The Mediterranean is a wonderful choice for a family vacation. This region delivers a tantalizing array of learning, adventure and cultural experiences suited to the interests of every member of the family. Travel logistics and cost considerations for such a trip can be particularly daunting, however. That's why a growing number of family vacationers are putting their European vacations on cruise control.
Cruises are one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways for families to see the Mediterranean. It's like seeing some of Europe's favorite destinations your own floating family-friendly resort hotel. There's no carting luggage from place to place to worry about and ships can be loaded with family-oriented programs and entertainment. It's also a far more reasonable option than hotel stays for families vacationing using the U.S. dollar, especially for those requiring two or more rooms.
The idyllic Mediterranean is the perfect place to introduce kids and teens to Europe. There are captivating cities to explore, ruins of ancient civilizations to discover, and gorgeous sun-drenched beaches to enjoy. Europe's Mediterranean is a patchwork quilt of histories, art and cultures. It's no wonder, then, that cruise lines are seeing more families with kids, teens and young adults on their summer Mediterranean itineraries.
Selecting a cruise line and ship for a European family cruise is critical, so it's important to research your options wisely. Finding the right ship for a Mediterranean cruise is like shopping for a favorite pair of jeans. The fit is different for each family, so it's important to take your time and find the right choice for your unique crew.
Every member of the family needs to be happy on a 12-day European cruise. It's important to select a ship that works just as well for the parents and grandparents in your group as it does for kids and teens. Amenity-laden ships with a wide variety of venues, loads of entertainment and exciting attractions often work best. That's just one of the reasons why Carnival Cruise Lines' new Carnival Breeze is a top choice for family and multigenerational Mediterranean cruises. If you're seeking a high-energy cruise vacation, Carnival's ships are an excellent choice for you.
The Carnival Breeze is packed with dining and entertainment options for adults, kids and families. Kids and families will love participating in the cool television-style interactive games featured in Hasbro, The Game Show. The family fun continues with the action-packed 5-D Thrill Theater, Carnival WaterWorks with its two fast-paced slides and the shriek-inducing 300-gallon PowerDrencher, miniature golf, and the adrenaline-pumping SkyCourse at the Breeze's SportsSquare. In the evenings, families can also enjoy themed Playlist Productions shows, pool-front movies (complete with popcorn) at Carnival's Seaside Theatre, and family-rated Punchliner Comedy Club events together.
Carnival caters to families with programs for kids of all ages, making it a great choice for a Mediterranean cruise. Camp Carnival focuses on children ages 2 to 11 and is divided into three groups: 2-5; 6-8; and 9-11. Organized activities vary by age group and a daily detailed calendar of activities by age group is delivered to children's staterooms. Camp hours are long and vary somewhat by day, but typically last from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. On Mediterranean port days when lengthy shore excursions often leave very early, Camp Carnival opens in advance allowing parents to let their kids stay onboard and play with friends while they go into Florence or Rome to explore at their leisure.
When Camp Carnival's programs end at about 10 p.m., Carnival's late night children's programs and events get underway. The Camp Carnival Night Owls parties are divided into three different age groups: Owl Jams for ages 2-11; Fun 'Til One for ages 6-8; and Fun at Sea for ages 9-11. The Night Owls program also features nightly group babysitting services. Designed to be a fun-filled slumber party at sea, Carnival's babysitting program is available from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., allowing parents to enjoy their adults-only time. While the daily Camp Carnival programs are free, the late-night Night Owls and babysitting programs are available for a small fee.
Carnival understands teens need their own space in order to feel at home, so they've created private lounges for tweens and teens onboard the Breeze. Club O2 caters to older teens ages 15-17. Tweens ages 12-14 congregate at Circle C, another dedicated club-type space devoted to this age group. As part of their club activities, teens and tweens can hang out with friends and listen to music, play video games, watch a movie, enjoy dance and pool parties, participate in special events, and so much more. All events are free of charge and are supervised by dedicated directors and trained counselors who know how to make it fun, safe and cool.
While the kids are busy with their own activities, parents and grandparents have lots to do on the Carnival Breeze during their "adults only" time. It's always fun to share the latest Mediterranean port stories over a drink at cool spots like the RedFrog Pub or the cozy Library Bar, bask in the sun at the Serenity's adults only retreat, take in an R-rated Punchliner Comedy Club production, try your hand at the Winner's Luck Casino, or dance the night away at Liquid Nightclub with DJ IRIE-trained spin masters. There's something for every age and interest aboard the Carnival Breeze. Both adults and kids will find themselves wanting to stay out late and enjoy all that their ship has to offer, especially on nights before those relaxing Mediterranean days at sea.
When it comes to dining, the Carnival Breeze offers families a wide variety of options. Children's menus are available in the main dining rooms, and 24-hour pizza and free room service are readily available. Nightly dinners in the Breeze's Blush and Sapphire Dining Rooms can be augmented with memorable specialty dining experiences at Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, Cucina del Capitano and Bonsai Sushi for an additional charge. The Carnival Breeze also features a host of appealing free dining venues such as Fat Jimmy's C-Side BBQ (available on sea days only), the ever-popular Guy's Burger Joint, Sea Dogs, and BlueIguana Cantina. Grab a quick bite at The Taste Bar or browse the endless selections at the Lido Marketplace – dining on this ship is a breeze as well.
Cruising is also a great way to tour the Mediterranean for families who have children with food allergies. In the land of pizza and pasta, finding gluten-free food can be tough. Carnival excels in handling this issue, making your family's Mediterranean adventure a no-hassle vacation.
Mediterranean vacations can sometimes be packed with sightseeing and touring, so it's always nice to come back to the Carnival Breeze to relax. Those seeking the ultimate in pampering will find an oasis at the Carnival Breeze's Cloud 9 Spa. The spa offers a wide variety of massage and body treatments, therapies, facials, salon services, and Generation Z, Carnival's spa treatment program for teens 13-17.
Staying in shape (and working off all those delicious meals) is also not a problem aboard the Breeze. The Cloud 9 Spa Fitness Center allows guests to enjoy spectacular sea views while working out on state-of-the-art cardio and weight machines and instructor-led classes are offered daily. SportsSquare is another great spot for families to try out the SkyCourse suspended ropes course, enjoy a round of miniature golf and other family games, or engage in a game of basketball.
No matter how you play it, the Carnival Breeze is a slam dunk choice for a family Mediterranean cruise. This ship is a high-scoring winner for multigenerational reunions and family vacations with kids of all ages.
By Nancy Schretter, Family Travel Network