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Single parent. Desperate to book something special

(19 Posts)
Blinkyblink Sat 25-Mar-17 11:58:51

Hi,

I have no experi no whatsoever with cruises.
However, now I am a single parent of a 6 and 4 year old, I am very tempted.

Is someone please able to help me pick a company and what room would you recommend?

I am very happy to eat with the children and we are not big foodies at all.
We are active. Love swimming and activities.
Kids club I wouldn't need
Definitely a warm sunny one

Budget. Goodness, no idea. Please don't laugh if I am totally out of reality! I wouldn't like to spend more than £3000 for a week. Preferably August 2018

Thanks

budgiegirl Sun 26-Mar-17 15:42:07

If you don't mind an inside cabin, and you're not too picky about the exact date. you should be able to get a cruise for the three of you from about £2500 for August 2018, going round the Med. You'd have to book flights on top, but it should be possible to get the whole thing for around the £3k mark.

Cruises can be great with kids, especially with the larger ships that have lots to do on board. Swimming pools can be quite small, and even kids pools can be quite deep, but some ships will also have slides and a splashzone for small kids.

We like NCL, very relaxed feel, lots of activities, the Norwegian Epic will be in the Med in summer 2018. Prices include a free drinks package for 2, which can help as the extras can add up.

Or the larger Royal Caribbean ships are great for kids. Try some a company such as Vivavoyage, you can search by date, destination and cruiseline to see what's available in your price range. Don't forget, most cruise lines add a service charge on top, so try to factor that in when working out the cost.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Sun 26-Mar-17 15:47:06

We went on a Disney cruise and loved it. I'm sorry I'm not sure about budget though.

budgiegirl Sun 26-Mar-17 15:58:14

Disney cruises are fab, and great for children, but tend to be quite expensive compared to some other cruise lines.

TwigTheWonderKid Sun 26-Mar-17 16:04:17

I've been on two cruises, one with Cunard and one with P&O. The P&O one felt like Butlins on the sea compared to Cunard. I can't comment on any other lines. What I would say though was on both cruises, the provision for kids lies largely within the kids' club so for example, we kept getting kicked of the sports courts for the kids' clubs, there was only 1 table tennis table on the ship for over 1500 passengers and although there were 4 swimming pools, they are all very small.

MsGameandWatch Sun 26-Mar-17 16:10:19

Disney cruises are brilliant. Have been on three and they're perfect for children that age. Only kids clubs I have ever felt comfortable leaving my children in as well.

budgiegirl Sun 26-Mar-17 17:57:49

What I would say though was on both cruises, the provision for kids lies largely within the kids' club

I think that can be true on some ships, but on some of the larger ships there are lots of activities outside of the kids club as well.

We went on a ship that had a sports court, high ropes, mini golf, pools, slides, bowling, table tennis, a climbing wall, trampolines, shuffleboard ( my kids LOVED that! ), giant chess, movies etc, as well as the kids clubs . My DC are older than the OPs, but they found loads to do, and never went to the kids clubs at all.

OP, you need to look at the ships in your price range, then compare them to see what each has onboard to suit your children. Some even have ice rInks and dodgems! Some activities may have minimum age/weight limits, so that can be something to bare in mind.

Cruise Critic can be a good site to help with info about the ships.

Blinkyblink Sun 26-Mar-17 19:38:28

Wow, thanks so much! Really appreciate it.

Re the inside cabin. Because We will be sharing a room, and I will be going to the bedroom at same time as they go to bed (it wouldn't be later than 8pm, even if a holiday).m, I thought that to have a balcony that I could go out on would be useful. Or at least a window? On any event, isn't or really exciting for the children to have a window or balcony?

As I say, I am utterly ignorant about cruises so could be barking up wrong tree.

If I was going away with a partner, the kids could would be of more interest to me. As it will just be me and the children, I kind of fancy spending most, if not all, of my time with them. Given this fact, would a cruise be worthwhile bearing in my the cost loading they presumably factor in for full day "free" childcare.

How does one from the airport to the ship? It could really start to add up. Any decent ones from Dover?

budgiegirl Sun 26-Mar-17 21:43:37

I agree that balcony would be better than an inside cabin, it would be lovely to sit out in the evening once the children are in bed. But they do tend to cost a bit more, so it may push the budget. But if you shop around a bit, it could be doable.

I guess they do factor in the free childcare, only you can decide if it's worth the cost of the cruise. Cruises do tend to cost a bit more than a land based holiday ime, although they are good value when you consider what you get - food, sometimes drinks, entertainment, lots of places to see.

If you are travelling independently, then you would need to arrange your own transport from the airport to the ship. How much this costs depends on your destination. It's fairly easy from Barcelona for instance, you can just grab a taxi and it's about 20 minutes to the port. But some ports are quite a long way from the airport, such as Rome.
Sometimes if you book through the cruise company, or as a package, transfers could be included.

There are some lovely cruises going from Southampton, although you only want a week, you may be a bit limited where you can go.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Sun 26-Mar-17 22:01:36

Also keep in mind that shore excursions are usually extra.

TwigTheWonderKid Mon 27-Mar-17 19:23:24

You can cruise to the Mediterranean (and other, destinations) from Southampton.

Blinkyblink Tue 28-Mar-17 13:00:11

Thank you all.

I'm sad to at Disney is out of my pride range.

What about the others? Not bothered about kids club but would love a good pool with slides, maybe climbing wall, lots of activities really. Preferably from the Uk but not a deal breaker.
Not bothered about food or kids club. But I would like warm, sunny and a balcony (if you think worth it)

budgiegirl Tue 28-Mar-17 13:16:18

I'd would definitely recommend the Norwegian Epic, it has great slides (although I'm not sure if there's an age/weight limit), climbing wall, bouncing thing, table tennis etc. Although I'm not sure about age limits on these things.

The pool is small (they usually are on a cruise ship), but there's a small splash area, plus paddling areas and fountains round the pool to play in. I've attached a picture. They also do the occasional family activity (kids disco, scavenger hunt etc), as well as the kids clubs.

Royal Caribbean have the Independence of the Seas sailing from Southampton in August 2018, but it's a 2 week cruise, so may be out of budget. Although I've not been on this ship, a friend of mine took her kids on it, and they loved it - lots of activities for children even if they don't go to the kids club.

Blinkyblink Tue 28-Mar-17 15:56:40

Thank you thank you!!!

Any recommendation best way to book to get best price?

budgiegirl Tue 28-Mar-17 18:06:36

Any recommendation best way to book to get best price?

Just shop around. Try some online cruise specialists.
We've found Vivavoyage to be very good, and also Cruise1st.
Also keep an eye out for offers, although sometimes it seems that as soon as one offer ends, a similar one starts again very shortly after.

Bumply Tue 28-Mar-17 19:00:38

I've cruised as a single parent with two boys (15 and 11 and later just the youngest) with MSC.
They're a bit of a marmite cruise company with English speaking passengers as a minority and the Mediterranean passengers considered rude by some (don't queue in the same way).
They were quite a bit cheaper than Disney et al and used to have discounts for children.
Range of ships with smaller pools and less activities on bottom of the range and more on offer on larger ships.
I've been in inside, ocean view (window) and balcony. Last was by far the best, but more expensive. Wouldn't go with inside again as felt too much like you could have been anywhere.
They had kids clubs where little ones would be looked after and taken to buffet while parents went on excursions- didn't appeal to me, but option was there.
I booked either with travel agents or direct with MSC and included flights and transfers from airport to cruise terminal.
Excursions weren't cheap, but Ina lot of places you could do your own thing wandering around the town, visiting beach.
I found it very relaxing as a holiday. Entertainment and food on tap so to speak.

Icouldbeknitting Tue 11-Apr-17 12:17:43

I'm late to the party and you might already be sorted now but we've not long since booked for summer 2017. Two adults and a 17 year old, seven nights and a balcony for just over the £3k. The big BUT is it's to Norway rather than to somewhere sunny, it means that we just have to get to Southampton rather than starting with a flight.

The extras (so far) have been holiday insurance and car parking for the week.

amicissimma Sat 15-Apr-17 17:47:45

NCL was what sprang into my mind when I read the OP. Most of their ships have lots activities and slides etc. They tend to have 3-person cabins, with twin beds and a sofa or fold-down bunk.

Ideally I'd have a balcony in the middle of the ship (less movement) and, provided you're not expecting rough seas, fairly high up, but then so would everyone else, so those are the most expensive. Personally I don't think the far-forward and far-aft cabins move too much, but the motion doesn't bother me. Below the restaurant/bar is Bad - furniture gets moved about late at night.

We're on the mailing list of various cruise-selling agencies, eg Iglu (there are lots if you Google) and have found that they send offers which represent a substantial saving approx 12 weeks before the cruise. A week or two later the price goes up again. Obviously if you do that you may not get your first choice of cruise and you won't have the assurance of knowing that your cruise is booked long in advance. Those types of offer allow you to choose your type of cabin - generally with a reasonable amount of precision: eg not just 'balcony', but mid-ship/high/low/restricted view (lifeboats in the way), etc, but you are only allocated an actual cabin days before you sail and can't change. NCL don't have dining times, so not an issue with them, but others allocate you a time and a table, which you can generally change on board, although they swear you can't.

CakeThat Wed 19-Apr-17 20:54:24

I can't personally recommend as I haven't tried them but Thomson cruises look cheap compared to other cruise lines, I'm sure you would easily get one for less than £3000 inc flights. Their itineraries in the Med are excellent, they have a lot of routes around Portugal, Spain, Balearics etc which would probably be good for young kids as you could visit beaches rather than going on expensive tours. I personally would avoid going in August with small kids if you are going to sightsee, cities like Rome are almost unbearable to walk around in the heat.

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