P&O Cruises is well known for its family-friendly ships, such as Oceana, pictured here in Alexandria, Egypt. Of the seven ships in the fleet, four have family facilities. They are the aforementioned Oceana, Azura, Ventura and Aurora. To find out what's in store for your little ones, U.K. Editor Adam Coulter took his kids onboard Oceana for an Eastern Mediterranean cruise in half term.
The 77,000-ton, 2,016-passenger Oceana dwarfs The U.K. Editor Adam Coulter’s eldest son, Findlay, aged 5. The ship is in dock at Alexandria, Egypt, one of a number of ports of call on an Eastern Mediterranean cruise.
Findlay at the acropolis, the second stop on a half-day Alexandria city shore excursion. Most excursions on the Eastern Med itineraries are not ideal for very small kids due to the amount of walking and long coach journeys involved. However, the Alexandria city excursion is ideal, especially for little ones obsessed with Mummies, tombs and all things Egyptian. The half-day tour takes in the world-famous catacombs, where you can see tombs, but sadly no mummies or treasures though; Alexandria’s ancient acropolis including Pompey’s Pillar and small sphinxes and an open-air market.
One of the sarcophagi on display at Alexandria’s catacombs, known as Kom al-Shoqafa, which consist of a multilevel labyrinth, reached via a large spiral staircase, and featuring numerous chambers adorned with sculpted pillars, statues, burial niches and sarcophagi, as well as a large Roman-style banquet room, where memorial meals were conducted by relatives of the deceased. The catacombs were long forgotten by the citizens until they were discovered by accident in the 1800's.
Findlay checks out the seashells at the open-air market in Alexandria, where you can buy anything from seashells, coral, trinkets and rugs (of course!). The market is the final stop on the Alexandria city tour.
Rafferty (2) and Findlay ate at Cafe Jardin most evenings. On Oceana, when you are travelling outside of main school holidays or there are not many children onboard, you can pre-order a special kids menu at the Kids’ Club which is served between 5:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. in Cafe Jardin, just afternoon Afternoon Tea is served and just before the first evening sitting. The food is prepared specially for little palates (including specially made desserts, pictured) and presented over three courses in fun ways. During busy times kids’ meals are served in the Horizon Buffet.
One of the highlights for kids on any P&O cruise is the chance to meet Noddy, who is onboard the four ships during school holidays. He’s usually accompanied by Mr. Bump and will read and entertain the 2- to 4-year-olds, and even sometimes the adults (see next slide).
Noddy is such an established part of P&O Cruises that he even gets to meet V.I.P.’s like Dame Helen Mirren, the Godmother to Ventura.
The kids’ clubs on the ships are split into four different age groups: 2- to 4-year-olds, 5- to 8-year-olds, 9- to 12-year-olds and 13- to 17-year-olds. Activities run throughout the day from around 10 a.m. until late. There is also a night nursery for babies (see next slide).
The Sea Bed, onboard Azura, is where babies and toddlers have a nap during the day, and is also the night nursery.
This is the Beach Hut, for 2- to 4-year-olds. It’s part of a four-room area situated at the aft of Azura and Ventura on Deck 16. The three others comprise: Frontiers (see next slide) for 5- to 8-year-olds, The Hub for 9- to 12-year-olds and Apartment 16 for 13- to 17-year-olds.
Frontiers for 5- to 8-year-olds, onboard Azura and Ventura.