European cruise in September
Cruising is fast becoming one of the most popular holiday choices for families. Taking in different ports each day, you can feasibly visit four different countries in a week, or stay on board and relax in peace while everyone else goes off sightseeing.
The bigger ships offer a choice of restaurants, daily and nightly entertainment for all ages, plus a great selection of kids' clubs - all included in the price.
In a nutshell
- Will suit: families with children of all ages
- Flying time: zero if sailing from Southampton, typically 2-3 hours if joining overseas
- Time difference: varies on each cruise - you will be advised when entering a new time zone
- Average temperature: 18°C
How to get there
- Depending on your cruise line, drive or take the train or coach to Southampton, or fly to join the cruise overseas.
Where to stay
- You'll be able to choose your cabin in advance, with different cabins attracting different rates. Choose from inside, outside (with window) and (on most ships) outside with balcony. On most ships, cots and linen are available upon request (no additional charge).
- P&O and Thomson both offer family cruises in September.
What to do
- On board you can choose to do as much or as little as you like.
- Your cruise will call at a selection of ports, depending on its itinerary. On each port day, you have the option to join an organised excursion (additional charge) or explore on your own. Alternatively, you can stay on the ship and take advantage of the facilities while everyone else is off sightseeing
- On-board facilities depend on your ship but typically include bars, restaurants, a casino, cinema, show lounge and theatre.
- Most cruise companies offer kids' clubs with a programme of activities and entertainment.
- If you want an evening without the children, P&O offers a free babysitting service in a fully supervised night nursery for five year olds and under, available from 6pm to 2am. For five to eight year olds, a 'slumber time', where trained staff keep watch over sleeping children, operates between 10.30pm and midnight.
- Excursions do book up, so if you want to do an organised tour, book in advance.
- Don't worry about children joining formal meals and misbehaving - P&O and Thomson are both family friendly and no one will frown if your little one isn't in a full tux. More often than not your child will be desperate to eat at the kids' sitting and get back to the kids' club fun.
- Family cabins are limited and get booked up very quickly.
What Mumsnetters say about cruise holidays
- I'd recommend ordering room service breakfast as a lovely treat. It's usually included and you just tip whoever delivers it. You choose what you want and hang the order on your cabin door at bedtime. It's good for lazy sea days or to save time if you have an early trip. Fluffy1234
- I don't think top, middle or bottom makes any difference, although generally speaking the higher up the ship the higher the price. There is something to do on every floor so even if you are low down you aren't too far away from the action. Cavort
- I am quite happy lazying round a pool but the kids would be bored by this after two days. A cruise is great as they can make new friends, they have a lot of freedom within the ship and parents can also do their own thing. Most cruise ships stop off at a port nearly every day, so there is a lot of time on land if you want. Callow