Archive for April, 2009

Family Cruising In Europe

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

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A European cruise is ripe with learning and exploration opportunities for families. For children who are mature enough for a vacation that is not necessarily sun-splashed or a thrill a minute, a cruise may be the best way to do Europe because it’s not nearly as rigorous as most land tours.

As general rules, kids who are good students and who are fairly comfortable in unfamiliar, sometimes formal situations, are great candidates for European cruises. And even if your kids or grandkids aren’t bookworms, families who prepare for their trips by reading about the culture, history and landmarks of their destinations almost always have a memorable time – especially when the children can be the “experts” who share their knowledge of the Parthenon or ancient Greece, for instance.

European cruises are appealing for families and extended families, as cruises provide plenty of fun at sea as well as in port. Today, dedicated youth and teen rooms are priorities on cruise ships. Not only are they spacious, but they are out?tted with all the toys that kids love at home — computer games and PlayStation as well as some unique features that will be new to the even most well-equipped tykes. Having lots to do on board is particularly important for some of those younger travelers who are still learning some of the finer points of being a tourist.

Kids can be great company on a European cruise if they’ve shown they have the discipline and the intellectual curiosity for this type of trip.

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Disney ship construction continues apace

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

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Good news for family cruising as shipyard construction continues in Germany on two new ships for Disney Cruise Line, and the first pieces of steel — including a mouse silhouette, appropriately enough — have been cut and are being assembled.

The Disney Dream is set to debut in 2011, and when the Disney Fantasy sets sail in 2012, the Disney fleet will be up to four ships. At 128,000 tons and with 1,250 staterooms, the new ships will be larger than the original Disney twins, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, which have been cruising for a bit more than a decade.

The new ships are specifically designed with families in mind, and they will both have areas and activities for the entire family together and each member individually. In other words, there will be lots of fun things to do.

We feel this is a significant advance for family cruising as few travel products are more highly rated by families than Disney cruises. They get it right.

In 2011, when the Disney Dream is scheduled to arrive, the Disney Wonder will be repositioned to home port in Los Angeles. Disney has been scheduling Mexican Riviera cruises out of Los Angeles for two previous summer seasons, with pre- and post-cruise land vacation options available at Disney Land. Caribbean cruises are frequently paired with trips to Disney World and other Florida theme parks.

Cruise Line Profile: Family Cruising In Europe And Alaska On Holland America Line

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

For family cruises to Europe and Alaska, Holland America Line continues to provide an excellent experience that is entertaining as well as educational for both children and adults, helping everyone enjoy and appreciate the destination as well as the shipboard experience.

On top of all that, Holland America has been working to provide greater values to family groups cruising to Europe and Alaska. Obviously, Holland America Line knows how to get your family there and show all of you what’s important, whether you want to see glaciers and whales off the coast of Alaska or the great cities of Europe. And kids will soak up the background information like sponges, as Holland America Line has always staffed its ships with interpretive experts who can explain what you are visiting and why it’s important.

It is difficult to imagine a childhood vacation that could have more value for an impressionable mind than a cruise to either Europe or Alaska. And regardless of the destination, cruising is always going to be the travel-method that does the best job of defining and controlling costs for families while providing a safe and secure “home base” where parents don’t have to keep an eye on their kids every waking moment.

Holland America Line also offers several money-saving programs for families. The company always offers reasonable fares for families needing a third or fourth berth in their cabin. But for families booking eight or more staterooms for a reunion or some other special occasion, there are reduced fares available that carry several additional benefits. Besides the special group pricing, this program includes useful and valuable extras such as a Fountain Soda Card for every member of the family, each good for 20 glasses of fountain soda and a souvenir cup.

Also, each stateroom will receive a family portrait free, and the entire family will enjoy free lunch together at the alternative Pinnacle Grill Restaurant, which normally carries a charge. Finally, the Family Reunion Program for eight staterooms or more carries an upgrade from an outside stateroom to a verandah stateroom.

The beauty of a family cruise to Europe or Alaska with Holland America Line is that kids don’t have to be on high-alert all the time for the next once-in-a-lifetime moment. That kind of vigilance, which is usually required on land tours, wears kids out and makes them cranky. But cruises allow kids to take a breath and enjoy, and nobody does a better job of entertaining kids on a cruise than Holland America Line.

The line’s Club HAL program offers activities and dedicated rooms — fully equipped with computers, video, toys and crafting supplies — for kids age 3 to 12, and all ships feature a teen program for ages 13 to 17. The supervised and age-specific programs allow children to get involved with fun and creative activities while parents are able to pursue their own interests. Club HAL and teen activities operate all day during sea days with breaks for meals. The programs are also available during port visits if the kids reserve in advance.

With more than a century of experience, Holland America Line will show your family the wonders of the world in a style that no one else can.