Tag Archives: cruising with kids

The P and O cruise

22 May

“How many more days?”  Hannah asked me every morning for weeks.  She and Daniel were so excited for our cruise with Aunty Jess, as was I.  It was our last hurrah before everything change, before she has a baby.  That’s not for another 20 weeks, but cruises have surprisingly early pregnancy cut off dates.

UrbMatinpost

I have been potty training Daniel vigilantly for a couple of months, but it was all in vain.  He wasn’t allowed at the kids club.  Not because he wasn’t potty trained.  Contrary to what P&O’s website says, kids who aren’t potty trained can go in the kids club.  Their parents just have to respond to the pager given out by the kids club asap to change a soiled nappy if needed.

He wasn’t allowed in the kids club because they don’t take kids who are a day under 3.  I thought that when Jess said if he’s potty trained and speaking well, maybe they’d take him, that she had actually spoken to P&O, and that’s what they said, but it was just her wishful thinking.

We didn’t think it would matter so much though because of the group child minding service. Sure we’d have to pay $5 an hour, but it would be totally worth it, we could be kid free for a couple hours, relax, hang out, see a show.  Except the group child minding service turned out to be only for kids 3 and up and only after 10:30pm.

Kids under 3 are allowed to play in the kids club if an adult they came with is supervising them. That seemed fair.  We could all go there, the kids could play, Jess and I could sit in a corner and hang out.  Jess, Hannah and Daniel and I all went in and the kids excitedly started playing, happy that they could be in the kids club AND that we were there with them. Jess and I sat near Daniel, but in the corner out of the way.

“Sorry, only one of you can stay here with him.”  A kids club employee told us.

“What if one stays with him and one is here for her?” We asked her, pointing to Hannah.

“No, she is over three and enrolled in the kids club, so she can’t have an adult with her.”

There was absolutely nothing, apart from playing on the stairs, in the lift, and in our room, for kids under 3 to do.  Everything for kids was at the kids clubs (different clubs for different ages).  We thought the pools would be something fun for all of us to do together, but as soon as we got in, we got straight back out again because it was so cold.  Why would you not heat a pool on a cruise ship?  So for the kids to have something to do, The Jess and I couldn’t hang out together.

The window in our room. There was a side ledge under the window where the kids liked to play.  They could close the curtains and it was like having their own fort right inside our room.

The window in our room. There was a side ledge under the window where the kids liked to play. They could close the curtains and it was like having their own fort right inside our room.

The kids club itself was rather disappointing too.   For Hannah’s age, there was one main room with a little room inside the main room.  In the main room were a couple of craft tables, a TV with Wii games, a heap of duplo, and a few toy car ramps.  There are scheduled activities every half an hour, such as dancing, duplo building, craft, etc, which is great, except all kids in there have to participate.  We’re talking about 3-6 year olds.  Sometimes 3 year olds don’t want to do group dancing, they want to play duplo, or watch their toy cars go down ramps.  I witnessed lots of whingy, unhappy kids when they were told they couldn’t play with the other toys during activity time.

Straight from P&O's website

Straight from P&O’s website

On the other hand, when it was free play time, I saw lots of kids fighting over toys, snatching from each other, pushing, etc., but the kids club employees weren’t really paying attention and didn’t do anything about it.

Daniel playing in Duplo corner.

Daniel playing in Duplo corner.

The other little room inside the big room contained some Playstation consoles, a few books (some with all of their pages missing.  Daniel found a Thomas book, opened it up, and was very upset to find no pages inside for him to look at), and play kitchen stuff.  Most of the time though, that room is shut.  Only during scheduled Playstation time are they allowed in there.  Unless the child is under 3 and with an adult, then we have to go in there when the other kids are doing group stuff because under 3’s are not allowed to participate in group things no matter how much they want to, and we’re told to go in the other room.

I didn’t actually see a kid who knew how to use the Playstations.  Most of them picked up the controllers, mashed a bit, and then lost interest.  We are talking about 3-6’s.  Since when do 3-6’s play Playstation?  According to P&O’s website, there are iPad activities, which would have been more age appropriate, but there were no iPads to be found.

 

The playstation and play kitchen room in Turtle Cove (the 3-6 year old kids club)

The playstation and play kitchen room in Turtle Cove (the 3-6 year old kids club)

There was also a little outdoor area for the kids clubs (with gates to prevent escape), but they would be taken outside for a group activity like mini olympics, and then quickly herded back inside.  They didn’t really do any free play outside even though there were heaps of tricycles, a couple of cubby houses, and a giant connect four game.

Daniel on one of the trikes in the outdoor area of the kids club.

Daniel on one of the trikes in the outdoor area of the kids club.

For the mini olympics, girls were on one team, boys on the other, and they had to get in a sack, hop around some cones, hula hoop 3 times, then hop back.  They loved doing it, but there were about 10 girls and 10 boys, or more, so after their turn, the little ones quickly lost interest and wanted to ride around on the bikes.

They weren’t allowed.  They all got herded back over to watch the olympics instead.  Except Daniel,  he was with me, so we continued playing on the bikes.  He wasn’t supposed to be participating after all, but I waited in line with him and made sure he got a turn, then helped him through the course.  There was another family outside with a kid under 3 playing on a bike too.  Hannah came over to play with us, but she was told to back to the other side, as “she is in the kids club, so she has to stay with the kids club kids.”

I quickly signed her out, and she played bikes with Daniel and me.

One afternoon, the kids club had a “family remote control car race.”

“Since this is a family event, does that mean both Jess and I can come with the kids?” I asked them.

“Yes, you can all come, but you have to sign up.  If at least 2 kids are signed up, the event will take place. If not, it will be cancelled.”

“That’s fine, I have 2 kids right here.”

I signed one of us up with Hannah and the other up with Daniel.  It did say family.  Maybe it was only supposed to be for kids club kids, but whatever.  Apart from a sideways glance, they didn’t say anything.  No one else signed up.

We arrived right on time, but everyone was group dancing.

“No one showed up, so we cancelled it.”  They told me.

I looked at my watch, then at the lady.  Nope, we weren’t late.  Not even 1 minute.

“Er…we’ll do it when they finish this activity.” She said.

After dancing finished, they gave Jess and Hannah a car, and Daniel and me a car.  Hannah’s didn’t work and she had to get another one.  Daniel’s didn’t work if it went 2 feet away from us and he quickly got bored and wanted to manually push it around.  All the other kids tried to steal the cars and/or remotes as they didn’t get any since they didn’t sign up.  No one said anything to them, except for Jess and me.

Some of the kids stood right in front of Hannah’s car so she couldn’t drive it.  Again, no one said anything to them, so it was up to us.

One day, they had face painting in the kids club.  Hannah patiently sat in a little chair behind the girl who was having her face painted at the time.  She was the second quickest to get in the queue.  The face painter took ages painting the first kid’s face.  So long that all the other kids waiting behind Hannah lost interest and went off to play.  Hannah waited on, silently sitting there as the minutes ticked by.  We wanted to meet The Jess for the scheduled deck boules at 4:30 and time was quickly running out.  Hannah had been sitting there 20 minutes by the time the first kid was done.

Instead of happily greeting Hannah and asking her what she’d like on her face though, the lady stood up and walked off.  Another lady came in with an older kid from the kids club next door trailing behind her.  They both sat down and she got to work, leaving Hannah sitting there, still unpainted.

“I’m really sorry sweetie, you’ve been so patient, but we’re running out of time, I don’t think we’ll have time to get your face painted now, so you might as well play for a bit.”  I said to her loudly from across the room.  One of the other ladies got the hint and sat back down again, quickly painting a flower crown on Hannah’s forehead.

As soon as she was finished, we left the kids club and walked to where the deck boules were supposed to be, arriving just in time.  Except no one was there.  No balls were there. Nothing was set up, and no one else was waiting, there was only a ping pong table with a couple of guys in the midst of a game.  Contrary to what the daily schedule told us, deck boules were not happening.

Instead, we let the kids play on the stairs.  Up and down.  Up and down. Sliding on their bottoms, sliding on their tummies, going down in the lift then climbing up the stairs.  We killed nearly an hour with the kids happily playing on the stairs and in the lift.

Hannah and Daniel at the top of a set of stairs.

Hannah and Daniel at the top of a set of stairs.

P&O would probably be fine if you don’t have kids, or if they are older kids, but travelling with anyone under 3, there just isn’t enough for them to do.  Not to mention the beds were the most uncomfortable I’ve slept on in my entire life.

We had fun on the cruise, but there were also a lot of things that were quite disappointing.  I definitely want to do on another cruise, but it will be with a different cruise line.

playing in the window

playing in the window

Part of our room.  We moved one of the ladders to the ledge under the window so the kids could play up there.

Part of our room. We moved one of the ladders to the ledge under the window so the kids could play up there.

Daniel after the lifejacket drill

Daniel after the lifejacket drill

Me and the kids the first night on the ship

Me and the kids the first night on the ship

Hannah at the kids club

Hannah at the kids club

Daniel drew and played iPad during bingo

Daniel drew and played iPad during bingo

Hannah drawing while we waited for bingo to start

Hannah drawing while we waited for bingo to start

playing bingo

playing bingo

Pasta.  Delicious.

Pasta. Delicious.

eating at the restaurant at off the proper menu

eating at the restaurant at off the proper menu

Spaghetti face

Spaghetti face

my salmon.  It was delicious.

my salmon. It was delicious.

Jess eating at the restaurant (as opposed to the buffet)

Jess eating at the restaurant (as opposed to the buffet)

Daniel and Jess watching Frozen from bed

Daniel and Jess watching Frozen from bed

playing on the stairs

playing on the stairs

At kids dinner time (4:30), the tables have colouring in and colouring pencils.

At kids dinner time (4:30), the tables have colouring in and colouring pencils.

kids dinner.  Nothing healthy on the menu.

kids dinner. Nothing healthy on the menu.

Me and Daniel at kids dinner

Me and Daniel at kids dinner

Hannah having dessert

Hannah having dessert

Keeping Daniel busy at dinner.  They already had dinner at kids dinner time.

Keeping Daniel busy at dinner. They already had dinner at kids dinner time.

One night I had a cocktail and Jess had a mocktail

One night I had a cocktail and Jess had a mocktail

It was sunny on Moreton Island for us for about 5 minutes, then it poured for the rest of the day.

It was sunny on Moreton Island for us for about 5 minutes, then it poured for the rest of the day.

Hannah on Moreton island

Hannah on Moreton island

We got a towel animal one day.

We got a towel animal one day.

The captain trying to put his hat on Daniel.  Daniel was not impressed.

The captain trying to put his hat on Daniel. Daniel was not impressed.

The captain came over to us at lunch one day and talked to the kids.  Hannah got to wear his hat.

The captain came over to us at lunch one day and talked to the kids. Hannah got to wear his hat.

Hannah and Daniel loved looking at the colour changing fountain on the ship

Hannah and Daniel loved looking at the colour changing fountain on the ship

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Hannah and Jess with the remote control car at the kids club

Hannah and Jess with the remote control car at the kids club

SAMSUNG CSC

Windows are fun to play in

Windows are fun to play in

Mr. Cheeky playing on the ship

Mr. Cheeky playing on the ship

Cruises are tiring.  Hannah rarely naps, but she was so tired she curled up on me and went to sleep.

Cruises are tiring. Hannah rarely naps, but she was so tired she curled up on me and went to sleep.

Hannah and the bear from school at breakfast (they each get a turn taking the bear home for a week.  She got to take it on the cruise)

Hannah and the bear from school at breakfast (they each get a turn taking the bear home for a week. She got to take it on the cruise)

Hannah and on a deck chair

Hannah and on a deck chair

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How to keep your kids amused on a cruise holiday

15 Aug

I’ve been on a total of two cruises in my life-one with my mom from Florida to the Bahamas, and one with Aaron, my parents, and my brother on a very small ship with only a few cabins, on the Great Barrier Reef.  Both were pre-kids, and both were fantastic.

Me snorkelling off our little cruise ship on the Great Barrier Reef

Me snorkelling off our little cruise ship on the Great Barrier Reef

I’d love to go on another cruise, but obviously things would be a little bit different now that we have two little balls of never ending energy.  I clearly know nothing about cruising with kids, but Emma Jane does, so sit back and enjoy her knowledge:

The idea of a cruise holiday conjures up all manners of wonderful ways to relax. Whether your idea of relaxation involves some quality time at the gym, a massage, live entertainment, or simply reading in the sun; a cruise offers so many great ways to unwind. But you can’t truly unwind until you know the kids are safe and having as much fun as you are!

Cruises make travelling with the family a breeze. There’s entertainment and facilities for all ages, which are professionally supervised, so you have the option of playing as a family or leaving the kids while you unwind.

The Westerdam in Sitka.  Photo courtesy of My Cruise Stories (aka I stole it from my Mom's blog)

The Westerdam in Sitka. Photo courtesy of My Cruise Stories (aka I stole it from my Mom’s blog)

 

On-Board Facilities

Cruise ships are renowned for their terrific swimming pools, whirlpools, and on some ships, even waterslides! Some ships offer rock-climbing walls, basketball courts, skating, adventure playgrounds and mini-golf! All these activities are a great way to spend time as a family and burn off some excess energy- guaranteed to get the kids to sleep at night. Research your cruise liner beforehand to find out exactly what facilities are available.

Some ships even have special cafes for kids (photo courtesy of my Mom's blog My Cruise Stories)

Some ships even have special cafes for kids (photo courtesy of my Mom’s blog My Cruise Stories)

 

Cartoon Character Visits

Many cruises offer themed appearances of cartoon characters, who host parties, live entertainment, and even fireworks displays. These are great for the younger kids (and those young at heart). Check out the family cruise options at cruiseabout.com.au to see the speciality range of themed cruise lines, including a great range of popular cartoon characters from Disney, Nickelodeon, DreamWorks, and more. These friendly faces will make lots of fun appearances during your holiday!

Children’s Centres

Family cruise ships offer a range of supervised care options. Children’s centres are suitable for ages from three to 17. These activities are a great way for kids to make some friends on your holiday. For the littlies, there are arts, crafts and lots of stories to stimulate young imaginations. For the tweens, they get a bit more space and the opportunity to make friends, hold their own parties, and make their own games. For teens, they can hang out and listen to the latest music, learn to dance, play sports, or for the more sedate, watch movies and chill out.

Day Trips

Last but definitely not least; the kids will love the day trips as much as you will. Open their minds with new sights and sounds as they learn about new places, cultures and ways of life. The options are as endless as the number of cruise routes, so take a look at the itinerary with the entire family in mind, and use the opportunity to give the kids a head start on their geography lessons!

Cruises are a great way to get some quality time with the kids, but also allow mum and dad to have some time together. The kids have the chance to make new friends and expand their horizons. With a wide range of options both on and off the ship to keep the kids amused, you’ll have no trouble finding time for that massage or finishing that book!

*This post was sponsored by Cruiseabout

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Copyright 2013 Sheri Thomson

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