Travel News

5 reasons to take the kids cruising

Lifestyle Editor Vanessa Marshall tries out family life on the high seas

During the next school holidays, why not treat the kids to eight action-packed nights aboard P&O’s Pacific Pearl? This round trip to the beautiful islands of Fiji was a hit with me and my girl.

1. The big relax

Our holiday starts as soon as we open our cabin door and gaze out across the big blue.

It doesn’t really matter that the ship is yet to sail because that’s the beauty of cruising! Once the family’s unpacked, the fun begins. It’s like taking your hotel room with you but without the hassle. First stop is the pool, before a quick change into the ship’s requisite all-black attire for the farewell party – it’s goodbye Auckland, hello Fiji!

There’s jugglers, a giant movie screen and live music, and kids of all ages are enthralled by the spectacle.

Vanessa and daughter Kiki sample the (non-alcoholic) cocktails at the Wyndham!

2. Digital detox

Most kids these days would rather chop off their right arm than be 10 minutes without Wi-Fi, so packages are available on board. But here’s the thing – there’s actually so much for them to do, you’ll be amazed at how little their devices get used.

The ship’s kids’ club caters for different ages and stages. There’s the gym – and yes, there are kids inside pumping iron – pools and spa, a segway track, a flying fox from one end of the ship to the other and, for those game enough, a chance to walk the plank. With all that’s on offer, who’s got the time to stare at a screen?

3. All you can eat

“Mum, what is there to eat?” is usually a constant chorus on any family holiday, so being able to answer, “Whatever you want!” is the icing on the cake for most parents on board. There’s a buffet available almost round the clock at the Pearl’s Plantation Restaurant, but if it’s a sit-down meal you’re after, the Waterfront has three sittings per day.

There are also speciality restaurants, including celebrity chef Luke Mangan’s Salt, plus pizza and ice cream at the ready for when you’re lounging poolside. If you really want to impress the family, treat them to a seven-course meal at the chef’s table. Afterwards everyone will be so full, they’ll sleep for hours

The Pacific Pearl’s flying fox proves a hit – what better way to enjoy the sunset?

4. Island adventures

At some point, you will have to disembark, but the good news is it will be in Fiji! Our first stop was Suva and we headed straight to the Pearl Resort for a Fijian welcome and BBQ. Our driver was a wealth of knowledge, pointing out colourful landmarks alongside some sobering reminders of the damage left by Cyclone Winston.

The following day, we sailed into Denarau and spent another day poolside at the Wyndham. Just jump on the Bula Bus and resort-hop. The hotels all offer reasonably priced meals and pools that look out on to the ocean.

It’s all aboard the Bula Bus as Kiki grabs her towel for another day of pool-hopping.

5. Showtime

If you’ve not been tired out by the day’s activities, the ship comes alive after dark. Older kids can lie under the stars watching movies until midnight and there are razzle-dazzle shows on in the main theatre.

The Oasis bar is adults-only (just book the kids an extra slot in kids’ club) and the best spot for sipping cocktails is the hot tub. Once the kids are in bed, there are several bars to sneak out to for a nightcap or karaoke. Favourite sing-along? Sister Sledge’s “We are Family”!

Related stories