Imagine two parents booking a two-week long holiday – willingly – with three Gen Y kids as well as a 77-year old grandmother and 74-year old aunt. National Lampoon Family nightmare spring to mind?
Well, for Graeme and Amanda Westwood and Jarrod, 20, Caleb, 18 and Sasha, 15 plus Grandma Kay and Auntie San, it was anything but. Not only did they and their relationships all return intact, they arrived home from a 14-day Pacific Island cruise on board the Carnival Spirit relaxed and enriched.
“I used to think cruising would be too expensive for us as a family,” says Amanda. “We have four children so we’d would go camping or stay with relations in Queensland – very budget! But Graeme and I had taken a two-day anniversary cruise and loved it, cruise fares dropped and so we booked for the seven of us.”
They quickly realised that the cruise experience is a great way to simplify holidaying for a large, and often extended, family. “All the day-to-day dramas are taken away,” says Amanda. “It’s also really safe for kids on board.”
Not only is it safe but with theme nights and activities, the kids loved the constant entertainment. “We went during Halloween,” says Sasha, “so we had a fun night doing trick or treating on the ship. Even playing trivia and bingo was great fun to do with the family.
“But the major highlights for me were the destinations, activities, people and food. The only thing that annoyed me was not being allowed into the dance club! Grandma Kay and Auntie San enjoyed the cruise so much they booked another one.”
The group stayed in three separate cabins. On port days, they all had breakfast together “bright and early” then spent the day on shore doing different things. Jarrod, Caleb and Sasha teamed up with other teenage kids, on and off the ship, and everyone would meet for dinner in the evenings in the main restaurant.
“The hardest part of holidaying with a big family is the food. Either I end up cooking, or we’re trying to find cheap eats so the budget doesn’t blow out. When you cruise there is nothing to organise – bliss!”
So the verdict from the parents? “If you want a stress-free, relaxing or busy holiday where you see many cities and locations without having to worry about meals, entertainment, cleaning and transport to the next destination because it’s all taken care of – book a cruise! And if you want to be very, very, very popular with your kids –book a cruise!”