We were traveling with our 4 children and two other families, one with 4 children and one with two. We were three couples in our early 40s to early 50s. The children ranged in age from 8 to 16. We spent one night in Barcelona pre-cruise and three nights post-cruise. We chose to introduce our children to Europe via cruise, because we thought it would be much easier than traveling around and packing up several times. The cruise worked out just as we had hoped. It was especially great with 16 of us traveling together. We would tour each day and be able to come aboard, clean up, and show up for dinner at 7. When the children were finished they could leave for their night time activities and the adults could linger over dinner and drinks!
We stayed at the Hotel Inglaterra and hopped in four cabs to get to the pier on Saturday morning. Check-in and boarding went very smoothly. We had linked our reservations and had set dining at 7 each night - a table for 6 for the adults and one for 10 for the children. We all enjoyed the food very much. My only complaint would be that the children's table had a different waiter. Not a big problem, but it would have been nice to have one waiter to deal with, as sometimes the younger children needed a little help. But within a couple of days the waiters knew exactly what they needed - a big bowl of broccoli with dinner to share and a big plate of cookies for dessert!
We had two eight year olds with us, and they went off to the kids' club every night after dinner. That worked out really well for them and us. Four boys ages 11-13 would spend the evening together, playing games in the game room or doing something with the kids club. The four teenage girls met several other teenagers and were out with them every night. Our biggest problem was getting everyone to bed at a decent hour, so they could get up early to head off the ship each morning.
We all went to see the Air show. I think everyone enjoyed it, though it definitely doesn't compare to Cirque du Soleil. We took the two eight year olds to see the ice show one night. We all loved it! Maybe because none of use has ever seen an ice show. We didn't see the Saturday Night Fever show. We were all exhausted that night and needed sleep.
We went to both the Windjammer and the main dining room for breakfast. I prefer the main dining room, but it took much too much time on the mornings when we needed to be off the ship before 8am. The Windjammer was fine, but not as relaxing.
We enjoyed all the ports. In Toulon we booked an afternoon excursion to Bandol and beaches. That allowed everyone to have a restful morning and a relaxing afternoon at the beach. In Villefranche we took the train to Nice. The three days in Italy were very busy. We were off the ship by 8am each of those mornings. For Pisa/Florence we had booked two vans from Rome In Limo. It was a whirlwind, but we saw as much as anyone could. For Rome we also used Rome In Limo. That day seemed more leisurely than Florence. We had a really nice sit down lunch near the Vatican, which was a highlight for everyone We had a great private tour guide at the Vatican, which I was very thankful for. It was very HOT and very Crowded. We wouldn't have lasted 10 minutes in there without her. She kept us all together and gave us a lot of great information. Even my 8 year old was asking her questions before the tour was over! In Naples we took the hydrofoil over to Capri for a private boat tour around the island. We had plenty of time to swim off the boats as well. That was a highlight!
Our last day was a sea day, a much needed day of leisure! Disembarking on Saturday went smoothly, though there was a very long line to get a cab. We headed back to Hotel Inglaterra for three more nights in Barcelona. We were all so happy our vacation wasn't over yet!
We all loved the cruise and it was great that everyone (adults and children) had friends along!