An emerging new trend in cruising holidays is that of so-called “enrichment cruises”. In addition to the luxury of relaxing, dining and sightseeing expected from a cruise, enrichment cruises offer passengers lectures, demonstrations and classes; often with renowned professionals and experts giving talks or instruction and sometimes even celebrities. Many are now enjoying the opportunity to learn about new topics or acquire new skills while at sea. With all manner of programmes available, an enrichment cruise is not the reserve of couples or passengers without children; many of the cruise ships offering enrichment programmes also feature a host of activities and games to keep the young ones entertained while the parents learn about wine tasting or listen to a lecture on Roman history for example. There’s no reason the whole family can’t partake in a voyage of discovery.http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Queen_Elizabeth_liner-2.jpg
Many of Crystal’s cruises offer their Creative Learning Institute programme which features progressive courses in subjects such as wellness and art. Those looking to develop more of an appreciation for wine whilst on board will find the wine tasting course an excellent complement to the on board dining and those keen to interact with the locals at the various ports of call will enjoy improving their language skills with instruction provided by Berlitz. On every Crystal cruise is the Crystal Visions programme which features seminars and talks from renowned actors, comedians, authors, scientists and even medal winning Olympians.
With a host of educational and entertainment activities, junior dining menus and a comprehensive Junior Activities programme available on all Holiday cruises in addition to almost all summer sailing, families are well catered for and there is plenty to keep young bodies and minds occupied too. Children and teenagers aged 3-17 are offered all manner of activities from the action packed – such as scavenger hunts, pool games and dancing – to the creative – such as pizza making and fashion shows. On-board babysitting services in addition to late night pool parties, discos and pyjama parties mean that your kids will be entertained by day or night regardless of age.
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines
Fred Olsen provide an enrichment programme called Vista Themes offering passengers the opportunity to learn about new topics from recognisable experts often seen on TV in areas such as antiques, photography, food and even gardening. Some Vista topics are tailored to learning more about the cruise’s destinations, such as “The Moors – Interplay of Europe & North Africa” or “Spanish – Language of Food & Romance”. Most sessions are complementary, with an occasional small fee applied where significant materials or supplies are used for the course.
While Fred Olsen Cruises do not offer a babysitting service, during school holiday periods the Black Watch and Balmoral cruise ships offer Children’s playroom facilities for the over 5s. Additionally, it is possible to book cabins with interconnecting rooms which is ideal for families with children.
Regent Seven Sea Cruises
Regent Seven Seas offer the connoisseur the opportunity to develop their knowledge of wines and spirits and the regions that create them in addition to demonstrations and insider tips from top chefs whilst on board their luxury vessels. The art enthusiasts are also well catered for with a programme of fine arts lectures, Opera performances and local dance instruction. Regent also provide enrichment programmes targeted at the whole family such as the Ambassadors of the Environment Youth Program. Aimed at introducing young passengers and their families “to extraordinary natural wonders while demonstrating imaginative ways to build environmental sustainability into their lives back home” through organised activities both at sea and on shore.
Both the Seven Seas Mariner and the Seven Seas Navigator vessels host Regent’s complimentary Club Mariner Youth Program which provides activities for children aged 5 (or 6 dependent on ship) to 17 with games, films, crafts and other activities targeted at different age groups.
Cunard feature a variety of enrichment programmes on all of their voyages, including some partnerships with some very prestigious establishments such as the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, the Royal Astronomical Society and the Juilliard School. Holidays are often the opportunity to catch up on that reading which hasn’t been possible in busy day to day lives and Cunard Cruises take this one step further with a Book Club on board. In addition to these themed enrichment programmes, the Cunard Insights programme comprises talks and lectures from a diverse variety of biographers, explorers, politicians and the likes.
Cunard Cruises cater to almost all ages of child and even provide a night nursery available to look after 12-23 month olds while parents and older children dine or enjoy the entertainment. There are three play areas dedicated to different age groups with games, activities, films, crafts and competitions galore with both structured sessions and free play sessions run by qualified staff. Unlike many cruise liners, on board all three of Cunard’s vessels, teenagers are particularly well catered for with age appropriate films, pizza parties and discos in addition to the usual activities and games.
Laura Brooke is a freelance travel writer, recently involved with writing a number of guides including www.iglucruise.com/family-cruises. As she has two boys of her own she usually focuses on family travel and vacations.