7 ways to enjoy a child free cruise holiday

Whether you are a fan of it or not, most mainstream cruise lines do and will continue to cater for family friendly holidays.  A cruise is a perfect holiday for a family and continues to rise in popularity due to the multigenerational facilities available on board.  There can be no denying that a cruise ship is often a child’s paradise.  The facilities on board are amazing, with so much to see and do, there’s no wonder you see kids on the quayside bursting with excitement.  As much as this type of holiday appeals to families, it’s not always the case for couples or perhaps groups of adult friends travelling together.  Children on cruises are not for everyone and it’s important to have options available to you for when you want to enjoy some peace and quiet,  It’s also important for parents looking to enjoy some time on their own.

Cruise couple

If this is you and you are looking for an alternative option that will not involve children on board then rest assured, you don’t have to worry.  There are plenty of options for you to explore and many cruises are available with either a minimal number of children on board or a completely child free cruise.  Many cruisers tend to look just for the specified adult only ships and these are a great idea if you’re looking for a holiday with no children at all but there aren’t that many of these ships around and if you are just looking at these, the choice of itineraries is very limited.  With that in mind we take a closer look at the choices you can make and the options available for avoiding children.  One of the best things to do is to seek out ships and sailings that may not be as appealing to families as others.  We also feel you shouldn’t have to give up the option of experiencing mainstream cruise lines in peak times just because you want to avoid kids so here’s a few options of how to get round the problem.

School term sailing

Travelling on a cruise during school term will most certainly mean a child free cruise environment mainly due to parents not wanting their children to miss important education; however, a recent government ruling now allows a school headmaster to levy fines against parents who take their children out of school for holiday purposes which is obviously a big deterrent. So there you have it, if you want a cruise with no children occupying the spa deck hot tub then look to book one during school term times, you may even find it is slightly cheaper!

Luxury cruise lines

Next on the list is cruising with a luxury operator.  Cruise lines such as Azamara Club Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn and Silversea offer intimate, elegant and high end cruising experiences that are predominantly orientated around an adult audience.  These cruise lines are amongst the higher pricing bracket of cruising but with the recent rise in all-inclusive options on board, they are becoming increasingly good value for money.  Certain luxury ships do offer facilities for children but they are often not needed as it is extremely rare for these cruise lines to have many under 18’s on board.  With this in mind, these cruise operators can be excellent choices for avoiding children whilst indulging in elegant, relaxing surroundings.

Itinerary selection

This can be a key decision if you’re looking to avoid spending time amongst children on board.  It is often the case that the main popular cruises for families during peak seasons include Mediterranean and Caribbean itineraries.  If you wish to travel in a peak season but want to stay away from this then consider something a little more exotic.  Whilst we are not saying that children cannot be travellers of the world, it is true that if the itinerary is more exotic and further afield, you are likely to find much fewer younger passengers on board and families are much less attracted to these sailings.  It is worth considering destinations such as the Far East and South America.  These itineraries include seeing spectacular destinations and no compromise over quality of cruise line and cruise ship but without the noise and disturbance from children that you are so looking to avoid.  Other potential itineraries include the North Cape, Norwegian Fjords and Baltic Capitals.  Whilst these cruises will undoubtedly have some children on board, the amount on these sailings will be much less than that of a Mediterranean itinerary and can be a great attraction for passengers that themselves have to sail in school holiday periods such as teachers for example.

Long cruises

It is a fact that the majority of families tend to stick to shorter duration cruises.  The most popular itineraries are seven night cruises along with cruise breaks of four or five nights.  Fortnight sailings are also hugely popular but anything longer than this often proves expensive for families, especially during holiday times where prices are notoriously a little higher than during term times.  If you’re looking to avoid families with children then opt for a longer cruise itinerary.  From Southampton and other UK departure points there is often a good range of choice for a longer cruise ranging from sixteen nights taking in the Eastern Mediterranean right up to cruises for 24 nights.  P&O Cruises and Fred Olsen are two cruise lines that regularly offer these types of cruises.  Plus as well as the advantage of not being surrounded by children, you also get to see even more destinations and enjoy a longer, relaxing cruise.

Designated adult only ships

Without a doubt, the best way by far to avoid children when booking a cruise holiday is to opt for a specified adult only cruise ship.  There are not many of them around but the ones that are, are truly perfect for offering fantastic facilities and ultimate tranquillity in a child free environment.  P&O Cruises again are one of the leading operators for this type of cruise.  The cruise line has three ships that are dedicated to looking after adults alone.  Arcadia, Adonia and Oriana are three exceptional ships with outstanding facilities and exceptional service.  The three ships offer a variety of exciting itineraries and all three are unique in their own way.  Oriana offers a romantic, quintessential British experience, exuding style and grace whilst Arcadia provides a contemporary feel combining modern touches with classic heritage.  Adonia is the smallest of the three but still manages to boast a superb range of facilities and amenities on board.  She may be smaller but her size allows her to head off the beaten track and take in some of the world’s most hidden treasures during her itineraries.

The rise of river cruising

River cruising has seen a phenomenal rise in popularity over recent years and continues to gain followers all over the world.  Originally attracting passengers looking to experience something different to what they had already seen, river cruising provided the chance to get up close and personal to some of the world’s most captivating cities.  Now though, river cruising is loved for its intimate nature combining relaxing surroundings with excellent facilities and just the right amount of personal space to both enjoy the scenery and feel yourself re-charge from the day to day strains of life.  This type of cruising allows you the chance to sail some of the most glamorous sights the world has to offer and instead of requiring a coach service from port to city centre such as with ocean cruising, you will simply dock right in the heart of many exhilarating destinations.  Viking River Cruises exemplify the rise in river cruising popularity with their recent introduction of 11 new long boat designs and they will increase their fleet even more in 2014 with a further addition of new vessels to cater for the demand. Whilst there are family focused cruises on some river cruises, this type of holiday is world away from the large modern day ocean liners and as such amenities do come a lot smaller and more intimate, hence the less attractive these ships are to families looking to keep children entertained.

Onboard options

If you wish to sail aboard some of the mainstream operators but want the option of being able to take yourself off for some peace and quiet time then fear not as you don’t have to go for one of the aforementioned options to avoid children.  There are ways in which you can enjoy time to yourself on board even during the peak holiday seasons.

The first way to do this is with your accommodation.  Book a balcony or higher grade of stateroom.  This gives you the option to spend more time on your own private veranda if you wish and always provides that relaxing retreat away from crowds.  Suites now come with extra special touches such as whirlpool hot tubs on your balcony and access to exclusive lounges, all welcome features when looking to avoid the busier areas.

The next piece of advice we would offer is to look for a cruise line that offers what can be described as a ship within a ship feature.  There are many example of this and some of the best include P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line.  These are three examples of cruise lines that have developed ships with both sides of the coin in their minds.  They have succeeded in producing vessels that are fantastic for families whilst providing relaxing adult only havens to get away from it all.  These exclusive areas include their own swimming pool areas, gymnasiums, restaurants, lounges and much more.  P&O Cruises Azura and Ventura both have The Retreat an over 18’s only area that even has private massage tables just in case you get out of the pool feeling a little tense plus there’s private cabanas you can hire for the day.  Princess Cruises offer the same facilities on many of their ships whilst Norwegian Cruise Line offers The Haven.  This amazing area caters for a select group of passengers and really is like a world on its own.  The Haven invites passengers to step out from their accommodation into an elegant, refined area with the finest amenities and expert services.  You’ll have your own dedicated concierge service and are welcome to enjoy the secluded Courtyard which boasts an adult only pool, and several speciality dining venues.

These facilities can be excellent just to take a break from the busier areas on board and catch your breath.  They are a welcome addition aboard many cruise ships in the modern day and a must for those looking for an indulgent escape.

Michael Wilson is the Managing Director at Bolsover Cruise Club.

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