Article originally published in the December 2016-April 2017 edition of the Atmosphere magazine. Read the latest edition here.
“Wild heart, child heart, all of the world your home, glad heart, mad heart, what can you do but roam?” – Robert W. Service, “The Wanderlust”
If you’re a honeymooning couple in search of romantic adventure, there’s no better place to begin than Civitavecchia, Italy, on board a clipper ship. As you set sail, you’ll stand on a polished wood deck, with classical music swelling in the background and watch swaths of canvas soar skyward. When the wind bursts into those billowing sails and the ship surges into the waves, you’ll know why a tall ship cruise was the most exciting choice you could have made to start your lives together.
But what if you’re a vacationing family a mom, dad and two rambunctious boys looking for a time together holiday that will keep everyone entertained and happy? Your adventure could also begin in Civitavecchia but on board another type of ship, offering a completely different kind of travel experience. You might find yourself waving from the top of a giant waterslide in the middle of a cruise ship as it sails away!
Every ship has its own vibe and offers unique adventures designed to captivate specific types of cruise lovers. What’s on your dream cruise must-have list?
When It’s a Family Affair
Ironically, home is often the last place a family can find time to connect. Work, school, sports practices… everyone is on a different schedule, and the last thing on the priority list is togetherness. A cruise can offer not only luxurious accommodations, top-quality entertainment and great meals, but also that all-important sense of connection and the excitement of exploring new places together. A cruise becomes the stuff of lifelong memories.
To entice families, many cruise companies have ramped up their kid-oriented services and are offering everything from larger staterooms with extra beds to suites with adjoining doors and even jumbo-sized balconies that feel more like private gardens. Bring Grandma and Grandpa along too, there’s plenty of room. Restaurants offer kids’ choices as well as elegant adults-only options for those nights when you’d like a little less togetherness!
Perhaps the greatest challenge of planning family travel is ensuring that the days include activities that captivate everyone. Mom and Dad love visiting art museums and think wine tasting excursions are fabulous… but the kids, not so much. When the shore excursion options aren’t to everyone’s liking, supervised on-board kids’ clubs fill the gap, featuring entertainment and learning activities that can range from cooking to oceanography to on-board surfing. Often, the kids’ programming is so great parents have to work hard to compete!
Just the Two of Us
Is anything more romantic than a cruise? Certainly not if you sail on a clipper ship and share the magic of the wild winds. Looking for something a little tamer? Choose a boutique-style river ship that cruises so close to shore you’ll wave to the people tending their gardens as you sit on your open balcony. In port, join a group tour, or hop on a couple of bikes, explore country roads and find a café where two perfect espressos await.
Ocean liners offer a more energetic vibe for couples, with multiple options for dining, Broadway-style entertainment, gyms, bars, dance clubs and even luxurious spas where the two of you can reconnect with a couples’ massage.
Regardless of the size and style of ship, it’s all about the itinerary. Longing to loll on Caribbean beaches? Is a helicopter flight over an Alaskan glacier on your must-do list? Want to swim with the sea lions in the Galapagos Islands? Always wanted to see the Eiffel Tower? The right cruise itinerary can provide a smorgasbord of experiences by day, while the ship offers you five-star comforts at night.
It’s All About You!
Whether your dream is a romantic cruise getaway for two, a high-energy family adventure or even the ultimate indulgence of a solo sailing where the only person you’ll need to please is yourself, there’s a ship and an itinerary for you. And now is the time to start making your plans and packing your bags!
Top Tips for New Cruisers
- Explore your shore excursion possibilities well in advance so you’ll know which will interest everyone and which won’t. Planning ahead for alternate activities will keep everyone happy.
- Many ships offer babysitting services (at an additional charge), so you can book a special dinner for two, knowing the kids are being taken care of. Be sure to make your reservations before you board.
- Are your children old enough for evening kids’ club programming? Check to see if you need to book ahead.
- Most ships use stateroom key cards for charging purchases at shops and non-inclusive restaurants and coffee shops, as well as for WiFi services, so be sure your kids and teens understand any limits you’ve set for them.
- Make spa and dinner reservations for specialty restaurants well in advance of your sailing. Note: the best time to book spa appointments is when the ship is in port, when many guests will be off on shore excursions.
cover photo: Robert Pittman