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Why choose a cruise? Your questions answered

MSC Cruise ship

You don't have to be a family of sailors to go to sea. A cruise might not seem like the most family-friendly option for a holiday, but you'll be surprised by the number of activities, clubs and child-friendly options there are on board.

MSC Cruises asked Mumsnetters for their questions on all things boat-shaped, and below, Corporate Kids Entertainment Manager, Matteo Mancini, has provided all the answers. Read on to find out more…

“What are the advantages of going on a cruise as a family compared to going on a hotel holiday?”

With a hotel you are limited to exploring just one destination, whereas on a cruise you can explore a different destination every day, depending on the itinerary. Stepping foot in a new place every day keeps things entertaining for both parents and children, and with lots of shore excursions already created, there’s no need to worry about too much planning.

When you’re staying in a hotel, you may have a beautiful bedroom and a restaurant and a pool, however a lot of the time you’re then left with the task of finding and organising things for the family to do, which can involve a lot of co-ordinating and booking in advance.

However, on a cruise this stress is taken away. The beauty of staying on a ship is that you have everything you could be looking for on board with you – it’s fantastic. And it’s an added bonus if you have a family of different ages, as you can all take part in lots of activities to suit everyone’s needs, making it simple to keep everyone happy.

“What do you feel a child would enjoy most about a cruise?”

On board a ship there’s no chance of getting bored. Your child can be participating in junior MasterChef one minute, playing with Lego the next, going to a family show in the theatre and then following that up with a sports session.

Something else that is fantastic for young ones on board is that they get the chance to interact and play with other children from all around the world. In fact, we have some 300,000 children from 35 different nations travelling with MSC Cruises every year. No matter the language they speak, all children can enjoy playing with Lego bricks together!

“In what ways do the onboard children's activities cater for a range of ages?”

To make sure everyone’s kept happy, we tailor our activities to suit children of all age groups and have five different kids’ clubs on board our ships to suit different ages from baby to teen.

This means that all of our children are taking part in activities and playing with games that have been specially selected for their particular age group. We tweak the sessions for each group, for example teenagers’ activities run up until 1am. This means that your teens can have a bit of freedom on holiday, but you know they are being looked after. Another example is the music that we play to help them feel at home and relaxed. We ask the children each night which songs they want to hear, so that they can be the DJs.

“What are the most popular activities for teenagers?”

For children who are a little older, one of our most popular activities is a talent show where everyone gets to be a judge and a star. They have the freedom to choose their own categories, whether that be singing, dancing or something more unusual. And for proud parents, you’re invited to join and watch the talent show, and see your children in action. Games like this are great because they break down boundaries between children and are really inclusive. Teens also love technology tournaments using VR and the latest gaming technology. Sport activities and team games are very popular as are dancing activities.

“How would the onboard children’s activities support a child with disabilities?”

At MSC Cruises, we just ask that you tell us in advance when booking, and then we will design activities around a child’s needs. To give an example, we recently heard from a mother whose child was in a wheelchair and was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to have fun and join in with the activities, like the dancing contest. With a little time to plan, we designed each activity on the cruise to make sure her child was fully involved and having fun, including a dancing competition where he got to be the judge. He told us he had the best time ever on his holiday!

“I like to be active on holiday and go for walks. What sort of exercise can I do on this cruise?”

For people wanting to stay active on board, there is plenty you can do to keep fit – all with a beautiful view of the sea. Passengers are able to take advantage of a state-of-the-art gym featuring equipment by Technogym, have a quick game of tennis, or get involved in a fitness class, such as spinning or yoga. You can even get your morning jog in surrounded by great views, with a run around the ship’s track. And when you’re out exploring the ports plenty of our excursions give you the chance to get active – from bike rides around the Mediterranean to climbing trees in the Caribbean.

“How do you deal with people who need emergency treatment onboard?”

All MSC Cruises’ ships have a fully-equipped medical centre, like a small hospital, with a full team of doctors and nurses so we can help with any medical issues that might arise. A twice-daily clinic is available for non-emergencies, as well as round-the-clock emergency treatment should it be needed.

“Do you have any tips for people who have never been on cruise ships before?”

Just like any holiday, it does pay to do your research. Have a proper read about the ship you are sailing on so that you don’t miss anything while on board and also the destinations you’ll visit. We have 360-degree tours available on our website and full summaries of all the shore excursions so you can make sure you choose the right tours for you and your family.

Secondly, book in advance. Whether it’s excursions to make sure you don’t miss out anything or spa, food and drinks packages to make sure you get the best deals, it’s always worth booking ahead. Doing so means you can spend your first day on board relaxing rather than planning.

“What about any tips for larger families travelling together?”

The child locator! Our new technology allows you to see where all your children are at all times, thanks to a wristband that your child wears, which is then connected to an app on your mobile phone. It’s a great way to keep an eye on your kids and means you can always find them when it’s time to drag them away for kids' club dinner.

While there may be moments where you would like a bit of relaxing adult time or perhaps a trip to the spa, there will of course also be moments where you want to do activities together as a family. We provide lots of in-port family excursions, and onboard activities to help make this easy for you. Onboard we have the family disco, MasterChef at Sea Juniors (which parents can get involved in too), the Kelly and Kloe onboard experience – where parents and children get involved in writing episodes, doing the casting, and seeing the show through – as well as sing-alongs or even parents vs children dance competitions. Ashore we have the Family Explorer Club. These tailor-made interactive tours are designed to keep children entertained while also providing an enriching experience for adults. These are all great opportunities for you to have some quality family time on your holiday.

“How do you treat seasickness onboard?”

Thanks to the ship’s stabilisers, movement is significantly reduced and with so much to do, most passengers don’t even think about getting seasick. For the very small percentage that do, there’s plenty of anti-sickness medication available over the counter that you can purchase before you travel. Once on board, fresh air and time spent on deck are great natural remedies or if symptoms persist, you can pop to the medical centre and see our onboard doctor.

“Are there certain ships that are better suited to families with young children – for entertainment and activity purposes?”

We make sure that families will have a great time on all of our ships, with each one having a range of clubs and activities to keep little ones entertained. And for the mums and dads, things like our new dedicated baby laundry service, bottle warmers or buggies all mean you can worry less about what you’re packing. If you’re travelling with children of lots of different ages, then you might want to choose our newest and largest ship MSC Bellissima. Along with MSC Meraviglia, these ships have the largest kids' areas in the fleet and as they're designed for all seasons, they have something to keep the whole family entertained wherever you sail.

“How do you avoid feeling claustrophobic and penned in on a cruise?”

With so many different areas on each ship, from clubs, bars and restaurants to pools and spas, you’ll find yourself constantly exploring new parts of the ship on your cruise holiday. If you want to spend lots of time outdoors, then you’ll love MSC Seaview or MSC Seaside, both of which have been specifically designed to bring guests outside so that they can spend as much time as possible enjoying the sea. Meanwhile, if you’re excited to explore lots of destinations, then a cruise around the Mediterranean could be a great option, as you will be visiting somewhere new nearly every day. If you want a little piece of paradise to yourself, book a balcony cabin which means you can have an uninterrupted sea view all to yourself every day.

Competition

This March will see MSC Cruises launch a brand new ship, MSC Bellissima, and to celebrate they're offering one lucky Mumsnetter the chance to win a £250 John Lewis & Partners voucher. To enter, all you have to do is answer the question in the form below (hint: you'll need to read through the questions above for the correct answer).

T&Cs apply. Competition closes 3 March 2019.