It’s been a long-standing joke in our family that we would do a family cruise, with my mum. Every Christmas and birthday we would joke about my mum taking us all away on said cruise. Then, each time we got round to planning it, babies stopped us. The first time the Toddler was too young to go. The second attempt we got as far as pricing up the holiday, then those 2 little lines appeared and Baby Boy was on his way. With me missing the 24 week cut off point on the cruise and having a high risk pregnancy anyway.
So it’s third time lucky. We are off on a cruise (thanks to my mum) with our two small boys. The toddler will be 3 years 3 months old. The Baby will be a mere 9 months old.
In less than 2 months we will be stepping on board the P&O ship The Azura for a two week break in the sun. Two weeks of luxury in the Caribbean.
Are we crazy going cruising with children?
My husband thinks we might be and is apprehensive having never been. I’m less so having done a mini cruise with my mum and dad when I was 24. There are so many reasons why I think going cruising with children is the best holiday we can go on this year. And not just because my mum is taking us….
Why We’re Going Cruising with Children
1. The Kids Club
With the Toddler we are now at the age where we can take full advantage of kids club. Finally! The kids clubs start from 2 years old, and having our very own threeanger. Well, that puts him smack bang in the middle of The Splashers Club.
I’m looking forward to getting the Toddler on board and allowing him some time to do his whole Toddler-independence piece here. Creative activities, outdoor play areas, inside space. The ability for him to run off all that energy each day.
The Baby is going to be too young at 9 months to go into anything, but this solution is also solved by P&O with an area for under-2s that you can use. The difference between this and kids club is simply that parents must be present. I sense a tag team effort to allow for some tanning opportunity for both Mummy and Daddy.
2. The Night Nursery
At night the Kids Club area turns into a night nursery from 6pm-2am on a first come first served basis for kids 6 months to 4 years. I definitely don’t fancy taking the boys with us every single night so I plan to can book them into the night nursery and enjoy adult dinner without “I don’t like it. Mummy. Mummy. Daddy. Daddy. Look at me.”
It’s also my birthday while we are on board (yes, I’m going to be 21 again….) while P&O don’t offer in-cabin babysitting we have this problem solved by going away with our in-built babysitter – Grandma.
3. Seeing the World
We love to show our children the world. Different places. Different cultures. They might both be small but I think it’s never too early to start taking them round the world, as you may have seen the Toddler is surprisingly well travelled at 13 countries at three. Cruising offers a snapshot of new countries. We will be docking in 9 different ports this trip – Barbados, Aruba, Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios, Amber Cove, Tortola, St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Dominica, before heading back to Barbados. Our plan is to get off at every single port. It only counts as a new country if we get off.
We will be doing a mix of organised tours, chilling and exploring on our own, and sending the Husband off on his own in St. Maarten. A self confessed plane geek he wants to go and see the airport on the beach and hang on the fence as they come in to land. Don’t worry I’ll be sending him with the camera and I want a full report from him on it! I’m not going, while I think it would be amazing, I’m not sure that it would work with the boys.
4. The Food
Food galore. Cakes especially…..
A variety of child friendly restaurants, with the option of a specially laid on tea for little ones at night should you wish to dine without them (yes please – night nursery!)
5. The Swimming Pools
Despite the Toddler being a little cautious in the water he absolutely loves to splash around. Even better there are family friendly specific pools where it won’t matter if they are both squealing for joy or being the boisterous boys that they are. And trust me, both my boys are loud.
6. The Facilities
A Library for the book worm in me to be able to read (as long as the boys allow). A spa, a de-stressing massage after travelling with the boys from Dubai-Manchester, Manchester-Barbados. That’s a lot of plane time. With two of them. And it’s going to be my birthday *hint hint dear husband* countless restaurants. Adult only areas for the times we can ask Grandma to
babysit have some quality time with the boys. Bars and lounges to enjoy some sundowners watching the sun set over the sea.
7. The Entertainment
For all of us. The stage shows. The cinema. Tribute bands (which the husband will love *sarcastic*) all of which I do love. The Casinos. Nightclubs.
Adult entertainment whilst the little ones crash in the night nursery. Children’s entertainment in kids club in the day. The toddlers delight at the thought of being able to go to the cinema!
8. The Experience
I’d like to paint you all a picture, which is one which has been in my mind since we booked onto the cruise, an idyllic family moment.
After a day spent exploring new places, the Toddler’s creativity sated with a trip to the kids club, the Baby happy to have been outdoors and the centre of attention all day. Slipping up to the deck for sunset, flushed smiling face. The toddler racing with Daddy chattering about all he has done. The baby cooing delightedly. Sitting on deck, everyone enjoying a sundowner, watching the sun go down over the ocean.
Now I know that is the complete idyllic moment and that the chances of that lasting more than a minute is rare, that there will be an iPad involved, that there will be incessant questions about the ship moving, that there will be instances where it will be nerve wracking and frustrating.
BUT there will be perfect moments. As a family. As a couple. As brothers. For every tough moment the smile that this pair give you will make up for it.
And I know that when we look out to sea and realise just how big the world is, that will be one of our perfect moments.
Our Main Concern to Cruising with Children
It’s not the being on a massive ship in the ocean.
It’s not the thought of being confined.
It’s not that the kids will wreck terror on board (though that is a concern naturally)
Our main worry is the accommodation. We are staying in a standard inside cabin on board, and while we don’t think we be spending much time in our room; we will of course be spending some time there. Especially with nap schedules and sleeping babies to consider. The set up is very clever to allow for more than 2 people to sleep in the room:
And I think if the boys were older they would love sleeping in the top bunks with Mummy and Daddy on the bottom. But the boys will be 3 and 9 months. So between the beds will be a travel cot. And Daddy is valiantly taking a top bunk as the Toddler has a tendency to fall out of bed. It’s going to be a squeeze but with everything that is going on the moment we couldn’t justify the extra £1000 to upgrade to a suite, which would give more space for us all – so if you can afford to do it then I think this would make your cruise more enjoyable. Especially if you’re like us and taking two children under 3.
Still. We always have enjoyed a challenge….now then where can we squeeze the pram in.
*All cruise images sourced from P&O Cruises