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Europe 2011 with Kids

ShipMaven

Forever Remembered
#2
Are you considering the Mediterranean or the Baltic? Either area, I would suggest Princess. You don't say how old your kids are, but Princess has good children's programs (as does Royal Caribbean).

I realize some can only travel during the summer because of school constraints but keep in mind that the Eastern Mediterranean, in particular, is extremely hot (and crowded) during the summer. August is the vacation month in Italy, so many sites in the cities are closed or on shortened hours and the resorts and beaches are packed like sardines. I've been going to Europe since 1951 so I have some experience.
 

dfilippe

Active Member
#3
Thanks MaryAnn. At the time of sailing the kids will be 17, 10, and 7. Thanks for the information about the heat. I will look into those cruiselines.
We had thought about Carnival Magic....do you have any thoughts on that?
 

BruinSteve

Well-Known Member
#4
Hi everyone,
We are thinking of taking a cruise to Europe next summer with the kids. Can anyone recommend a cruiseline?
My two cents:

I've also been traveling and cruising and going to Europe for a long time as well...
And we've raised two kids, taking them on many cruises...including cruises to Europe...

First, know that several cruise lines do very good cruises to Europe...
And you can have a great cruise on most of them...

With kids, I would first rule out Oceania and Azamara and all of the "luxury" lines...Though great cruises, they don't really accommodate kids at all--no kids or teens programs...

That said, it leaves you with the usual big ship lines:

Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess, NCL, Costa, Carnival, HAL...and several European lines...

But, maybe the first thing to consider is the itinerary...Where do you want to go? How long of a cruise are you looking for?

Start looking at some of the itineraries...As far as I am concerned, the longer ones (around 14 nights) are better...If you're flying over there, might as well make it worth your while...But, also consider that you will want to stretch out this time with a pre-cruise and maybe a post-cruise stay...With the jet lag, travel fatigue and time zone changes, you will want some time for your (and your kids') systems to catch up...also to have a chance to enjoy the embarkation city...and it's a good hedge against missed or delayed flights, missed connections, etc...

As to itineraries, think a bit about what you really want to see...and what might be educational for the kids (what ages?)...

Also consider that you will likely see younger demographics on Mediterranean cruises than on Baltic cruises (lots of reasons, not always true...but, from my experience, it is typically true)...All of the above cruise lines have kids and teens programs, BUT some still tend to get an older crowd and some are more attuned to kids...HAL tends to attrct an older crowd...We took our kids on a Princess cruise in the Baltic and they were frustrated at the total lack of kids--and that the average age of passengers was, to put it bluntly, elderly...

Some cruise lines market more toward younger demographic and families...Carnival and Royal Caribbean, for example...Of those two, I am not very fond of Carnival, to say the least...I think it's the bottom of the barrel in the cruise industry...Of course, it has its fans and those people tend to love it...

Royal Caribbean, IMHO, is the absolute best cruise line when it comes to kids' programs and kid-friendly amenities...their larger, newer ships have everything from rock climbing walls, to mimi golf to ice skating rinks to surfing pools to even, on the newest ones, carousels and zip lines...

Of course, also realize that lot of European cruises are port-intensive...not a lot of at sea days, long days of touring in port...

Realizing that, it may tilt you to MY personal favorite: Celebrity...
The key to Celebrity is they have the least crowded, best designed ships with the best food and service...They do have kids programs...and, having just gotten off a European cruise on the new Eclipse, I can tell you that the ship was absolutely fantastic--maybe my favorite cruise of all I've been on...

Personally, I always rule out Costa since they tend to cater to a non-English speaking crowd, so the entertainment is a little different...

As I said, I don't like Carnival at all--ships are way too crowded and they cut far too many corners...And I am not particularly thrilled with Princess either...nothing terrible, just the ships aren't designed as well as the RCCL or Celebrity ships, the food service isn't managed as well and the ships tend to be a bit crowded...Also note that Princess has some smaller ships--sisters to the Oceania and Azamara ships--but those won't cater to the kids--so avoid those...

To sum up...my recommendations: Royal Caribbean or Celebrity...

PS. My wife works for the school district, so we always cruise July/August...It can be a little hot, but not that bad...The Med is not very humid...Just dress accordingly, bring sunscreen and a hat and carry water...As to crowding and closures...I don't think anything is near as bad as some would make it...and we've NEVER had any problem with anything being closed in the ports and tourist areas we've visited...People who rely on tourism to make a living do not shut down during tourist season...

Good luck...
 
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BruinSteve

Well-Known Member
#5
Thanks MaryAnn. At the time of sailing the kids will be 17, 10, and 7. Thanks for the information about the heat. I will look into those cruiselines.
We had thought about Carnival Magic....do you have any thoughts on that?
I don't like Carnival overall for a lot of reasons, but here's one specific to the new Magic:
130,000 gross tons. Full double capacity: 3,690 Full Capacity (including upper berths): 4,631...With Carnival's demographics and target marketing, you can usually count on those 3rd and 4th berths being filled...So, 4,631 passengers in a 130,000 gross ton ship...

Compare this with Celebrity's Solstice class--Solstice, Equinox, Eclipse, Silhouette: 122,000 gross tons (just slightly smaller)...Full double capacity: 2,850...Celebrity typically fills only some 3rd and 4ths and it tends to even out with solo passengers...Our just concluded cruise sailed with 2,900...

So, similar sized ships, far more people crowded onto the Carnival ship...

The Royal Caribbean Voyager Class are 138,000 gross tons with full double capacity of 3,114...larger than the Carnival Magic but with over 500 fewer passengers at double occupancy...

Another comparison is the typical Princess ship--Ruby, Crown, etc.: 116,000 gross tons, 3,080 passengers...

The more crowded ships impact your cruise in many ways...crowds, lines, waits...difficulty getting seats for shows, poorer service...and more difficulty getting on and off the ship in ports--especially tender ports...

Just something to think about
 

Funnel

Sweden Unleased - Special Contributor
#6
It’s not uncommon with about 95F during the summer (July-August) in the Med. It has been so this year. It can be up to 105F, especially in Greece, but it is not too common with temperatures above that.
This may not be a problem if you are going to the beaches but I don’t know if it is too nice when visiting some of the old cities.
Even though there are great beaches in the Med you just have to visit some of the ancient sites.

In August there might be some places closed in Italy as it is their holiday season, but at the same time I guess that some cities are less crowded as all have gone to the beaches.

If you are going to cruise in the northern Europe then July is a good time as it usually is rather warm here (can be high 80’s but more common with high 70’s to low 80’s) and it is supposed to be sunny. I said supposed – you have to be prepared for rain and low 60’s even in July.

If you want spectacular nature you just have to cruise the Norwegian fjords.

/Erik
 

ShipMaven

Forever Remembered
#7
Thanks MaryAnn. At the time of sailing the kids will be 17, 10, and 7. Thanks for the information about the heat. I will look into those cruiselines.
We had thought about Carnival Magic....do you have any thoughts on that?
Funnel (Erik) and I think alike, and may I point out that Erik resides in Sweden.

Looking through the eyes of your children, what do they like? Are they more interested with what a ship has to offer, or what they may see ashore? Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, each lovely in themselves, offer quite different experiences. The Norwegian Fjords are spectacularly beautiful - cruise lines offer one or two such itineraries each summer.

I don't have experience with Carnival Magic, but I believe either Princess or Royal Caribbean would offer nice programs for your children.

Although the times were very different when I first started visiting Europe - I was 9 years old - I personally loved visiting the various sites ashore. But that doesn't mean your children would necessarily enjoy the same things.