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P&O Cruises VIP day feedback thread. Non-attendees: tell P&O Cruises about your ideal cruise - £250 voucher prize draw! NOW CLOSED

(133 Posts)
MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 30-Aug-13 16:27:04

This thread is for the 6 Mumsnetters who attended the VIP day on P&O Cruises' family friendly ship, Azura. Hope you all had a wonderful time!

If you didn't attend the VIP day you can still get involved by telling P&O Cruises about your perfect family friendly cruise holiday. Where in the world would you sail? What facilities would you like to see on board? What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?

Everyone who shares their thoughts on this thread will be entered into a prize draw to win a £250 Love2Shop voucher.

VIP attendees:

We have a few questions we'd like you to answer, but please add any other comments you may have.

- What was your and your family's, overall experience of your day on-board Azura?

- Were you surprised by anything you found, or didn't find, on board?

- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day?

- What did your DCs think of the facilities on-board?

- After your experience on Azura, would you consider going on a cruise for a family holiday? If so, why? If not, why not?

- Overall, if it came up in conversation, would you recommend going on a cruise to your friends and family? If so, why? If not, why not?

If you have any photos you took on the day please do upload them onto this thread, we'd love to see them! Please note that P&O Cruises may use these pictures on their facebook page, website or any other marketing material.

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw!


Bubbles85 Fri 30-Aug-13 20:00:08

I didn't attend the VIP day but my perfect family friendly cruise holiday would be a cruise where the kids are kept entertained all day while I get to relax a little and have a break from day to day life at home. I would love to sail to America, although not having sailed on a cruise before i would probably pick somewhere in Europe first. Facilities should include lots of nice places to eat, places for the kids to play, a cinema, and perhaps a swimming pool too! I would like to see kids clubs and kids films.

Willemdefoeismine Sat 31-Aug-13 16:01:59

If you didn't attend the VIP day you can still get involved by telling P&O Cruises about your perfect family friendly cruise holiday. Where in the world would you sail? What facilities would you like to see on board? What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?

A perfect family friendly cruise holiday for us would be one that was around the UK and didn't require us to have passports. It adds a lot to have to buy and replace a family's worth of passports for one holiday!

Also the UK is so fantastically diverse that a five to seven day cruise would enable us to get varied scenery, climate and city/countryside experiences within a time-frame which would suit travelling with children (we would all enjoy that length of cruise and the new opportunities it would afford without the 'tween' family members having time to get bored!). I also think that it would provide a whistle-stop tour of what is available to enjoy in the UK: it would take considerably longer to undertake such a holiday with any degree of pleasure in any other way!

On board I would like to see a good range of swimming/lounging/exercise options, entertain and activities for under and over 10s as distinct groups, cinema (current releases and family favourites), family quiz/karaoke nights, bowling, opportunities for parents to have some enjoyable couple time without the children (but safe in the knowledge that the children are doing something enjoyable themselves) etc... Possibly activities on-ship related to the places one will visit - cultural activities???

Hope the families chosen enjoyed their fab day out. We were most envious!

HeySoulSister Sat 31-Aug-13 16:05:35

perfect family cruise for me would mean some cool things for my teens! teens often feel left out,especially where everything on holiday revolves round small children or food!

they would love some edgy activities. sports etc.

We went on the VIP day today and had a fantastic time. The only shame was that only half of the MNer's picked made it, you missed a good day. We were given an extensive tour of the boat and cabins, the kids got some time to play in the kids area and then a lovely 3 course lunch with wine. The food was beautiful, especially the spiced chocolate fondant. When we left the kids were given a bag of gifts, which depended on age but the DS's got a lunchbag, beach towel, toys, colouring set and jumper between them which was fantastic. We got 2 nice bottles of wine and a travel set of toiletries from the White Company which was nice

What was your and your family's, overall experience of your day on-board Azura?

We really enjoyed having a look around the ship. We have cruised before, and with P&O so knew roughly what we would find, but I was really impressed with the design and layout of this ship. It's very easy, as ships are getting larger, for it to become too large, and start to feel like a large ferry as the facilities like the buffet get bigger, but this has avoided that. There are a number of bars and restaurants, all of which were very different and had their own feel. All of it looked well designed and I could imagine having a very different evening depending on where you went, it wouldn't feel like you were in the same place each night.

- Were you surprised by anything you found, or didn't find, on board?

The only thing I didn't like was that the casino seems to have got bigger, and I really didn't like the way it took up half of the pub, with no barrier or separation between.

I loved the spa and spa pool, the treatment list looked really extensive.

I liked the fact that there are 4 pools and a kids splash pool as they all seem to have a different feel to them. I would spend all of my time round the pool on the back though, that's my favourite spot.

I was surprised at the size of the theatre, it's a really professional proper theatre, but with waiter service at the seats. I like that.

I also loved the large screen above one of the outdoor pools, I can imagine curling up on a lounger and watching a film under the stars.

One thing that always surprises me about P&O is the night nursery, they turn the kids club areas into a nursery at 7 pm and you can drop your child off there to sleep in a cot/bed and pick them up anytime before 3 a.m. You have a pager in case they need you but otherwise you are freeeeeeeeeeeee!

- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day?

Running around like a loon and playing in the Chicco Cars in the kids club. I don't think we'd ever see him, we could just leave him in one of those cars with some lunch. It's nice there is a guaranteed place for the kids in the kids club and that the area given over to it seemed pretty big.

- What did your DCs think of the facilities on-board?

DS loved the cars, the food, the fact that his ketchup was served on a platter, the cars, the castle, the dolls house, the soft play, the cars, the pool, playing with his new friend (met on board) the football/tennis/gofl area and the cars

- After your experience on Azura, would you consider going on a cruise for a family holiday? If so, why? If not, why not?

Definitely, the set up seems to suit us and the DC. DS2 is too young to be left in the kids club (he's only 5 months) but that would be the case anywhere we went. The fact that the kids club runs all day, and that you know they are on the ship somewhere and can always be found/find you is very reassuring. They also seem to do loads of different activities with them.

- Overall, if it came up in conversation, would you recommend going on a cruise to your friends and family? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes, for the reasons above. And also for the quality of food/wine and entertainment that we experienced and saw available on board. I think most people would find something that suited them.

All the photos we took were on the cameras/flipcam they gave us so none to share I'm afraid, sorry.

StillSlightlyCrumpled Sat 31-Aug-13 20:32:14

We attended today and had a fabulous day, really worth the 3 hr drive.
I will post my full review tomorrow as iPad about to run out of battery, we had a great time though grin.

<waves hello to the lovely SkiingGardener was really good to meet you all.>

StillSlightlyCrumpled Sat 31-Aug-13 20:33:46

Meant to say a big hello to the SkiingGardener, was lovely to meet you all. Hope my youngest' tantrum didn't deafen you allblushgrin!

It's disappointing to hear that half the people didn't turn up, we would have loved to go!

That is infuriating that people didn't bother to come. We were gutted when we weren't chosen, what a waste.

ooo do they do open days often? - I would love to go and have a neb round one as often we debate a cruise .

I was surprised at the number of people also on day tours. Apparently you can pay to do them but I don't know if you have to be part of their loyalty club.

<Waves to StillSlightlyCrumpled> Your boys were lovely, and if you can't have a tantrum when you're that size when can you? On another day it would have been my DS instead of yours!

that said the big ones probs never ever come to our neck of woods up north!

<waves at SSC and skiing>

Non-attenders - Did you mean to be so rude? Hope it was nothing serious that stopped you attending, it was really good fun.

DS's highlight was becoming BFF's with skiings DS1, but aside from that... grin

What was your and your family's, overall experience of your day on-board Azura?

I had a lovely day, it was brilliant that it was sunny.

- Were you surprised by anything you found, or didn't find, on board?

I was surprised by the shops. I get that they are duty free, but they just looked like boring airport shops to me. I was surprised by the gym and the spa bit - really well fitted out, bigger than I expected they would be.

- What were your/your DCs highlights of the day?
Seeing the balconies and the sports facilities, basically all the outside stuff. He liked the kids club and really wanted to go in the pool.

- What did your DCs think of the facilities on-board?
He was amazed that we were on a boat. I think he quite liked the kids club, but I would worry he would spend a lot of time staring at a screen given the chance.

- After your experience on Azura, would you consider going on a cruise for a family holiday? If so, why? If not, why not?
I had a lovely day, but I don't think cruising's for me. Great to find that out before booking one though!

- Overall, if it came up in conversation, would you recommend going on a cruise to your friends and family? If so, why? If not, why not?
For friends who currently enjoy all inclusive type holidays, and for those looking to have everything planned out for them, I would definitely recommend a cruise holiday.

Anthracite Sat 31-Aug-13 21:33:02

Not impressed that the selected mumsnetters did not turn up. We were very disappointed not to be chosen.

We did a Thomson cruise this year and loved it. I can't really think of anything they could have done on board to make it better for our family. The food choices were great for our children and they were never tempted to ask to go the the burger/pizza bar. They had their own drinks cards, so loved ordering their own whenever they wanted. The kids club was great (DD insisted on going even if it meant DH leaving dinner for a few moments to take her). The teen ice-breaking events were good.

The one improvement I would suggest is to have more family-friendly shore excursions. We had good ports, so DIY was no problem, but we might have considered a wider variety of excursions.

We travelled as a family of five so had two cabins. Adjacent (or even adjoining cabins would have been nice). Perfect would be a two bedroom suite.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Sat 31-Aug-13 21:33:48

Snap - I was dead keen to see a cruise ship first hand without obligation. DH wasn't so I was planning in taking our ds's by myself.

Hope the ones that didn't make it are ok and didn't have any major catastrophes en route.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Sat 31-Aug-13 21:35:38

Meant to say, if we were to consider a cruise I would want guaranteed sunshine and air conditioned cabins.

I would also need to know that the ship is stable and sea conditions would be good as I suffer dreadfully from sea sickness.

Faithless12 Sat 31-Aug-13 21:37:24

TheSkiingGardener - Can your DS2 go on a cruise at 5 months? I thought they had an age limit.

Perfect Cruise would have lots for DS to do, stops at interesting places and things for us (the adults to do). I quite like the UK idea from Willemdefoeismine but would equally love a Caribbean cruise that stops at Barbados, St Lucia & St Kitts anywhere else is a bonus.

Faithless12 Sat 31-Aug-13 21:42:18

IwishIwasmoreorganised - I've only ever been on a cruise round the Caribbean but the cabins were air conditioned and the ships are rather stable. I only noticed the ship moved when I was off the ship strangely and there was a huge storm one night, I only know about the storm because I woke up and decided to take a walk on the deck and the waves were huge. It does depend on the size of the ship though, I was on a huge cruise ship.

Anthracite Sat 31-Aug-13 21:47:19

Overall, if it came up in conversation, would you recommend going on a cruise to your friends and family? If so, why? If not, why not?

Yes, I would recommend a cruise.

As with any AI holiday, you have a good idea of your budget. There aren't really any nasty surprises if you travel with a British cruise line.

It's quite an institutionalised existence - you have your meals at a certain time (although you can eat 24/7) you go ashore, you go to the shows and other evening entertainment. On your sea day(s) you fight for sun beds or take part in relatively cheesy daytime entertainment. I think I would personally struggle with more than a week to ten days of this, but it's great for kids and not unlike any other resort-based holiday.

The best thing, obviously, is being in a fantastic new place every day. You can experience this without the constant packing/unpacking that you would have on a car-based touring holiday. Plus, your travelling takes place when you are asleep.

CMOTDibbler Sat 31-Aug-13 21:56:43

I'm always in two minds about whether we'd like a cruise - we don't do 'sun' holidays, so the at sea days would need a lot going on to stop dh and I getting twitchy. And I wouldn't want ds to be in a kids club lots, so plenty of things to do with him would be what we want.
Area wise, it would need to be either Norway or Egypt/Jordan

Trills Sat 31-Aug-13 22:03:17

My ideal cruise would be not on a boat, as I get seasick. sad

My aunt's ideal cruise would be one where the wheelchair-friendly-ness of every stop and day trip was clearly advertised ahead of time.

Faithless DS2 is 6 months old in 4 days, and he could go from then. I think you can only leave them in kids club without you from 2, but you can use the facilities with them before then.

My DH and MIL have cruised lots, and the thing they always emphasise is the variation in cruise lines. Some are better at food, some at entertainment, some at kids stuff. Your lower budget end does tend to have Butlins style daytime entertainment round the pool, higher cost lines don't. On P&O we've done wine tastings, lectures, and quizzes as daytime entertainment and never had a problem getting a sun lounger.

If you are new to cruising websites like Cruisecritic can help decide which line is for you or going through an agent like Bolsover Cruise Club or iglucruise can mean you can have that conversation with people that know the difference.

P&O suit us very well because of the Night Nursery, and the fact that we like dressing up for formal nights sometimes. The food is good and the entertainment is our sort of thing.

Trills, I get hideously, horrendously bed-ridden sea sick. Last month I did 14 days on the Atlantic without a murmur. Medication is a wonderful thing!

Ok if I went on a cruise which I won't now because I didn't get picked to go on the open day even though I would have turned up I would like to go round the Caribbean or somewhere far away. I would hate the sunbed area to be over crowded. I would like somewhere for ds to play (9mo) so something like soft play for babies. Dd would like somewhere with painting! If there was a children's club I wouldn't want it to have a tv. Oh and I'd like decent children's food not sausage and mash or pizza etc

wibblyjelly Sun 01-Sep-13 22:07:09

My ideal cruise would be one that had plenty to entertain ds, and lovely food. I'd love to travel round the Med, and have plenty of time to go exploring the places we visit.

LadyMilfordHaven Sun 01-Sep-13 22:12:58

i was selected, but i emailed my apologies about 10 days ago and rather rudely never got a reply so fuck off you lot

Willemdefoeismine Mon 02-Sep-13 10:06:02


dahville Mon 02-Sep-13 10:55:48

Where in the world would you sail? What facilities would you like to see on board? What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?

We'd love a cruise of the West Cost of Scotland, England, & Wales - there are plenty of wonderful ports of call.

I would like a mix of activities for my toddler - both parent led ones, e.g. an area for arts & crafts where all the supplies are there but we play along with him and instructor led, e.g. learn how to swim in a kid only pool. I think an instructor led cooking course for children and parents would be fun as well.

I'd love a lazy river on board, it wouldn't have to be that big and it could just be geared to the younger set wink. A soft play area would be good as well as messy play. We'd love CRB checked nursery nurses so we could maybe catch a romantic brunch by ourselves without worrying about the boys for an hour or so.

My perfect cruise would be one where the tours or taxis from each port were priced reasonably.

I have been on a few cruises, and as a couple you can head away from the ship and into the local town to pick up a cab without being ripped off by the ones that park at the ship.

When you have small kids that option isn't so easily possible and you are consequently ripped off and often considerably. The tours also were substantially more than they need to be.

We have done a cruise once with children (they were 3months and 2yrs) and though our children are now 6, 4 and 1, we would probably not do another one for the reason I have given.

For me that is the most important factor, as with kids you DO need to get off the boat. It is horrible to feel utterly conned and stressed about the cost every day of your holiday.

I would happily pay extra for my holiday for a guaranteed free bus to somewhere at each port of call. I understand trips to sights might have entrance fees, but surely it could be easy enough to arrange just ONE free bus to a local beach/park at each stop.

My ideal cruise would be to see the Northern Lights. There would be plenty of activities to keep DD occupied too. But the main thing for me would be great scenery and fantastic food, plus a good gym and organised exercise periods to help work off some of the calories.

I would love to go on a cruise, hopefully one day it will happen.

I have considered a cruise on several occasions The Disney type when the dcs were small and visiting the Northern Lights now they are closer to grown up. I love the sea am the sort of person who can sit for hours just watching the sea and to experience that plus sight seeing, first class food etc would be great. However the one thing that puts me off is all the stuff you read of nightmare experiences caused by tummy bugs spreading like wildfire, people being confined to cabin etc whilst I realise these are usually in the tabloids and possibly exaggerated it has always for me been the deciding factor in not going.

Manchesterhistorygirl Mon 02-Sep-13 11:50:47

As you all know thanks to my constant witterings on the previous thread, we've only sailed on Cunard. We've done two round Britain's, a med, Caribbean twice and several transatlantics.

What we love is that the nursery are staffed by qualified staff who seem to genuinely adore their charges. The staff in our last trip said they'd all gone to work at sea because they could spend all their time playing and enjoying being with the children rather than the continual paperwork they had in the UK. Our boys in return adored them and their time in the nursery.

I would just like to guarantee a place in the nursery, but in our transatlantic in July a member of staff had gone off very ill and they had to restrict numbers.

I like that the nursery is open pretty much all hours and included in the fare! We get a pager and off we go! For that alone we keep coming back, I love being able to enjoy our evenings just me and dh all dressed up and with little fingers in food, moaning, etc. I love that their are special meal times for the kids in the evening and if we do eat in the main restaurant the staff will still bring children's menu food from the children's tea menu at lunch for example.

What I would like is more choice of four berth cabins on Cunard ships (P&O and Cunard are sister lines, so I hope you will feed this back), there are four berth insides and then it jumps to grill cabins with nothing inbetween! The new fare structure makes it a gamble to book two cabins late on, although this did work out for our transatlantic and I would book the getaway fare again because it was so much cheaper than the vantage fares.

We've never felt ripped off by travelling as a family, we just do research before we leave and see what's the best option for us. I would also recommend that anyone worried about port transport looks at the cruise line they use too. Cunard, if docked at an awkward port such as Greenock, Livorno, Bergen, run free buses into the city/town centre, but other lines can charge for these!


What she said ^^

Except for the Liverpool nonsense wink. Southampton is fine and dandy from Surrey grin

MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 02-Sep-13 13:25:55

Just to clarify that a couple of the confirmed MNers were sadly unable to attend at the very last minute but they did let us know. The reasons were due to a family emergency and sickness. They very much regretted being unable to attend.

StillSlightlyCrumpled Mon 02-Sep-13 13:34:16

Coming back to leave my review of what was a fab day, such a shame not everyone was able to attend.

What was your and your family's, overall experience of your day on-board Azura?

We were very well looked after and given an extensive tour, which was great, it was fun to see some of the suites we would never be able to afford! The lunch was delicious and the waiter looking after us was very friendly, especially to the children.

Were you surprised by anything you found, or didn't find, on board?

We were surprised by its enormity to begin with, we all had a sharp intake of breath when we pulled up at the dock and saw the ship. I was also pleasantly surprised by how I didn't feel closed in. Myself and DH both thought that although the ship can have over 3000 passengers none of the restaurants felt huge or canteen like. Very cleverly done.
The spa looked great and I could have happily had a sunbathe on one of those loungers with a glass of wine in hand. DH was surprised by the size and equipment in the gym, he thought it was great.
We really liked the kids club and thought it really well equipped with in and outside activities.

What were your/your DCs highlights of the day?

DS1 (12) thought the sports court was great, he was fairly neutral about the kids club for him but I believe the wii wasn't in action! He thoroughly enjoyed his meal and easily ate as much as DH and myself.

DS2 (9) has some special needs, including hearing and speech impairment and he loved all of it! I could see that he would enjoy the routine of knowing when he could attend the kids club etc and we would be able to feel secure and have time to relax. His highlight was again the sports court and the visit from Mr Bump

DS3 (3) had a fab time in the kids club and was beyond desperate to get in the pools.

All 3 thoroughly enjoyed the day and would find it tricky to pick one particular point. It is impressive to see and they were all shocked to see just how high up we were at one point. It was a long way down!

After your experience on Azura, would you consider going on a cruise for a family holiday? If so, why? If not, why not?

My parents cruise 3 or 4 times a year and have been trying to persuade us to join them for years. They have booked for us to go with them and my DB and his family next year on Azura, so this was a timely visit. I confess my husband in particular had some reservations but no more. We both loved it. You could eat in different restaurants if you pleased and likewise with the bars. I like the thought of dressing up for dinner while my youngest child is tucked up in the nursery asleep.
The cabins (the one we would be in anyway!) are tight for space but actually had plenty of clothes / hanging space which is good.
The thought of waking up somewhere different is very appealing.

For us, having children of differing ages and needs I think it will be a great family holiday. DS2 can be very high maintenance, (whilst very lovely) and to get a holiday where we can all relax and enjoy ourselves will be great. The staff seemed very accommodating when I asked about him for the kids clubs etc.

Our cruise is for Norway and it isn't a place we could afford to visit under normal circumstances simply because everything so pricey there. A cruise will solve that for us, and the boys get to see a part of the world they wouldn't on a normal holiday. I can't see us using the kids clubs too much in the day, unless the older two insist on going, but almost certainly will in the evenings. I shall look forward to seeing what the entertainment is like.

Overall, if it came up in conversation, would you recommend going on a cruise to your friends and family? If so, why? If not, why not?

I would recommend a cruise to friends / family, but obviously it is not a holiday for free roamers. If you prefer to just get up and see where the day takes you it is probably not for you, but I can totally see we are going to have a great time.

Finally, and this is a huge selling point for me, there is no flying! I hate it, I go because I love the holiday the other end, but the check in area didn't feel anything like as stressful as an airport. I like the thought of just walking onboard and thats it - you're on holiday!

Manchesterhistorygirl Mon 02-Sep-13 13:45:03

Crumpled where in Norway? If you're going to Ålesund I highly recommend the aquarium, the aquarium shuttle bus from the dockside is your best value way to get there and enter.

In Bergen the Floibanen is great, even in the cloying fog we had. It's easy to walk to from the town centre, where the shuttle bus drops you, do not do the ships tour!

Oh and Gwendoline you know Liverpool is the future. wink

Puppypoppet Mon 02-Sep-13 13:51:36

I wasn't selected sad.
Where in the world would you sail? I would either pick the Caribbean or Mediterranean.
What facilities would you like to see on board? On board definitely a spa, a selection of swimming pools, cinema, a few shops, play area and a gym.
What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board? I would like to get involved in short taster classes such as ballroom dancing and cookery, my daughter would like anything crafty and DH probably sporty such as archery, bowls etc.

LadyMilfordHaven Mon 02-Sep-13 13:56:08

Sorry Michele. Didn't realise mail was from you, thought was from the cruise folk.

SlightlyCrumpled I've just remembered your DS2's face when he found out one of the restaurants served pizza. grin

And yes, there was so much wardrobe space in the cabins! I think I could have fitted my entire wardrobe into the one in the biggest suite.

My DS thought Mr Bump was hilarious too, and it helped distract him from the the tantrum when I absent-mindedly helped myself to some of his icecream. blush

StillSlightlyCrumpled Mon 02-Sep-13 14:06:11

Manchester, we are going to Bergen, Gerainger, Flam and Stavenger. We are now more than a bit excited!
I should have added on my review that if we did not already have our holiday booked, we would be now pricing up for a cruise smile.

StillSlightlyCrumpled Mon 02-Sep-13 14:08:10

travelin I know! I do wonder if the culture may be wasted on him, if he gave his biggest smile of wonder at pizza!

Your DS' minor tantrum was nothing compared to lift button pressing tantrum of DS3. I think we will have to just take the stairs grin.

LaVitaBellissima Mon 02-Sep-13 14:17:54

Yes another who was also disappointed and would of happily gone at late notice sad

I am really keen on the idea of a cruise now I have young children but I need to convince DP, I was hoping to attend to achieve the day to achieve that and get him on side! I like the look of the Carribean cruise over Xmas.
I do think it's a bit of an expensive gamble booking a cruise holiday if you've not been before. I would love to go and have a look around a ship first.

I like that there are lots of activities for the family to do together, but also well run children's clubs so we can have a bit of downtime. I would like to swim and do some Yoga, DP would love getting out and exploring the stops, and my girls would love the pool and any messy activities in kids club.

aristocat Mon 02-Sep-13 14:20:47

Where in the world would you sail?
I would like to cruise the Med or to see the Northern Lights.

What facilities would you like to see on board?
I would like sports/games to occupy the children and a library for them.

What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?
We would enjoy swimming, bowling, sports/games, reading. I would love to just lounge around the pool all day with a book but of course this is not possible all of the time. A cooking area would be nice so that a trained chef can show new recipes/ideas for children.

Would loved to have been chosen, I didn't realise that you could have a day-trip on a liner ....... goes off to investigate smile

manfalou Mon 02-Sep-13 14:42:16

non attendee as unfortunately to far for us to travel so didn't apply but I have been on 14 cruises so is really interesting to see what others have said about this trip as I have never been on a P&O ship before.... I have been on a few smaller, older ships (Mytours etc many years ago), the Ocean village twice (no longer available) a couple of princess cruises (Crown princess the most recent) and a couple of Norweigian cruise line ships... the most recent being the Epic which is AMAZING. We took our then 10month old on the Norwegian Epic and was very happy with the child friendliness with the ship, I would recommend to anyone with a family to go on that ship in particular. Clubbing all of my knowledge from the previous cruises together.. this is what our perfect cruise would be:

- Cruise would depart from either Southampton or a close by country/port such as Barcelona in Spain. It would last 10 days and go around the Mediterranean stopping in various ports to include Monaco, France, Portugal, Italy and Greece to experience a variety of cultures.

- You would be given a specific Embarcation time: E.g Cabin numbers 1-200 embark between 10am-11am so its not such a mad rush at the terminal. Same for disembarkation... which I know is done but not particularly well at the moment. Families need to leave first or last so the kids don't get bored hanging around.

-Plenty of space in the cabins with the option to have baby items ready for you such as sterilisers and cots. Baby food available on board and the option to pre-order nappies to be waiting in room upon arrival would be great as they take up SO much space and weight in your luggage. The option to hire a buggy would be amazing too, although I appreciate would not be able to everyone.

- A dedicated children's pool which is manned during certain times for 0-4 year olds so older kids aren't messing around near the little ones.

- Ive always found kids clubs to be great with plenty of things to do for everyone but none of the ships I have been on have babysitting services for children under 2. A little supervised sleep room or playroom for under 2s in the evening would be great so parents can have a romantic feel, I would be happy to pay for this service if specialist baby staff were hired to do the job.

- A promenade for bike rides would be great, again with restrictions for use for families only at certain times of the day. Balance bikes available for smaller children. Being able to use push along cars on board would be great.

- A Childrens' eating area with child size tables and chairs, their own waiter/ess would be fab to so they feel like they're being spoiled.

- A small children's play area/climbing frame on board, bookable 24 hours in advance.

- More Family excursions such as bike riding, picnics and farm/zoo visits with the option of taking a picnic with you. Activity packs for the children to take on excursions that make it fun for them to discover the new country/port.

- Facilities to make your own sandwiches for the children and create your own packed lunches.... id be happier knowing id made at least one of their meals during the day.

As a family we LOVE to cruise and would take a cruise every year but as our family expands our funds decrease so its getting less and less likely for us.... However Next year may be a cruise for us again.... I'm starting to get withdrawal symptoms ;)

Nerfmother Mon 02-Sep-13 14:43:01

Ideal cruise ( not selected - saying nothing grin)

Would be a Xmas cruise themed like trip to Santa. Would have two sittings for dinner - children's meal and then adults and kids could then go off and do Xmas activities before bed. So, maybe involving two nights, first day midnight feast for kids while watching out for Santa on the sky and second night bed early to wait for a special pre Xmas visit?
And an outside screening of a film with wine for the grown ups.

CheeryCherry Mon 02-Sep-13 14:48:48

My ideal cruise? I have a few! New York with a few days stopper, then Bermuda, with a few days stay. Or, Antigua, st Lucia, Grenada, plus a few smaller islands. Or, Sydney, up the Gold Coast to Cairnes and the GB Reef.
For the children, I'd love a good size pool, with waves and not very crowded. Also, plenty of sun loungers available. A gym for over 12s - they are often for older children. A cinema with new movies. Dance sessions, 5 aside football. A gadget room would be cool.
All while I slob on the deck with continual cocktails smile

hermancakedestroyer Mon 02-Sep-13 14:54:40

If you didn't attend the VIP day you can still get involved by telling P&O Cruises about your perfect family friendly cruise holiday. Where in the world would you sail?
South of France is very nice and other european destinations. Also the carribean is very appealing.

What facilities would you like to see on board?
Swimming, spa, badminton, tennis, football, children would like a design your own dessert area.

What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?
All the above plus quiz nights, talent evenings, comedy nights, treasure hunts, fancy dress competitions.

whattodoo Mon 02-Sep-13 16:37:58

European cities/med would be a good starter.
Swimming pool would be essential, as would a good kids club. Variety of eating options, plenty of staff and comfy accom.

Anthracite Mon 02-Sep-13 16:58:21

As for itinerary, I would say maximum 1 sea day in a 7 day cruise. 1 tender max, and docking in town as much as possible. Obviously, this is an ideal.

The cruise we took this summer was chosen purely on dates, between DDs finishing school and DD1 going on a school trip to Iceland. We had a 10 day window. We were really pleased with our itinerary, although may not have chosen it had that been our criteria. The unknown ports were absolute gems.

We were not ambitious in ports. We went to a beach where possible, and basically wandered around and had a nice lunch. We bypassed the big cathedrals that the official tours (along with their theme park length queues) offered and stepped into local churches instead.

My children are reasonably appreciative of history and art, but they would struggle with the type of tours where you are given forensic levels of details, being a bit too far from the lollipop-wielding tour guide to hear everything as would I.

I like the idea of a cruise from Southamton but this inevitably means lots of at sea days as the ship gets to warmer climes. For a fly cruise, I would like like lots of interesting ports within a small area (to minimise the number of at sea days).

WalterandWinifred Mon 02-Sep-13 17:02:05

Previous cruiser here, but not selected this time.

Perfect cruise ingredients: children's tea, night nursery and kids clubs all included, great staff, lovely cabins, room service, formal nights, lots of traditions eg Ship's Log etc, so just as it is really! Except:

-better choice of cabins for 4, especially with preschoolers. Bunk beds are not ideal and better cabins are prohibitively expensive.

-HUGE school holidays premiums for 2014. Couldn't quite believe what we'd have to pay for my 4 yr old next summer.

-the 'no swim nappies in pools' makes sense but it needs policing. Not fair when some do and some don't. Are there any ways round this, like the Disney ships' pool 'ears' filters?

-bring back the little ice creams pots that were brought round each morning. I loved those! smile

flamingtoaster Mon 02-Sep-13 17:19:00

First priority for my perfect cruise would be an extremely stable ship - preferably sailing through relatively calm waters. That established then the ship would call at interesting places and while on board there would be activities for all the family to do - swimming, bowling, maybe the chance to learn different kinds of dancing, or try to paint a harbour/seascape with the help of an art teacher etc.

LadyMilfordHaven Mon 02-Sep-13 18:19:50

I'm not convinced there is much for teens on a cruise. Plus the other people would probably annoy md

bluebump Mon 02-Sep-13 18:47:08

Non tester.

I have been on two cruises, a Disney one when I was 14 (!) and one when I was 18 - both with my cousins and my grandparents. They were actually more fun that it sounds! They were however on very small ships, the Pont Aven we travelled to Spain on a few years ago was bigger than both cruise ships!

If I was to have a perfect cruise now they would be on a big ship where I don't feel too much movement (I get seasick), they would have plenty of interesting places to visit (Europe in particular) and would have a good variety of things to do on board for both adults and children. We had 1 day at sea on our cruise round the med and that was more than enough because the ship was small so ideally only one day at sea or enough to do on board that you don't mind getting off the ship.

The best family friendly cruise for me would be a trip around Europe. Stopping in France, Spain, Catalonia, Germany.... So many yummy foods and interesting places to investigate.

Facilities on board that would be excellent would be a swimming pool with slides, tennis court with coaches for little people to learn with, a soft play area, lots of outdoor family games like quoits, hopscotch, boules etc and friendly down to earth staff who like to get involved with kids activities!

Anthracite Mon 02-Sep-13 18:52:22

Brilliant, LMH, and you put yourself forward for this promotion with an obvious negative attitude and then didn't pursue it.

Personally I like at least one sea day between each port. Time to relax, swim, spa, read, hen a port, then time to chill again. Nowadays we end up staying on the ship for a port or two as the itineraries are all port port port.

frostymomma Mon 02-Sep-13 19:39:10

We didn't apply for this, as we've been on a few cruises with P&O before. The things we loved were the kids clubs and night nursery facility. As others have said, there's nothing better than putting the kids to bed, knowing they are safe and you have a buzzer in case they wake and can't be re-settled, and then taking your time getting dressed up and going for a delicious meal/night out with DH. The ability to spend quality time together was an absolute winner for us.

The DCs couldn't get enough of the kids club when we sailed on Ventura - it was all fairly newly kitted out at the time - but I have to say they were disappointed when we sailed on Oceana (mid-sized ship)earlier this year - a bit shabby, not much space and what seemed to be mainly lower key activities (drawing, reading, watching tv every day). Maybe this was because they were understaffed (sickness apparently --or trying to get their moneysworth out of the staff--), but either way, it didn't meet the high expectations we had from previously. It was closed some mornings and we were turned away on a couple of other occasions because they were full. Didn't completely spoil the holiday, but left a bad taste.

We found the shops (or what they stocked) were very geared up to the older clientele eg. the type of jewellery, clothes, etc. I got quite excited one night when I found out there was a Radley handbag sale, only to turn up and find they were all really untrendy ones. My nan would have loved them though ;-). Please give us something to spend our holiday spends on P&O.

Ideal places for us would have to be more far-flung and unusual, like Asia, some parts of Africa, South America, although I think only one of P&Os 'family-friendly' ships go there. However, I really like not having to fly and being able to take as much luggage as will fit in your cabin when sailing from Southampton (although the mule DH would disagree), which probably wouldn't be possible with further afield destinations.

My final plea to P&O is to make the cabins more family friendly in terms of layout. We are a family of 4. We tend to go in an inside/outside cabin as balcony cabins are very pricey. If there were a way of keeping the double bed as well as having 2 singles (whether bunks or not), we would be delighted. I'm not fussed about having a separate bedroom for the kids, but if there were some kind of partition, that would be fab ...not that we're planning any how's yer father - more so we don't all wake each other up in the night/morning. When DS was in a cot, we stuck him in the walk-in wardrobe on Ventura (not as cruel as it sounds if you see the room layout) and that worked well.

All in all, P&O, love what you are trying to do. Hope the family-focussed marketing is working for you. It would be great to see more similar aged families on boards in future.

LadyMilfordHaven Mon 02-Sep-13 19:47:47

i think the point was to show people not convinced about it.
ANyway I gave PLENTY of time in my apology as Michelle said earlier. They chose not to replace me.

MrsJaqenHgar Mon 02-Sep-13 19:58:15

I didn't apply because I'm too far away to get to Southampton easily.

However, I am cruising on Ventura (Azura's sister ship) next month. This will be our first cruise with DC but DP and I have cruised before (Celebrity). We chose P&O this time because my parents have sailed ith them several times so they didn't feel like an unknown quantity and they appear to be considered one of the most child friendly cruise lines. It's good to read about other posters who have used the night nursery facility and liked it as I found this particularly appealing about P&O ships.

As for my ideal cruise, it would take in the Greek Islands, Italy and Croatia...maybe next year smile

maggiemou Mon 02-Sep-13 20:59:05

We cruised twice with our oldest daughter when she was coming up to 1, and we found it was an ideal holiday - so much space for her to toddle around in, so much to do for us, great facilities for her age, and we didn't have to fly (first cruise was a mini cruise to Guernsey and Holland, second was a much longer cruise to Ireland, Iceland and Norway) - would love to go on another cruise, but finances sadly say no right now as we now have 4 children, and it's just too expensive (though Azura and Ventura do have a couple of family friendly cabins that sleep 6, but they charge adult prices for the 1st 4 people in it!!!). In an ideal world, I'd love to take them on a cruise through the Mediterranean, or the fjords again - on a ship with daytime activities that would appeal to them all (craft, science, football, films), giving us the opportunity to have some time for us to just sit and have coffee and watch the world go by without constant kiddy-interruptions! I'd also like a nanny service/night nursery for all of them for one or 2 nights (they are 4-9yo) so that we can have dinner once or twice as a couple!!

Off to look at the cruise websites now!! smile

4yoniD Mon 02-Sep-13 21:23:37

my "perfect family friendly cruise holiday" would start with a good cabin - a suite with a bedroom and sofa bed - at a reasonable price. Something I've really struggled to find. Having young children I don't want to share a one room cabin and have to go to bed at 8pm, and I also don't want to try and sleep in those drop-down bunkbeds (too easy to imagine someone falling out, probably me).

Where in the world would I sail? Actually I'm not too fussed. Norway or Alaska would be ace, but also anything leaving from Southampton would be considered. I'd rather not fly - one of the bonuses of going by cruiser is that you don't have to entertain the kids on the plane.

What facilities would I like to see on board? Kids' clubs for my kids ages (5 and 2 now, so would be 6 and 3 for my next holiday). A swimming pool would be a must. A little spray/splash area would be a huge bonus (like Muddy Puddles at Paultons) but possibly not the demand for it on most cruise ships. Then the normal selection of places to eat, drink, be entertained and sit out which are on all cruisers afaik.

What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board? At their age they aren't fussed. Something 'themed' would probably be a bonus - disney etc - but they will take whatever they can get!

By the way of background, I have cruised a couple of times pre-children, but cruises just don't seem to cater to families - mainly the cabin situation, but also questions over putting them on taxis/buses etc at the destination (re: car seats).

Cherrygrape Mon 02-Sep-13 21:35:22

I don't think I have an ideal place, as long as its warm. I'd like to see parts of chille or Scandinavia if the weather was warm enough.
I'd love swimming pools, organised sports for all ages, quiet areas, a library, play areas, and spa. I saw an advert once for something that looked like surfing on deck, that looked fun smile our family would get involved with anything active.
It's a shame it is so expensive in school holidays.

Cherrygrape Mon 02-Sep-13 21:40:51

Oops I meant to write : I don't have an ideal place, but if I had to choose somewhere that would interest me id like to see Chile or Scandinavia.

We've never been on a cruise but these reviews and ideas make it sounds great. I'd have never thought of it before but w night nursery is genius. As long as there were kids clubs with safe pools, not too crowded and decent, healthy food options, I'd be happy. I'd love to sail around the Caribbean!

ladygoingGaga Mon 02-Sep-13 21:55:33

Can't actually believe people didnt turn up confused
I would love to cruise the Mediterranean, but alternative locations, my son is currently fascinated with World war 2, so any stops that included well known locations would be great, combined with the sun too!

Facilities important to me would be activities we could do together, trying things together, perhaps sessions aimed specifically in trying new activities. Something like climbing walls, creative arts, cake decorating, zumba, anything!
The idea of kids clubs is great, but more than just drawing and watching tv please.

hermioneweasley Mon 02-Sep-13 22:02:21

I didn't get to go, but I think cruising is perfect for families if the facilities are right, so wanted to chip in.

Where - short haul options for young familes. Europe offers some really varied ports of call with lots to do.

What facilities? - boarding is always painful. There must be some ways to improve it. Even a table of colouring etc supervised by someone from the ship's kids club while the grown ups queue woukd make it marginally less painful.

Needs to have lots of places where kids can play, and their parents can be with them. Lots of ships have amazing kids clubs now, but I don't want to leave my kids. Playgrounds, games rooms including video games, "soft play" type places, ping pong, table football, castles/play houses, library, kids' cinema would all be very welcome. A kids pool with shallow end would be great, and the Carnival Waterworks is brilliant. - how a water park should be.

I want my newsletter for the next day to tell me about shuttles from the ship into the portfolio call - how often they go, where they stop and how much they cost please!

I like the poolside movies with non kids films in the evenings (kids screens during the day). Also, some shady options would be good for young families who want to be on deck, but not in the blazing sun. Films in your cabin and a DVD player in cabin would also be good.

Cabins - having more that can sleep 4 and more adjoining rooms.

Food - having stuff available all day is important - just pizza, sandwiches etc. Self serve ice cream and frozen yoghurt as well please! For other food, lots of variety, lots of informal options, flexible dining room times and tables you don't have to share. chocolate is important too! Again, Carnival do this really well - perfect template IMO.

What activities for adults and kids?

I don't need activities. If there are the above facilities for kids, I don't think activities are necessary, but I guess some organised games, competitions etc could be fun.

sharond101 Mon 02-Sep-13 22:02:26

My perfect cruise would be somewhere warm and some morning exercise so I don't feel so guilty sitting around in the sunshine all day. I'd like a personal trainer included for this for motivation. Some treatments included in your all inclusive cost as well as a daily massage. For the children lots of organised activities with energetic play too. Swimming lessons would be good.

hermioneweasley Mon 02-Sep-13 22:03:48


Try Carnival for family friendly cruises and try bubble bum inflatable car seats for easy transport options!

skyeskyeskye Mon 02-Sep-13 23:08:04

Non selected, but cruises I would like would be anywhere as long as I don't have to fly to get there first.

Nice size cabins would be good with double and bunk beds, adjoining suited would be good too.

Plenty if entertainment for the kids, good pool, sounds like all of these things are what people want from a cruise.

I think that cruises used to be thought of as being for posh people or retired people, and no kids allowed, but times have changed and things are a lot more relaxed nowadays. I have family who have been on several cruises and love it.

Non tester here, but been on first cruise with 9 and 7 year old children this year. Royal Caribbean Intl.

Best destinations - those reachable from Southampton as we live close by and prefer not to fly.

Cabins - interconnecting worked brilliantly for us.

Our children went on 4 ship organised excursions with us and although they were expensive they were very well organised, no queuing anywhere, very good tour guides.

I couldn't fault embarkation/disembarkation at Southampton, especially the latter, we got up, had breakfast and were in the car driving home within an hour.

Kids club was great, but we didn't use (and wouldn't in future) the late night one, we enjoyed dinner with the DCs, then a couple of hours on our own before picking them up at 10 and going for a hot chocolate and all back yo the cabins together.

Other things I would like - better shops, they were naff and expensive. More basics for stuff you've forgotten on sale.

Also liked shows, quiz nights etc. Didn't try any learning activities (art etc).

No interest in spa, gym or casino for any of us, or the sales of art etc.

What we loved was how easy if all was, far better than flying, seeing so many places so easily.

AFishWithoutABicycle Tue 03-Sep-13 08:20:25

I did not attend the VIP day but here my ideal family cruise.

I would like to go on a cruise to somewhere like South America. The ship would serve as the ideal base for lots of swimming and fun activities. It would allow us to see some exotic sights without having the issues related to over land travel, such as being in bus for hours with young kids.
I'd like it to be aimed at family's but still have decent food/entertainment for adults. I'd also like it to be good value for money.

maximum4 Tue 03-Sep-13 10:21:04

I didn't attend the VIP day although would have loved to...
However, I have been lucky enough to go on two cruises; one with my mother (without the children) this opportunity totally opened my eyes to cruising and the second time I took my DD 6 - with myself and my mother. We had a totally awesome trip and I am so wishing we could all go as a family. There is too much to write about but suffice to say we have now cruised with Thomson and Royal Caribbean (3 star and 5star respectively IMHO) but I preferred the Thomson ship and staff, much more friendly and relaxed. I am now a cruise convert and look forward to a P & O cruise in the future x

I should just add to my comments above that our first cruise was so far from our usual type of holiday (camping/self-catering in the UK) that I was prepared to hate it, I thought I would be bored stiff on sea days, but it was great, the DCs spent more time in the kids club than I anticipated as they loved it and we just relaxed on loungers (in the shade) reading books. It really was a best of both worlds, lots of sightseeing and lots of relaxation. I got a bit tired of restaurant food towards the end though, it was a 14 nighter and I have never gone more than a long weekend non self-catered before.

AllSWornOut Tue 03-Sep-13 13:42:25

Our ideal cruise would be somewhere with fantastic scenery and interesting activity-type stops, not too much city visiting. Scotland and the Isles or Norway would be perfect for us, and i didn't realise such big ships did those places.

I guess my main must have would be an evening kids club/babysitting service as well as interesting, good (not canteen/buffet) food.

And sea sick pills... envy <- my face on the cruises channel ferries.

CelticPromise Tue 03-Sep-13 16:16:56

My ideal cruise would be around islands/spectacular scenery. I'd like to be somewhere where being on a boat was necessary to see the places, not just for the sake of being on a boat. I think I'd get bored with that after a few days.

BellaVida Tue 03-Sep-13 16:46:59

We didn't attend the VIP day, but have been on several cruises pre and post children. The last cruise was us and 3 children, but we have since had a 4th!

In terms of destination, we loved the Caribbean as a family destination- relaxed, fabulous beaches, easy tour options but equally easy to do your own thing.

Facilities are important, starting with the cabin. As a family of 6 with 4 young children, we must have a family room or connecting rooms. Layout and bed options also need to allow for young children (bunks not always suitable) and if there is a curtain to separate the area, even better.

There needs to be plenty to keep us entertained- good kids clubs & activities, pools/ water play, family friendly shows and showtimes, cinema. We have even been on ships with climbing walls, surf simulators and ice rinks! More family group activities on sea days or family areas (apart from the bars/lounges) with things to do.

In port, tours should be flagged as how family friendly they are and the prices less extortionate all round, but particularly for children/toddlers.

In the evening, a group babysitting or in cabin babysitting service, or late kids films/sleepover, so grown ups get some time alone.

As far as food goes, the key is flexibility. We like late breakfasts, easy buffet lunches outside and the option to dine as a family formally or informally. We still like to have formal dinners as a family- we all like to dress up! We would welcome a more all inclusive approach with different restaurants, snacks & drinks, as you get at a resort.

The only other bonus would be a little shop that sells normal priced sundries (snacks, toiletries etc), especially useful when you have children. You don't want to spend a port day searching for a supermarket and it is sometimes impossible to pack everything- I recall the first holiday with baby twins as we were weaning them and needed loads of jars for the trips!

Sorry, this has turned into an essay. Just very passionate about the subject! Love cruising, but cruising doesn't seem to love larger families with young children. Can't wait to go again!!

DoubleMum Tue 03-Sep-13 17:33:06

We didn't attend, but we've been on Azura 3 times and love her (although detest the sea screen and much prefer Ventura's pool with the retractable roof - sea screens are only suitable on ships which stay in the Caribbean IMO). They are a great holiday choice when travelling with kids without a doubt. Our perfect cruise? Eastern Med, including Venice and Dubrovnik.

ataraxia Tue 03-Sep-13 20:29:20

My perfect cruise would have the excursions off the boat included as standard. Also plenty of space and quite spaces.

lorisparkle Tue 03-Sep-13 22:15:59

I have never been on a cruise. I would love to go somewhere lovely and warm with beautiful scenery. I think space would be important both in the cabin and for my boys to run around without worrying about staying quiet. There are 5 of us and practical sleeping arrangements would be a must. Food would also be important with family friendly food (but not 'fast food type') and family eating times. A baby sitting service for 'couple' time would be good.

hotair Wed 04-Sep-13 12:47:44

my perfect cruise would have adjoining cabins, child friendly meal times and a spa. It'd be to the faroes, iceland,newfoundland and new york or aorund polynesia, with lots of free cultural activities on the mainland and relaxing on the boat!

RedBushedT Wed 04-Sep-13 16:55:05

My perfect family cruise would involve lots of stop offs at interesting destinations. I'd love to sail around the Mediterranean with my six and eight year old, stopping off in Barcelona, Monte Carlo and going to Florence and Rome.
Ideally there would be family friendly shows in the evenings and while we were at sea there would be swimming and sports on board. Lots of new things for them to try with me. So family fencing lessons, golf and tennis etc
I'm not interested in kids clubs, I want to spend my time with my children, but I'd like to have the option to do lots of new things with them.

petalsandstars Wed 04-Sep-13 20:20:27

 Where in the world would you sail? What facilities would you like to see on board? What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board? 

I didn't attend the VIP day but my perfect family cruise would be departing from Southampton so less flights, travelling around the Mediterranean or fly across to cruise the Caribbean or the eastern USA including New York.

Large swimming pool is a must with a toddler friendly shallow section as a desirable, soft play section for younger children to be able to run free without being toppled by bigger ones. Gaming area for the older ones and sports and crafty sessions too. A luxurious spa to unwind in is a must for recharging mums batteries.

Lots of different restaurants and snack areas around the ship in order to fulfil children's ice cream requirements without having to roam too far away. No set dining times is good too as children are unpredictable on holiday too.

majjsu Wed 04-Sep-13 20:34:23

My ideal cruise would be a very child friendly one, with lots of activities in and outdoors for them, with stopovers that would interest them too ie Barcelona.

The ideal facilities would be softplay, crafts and arts activities, shows...

lagoonhaze Wed 04-Sep-13 22:56:24

My ideal cruise would be one that is child orientated with lots of activities relating to place visiting!

European or further afield....just as long as you got chance to see stuff properly!

DoItTooJulia Thu 05-Sep-13 14:33:49

My ideal cruise would be on land, I'm afraid. I get sooooooo seasick!

Spirael Thu 05-Sep-13 14:45:10

I'm not really sure what my ideal cruise would be like, I've never been on a cruise ship before!

I guess it'd be useful to have adjoining/partitionable rooms with a room service option. So DH and I can sit next door and talk/read with a glass of something medicinal during the evenings, without disturbing DD or having to send one of us to trapse across the ship and find a source of liquid.

Steffanoid Thu 05-Sep-13 15:01:11

my perfect cruise would be a land cruise because I'm scared of boats!

LentilAsAnything Thu 05-Sep-13 15:54:51


Have been on a couple of cruises pre-DC though, and both were fabulous.

Where in the world would you sail?
Anywhere and everywhere. I like independent and off the beaten track travel too, but it's also great to have everything organised sometimes. A complete rtw cruise with loads of stops would be great. I'd also be especially keen on an Xmas cruise, with a visit to Santa included.

What facilities would you like to see on board?
Contrary to most, I'm not interested in babysitting services or kids clubs - I go on holiday to spend time as a family. I would prefer not to subsidise this when paying for my holiday - it should be an optional add on.
I would like a room big enough to have a bed for all of us as we are co-sleepers.
A pool with wonderful slides and a rapid river - stuff like that.

What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?
Everything to keep DC busy and entertained - rockclimbing wall, ice rink, trampolines, soft play, disco, swings, arts and crafts club. New stuff to try that many people don't have access to very easily, like archery, circus skills etc!

pussinwellyboots Thu 05-Sep-13 16:32:47

Non attendee here, although we had applied for a place.

My ideal holiday would be one where you could call the childrens club at whatever time my early waking children chose to surface and they came to whisk children away for a play and breakfast giving dh and I a lie in!!!

Seriously though, I love travel and like the idea of being able to see a lot of different places but still having the same base. My concern would be that our 2 young boys are happiest in the big outdoors where there is plenty of space to let off steam and I am not sure that a cruise would allow that. They'd enjoy the swimming, kids clubs and anything active eg climbing walls but still struggle to sit though a film.

SmokedMackerel Thu 05-Sep-13 16:47:48

If you didn't attend the VIP day you can still get involved by telling P&O Cruises about your perfect family friendly cruise holiday. Where in the world would you sail? What facilities would you like to see on board? What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?

My perfect family friendly cruise - I think it would be a short cruise, Northern Europe or Mediterranean. I would fancy the Baltic or Scandinavia, though I think actually my favourite would be a river cruise.

I have no idea what facilities are usual on cruise ships! My conception of them is they are a bit like an enormous floating caravan or Butlins resort, a bit glitzy, with horribly patterned carpet and lots of on-board entertainments. I would prefer a small boat with fewer guests, and less facilities than some huge behemoth - I would be going in order to visit different places rather than for the on-board facilities. I would rather a few small restaurants on board that cooked well etc. I suppose room-service for food would be good though!

I am not that bothered about Kids Clubs or anything like that - I would like there to be activities that my children could do, like swimming, sport etc, but I cant see myself packing them off to a club every day, that isnt what I would call a "family" holiday.

Just writing the above makes me think maybe a cruise is not the holiday for me!

It doesn't sound like it Mackerel grin For example, we went transatlantic last month, both ways. We spent 4 hours in New York. The ship was the holiday grin

RubySparks Thu 05-Sep-13 19:07:46

My ideal family cruise would be in the Mediterranean so I could visit lots of places that I have always wanted to see in one trip. There would be plenty of time off the ship to sight-see and lovely gluten free menu options on board.

Theimpossiblegirl Thu 05-Sep-13 19:30:23

I would love to on a cruise. My ideal cruise would have plenty to occupy the kids while we relax. A spa and unlimited loungers by the pool so that I never have to kick DH out of bed get up early to get one.

I would like to dock at a different location about every other day to stop me getting bored. I'd also like plenty of entertainment, a cinema and some quiet spaces too. While I'm dreaming, I would also like a choice of places to eat, from snack bars to child free retaurants cuisine and I'd better have a gym offering a range of classes to help me burn it all of again and a quality children's club.

Oh, and prepaid tips so I wouldn't need any cash.

Before having children I always travelled independently and would never have thought of a cruise as being for me, partly because of the cost but also because of the idea of being shepherded about with no option to change direction or make new plans half way!

Now though, a cruise does appeal more as I think being able to see new places, having facilities around me, loads to see and do and having no daily travel plans to make sounds much more relaxing!

I would like to start with a short cruise that doesn't involve travelling a huge distance to begin with. I think for me having plenty of choice when it comes to food would be very important. Also lots of entertainment that would appeal to all the family in the evenings.

I have looked at the Disney cruises, but they are beyond my budget at the moment. Kids club wouldn't be a top priority for me, I'd be more interested in things to do that we can all be involved in together.

letsgetreadytoramble Thu 05-Sep-13 21:36:00

I didn't attend the VIP day but if my family were to go on a cruise, the Mediterranean would be my first choice. Blue seas, warm breeze, cloudless skies. I love the climate there - a million miles away from the cold old UK.

The first facility that springs to mind would be a crèche, staffed by fully qualified carers. I know that sounds bad if its a family holiday, but my partner and I need a bit of together time and a holiday where we could combine that with having fun with the kids would be worth paying a bit more for.

Other facilities would be a baby area which included a breastfeeding area and some luxury privacy cubicles, creams, lotions, nappies, a lovely supportive health visitor, maybe even baby bathing facilities if some of the cabins don't have baths. Babies don't stop being babies just because you're in the middle of the sea.

In terms of activities it would be good to have a soft play area with a baby friendly bit (can you tell that I've got a baby? :0) and there are cool new things you can get for those places like TVs on the floors which show moving images that they like to crawl on. Also a high tech baby sensory area would be great - something that you don't usually get at home.

A lovely big photo studio where you can go with your baby and mess about and have fun and people take pictures without posing you or putting you under time pressure would be great, and it would also be nice if the photos were very cheap because pretty much all you want to do when you have a baby is get photos of them and lots of people cash in on that.

Speaking of mess, a messy play area (with inbuilt showers) would be great fun - lots of shaving foam, gloop and sand and paint.)

A self service or buffet restaurant would be really useful because if you know your child is going to play up you sometimes just want to eat and run. A restaurant crèche might work well there, maybe positioned in the middle of the room so you can see them, or with video monitors at the tables. And table entertainment would be great. Babies like simple things like lights and mirrors, it needn't be clowns etc.

A library with song and rhyme sessions would be important, a quiet place is really handy when you're on a fairly full on exciting holiday.

And a doctors surgery, though I'm sure you have those already. grin

If you didn't attend the VIP day you can still get involved by telling P&O Cruises about your perfect family friendly cruise holiday. Where in the world would you sail? What facilities would you like to see on board? What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?
We cruised on Celebrity Eclipse with our 2 teenagers , and it turned out to be a perfect holiday .
Best parts for me ...
Leaving from Southampton , so no hanging round at airports .
I would choose the Mediterranean again , maybe Italy though , not Spain again ( and I've always wanted to go to Iceland )
I like to see facilities for children of all ages , a bored toddler maybe annoying , a bored teenager is so much worse ! DD ( 13 at the time ) loved the treasure hunt , midnight pool party ,
DS (15 ) just enjoyed the freedom of being able to wander round with his new friends
I would have liked a pool big enough to swim in , and more sunbeds !

Wheresthecoffee Thu 05-Sep-13 22:03:34

I didn't attend the VIP day but my perfect cruise holiday would be a cruise where the kids are kept entertained while I get to relax. and have a break from day to day life at home. Facilities - varied eateries, kids play spaces and pool.

tinypumpkin Thu 05-Sep-13 22:23:16

Non attender here (sadly!)

Where in the world would you sail?

I would love to sail around Canada (not all of it clearly)

What facilities would you like to see on board?

Kids clubs
The night nursery sounds fab (not sure I could use it though)
Library for children and adults
Good food - range of cafes / restaurants

What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?

Crafty stuff
sporty games

Hopezibah Thu 05-Sep-13 23:38:33

did not attend but here's my views on the perfect family cruise:

Where in the world would you sail?
Probably not too far away - as the experience of the cruise would be just as exciting as where we might visit.

What facilities would you like to see on board?

Child / baby friendly facilities - are areas safe for children? are there high chairs / cots etc. Are attitudes friendly and understanding towards kids - even kids with special needs (Aspergers).

What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?
Plenty of activities to choose from would be good and a way of minimising any waiting / queues. My kids love swimming, bowling, games rooms - generally stuff we can do as a family that keeps them happy.

We don't necessarily need childcare or kids clubs as due to our sons special needs , he won't stay without us. just plenty of fun activities for us all.

Hopezibah - we took our 9yo DS with Aspergers on our cruise this year and he was very well catered for, they assured me that they would not be worried about behaviour in the restaurant (he struggles to stay in a seat for long, talks very loudly and is a very fussy eater) and it was true. They were also great with him at the kids club, they gave pagers to parents of SN children just in case and he loved it there. This was Royal Caribbean Intl.

Punkatheart Fri 06-Sep-13 08:28:46

I would love a cruise that involved creative writing, with wonderful writers (Margaret Atwood springs to mind) great food and interesting literary places. Ian Fleming's Jamaica - that sort of thing. But it would also have enough stimulation (and good food) to keep a teen interested. So perhaps some YA authors too!

IncaAztec Fri 06-Sep-13 08:55:50

I didnt attend but:

Where in the world would you sail?

I would really, really like to go on a Carribean cruise. I've heard its like a millpond and the facilities on the ships over there are amazing.

What facilities would you like to see on board?

- Hydrotherapy pool, Kids club and night nursery (at least from age 2), pub for DH, Spa, lovely restaurants to choose from. No tipping policy!!

-What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?

My DC would like photography sessions, I would enjoy aqua-fit type sessions. My DH would like purely to relax!

SaltySeaBird Fri 06-Sep-13 11:50:22

Non attender, avid traveller but have never been on a cruise.

I'm not sure they appeal to me really, I imagine them to be a Butlins on water, a floating Brits abroad resort or OAP bingo gathering (and while there is nothing wrong with Butlins, resorts or OAPs it is just not what I want from my holidays. I'm sure that none of the people who like these sort of holidays would like mine).

That said, if I saw the right cruise I would give it a go.

Where in the world would you sail?
Somewhere remote, places which are harder to access otherwise. I'd love to cruise around the polar regions. Failing that the South Pacific! Dream cruise would be the Galapagos.

What facilities would you like to see on board?
Small vessels with only limited facilities would suit me fine, a nice communal area for example.

What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?
Ecological based talks on the places we were visiting. Photography advice sessions.

Not really the type of cruise I think this this discussion is about!

wickeddevil Fri 06-Sep-13 13:18:45

Really dissapointed that some of those picked didn't attend. I have been unsure about whether or not a cruise would suit me and really wanted to be picked and have an opportunity to find out.


Manchesterhistorygirl Fri 06-Sep-13 13:24:35

Salty have a look at princess cruises up in Alaska, they carry national parks guides onboard. It's somewhere we are considering when the kids are a bit older.

Manchesterhistorygirl Fri 06-Sep-13 13:26:40

They do have doctors onboard, in fact they have fully equipped ICU's the facilities are amazing! Ds2 cut his eyebrow open and we had cause to visit the hospital and it was superb.

wickeddevil Fri 06-Sep-13 13:29:52

What was your and your family's, overall experience of your day on-board Azura?
I would have liked to find out. We like visiting different locations, and so are attracted to the idea of a cruise, but at the same time are worried that it might be quite claustrophobic once on board. I was hoping for an opportunity to judge this for myself.

Were you surprised by anything you found, or didn't find, on board?
That some of those selected weren't on board!

What were your/your DCs highlights of the day?
We weren't chosen, so went round the Mary Rose instead.

What did your DCs think of the facilities on-board?
I wanted to know whether a cruise would suit my DCs aged 4 and 15 and would have liked to see the facilities

After your experience on Azura, would you consider going on a cruise for a family holiday? If so, why? If not, why not?
I am still not decided. I am unsure about spending such a large amount of money on something I am not certain about.

Overall, if it came up in conversation, would you recommend going on a cruise to your friends and family? If so, why? If not, why not?
Wouldn't be able to comment.

StillSlightlyCrumpled Fri 06-Sep-13 15:27:09

One of the things that appeals to me is the medical care on board. DS2 has a complex medical history that makes travelling abroad very concerning. I am always armed with a letter detailing his condition & dried medicine in case he needs it.

It is reassuring to think (that whilst we'd have to pay for it) that we could access care & advice for him without a language barrier.

We used the medical facilities on Royal Caribbean when DD cut her head open and were very impressed, we weren't charged either.

For those who missed out, there are short mini cruises available from Southampton (2 days to France and back for example), so you don't have to commit huge sums, I think they use them to fill gaps in the schedules as well as to give people a chance to try them out.

Theimpossiblegirl Fri 06-Sep-13 16:33:51

That sounds really good- how do you go about booking them?

UniqueUsername Fri 06-Sep-13 18:13:09

I'd have loved to have gone on this day. We've never been on a cruise and DH is not keen but I tend to think they could be a great holiday with options for all generations. I'd probably choose a med cruise for our first to try it out but in terms of a dream destination for a cruise I think it'd have be caribbean island hopping. Though reading this thread has made me realise there are lot more cruise destinations on offer than just the hot obvious places, Scotland, Norway for example.

Pleased to hear the people who were selected and made it had fun.

My ideal cruise would be a smaller cruise ship and not involve any flying. I don't think we could cruise with our kids as the eldest is severely autistic and I can't see it working really. (We do manage ferries to ireland but that's about it). We'd like pools, pools and pools. All the boys would like decent wifi as well but ime (on the ferries anyway) it's incredibly slow at sea.

Turnipvontrapp Fri 06-Sep-13 20:00:06

I didn't attend the VIP day but my perfect family cruise would involve seeing lots of wildlife, maybe in Alaska. I would like to see amazing sights. I would want the ship to be fairly small and not be all formal or stuffy. A small cinema would be good, swimming pool with slides. Space to move in a cabin and one that sleeps families of 5. Water sports at stop-offs would be good. As would cycling.

Don't want much do I! grin

The problem with the mini cruises is they are used a lot by people on stag and hen dos and are very, very different to how a cruise ship usually is. We wouldn't go on a mink one again!

Salty there are tons if cruises around doing exactly what you suggest, many specialist lines do very exploratory cruises. On P&O they have lecture program's and experts on board to give them on various topics. Usually there are classical recitals too. Very enjoyable before dinner.

camtt Fri 06-Sep-13 21:45:31

non-attender and I have never been on a cruise and also not sure a cruise would suit our family but:

I would like plenty of stop offs and ideally a cruise where you can see something most of the time other than ocean (that might mean that a cruise is not for me!)

the cabin should be comfortable and homely, because we might want to spend some time there

activities for children of different ages - snorkelling would be good for my 8 and 10 year old

lifeguard on the children's pools ideally

Like the sound of the night nursery, although not sure what age it goes up to as it would be nice to be able to have a meal with DH occasionally without the children

wouldn't want to have to dress up for dinner, I would like a choice of a more relaxed style of dining as well, and definitely good wine

GetKnitted Fri 06-Sep-13 22:16:22

Where in the world would you sail?

Pacific Islands!

What facilities would you like to see on board?

Swimming pool, spa, cinema .... and a library!

What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?

The kids would love to have activities like swimming, games and crafts, maybe themed on the sea, maybe some educational about the next place we would dock. They would love to be the experts when we got off the boat. I think the older one would want to do activities all day, but the little one just in the morning.

Hadn't thought about the stag and hen night aspect! Maybe not such a good idea then.

Lampshadeofdoom Sat 07-Sep-13 11:20:04

I completely missed this and am gutted as we are considering a cruise as I hate flying!

goldenretriever Sat 07-Sep-13 18:16:52

Where in the world would you sail?

Ideally not too far away, probably around Spain.

What facilities would you like to see on board?

Playground, a theatre

What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?

Child friendly activities and entertainers

kateandme Sat 07-Sep-13 19:39:58

a perfect cruise would be anywhere with family/friends being the priority.there needs to be good food.good facilities,lounging areas comfy beds,electrical tv etc.a place at the end of the day to go when the days activities are through.somewhere where you can always get fed slef catering facilties etc.
the activities need to be catered for for each guest.whether active based,relaxation based each one needs to have as much effort in as possilbe to make it an experience.a good mix.

is1 Sat 07-Sep-13 19:41:24

I would love to cruise around the Caribbean - the weather is so nice and it is beautiful.

lottytheladybird Sat 07-Sep-13 20:32:36

My ideal cruise:

Q: Where in the world would you sail?
A: Somewhere warm, where good weather is fairly reliable. Somewhere that's not so easily accessible by plane.

Q: What facilities would you like to see on board?
A: Lots for toddlers - soft play, classes, shows, rides, toys. Baby changing facilities everywhere, so that you never have to go too far. Buggy friendly - wide aisles and places to park your buggy.

Q: What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board? 
A: Dance, gym, craft, music classes.

500internalerror Sun 08-Sep-13 08:34:44

What is the family accommodation actually like on a ship then? Something like travelodge would be fine,but a few of you mentioned bunk beds and flip down beds? Also, do the cheaper rooms not have windows, or is that a fabrication of my head?!

The nighttime childcare sounds amazing!

The kids would love a cruise, but there is no way on earth we could afford it. And even if we had a windfall, I think I'd still be stuck in the mindset that its a waste to be stuck on a boat for all that money iyswim? Surely it's like staying in a hotel for most of a holiday & not venturing into the real world?

Well, having only been on one, my experience of the rooms is not all encompassing, but as for the stuck in a hotel idea, I suppose it depends on the ratio of sea to port days you choose, mine was half and half, so we went to 7 European cities in 14 days all with minimal effort on our part, albeit only for short, day trips.

Anthracite Sun 08-Sep-13 17:48:56

The cruise we were recently on had only one at sea day in the whole week. We went ashore in each port, and experienced new places each time, so had as much experience of the real world (whatever that is) as you can get on any holiday.

I would urge anyone to look carefully at the itineraries, checking when the ship docks and then sails off. We had long times in each port and we were surprised that many prestigious ships arrived after us and left earlier. It's also important to check how many ports are tender ports, as this will take an hour off the time you can spend ashore. P&O are notorious at being vague with this crucial information. Cruise Critic is a fabulous source of information and advice.

We had nice cabins - a suite and an extra large outside - but even then, spent little time there. We were either eating, enjoying the entertainment, or relaxing on deck. We had far more space than, say, on a mobile home type holiday.

LinzerTorte Sun 08-Sep-13 18:45:14

We also only had one sea day during our eight-night cruise this summer; it was great to wake up in a different place almost every morning.

We had interconnecting cabins - DH and I in one, the three DC in the other. Two of the DC slept in a double bed (although we could have asked for it to be made up as twin beds) and the other in a pull-down bed, which the cabin attendant put away every morning and then made up in the evenings. We had interior cabins, so no window, and they weren't huge - but, having heard how small cabins on cruise ships can be and that you can't compare them with a hotel, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had a small sitting area with a sofa. Lots of storage space too. And, like Anthracite says, we hardly spent any time in the cabins so the size (and lack of window) was never really an issue.

kslatts Sun 08-Sep-13 19:56:28

perfect family cruise would mean enough things to keep my daughters (13 and 11) busy.

Iwaswatchingthat Sun 08-Sep-13 22:39:32

My ideal cruise would be:

- A spacious cabin with a balcony and a separate room within the cabin for my dds
- plenty of variety of food, lots of healthy choices so I would not return home half a stone heavier
- decent activities for my dds to participate in which did not always involve being enrolled into a 'kids' club' for a chunk of time
- family orientated evening activities which we could enjoy with the dds
- plenty of places to relax on board and a couple of pools - family pool with slides etc.
- the chance to learn some new skills for us and the dds. E.g. Dancing workshops for them, pro golf/tennis lessons for DH etc.

As you can see I don't ask for much!!!

Magicjellyflood Mon 09-Sep-13 10:00:14

Relaxing and entertaining for the children smile

ricecakesrule Tue 10-Sep-13 08:27:31

I would go on a cruise if it was more affordable! I wouldn't be interested in attending all the entertainment / cabaret stuff, or the black tie dinners etc. I would be happier with a cruise that wasn't all inclusive so I didn't end up subsidising the party-goers! Not sure how this could work practically though. You'd end up having to have bouncers grin and ticketed entry which would be an inconvenience for the all inclusive people.

The idea of being able to experience several different places on one holiday does appeal, especially if the sailing is mostly done at night. I haven't properly looked into all the options available but the headline prices advertised are still way out of my budget.

clubnail Fri 13-Sep-13 23:13:11

Q: Where in the world would you sail?
A: Arctic Circle, somewhere you'd appreciate the comforts on board while seeing stunning scenery.

Q: What facilities would you like to see on board?
A: Soft play, climbing wall, roller rink.

Q: What activities would you, and your DCs, like to be able to get involved in while on board?
A: As above, climbing and skating.

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