In 2017, more than 25 million people worldwide jumped aboard one of the fastest growing travel trends of recent times.
A huge hit with families, cruising is a kid-friendly holiday option that replaces the stress of transfers and logistics with included accommodation, meals and entertainment. For some, however, the prospect of several days on a cruise ship makes them feel, well, all at sea. We chatted with cruise convert Annalisa Armitage about what made her take the first leap into cruising and why her family’s going back for more.
It was concern about seasickness that initially made Annalisa stay away. “My husband and I get seriously motion sick,” she says. “I guess we’d just never really considered cruising because of that.”
For other families, the thought of being trapped in one place is the main deterrent. “I think what people are resistant about is the sense that you can’t get off,” says Annalisa. “Once you’re committed, you’re really committed. You just have to let go of the decision not to like it!”
The convenience factor persuaded Annalisa’s family to opt for a two-week Holland America cruise covering New Caledonia, Isle of Pines, Lifou, Vanuatu and Fiji.
“I had been looking at where we could take the girls to celebrate my birthday,” says Annalisa, who considered island-hopping around Fiji before the prospect of packing, unpacking and managing ferry transfers turned her off. “With cruises, you just get on, they take you everywhere, you only have to unpack once and you don’t have to worry about food. It was the most relaxing and exciting experience.”
If you worry about the kids getting cabin fever, fret no more. “It felt like there was something different to do all the time,” says Annalisa. “When you got off, you could snorkel, explore the islands, and see what the little towns were like. Even during our days at sea there was always more to do on board.”
The other drawcard of cruising is that each trip can be tailored to suit individual preferences. While some would jump at the chance to use the Kids Clubs, Annalisa’s two girls – who were 11 and 13 at the time – loved the opportunity for time spent together. “We ended up playing Bridge every day!” says Annalisa. “We were the youngest Bridge players there. We liked doing the trivia in different bars, joined karaoke and dance competitions and watched amazing theatre shows. We gave everything a go, even learning how to make animals out of towels!”
Annalisa recommends that families book rooms with interconnecting doors. “A four-berth cabin would be fine with kids under 8,” she says. “But having interconnecting doors and interconnecting balconies meant the girls could enjoy a bit of independence and we all got a bit of extra space.”
She also urges families to make the most of shore excursions. “We loved the museum in Noumea,” she says. “it was very well put-together and super easy walking distance from the port. We also joined a kayaking tour in Noumea. You just got on a bus that was waiting at the port and they took you out of the city and to the river.”
“Part of the charm of cruising is the destination and the feeling that you’re going somewhere, not just staying on a floating hotel. That’s why I love cruising – the excitement and ease of going somewhere new.”
To read more, check out the Best South Pacific Shore Excursions for kids.
Or hear the first-hand account of another cruise convert with 15 Reasons Carnival Spirit is for families