Thanks to cruising, children can travel almost everywhere these days, from Europe, to the Caribbean, and even further-flung destinations such as the Arctic.
Cruise holidays are especially popular with the families market, with 75 percent of Millennial families interested in booking a cruise within the next two years, according to research by MMGYGlobal. Overall, the cruise industry is projecting 27.2-million passenger bookings this year.
“It is catching on quickly with South African families wanting to expose their children to global travel but with the least amount of hassle,” says Eamonn Ferrin, Vice President of Norwegian Cruise Lines & Managing Director South Africa.
“Nowadays you’ll be hard-pressed to meet a South African who has not cruised, and it’s becoming even more popular with parents who have quickly realised it is the perfect holiday to bring the whole crew,” he adds.
According to Cape Town Tourism, South Africa’s cruise sector grew from 6,050 passengers in 2012 to 31,035 passengers in 2017.
Kid citizens of the world
Cruising offers an opportunity to safely encourage your children to engage with the world, rather than passively consuming it, says Ferrin. “Family traditions like holidays spent together are crucial for their emotional well-being. You get to bond as a unit, and best of all, no one needs to be left behind.”
“I love cruises, and my kids love it too,” says Sara Essop, a writer for In Africa & Beyond. “My husband and I had previously [cruised] to the Caribbean and Mozambique before embarking on a week-long Mediterranean cruise with our two kids, ages eight and ten.”
Essop maintains, by meeting new people from different cultures, children have an opportunity to develop empathy and creativity. “We boarded in Venice and travelled to Dubrovnik in Croatia, Santorini and Katakolon in Greece, and Kusadasi in Turkey, and since then, they have only been asking me when we are going again!” she says.
Essop adds: “The staff on the cruise were so friendly. It was always interesting to learn about their nationalities and chat to them about their home countries.”
Say ‘ahoy’ to hassle-free travel
It is no secret that cruise holidays can save you time. Says Ferrin: “There is no need arrange transport, family-friendly accommodation, meals and activities. You can rather use that energy to focus on how you’re going to best spend your time on board or at the ports.”
“It wasn’t difficult to book our cruise,” Essop recalls. “Being frequent travellers, we already had passports. However, we did have to apply for Schengen visas, which took the most admin… we had to get to Venice, so we flew to Rome and decided to explore other parts of Italy while we were there. It worked out quite nicely,” she said.
The family “loved the feeling of sailing on
the seas, the nightly entertainment and the huge buffets. My kids loved the
entertainment centre on board and would stay there as long as the club was
open,” says Essop. “[You can] visit so many destinations in one fell swoop without
having to pack, unpack and move luggage frequently.”
Everything your family could need in one place
Family travel trends are evolving, says Ferrin. “Increasingly, it is not only about unique the destinations but more activity-filled adventures for family members to get that much-needed time to reconnect with each other while creating lasting memories.
Norwegian has invested in a multitude of new and exciting on board features and entertainment venues. The Norwegian Encore, set to launch this year, will feature the largest open
air laser tag
arena built at sea. “The design incorporates the theme of the lost city of
Atlantis, and families can team up, hiding behind ancient ruins and running
past giant tentacles of a monstrous sea creature to complete their mission,” he
“On our cruise, the onboard entertainment was as great, if not even better than the port excursions,” says Essop. The children especially loved the ship’s climbing wall and multiple swimming pools. “I must admit, I did too! And we also had some extra perks, because we were considered repeat cruisers.”.
On a cruise holiday, children are involved in the day-to-day itinerary and have more choice in terms of what they want to do, says Ferrin.
“On some days families can easily break off into smaller groups according to what they want to do, or eat, and re-group later. Our Norwegian crew members are always on hand to help, but [it is] amazing to watch how those little cruisers can get so involved in helping grandma and grandpa find their way around the ship.”
“Another cruise is high up on our family travel bucket list,” says Essop. “There are so many we would like to do, however, a Gulf cruise, and a Northern Lights cruise are at the top of our list.”
“Whatever your personal preference for a holiday
with your kids, there is a cruise out there for every family,” she concludes.