour to the other city. The person left with the kids can enjoy the ship's facilities and your older child can participate in the youth program which is offered when the ship is in port. It is about a 1-1/2 hour ride each way from each port to Florence as well as Rome, thus making it too long of a day to take the kids. When you get on the ship, go to the shore excursions desk and explain you situation to the personnel there. Ask them if there are any parks or beaches in walking or taxi distance of the ports that you could take the kids. They may or may not have some suggestions for you!
Malta is where you should take the kids along and even explore independently. It sounds like Valetta is a good walking city.You may want to get out a guidebook or go online and research info on Malta. I haven't been there but I hear there are great ramparts, fortresses, etc. to explore in this very old walled city. The kids may think they're medieval knights (or princesses) in the very unique city of Valetta.
I have been to Naples a few times but usually it's to get a ferry to one of the Sicilian islands. If you do get a guidebook on the Mediterranean or Italy, look to see if there are zoos, parks, etc. in Naples that your kids would like. Definitely take them in any of the Italian ports out to the sidewalk cafe for some "gelatto". You'll like the Italian atmosphere and they'll love the gelatto!
Perhaps one day you could get a baby-sitter for your little one and put the three year old in the youth program to do a half day tour (Naples or Malta). Just make sure you reserve the baby sitter early in the cruise as they can be in high demand.
As for Villefranche, this might be a good port to either take a taxi or rent a car and go to one of the beaches on the French Riviera in Nice or Cannes. Again, ask the shore excursions desk for a suggestion: you would need a beach with facilities and that you can reach by taxi to and from the ship. Does the cruise line offer any beach excursions? If so, you may want to book one for all of you.
I hope this helps. Feel free to ask any more Q's and I'd really like to hear how it went. My eight year old daughter is very ready to cruise to Europe but I'm waiting until my 9 month old is a bit older, so I'd love to hear about your adventure!
Thanks! We are getting pretty excited as our departure day aproaches. I think we have bought every book available on the ports we are going to and anything to do with cruising with kids. The people who have been on numerous cruises must be laughing at me, but having an engineer for a husband means always being well prepared.