Cruises: The Perfect Family Holiday?
Cruises are becoming more and more popular for family holidays as many providers have begun to cater for younger couples with children. It is wise to check out the range of cruise deals available for families from some of the well-known cruise lines. Some operators may run from Italy, for example, but children travel free, so costs are cut substantially. Discounted rates usually apply for kids from a large number of liners anyway, just like they would from accommodation providers on the mainland and seats on aeroplanes.
A major benefit of cruises is that there will be few added costs once the upfront reservations have been made. Entertainment, meals and snacks are generally included in the price. Any tours and excursions plus alcohol consumed on the ship will, however, cost extra, so you should bear this in mind if you have a larger group. Cruise liners are like floating holiday villages, and there are sure to be restaurants or buffet bars on board to suit the most picky child eaters. If mealtimes are problematic, it’s possible to allow them to choose their own eating venues, while adult members of the party enjoy the refinements of dressing for dinner and dining in fine restaurants on board the ship.
Many cruise deals offered during school holidays include full daily entertainment for kids in clubs, with regular sports or arts and crafts activities. It is wise to check out the programme of activities available with each particular cruise company and choose an operator that is best suited to the interests of your own kids. From water slide areas where the children can make new friends to tours of the ship and video game lounges, they are sure to have a blast.
Cruises can be a great choice of holiday for the extended family as well – while the kids are allowed to roam around the ship and take part in the activities on offer, parents and grandparents can take time out to relax around adults only pools, in the spa or in any of the comfortable bars or coffee lounges on board the cruise liner. The older generation will appreciate the sheer luxury available on the liner and will also be able to take the time to pursue activities at their own speed rather than rushing around after the grandkids. This is a fantastic way of having a family holiday without spending all of your time together!
When the ship is in port, each member of your party will be able to participate in exciting explorations of cities, seaside villages and wonderful beaches in whichever part of the world the cruise liner docks. So perhaps cruises really do offer the perfect family holiday, although the best way to get the most out of your holiday, as with any trip, is to do some research. Not all cruises accept families, while some specifically cater for multi-generational parties, and some are very child focused (eg. Disney cruises). Shop around a bit to find the option best suited to your own particular tastes.
Cruises: The Perfect Family Holiday?
Fun things to do in Spain with your kids
Image by Tallis Keeton
Enjoy the beauty of Spain while taking your entire family on an unforgettable holiday of a lifetime. There are many different attractions found throughout the country that children and adults are sure to enjoy. Have tons of fun while making your way through Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia, seeing different areas of Spain that you may have never experienced otherwise. Before booking your flights to Spain, plan out your holiday by deciding which fun, kid-friendly attractions you will be visiting during your time here. Don’t forget to check out some of these hot spots that are sure to leave your family with long-lasting memories of their time in Spain.
Toy Museum of Catalonia – Start off your holiday to Spain in Barcelona. Just minutes away, visitors will find the town of Catalonia. Take the kids to the Toy Museum of Catalonia where you can browse through a wide collection of dolls, tricycles, puppets and other unique toys. With over 4,000 objects to see and explore at the Toy Museum of Catalonia, children are sure to have fun for hours as they learn about the different types of toys and their previous owners such as Salvador Dali and Joan Miro.
Tibidabo – Tibidabo in Barcelona is a small amusement park for children and adults that can easily be accessed by boarding the Tramvia Blue trolley. Take a spin on amusement park rides for all ages; watch a movie at the four-dimensional movie theatre, stop into the one of a kind Robot Museum and much more. Amusement park admission prices are based on the height of your child during the time of your visit.
Safari Park at Aldea del Fresno – If enjoying a holiday in Madrid, Spain with the children, there’s no better place to go for a fun-filled day than the Safari Park at Aldea del Fresno. Get up close and personal with wildlife right from the comfort of your own car as you make your way around this drive-through safari park. Giraffes, rhinos and elephants are just some of what you may see just inches away from your car as you spend your day at the Safari Park at Aldea del Fresno.
Madrid Zoo and Aquarium – Another one of the most popular attractions that can be found in Madrid for children and adults to enjoy is the Madrid Zoo and Aquarium. Take a stroll around the zoo where you will find many different exhibits that are home to animals such as baby pandas, tigers, bears, elephants, monkeys and more. With over 5,000 different species of wildlife and ocean life to see and explore during your visit here, you are sure to spend hours having a fun-filled time. The Madrid Zoo and Aquarium is also conveniently located near the Warner Bros. Theme Park which offers many family-friendly and thrill rides for all ages to enjoy.
Terra Miticia – A family holiday in Valencia would not be complete without a stop at Terra Miticia, a large-scale theme park with rides, shows and attractions for guests of all ages. Small children will enjoy riding on replicas of larger, popular rides that can be found at the theme park. You may even choose to ride on the Magnus; Colossus which is the largest wooden roller coaster in all of Europe. Water rides, thrill rides and family rides are all themed around different areas of the world including Greece, Egypt and Oceania.
If a holiday in Spain sounds like the perfect getaway for your family, it’s time to start looking for flight deals today. By booking your holiday in advance, you will save time and money on your dream travel experience. There are many low cost airlines like Ryanair, Easyjet etc. that fly to Spain.
Family Holidays in Alcudia
Going away with the kids can be a challenging ordeal sometimes. It’s hard to make a holiday work for everyone – the youngsters want to be active all the time, while we adults might want to share a romantic moment or two. Picking where to go can be half the battle, but I think if you pick the right spot with a good mix of family fun, you’re going to have a really great time.
A bit of a tourist hotspot in northern Majorca, Alcudia holidays this summer are definitely something to think about if you’re travelling with children. For one thing the landscape is gorgeous, with a perfect blend of beaches and stunning mountain ranges. This means that there are loads of different outdoor activities to do while you’re there. Alcanada beach is great for younger children as the water isn’t too deep – you can actually walk or swim out to Alcanada Island from here as the water is only 1.5 metres deep! This is a great adventure for the kids; you can pretend to be pirates or explorers heading out to find hidden treasure.
Another great spot that we enjoyed was the Hidropark, a waterpark just outside Alcudia. The prices are extremely reasonable and you can definitely while away at least one day here – our boys were desperate to go back almost as soon as we left! There are lots of different things to do besides the slides and pools, including mini golf, bouncy castles and floating boats. There’s also paintball on offer, but obviously that might not be suitable for the kids, depending on their ages.
There’s also the chance to take a boat trip around the coast, which is a nice way to relax if you’ve had a hectic week. You can take a glass-bottomed catamaran around the bay and see the fascinating underwater world right beneath your feet. If you think you might be interested, I’d suggest booking ahead – there’s nothing worse than waiting in a queue when you’ve got your little monsters champing at the bit to get on board!
Image by Duncan Rawlinson used under creative commons licence
Adventures for children in Magaluf
Magaluf, on the Spanish island of Majorca, is a holiday resort that is as much a destination for children and families as it is for the young adult crowd looking to party. From mainland Europe, flights to Magaluf really don’t cost a fortune, and in addition to the endless sunshine and family-friendly beaches, there are lots of activities for children to keep them entertained.
Let the kids run free at the Western Water Park and they’ll spend all day darting between the slides and attractions. With an Old West theme, there are rides like The Beast for thrill seeking youths who want a slide with a 30-metre drop or the family attraction Mega Slide, where riders raft down a 260-metre slide as a group. There’s also a diving show where kids can enjoy watching professional divers do tricks and flips in the air.
Looking to venture outside Magaluf? Then you might be interested in taking the Palma-to-Soller train, which is a day trip by way of vintage railroad through beautiful countryside to Soller. There aren’t many vintage trains still in operation and it’s a treat for children and adults to travel this way and feel like you’re journeying into the past.
If your children are interested in nature and want a break from the sunshine, there is an amazing cave near Porto Cristo called the Caves of Drach. The name translates to Cavern of the Dragon, which is sure to peak the kids’ interest and imaginations. Within the cave is a hidden lake considered to be one of the largest subterranean lakes in the world. Take a cave tour, which lasts about an hour and includes a classical concert on the lake, and enjoy the cool ambiance as the music bounces around this ‘cavernous’ space! There’s also a light show that imitates the sunrise and the chance to take a boat ride across the lake. A day at the cave is truly a magical adventure for children.
With such a variety of outdoor and inexpensive activities to choose from, parents can’t go wrong by booking a holiday Magaluf this summer and making some awesome memories to bring back home.
Three Special Family Holidays
Your children are only going to be young once, so you should treat them to a magical holiday before they consider themselves too old for family breaks. Create memories to treasure for decades to come, and fill up at least some of the weeks when they are out of school and clamouring for activities to keep them occupied. From a trip to Lapland before Christmas to a Hawaiian paradise during the summer months, here are three destinations that are sure to give you some inspiration for 2013.
Hula Your Worries Away in Hawaii
For a completely different pace of life and beautiful scenery, check out Hawaii this summer. With pleasant tropical temperatures all year round, families can pack light and enjoy T-shirt and beach weather. There are plenty of family-oriented tour packages and resorts in Hawaii that have child-friendly activities. Make sure that you choose a resort that includes a bit of luxury and chill-out time for parents, as well as plenty of amusements for the kids. Camp Menehune at the Hilton Waikoloa Village includes fun activities such as exploring tide-pools and tropical gardens, water sports, interactive dolphin programmes and feeding local wildlife.
Go Totally Wild in Orlando Florida
Another option is the Animal Kingdom Lodge, a part of DisneyWorld in Florida. Little animal enthusiasts can experience the wilds of Africa, within the safe and comfortable environment of a Disney resort. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is a 33 acre property that offers views from all of the rooms onto the Serengeti style zoo outside. There are over 200 animals from 100 different species, such as antelopes and gazelles. Each room is tastefully decorated in African style décor and the resort’s restaurants, Jiko and Boma, cook African-style food in wood-burning ovens.
A Lapland Trip into the Arctic Wilderness
Later on in the year, Finnish Lapland is the traditional hangout of Santa, his wife, the elves, plus of course his reindeer. Make sure that you go there kitted out in thermals and ski gear. Bracing cold isn’t the right way to describe the place, below freezing is more appropriate.
As a wonderful consolation, there’s a flurry of Christmas activity in Lapland. Mulled wine and Finnish saunas are brilliant for the adults while husky-led forays into the icy wilderness keep the kids occupied. The occasional appearance of the hypnotic and truly remarkable Northern Lights is nature’s way of lighting up the sky. During the winter time the sun barely peaks over the horizon.
There are plenty of tour operators that offer families some face time with the jolly red man, comfortable digs and amazing food to stave off the Arctic cold. For the traditional Christmas memory that will go down in family history, a Lapland trip is the ultimate in Christmas merriment and magic.
A well-planned, fun and relaxing family holiday is very feasible when you know where to go! Find a good mix of kid-friendly activities, and the chance for parents to get some well-deserved R&R.
Hola Spain! Top four holiday spots
Get your passport and factor thirty at the ready and cast your eyes over this quick and dirty guide to the four top Spanish spots to visit this year.
Barcelona is brilliant for a city break, and has loads of culture and history to take in, so it’s an ideal choice if you get bored lounging on the beach all day. Top sightseeing spots in Barcelona include the Gothic Quarter, with buildings dating back to Medieval and Roman times, and Antoni Gaudi’s Church of the Sacred Family, described as “a masterpiece of modernist architecture”.
Nightlife is big in Barcelona! If you’re into your clubbing then visit Razzmatazz or City Hall Nightclub. To sample a shot of absinthe (if you can handle it) then pay a visit to Bar Marsella in Carrer Sant Pau.
There’s a reason Benidorm’s been a popular holiday spot for so many years, and its four miles of gorgeous sandy beaches is one of them. If you’re after a relaxing holiday in the sun with enough to do at night then you can’t go wrong with a holiday in Benidorm .
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to sunbathing and swimming spots here, and there are also great spots for scuba diving and snorkelling. The local seafood is delicious so make an effort to visit one of the many restaurants, such as the Agir or Casa Toni, both offering traditional Spanish fare and picturesque views while you eat.
Costa del Sol
When package deals first came to prominence, the Costa del Sol was the place to go. These days, travellers visit all areas of Spain, but the Costa del Sol still has plenty to offer holiday makers and remains popular as a result. As well as the beaches and of course the Spanish weather, the Costa del Sol has a great public transport system that makes it easy for you to visit other areas from whichever resort you’re staying in.
You can easily spend a day strolling around the ancient capital city of Malaga, taking in the historic streets and beautiful architecture of the churches and museums. Make sure you pay Malaga Castle a visit too, to soak up the history and enjoy some fabulous views.
Holidays in Majorca are ideal for families and couples, with plenty to do if you need to be kept busy, but enough opportunity for relaxation if you choose to do nothing at all.
If it’s a family holiday you’re looking at, the dolphin and sea lion shows at Marine Land are a safe bet to keep the kids entertained. Couples can take advantage of the area’s many chilled out bars and fabulous restaurants serving delicious local food, such as the top rated Village Café in Deia.
Wherever you choose to go in Spain, you’ll be unlikely to have many problems with language, as all resorts are set up to cater for tourists and making yourself understood in English is rarely a problem. Having said that, taking a phrase book and learning a few key phrases, such as ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘beer’, will be much appreciated by locals and might get you better service!
Our Top hints and Tips for Visiting Disneyland Orlando
Make sure you book a table for Dinner as the restaurants get busy
Always buy your tickets online. They’re usually cheaper and save you the headache you’ll get waiting to purchase at the gate
Download the free Disney Magic app – you can plan rides and check show times and once you’re inside the park it will let you check how long the lines are on different rides
Bring your own water bottles. It will save you time and money! If you don’t want to carry a water bottle, just ask for a cup of water at any food or drink vendor
Have your children look for Hidden Mickeys is a great way to keep them occupied especially when queuing
When the park opens at 9am, go first to Toy Story Midway Mania, which has the longest lines in the park, and FastPasses are usually gone for the day by noon.
Plan a show for the hottest part of the day, but be aware that the air conditioning can be fierce!
If it’s your first visit, get one of the “first time” badges from Guest Services
for getting the most out of Universal
Take some american stamps and postcards to use the owl post in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This is where you can send a letter with a Hogsmeade postmark. You can buy usable Harry Potter stamps but they were rather overprices at $15 a pack especially when we only wanted to send three postcards.
Frozen Butterbeer is much nicer than regular Butterbear (which tasted like cream soda). If you want to get a souvenir cup with your butterbeer you can and ask for the butterbeer to be put in a regular cup so you do not have to wash out your tankard for putting in your bag. Also you can bypass the cart and buy it straight from The Three Broomsticks which is a lot faster.
The mixtures of movies and rides is fantastic. The Despicable me experience is fantastic, we loved being turned in to Minions. Oh and the fart gun does smell of bananas!
The temperature really hots up around lunch time, so make a beeline for the indoor rides like Despicable Me, The Mummy or Spiderman during this time. Alternately why not take a trip to Jurassic Park and be prepared to get VERY WET!
Take a refillable water bottle with you. You need to keep drinking as you can dehydrate really fast.
Check what rides your children can and can not go on before you visit to avoid disappointment.
Consider a Universal a Express Pass which costs around £30-40 per person, and allows you to go to the front of the line once on each ride, although you get this sort of ticket for free if you’re staying at a Universal hotel.
Make sure you arrive early for the park opening at 9 am. Rides open at 9.30 am
The park is 45 minutes from Downtown Tampa and the other Orlando Parks
You can exchange your own LEGO Mini Figure with any of the Model Citizen’s (LEGO Employees). They have theirs on their name badge. Also keep an eye out for the Mini Figure Ambassador as they have a shirt covered in Mini Figures.
Go to the back of the park either LEGO City or Technic first
If it your birthday, then collect a badge from a Model Citizen (A LEGO Employee) at Guest services at The Beginning
If you want to visit a show, try and turn up 30 minutes before the start time
Make sure you take plenty of sun cream and hats as it is much hotter and sunnier in Orlando that the UK. We actually purchased Maxi a pair of sunglasses and shorts strap in LEGOLAND
The park also has many attractions for children and adults that prefer gentle pace including Safari Trek and Duploland
Download a Park Map before visiting, it shows you all the height restrictions, so you can set expectations before visiting
There is a large selection of places to eat all catering for children, but you need to try the parks signature dish of Granny Smiths Apple Fries
It gets very hot in the middle of the day, so eat inside if possible as the restaurants are air conditioned
The LEGOLAND Florida water park reopens in March and you can upgrade your tickets for $12 each and this would be the perfect place to cool down
The park closes earlier than other parks around 5.30 each day
The Big Shop is the largest LEGO shop in the world
I have to admit that I was really skeptical about Seaworld. I was unsure about using animals in shows, however, I have to say that I was completely won over and we had an amazing day. First things first, there is no way you can see everything in a day (unless you opt for one of the excellent VIP tours, which cost from £172 per adult and child in addition to park admission and includes a freshly prepared lunch) . I would advise you to plan your must see’s before you get to the park.
Maxi and I are spending the half term holiday in Orlando, Florida thanks to Visit Orlando. This is perfect timing for us to explore it all prior to our family holiday there in November with my brother and his family.
We will be exploring the major attractions including including Walt Disney World, Sea World Parks and Universal Orlando Resort.
I have taken a look at the Orlando Holiday Planning tool, so I know that the weather is going to be great and have packed our swimming things and the sun cream and for the first time I will not be taking prescription sunglasses on holiday and I am looking forward to being able to see things from the top of any rides we go on and not worry about my specs falling off.
Going skiing with the family
Going on a ski trip with the whole family can be a lot of fun. It is an extraordinary experience for parents and children. But planning these trips with the whole family is certainly not an easy task. You want to choose the right location. If you live in Europe then the slopes of Austria, Switzerland, northern Italy and France can be the best option. People living in the US will find exciting slopes in Colorado or in Canada. One of the challenges for the average family is certainly organizing a skiing holiday that is within a reasonable budget. Most of the good skiing locations are quite expensive, especially when planning a taking into consideration everything you will need to pay for.
Finding the right skiing holiday offer
Skiing is known to be a rather pricey sport, especially when going to some of the big skiing resorts. Apart from paying for the trip and hotel you might also need to buy or rent all the equipment. Nonetheless, there are some great deals to be found over the internet. Websites like snowtrex.co.uk can help with giving a comprehensive overview of the deals available and provides an estimation on how expensive the trip can be. It is certainly recommendable to use these websites to compare all the different options available and to then find the deal that best suits you and your family. It is certainly possible to enjoy a great skiing holiday without straining your budget too much, as long as you take a bit of time in finding and comparing holiday deals.
Once you have found your ideal holiday there are a few more things to take into consideration if you want to make it ‘picture-perfect’. The first thing to take into account is the right equipment. Everybody in your family will definitely need fitting skis, boots and a helmet. While ski helmets are still not mandatory everywhere they are highly recommended for both children and adults. If you and your family only go skiing sporadically, then it is usually a better option to rent all the necessary equipment at the skiing resort. This also puts aside the issue of having to transport everything. When choosing the right location you should also consider the skiing ability of all the family members. When finding slopes for young children it is usually a lot safer to stay on beginner or intermediate slopes. Most of the larger resorts offer slopes for all skill levels, but this is certainly worth checking before you go. Taking these few considerations into account the family holidays in winter will be an unforgettable experience.