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Families who are hesitant to take their children to Europe often worry about the logistics of getting from city to city and dealing with young kids on the go. Enter a Royal Caribbean International cruise, which can eliminate the stress of planning an itinerary with kids in tow. Such a sailing on an Oasis-class ship also guarantees elements of fun, including access to kids’ clubs, waterslides, rock climbing and ziplining. As my family — consisting of my husband and myself, our two kids under the age of 10 and their 70-year-old grandparents — found out, cruising the Mediterranean is perfect for multigenerational groups like us.
Royal Caribbean offers seven-, 12-, 13- and 14-night cruises through the Mediterranean. Near-daily shore excursions that match almost any travel style are available. Families can opt to explore each port on a guided tour or on their own. We loved the flexibility of choosing which ports we wanted to explore and which days we wanted to give our kids some playtime on the ship.
We started our cruise in Barcelona. Not knowing what to expect, we arrived at port to board Symphony of the Seas, and although the ship capacity is more than 6,500 passengers, the process was quick and easy. Our first day onboard included time in the waterpark and a fantastic dinner at Jamie’s Italian, with a menu designed by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
As the cruise progressed, we visited ports in Spain, France and Italy. Royal Caribbean offered several excursions, and we were always able to find one suitable for our entire family, grandparents included. In Cassis, France, we boarded a boat that took us to the famous Calanques — scenic inlets known as the fjords of the Mediterranean. In Italy, we wandered through Portofino sipping Italian wines (adults) and sampling gelato (everyone). The shore excursions allow for free time to explore between planned activities, so our kids were able to expend some energy running on the beach or playing in local parks.
On our final Italy port day, we arrived in Naples and took the local train into Pompeii. The kids wandered through the historic site they had read about in books, amazed equally by the beauty of present-day Pompeii and the vast destruction that occurred with the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Accommodations on Symphony of the Seas vary from traditional rooms to a variety of family-size suites. My family shared a balcony room with a queen bed and trundle-bed couch while my in-laws stayed in an identical room next door. We were able to request that the balconies be joined and spent evenings together watching the ship sail out of port.
On sea days, we found even more value in booking a family Mediterranean cruise. The grandparents enjoyed lunch in one of the adults-only areas while my husband and I played laser tag with the kids before taking in a Broadway show. Though the ship is enormous, we did not experience any overcrowding in restaurants, at the pools or at any of the children’s activities. The range of options in dining also met our family’s needs, as we could feed the kids quickly when needed or enjoy a leisurely dinner at one of the many onboard restaurants. Chops Grille and 150 Central Park were favorites, and a whimsical night at Wonderland is a must-do with young ones.
The benefits of cruising the Mediterranean with Royal Caribbean were abundantly clear as we returned to port in Barcelona. We were exhausted from a week filled with adventure, but not tired of spending time as a family.
Without the stress of deciding where to go, what to eat and how to get there, our family left the frustration of travel planning behind. Instead of rushing off to hotels and airports for some time apart, long hugs were exchanged as we lingered in port, planning our next multigenerational family vacation — most likely, a Royal Caribbean cruise through Asia.
The DetailsRoyal Caribbeanwww.royalcaribbean.com