Updated February 2017

 

Our favourite teenage guest blogger is back this month sharing his insights on family cruising in the Mediterranean. If you're looking for a Mediterranean cruise for your family, why not consider it from a teenager's point of view with Henry's top tips and best bits.

 

 

Barcelona

I first visited Barcelona when I was 12, and I loved it. The dock is quite a walk away from the city, but there will always be coaches to shuttle you in. Despite this, my family and I decided to make the walk, which lasts about half an hour, and it was lovely. Mainly on a bridge, it boasts spectacular views over the city and a welcome breeze sweeps in to cool you down. You can even see the magical Sagrada Familia in the distance, which brings me to my next point; Antoni Gaudí’s phenomenal architecture. His gothic works include the Casa Batlló, a residential building which captures your imagination. The Park Güell also contains much of Gaudi’s works, as well as more stunning views looking down on the city. However, the masterpiece is the Sagrada Familia, which is absolutely mesmerising. Think again if you plan to ignore the architectural side of Barcelona – I was just as dismissive of museums and buildings as the next child, but Gaudi’s work is just astonishing, and something that you can’t miss.

I also enjoyed the general atmosphere of the city; it wasn’t chaotic like you might get in small Turkish towns, but it maintained a unique charm, which is seen perfectly in Las Ramblas, the famous lively promenade, where you can buy fresh food, drink, souvenirs and clothes. For those not wanting to take a chance on the food, Barcelona has the usual cafés and restaurants, including McDonald’s. From here, the beach is no further than a 20 minute walk away, and it stretches all the way along the coast. Be warned though, the golden sands and hot weather attracts thousands of people, leaving little room for latecomers. Barcelona really is a perfect destination for cruises with the family.

Sports fans can also enjoy cruise trips to the Nou Camp, home of FC Barcelona, and to the Olympic sports grounds of the 1992 Summer Olympics.

 

Santorini

I have been to Santorini twice, and really enjoyed it on both occasions. There is plenty to enjoy for the children and the adults. Cruise ships have to anchor away from the island and passengers taken in by shuttle boats, which is a pleasant experience in itself. The main town itself is at the top of a hill, meaning a funicular takes you up, another enjoyable experience. The town itself is charming, with its narrow streets and lovely buildings packed tightly together. The cobbled paths lead you along the top, with beautiful views of the sea and volcano – and probably your cruise ship! There is a nice mixture of restaurants, cafés and ice cream shops. Eventually, you will reach the famous blue and white buildings which are the trademark picture for Santorini. These are nice, but by now the children might be getting a bit restless. I would recommend walking down the Santorini ‘donkey path’, which offers fantastic views of the volcano, and is a very fun activity for the kids.

For those not wanting to go up to the town, you can also go on a cruise trip to explore the volcano. Whilst the volcano is dormant, an eruption can be detected three months before it happens, so there’s nothing to worry about. On my second visit to Santorini, we went on an excursion which involved a boat ride to the volcano, before walking up to the top and looking down the crater. You can feel the hot waves of air blow up, and there are also magnificent views on the other side. Afterwards, we were taken to a set of hot springs and we were allowed to swim in them, which was brilliant and something that other children will definitely enjoy. Santorini is a great destination for a child friendly cruise.

 

Gibraltar

I think Gibraltar is unfairly labelled as a boring place because it is part of the UK and shares the same shops and road signs (etc.), Britons generally think that they are not really experiencing a new and interesting place. However, if you ignore the signs to Sainsbury’s, then you’ll discover and appreciate Gibraltar for its geographical and natural wonders. The Rock of Gibraltar is the obvious landmark, and rightly so. There are many excursions by local people which give good tours of the land before going up the Rock where the famous Gibraltar monkeys live – the only wild monkeys in Europe. They are all friendly and used to humans, meaning they happily jump on your shoulders for pictures. During World War II, the British army used Gibraltar as a base, due to its strategically convenient location, and there are many interesting tunnels and bases within the Rock which can be visited. The Upper Rock Nature Reserve provides a safe environment for the monkeys to live, as well as being the location to St. Michael’s Cave, which has spectacular stalactites and scenery. The Mediterranean Steps provide breathtaking views and, whilst I haven’t done it personally, the reviews online are all very positive.

Back down in town, there is the Grand Casemates Square, with the usual shops and souvenirs, while Europa Point provides nice views of Africa, and is the site of Gibraltar’s new football stadium. You can also get a very cheap bus around Gibraltar, which takes you in a full loop. When I was there, we stopped off at a beach round the book and enjoyed great weather, as well as a free inflatable course in the water (just sign up with the lifeguards), making it a great place for children.

Ibiza

Ibiza is a lovely place for relaxing on the beach. The sun is constant but never unbearable, and the blue waters are beautifully warm. I would recommend exploring the town first. The main town is fairly standard, with lots of shops and restaurants. The old town is beautiful and accessible for all. The Santa Maria d’Eivissa is a beautiful cathedral to consider visiting, and you can also visit the Ibiza Castle and wander around the narrow, cobbled streets, before heading down to the beach to relax. We ventured down a scrubby hillside before reaching a rocky beach, where the water was amazing. The island is fairly small, so may not appease those who are not satisfied with relaxing on the beach. The ship is quite a walk away, but there should be regular shuttle buses provided by the cruise line, or you might want to make the half hour walk, which is very pleasant – you could stop at one of the many quayside restaurants on the way back.

 

Naples

When I went to Naples, we took a train to the ruined village of Pompeii which was very fascinating. You can stroll around the ancient stone roads and see the destroyed buildings. Inside houses there are also the preserved human remains after the eruption of Vesuvius. There are plenty of statues, and also a café. Tour guides are also present, but you risk getting caught up with a very boring one. Whilst it is undoubtedly an extraordinary place, it is likely that young children may get bored, so I’d recommend saving Pompeii for the older children (14 and above), when they can really appreciate the place. Temperatures do get very high, but luckily there are lots of good beaches nearby. Further along the same train line, you reach the beach town of Sorrento. Alternatively, you might choose to spend the day climbing Mount Vesuvius, which is easy to do with many tours and clear pathways, and it boasts breathtaking views.

Back in Naples, there are also many attractions, in addition to the variety of beaches on offer. The Piazza del Plebiscito is very famous, whilst the Orto Botanico provides a welcome escape from the noise and traffic of the city roads. Meanwhile, for the tired children, you can settle down on one of the many beaches, including the Arenile Beach, which turns into a famous beach club at night. Naples also boasts some of the best pizzas in the world, so ensure you make time for a meal! The city is fairly easy to navigate, and you can do a lovely walk back to the ship through the narrow and winding streets. There are many grand churches and cathedrals, as well as little cafés where you can stop for ice cream.

 


Treat the family (and yourself) with a Mediterranean cruise for your next holiday. Popular family cruise lines include P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Disney Cruise Line.