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Sail Away on a European Cruise

February 21, 2011

This is a reprint of a recent article I wrote that was published on Mamizeit

European Cruise Santorini

Greek Island Cruises

If the winter chill has you dreaming of warmer locations, you’re not alone. I often find myself planning our family vacations when I need a mental escape from the cold weather. It turns out this “escape from winter via vacation planning” is a phenomenon that takes place quite commonly this time of year, in what the cruise industry refers to as the “wave season.” It’s the peak time of year when most bookings are made, as those of us in colder climates seek out sunnier spots. And fortunate for the travel dreamers who long for the seas, cruise lines are offering some of their best deals right now to entice us to buy.

In the past few years, Europe has gained popularity as a major cruising hub. Actually, so far this year, Europe is ranked as the second most popular cruise destination for 2011 based on actual bookings, only behind the Caribbean. It’s not just fascinating ports that Europe has to offer, but also some exciting ships on well-established cruise lines. There are more family cruise options in Europe this year than ever before, with Disney, Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise lines sailing the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, the Baltic and other European routes in 2011.

Cruises have, unfortunately, not entirely shaken their reputation as vacations for an older and more sedentary crowd. The reality is, cruises today are for travelers of all ages, and these cruise lines catering to families offer an exciting array of onboard entertainment, great dining, kids’ activities and amazing ports of call.

Disney Mediterranean Cruise

Shuffleboard with Goofy

One of my absolute favorite cruise lines for families is the Disney Cruise Line. Our family has personally sailed Disney many times as they offer a wonderful vacation for all ages, including older teens and grandparents. Disney features not only top notch kids’ programs and wonderful onboard entertainment, but also peaceful adult-only spaces like spas and cafes where parents can relax and rejuvenate while their kids are having fun in the kids clubs. The Disney Magic will feature 10 and 11-day Mediterranean itineraries departing from Barcelona and stopping along the Italian and French Riviera coasts, as well as Corsica and Malta in June and most of July. In the end of July and through August, cruises follow 7-day itineraries departing from Barcelona with stops in France and Italy.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line will have 11 ships in the Europe this year, sailing Eastern and Western Mediterranean, Southern and Western European and Baltic routes. Royal Caribbean has some of the most innovative ships in the industry, appealing to the more active crowd. All of their ships have rock climbing walls and expansive pool areas, and some Royal Caribbean ships, like RCCL Independence of the Seas, feature mini-golf courses, ice skating rinks and even surfing. Royal Caribbean has some fabulous itineraries, such an Eastern Mediterranean cruise which departs from Venice and visits Croatia and the Greek Islands.

European Cruise Italian Riviera

Capri, Italy

If you’re looking for great value, the award winning “budget friendly” cruise line, Carnival, will be in Europe beginning this May and ending in October. The brand new ship, the Carnival Dream, will celebrate its maiden season here in Europe. This new ship will feature water slides, a ropes course, two mini-golf courses and extensive outdoor sports areas, plus excellent kids’ programs. Carnival Magic will sail a combination of 7-day cruises; 9-day cruises and 12-day cruises from Barcelona with ports of call including Monte Carlo, Rome, Naples, Messina, Palma, Marseilles, Venice and Dubrovnik.

What I especially love about cruising for family vacations is that they are easy and hassle-free. There’s no packing and unpacking at every stop, no worrying about organizing meals or arranging childcare. It’s a vacation where everyone can find activities to enjoy and all can relax and rejuvenate. The price is all inclusive for the most part, so you know what the vacation will cost upfront. It’s a wonderful way for families to discover historic cities, beautiful beaches and stunning scenery in Europe.
If you are dreaming of your own vacation and are interested in learning more about cruising in Europe or other destinations, please contact me at jennifer@grintravel.com.

Bon voyage!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Steph Lee permalink
    February 21, 2011 9:36 pm

    Thanks for sharing Jennifer– great resource for those looking for a family friendly European cruise! Any thoughts on European river cruises for families?

  2. February 22, 2011 2:03 am

    Steph-

    River cruises are an excellent and increasingly popular way to explore Europe. While they typically cater to adults and do not have the kid amenities and services that you’d find on a cruiseline like Disney, Royal Caribbean or Carnival, they can be good vacation option for older teenage kids or kids who are content with a more adult atmosphere. Also, there are some river ships, like Uniworld, who are designing programs for families — see http://www.uniworld.com/Family-Programs. But choose your river cruiseline carefully, as some don’t have any programming for kids.

    Thanks for the great question!

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