Best cruise line for middle-aged couple with young adult children?
Hi everybody, this is my first post here. Our family have recently decided we'd like to try cruising, so I've been madly researching the options. I've narrowed things down a bit, but I need some advice about which line might best balance the needs and wishes of everybody in the family.
Please excuse the novel (just waiting to see if this post bounces on some word limit) (!) but I'd like to give some experienced cruisers a good picture of what my family is like so you can best help.
My family could generally be described as close (we enjoy each other's company), casual (Kiwi and living in Australia, used to being pretty relaxed), fairly intellectual, and a little bit alternative (eg we homeschooled our kids). We are early 50s/late 40s, with two daughters who'll be about 22&20 when we travel.
DH likes having lots to do, and doesn't like dressing up. I'm sociable and like to relax on holiday; I like meeting people and seeing new places without overdoing it. DD1 is the quiet serious type while DD2 is a social bunny.
We're thinking mid-size ship in the Med. I'm prone to seasickness so not interested in small ships or ocean crossings. None of us like crowds and noise so we don't find the idea of a big resort ship appealing, but we do want to try the classic cruise experience with entertainment etc. We'll enjoy lots of port days and a choice of active, relaxed or cultural excursions.
We're not too worried about particular destinations - anywhere we really want to see we'd want more than a day there anyway. For us, choosing the right ship/line is more important. If we don't have a good time we'll probably never go cruising again!
Cost isn't a big factor. We're not rolling in money but if the best cruise for us is too expensive, we'd rather wait and save another year than settle for something we might be disappointed by. If we really need to get away, we can take a cheapie trip to Thailand in the meantime.
So far I've looked into Crystal, Regent, Azamara and Oceania. It seems they all have their good points. The thing I'm finding hard to get a feel for is whether any of these lines has more young people on board? The girls say they don't mind if the ship is full of oldies, but I think it would be nice if they had at least some company. I saw that Crystal seems to have one bar that is more "clubby" - does that mean they have some mixed groups like ours? (Or just oldies like us who like to boogie?) Crystal obviously involves more dressing up than the other lines I'm considering, but we'd be happy to do it if it means the girls have a better time.
Also, are there any other lines we should be considering? All advice would be welcome! Thank you!
Unfortunately every cruise line offers different experiences to different people depending on their own expectations, so whilst I cannot make any specific reccomendations for you, I can fully reccomend the following website which seems to have excellent information about all the cruiselines, ships, destinations & so on, and therefore may be of use.
MSC cruises are great for families and have a lot to do, i personally went on the msc Splendida, its a perfectly sized boat with loads of stuff on board, 4 swimming pools, an exercise room, squash court, the chance to simulate the thrill of Formula 1 and loads more, the kids area is really cool, its like a artic room full of penguins and things.
***Edited to remove commercial reference***
Last edited by Donna; September 12th, 2012 at 01:02 PM.
Reason: removed hyper link
Have almost twenty cruises on Regent and have seen many families with young adult children. Also, many Aussies and a few Kiwis.
Regent will be casual the entire trip; not shorts in the dining room but no coat or tie required. This will be a port intensive cruise so you won't be able to take full advantage of the ship. I like the ability to order anything whether in the dining room or bar. I like having not tab at end of cruise. The included excursions don't work out as a good deal if you prefer to book private excursions but if this first time to these ports having freen excursions every day is a good deal.
Have fun with whatever choice you make!
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Thanks for the feedback folks! I'll take a closer look at Regent - that's good to know there are likely to be other young people on board.
Since I first posted I've been to see a cruise agent, and she recommended the yacht club on MSC. She said that way we can get a quieter environment with some small ship advantages, but there are still all the big ship facilities available, and plenty of young people on board for the girls to socialise with. I've had a look and it seems like quite a good idea, and the yacht club prices are quite competitive compared with luxury cruises.
DD1 was very keen on the more European flavour - she's a polyglot so the idea of a choice of languages of newspapers, the library will have books in a variety of languages, she'll meet people from all over to talk to, that was very appealing to her.
It also looks like a good idea because being a big line there are lots of departure dates available. I'm a teacher so we have to go in school holidays, so having lots of departure date choices is helpful. And on some of the itineraries you can choose where to start/finish, so that will make it convenient choosing a place we'd like to take a pre-cruise stay. I'm keen to visit Barcelona, and they had several itineraries that could be taken from Barcelona, with a good choice of departure dates.
I think I'll pop over to the MSC threads and have a good read!
Just my personal opinion, but I don't consider MSC to be in the same class as Regent, Oceania, Crystal, and Azamara. On a 1 to 6 star rating system, you're talking about a 3-1/2 to 4 star cruise line (MSC) versus 6 stars for the others.
So, it really depends on the class of cruise you're looking for.
But as the saying goes, opinions are like bellybuttons - everyone has one.
__________________ Travel Agent/Cruise Specialist w/12 yrs exp and 47 Cruises on 11 cruise lines! Favorites: Paul Gauguin - Tahiti: Uniworld River Cruises - Europe; Celebrity Solstice-class ships; Holland America - 12-nights Baltics & Russia; RCCL - 14-nights Greek Isles, Turkey, & Croatia; Holland America - 14-day Alaskan cruisetour; 10-night Canada/New England cruise; 21 days Hawaii w/7-night NCL cruise; Oceania - 25 days in Asia; more than 3 months touring Europe by train. And many all-inclusive resorts!
Yes I realise it's not in the same category. The reason we were looking at the luxury lines was because we wanted a smaller, quieter ship with fewer queues, rather than because we require a particular standard of accommodation and so on. But if we hide in the yacht club area when the noise/crowds get too much, I think it'll be fine.
I don't think I could handle being on a big MSC ship in the Med if I wasn't staying in the yacht club. Italians don't know how to queue politely! That's a horrible generalisation I know, but I've traveled in Italy and honestly when it came to queuing it was every man for himself.