My husband and I are planning a 12 day European cruise next year on HAL with our 7 and 9 year olds. Does this seem too young for a European cruise? My oldest is fascinated with history and archaeology but our seven year old is not that excited about that type of sightseeing. We would like to go the beginning of October, but I am concerned that there will be no other children on board. Any opinions would be appreciated.
Hi there, Europe is a large area with diverse cultures, which region are you thinking of? which countries are you planning on visiting? where will you be flying into & crusing from?
For other children, there may be a few depending on the week, as a lot of Europe have 'half term' breaks from school in the first week.
If you choose the Med, then your seven year old may be compensated for the culture & architecture with decent weather, but if you are thinking of the Baltics, or Fjords, then you have a greater risk of cold, wet & dark days.
If you provide more info on your plans, then we will try to help where we can.
Alan & Katrina
Last Cruise: Queen Victoria January 2016
Next: Nothing booked
Generally, much of the sightseeing in Europe involves history, which 7 year olds may get bored with quickly. The ships will priovide babysitting onboard if he/she gets tired of sightseeing.
If the 9 year old enjoys history then I think that is fantastic, I hope he enjoys it.
In truth, I generally would not recommend taking children to Europe until they are old enough to understand complex topics like government, money, fine art, etc. That is what will be on YOUR mind and I hope the children will not be too much of a distraction if they are not being entertained.
I have seen kids in Europe, and they often looked bored. I have also noticed that towards the end of the cruise they are spending more time on the ship "with grandma" or whoever else may be along who does not feel like touring every day.
Thanks for your comments. We would like to visit Rome, Naples (for Pompeii), Greece, and possibly Egypt. I have heard that it is generally NOT safe to visit the Pyramids of Egypt. Is that true?
We have narrowed it down to two Mediterranean cruises, one with HAL and one with Carnival. We would be flying in/out of either Civitavecchia or Barcelona. We also noticed there are a few cruises that travel from the states to the Mediterranean, but those would obviously require several back to back days at sea.
Both of our children are intellectually "gifted", so they will absorb a lot of what we see and experience. It's very hard to make a decision, and I can't help but worry about my youngest unless we can find some truely child friendly activities. She will definately get bored will only historical sightseeing. However, my husband is switching careers and next Fall will be an ideal time to go. Any thoughts?
Rome is going to be a very long day & hard work on the feet, and to make the most of the time there, visitors should arrive with a good knowledge of what they are going to be looking at. This means that you may find your 7-yr old is already bored of the city before you arrive.
Pompeii is less of a chore, but again for a youngster it could become repetative very quickly.
The pyramids on the other hand could be of more interest (apart from the long coach transfer depending on where the ship docks) as it is a lot more accesible and hands on. As far as security goes, most tours have armed escorts, and the most trouble you may have is 'in your face' salesmen trying to push trinkets, or camel rides.
Something that may keep the children in high spirits is if you can arrange a couple of days in Barcelona before your return, if you were able to travel in September you can take in the Illa Fantasia waterpark (supposedly the largest in Europe) or the Portaventura theme park with the largest rolercoaster in Europe which is open until early October. Chances are that neither are going to be a match for the top US parks, but if it gives the children something else out of the trip, then it may be worth considering.
I can't comment on HAL or Carnival child club rules, but you should check if you can leave the ship if you still have a child booked in for the day. Many lines over here insist that at least one guardian remains on board in
case of problems.
Hope this gives you some food for thought,
Alan & Katrina
Last Cruise: Queen Victoria January 2016
Next: Nothing booked
If you want to be absolutely sure the kids have a GOOD onboard program where you can confidently leave them while you go on certain tours Carnival is a better bet. The kids will make friends and be happy.
Now - on the other hand, sometimes kids on vacation who make new friends do not want to leave them and go touring. With HAL you are more likely to find yourselves tending to your own kids most of the time. HAL jas kids programs, but if it is a smal shiup therte may not be many onboard and that makes the programs less fun for the kids.
As far as seeing Egypt, the pyramids are perfectly safe if you stay with your tour - just don't wander off. And this is not a joke - don't try a camel ride. The trick is to have the camel "take off" and a stanger come to the rescue, who will then ask you for money.
Rome is a lot of walking, unless you hire a guide in the city, or take an organized tour. If the cruise starts there arrive two days early and see as much as you can. It is definitely worth a visit. Athen only requires a day to see the acropolis. Ephesus is a great visit. Santorini is beautiful, same with Florence and your kids will love Pisa.
Paul -- Thank you for that information. Several others have recommended Carnival, but I think the number of children during that month will be limited regardless of the cruise line. We are going to rethink the timing of our cruise, as we would really like for our kids to have a good time.
I am relieved to hear about Egypt --- it would be wonderful for my children to experience the pyramids! We have a lot more work to do before committing to anything. I never realized how much there is to decide!
I am going to take a little different perspective on this. I have two children, ages 11 and 14. They have been on about 25 cruises. We started cruising Europe with them about 7 years ago (ages 4 and 7) and it has paid dividends like you would not believe.
The first cruise was on the Celebrity Millennium out of Venice. We visited quite a number of ports including Rome and each port was seen as a new adventure. Yes, Rome was a longer day, but having been in the Coliseum had a great impact in the years following...as did their first gelato. In Florence - which you think would be the most boring of places - we had a fantastic private guide that knew how to engage the kids. (One of my favorite photos is of my daughter sitting on my shoulders with the "other" David in the background.) Remember children see things differently, so you will be amazed at what they pick up on...especially when viewing things from a lower height!
Fast forward to last year (and after many cruises) when we visited Israel and Egypt on the Celebrity Equinox. I would not shy away from Egypt once you are there...but it is getting there (long drives) that can undercut any value with young children. (I have lots to say about the dirt and constant badgering for tips, but that is another thread.) My kids loved it (we overnighted in Cairo) but we all agreed that one time was enough.
This year: My son is going on a 19 day Student Ambassador trip with other kids his age and will be visiting Venice, Rome and some other places he visited when he was younger. He is excited to see them again...on his own terms. Just something to think about. I am sure you kids will down the road.
As far as quality children's programs, Celebrity's is excellent. There will be plenty of kids, but not too many. And as far as cruise products go, Holland America and Celebrity are both premium lines. I find the ships, service and food to be better on Celebrity (especially its newer ships), so I would think hard not only about the quality of your children's cruise, but yours as well.
I dont have kids so I don't know anything authoritively. I only know what things were like for ME as a kid.
All kids are different, and some of them will love Europe and some will not care so much.
The main thing to remember, as far as I am concerned, is that a ship with a solid kids program will mean they have the option of staying on the ship and playing and it won't spoil YOUR trip - just "if" they happen not to care about the sights.
That is one of the advantages of a cruise ship.
One the other hand - of you WANT THEM to see Europe with no other excuse or other option than to stay with you (perfectly reasonable outlook) then you can consider a ship without much of a kids program, and then they won't have any choice except to go on the tours with you.
We also cruise and travel in Europe with our kids and have had wonderful experiences. When we go this summer it will be our fourth trip there in two years. The first trip was a few days in Copenhagen followed by a Princess Baltic cruise when our daughters were 12 and 6 years old. The second trip was 10 days in London at 13 and 6 followed by two weeks in Provence, France at 13 and 7. This summer we are spending a few days in Rome prior to a Celebrity Mediterranean cruise to Greece and Turkey and the girls will be 14 and 8. We have been traveling with our daughters since they were infants and there are very few places were I would hesitate to take them. We may have to adjust our itinerary and the pace of our sightseeing in order to accommodate them but I believe that it is worth the sacrifice in order to introduce them to the world.
In terms of the timing of your cruise I would recommend trying to go during school holidays. One of the things that my daughters like most about cruising is being able to meet other kids their age. When we cruise they do all shore excursions with us and eat dinner with us but on evenings and on sea days then they can spend as much time as they want in the kids clubs. On a European cruise they will also meet many kids who aren't North American and that is a learning experience in and of itself.
I would also suggest that in order to prepare them for the cruise find some books for them to read about their destinations ahead of time. There are a number of DK Eyewitness books that would be appropriate and there is also the Magic Tree House series for a start which has books and research guides about Pompeii as well as Ancient Greece.