Offering a selection of amazing on-board activities, port visits to amazing destinations and childcare services; cruise holidays are increasingly popular among single parents and their offspring. Giving parent and kids equal opportunity to relax, unwind and enjoy themselves, holidaying on the seas is a great choice for single parents and their brood.
But with a huge selection of cruise lines, criss-crossing the planet to a seemingly-endless list of destinations – how do you pick the perfect itinerary for you and the family? Here we explore the best cruise ships and trips for single parents.
Best for Family Suites
Unless you’re travelling with very young children, they’ll no doubt want their own bed and a little privacy. Most cruise lines won’t let children under the age of 18 stay in their own cabin or suite, so they’ll be forced to share.
We’d recommend one of the UK’s best-loved cruise ships, P&O’s Britannia, as the perfect ship for family cabins. The ship boasts a number of cabins and suites with two single or double beds, so you and the kids get plenty of space to rest your head after a wonderful day on the seas.
Balcony cabins are always a great idea for families, giving everyone a little extra space and privacy.
Best for Childcare Services
Family-friendly cruise lines are well-stocked with childcare and entertainment services, ensuring parents and kids can enjoy a little time away from one another. From night time babysitters to kids clubs and events; a number of cruise lines offer close to 24-hour care for children – giving them a chance to play with kids their own age, and you a few precious hours to relax.
Unsurprisingly, Royal Caribbean, offer, perhaps, the most comprehensive childcare service of all the major cruise lines. Nappies and formula milk can both be pre-ordered for your cruise – perfect if you’re travelling with a very young child (this can save massively on the packing, trust us). Additionally, night time in-cabin babysitting means you can enjoy the evening with peers, sampling the delightful cuisine and on-board entertainment facilities.
And for older kids, Royal Caribbean is equally adept – with the newest ships in the fleet featuring ten deck water slides and well-stocked games rooms.
Best for Dining Options
Meal times are, quite often, the most trying times on any holiday with the kids. Turning their noses up at new foods and throwing tantrums in a room full of strangers, some kids seem to reserve their worst behaviour for when their plates are about to be filled. The major cruise lines have combatted this by providing a huge selection when it comes to dining – offering cuisines from every corner of the planet, as well as flexible dining to satisfy the hunger pangs of cruisers.
We’d recommend the ships in Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway Class; each boasting an amazing array of eateries. From the main dining halls with all-you-can-eat buffets (perfect for getting the kids to try new stuff) to the speciality restaurants for more adventurous children, the restaurants and cafés aboard the ship cater for all palates and appetites.
Our friend from mummytravels.com has also served up this slice of advice.
“If you’re travelling with a fussy eater, meal times can be tricky on holiday – but in my experience, my daughter is as likely to try something new as to reject everything on her plate. The first thing to remember, especially with younger kids, is to relax: a few missed meals – especially if it’s hot and they’re snacking on ice cream (also useful for bribery) – won’t do any harm, and they’ll pick up on your stress otherwise.
“And while buffets might not normally be your first choice, they can be fantastic as it’s easy to pick up a taste of lots of things. Kids don’t feel overwhelmed by a whole plate of something unfamiliar and are more likely to try a bite, then you can always go back for more if it’s a hit. It’s one of the things I love about cruising, as there’s always so much choice and it’s easy to find something whenever they feel hungry.
“I also try a bit of reverse psychology and order something my daughter might want to eat as it’s far more interesting when it’s on my plate… especially if she thinks it’s really for grown-ups.”
Best for Cultural Visits
Visiting every corner of the planet, cruise ships are great for parents looking to use the school holidays as a chance to inspire and encourage their precocious youngsters. Take in a history lesson in the Renaissance cities of Europe, or explore the Scandinavian Fjord’s amazing geography.
Italian cruise line, MSC Cruises, specialises in itineraries visiting the culture-rich shore-side cities of the Mediterranean. In a single week, you can expose your children to the architectural delights of Gaudi in Barcelona, before undertaking a tour around the remains of the city of Pompeii and the medieval settlements in the south of France.
If your kids are tasked with the ‘What I Did On My Summer Vacation’ homework, a cruise holiday is a great way to ensure they fill up the pages of their travel diary with interesting additions.
Clare from the much-loved needanotherholiday.com blog suggests a careful approach to picking excursions when cruising with your kids.
“Organised excursions can take the hassle out of planning activities yourself, but the key is to be flexible.
“Since my son came along, it’s fair to say that the way I travel has changed a bit. But not so much that I need to avoid enjoying the cultural fix I love. So I’d suggest making the most of your shore time by reading family travel blogs written by those with kids who’ve already visited the cities on your itinerary. Check for excursion options that include any attractions they recommend.
“Remember that your routine is dictated by your kids when they’re small, so try to choose the day trips with timings that suit your wee one. When do you need to be up and out in the morning? How are meals factored in? Is there free time that will let you find a bit of open space for them to run around for a bit? Most of all though, remember it’s a holiday, and if you can’t find an excursion at a particular port that will work for you, don’t be afraid to skip it and stay on board – the beauty of cruising is that tomorrow, there’ll be a whole new destination.”
And, Of Course, Best for Meeting Other Sexy Singles
Cruise ships are a great place to meet a host of other like-minded individuals, and the romantic settings on land and on water provide the perfect setting for love to blossom. If you’re holidaying with an older child (and longing for a stranger to mistake you for sisters rather than mother and daughter), a cruise holiday is the perfect chance to put yourself out there and meet Mr or Mrs Right.
Carnival Cruise Line is home to a series of great nightclubs across their fleet, with a selection of themed venues playing hits from the last five decades. Relive your golden years in these exciting nightclub venues, with dancefloors offering the perfect setting to dust off your dance moves into the small hours.
Or, for a magical and unique setting, why not try out the Night Sky Lounge on the Regal Princess? One night during every cruise, the top-deck Retreat Pool turns into a classy South Miami-style nightclub with sophisticated cocktails, hot tubs and live DJs. And if you meet someone special, reserve a cabana complete with bottle service.
Cruise Tips for Single Parents on a Cruise
Booking your first cruise for you and the kids? Here are a few tips to make the trip as stress-free and enjoyable as possible:
- Take advantage of evening kids clubs and activities by taking your offspring to the all-day buffet for their evening meal beforehand. Then once they’re enrolled in the club, enjoy a sophisticated meal by yourself or with other solo travellers.
- Check the kids’ services of your cruise line, and take advantage of them all. Our guide, here, details all the important services and extras available.
- Board the ship as early as possible, then head over to the buffet to get the kids settled and acclimatised.
- Pack a change of clothes in hand luggage, it can take a few hours for your suitcases to arrive at your cabin.
- Looking forward to port visits? Use TripAdvisor to look out for kid-friendly activities in your destinations.
- Request a mini-fridge in your cabin – keeping formula, snacks and drinks nice and chilled.
- Set the kids a task, such as ‘count the number of red hats worn on the ship’. This can help keep them occupied and engaged throughout the trip.
- And be sure to enjoy your downtime, you’ll be back home and back in work again before you know it.
Have these tips and tricks inspired you to book an unforgettable cruise for yourself and the kids? Cruise1st can help you keep the costs down with our fantastic deals – so head over to our homepage or call our dedicated team on 0808 2746 777.
Images sourced via Royal Caribbean Press Center and Flickr Creative Commons. Credit *saipal