Find­ing free­dom and fun at sea

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - THE GENERATION GAME - David Atkin­son

I’m the ul­ti­mate squeezed mid­dle – a sin­gle dad caught be­tween my 76-year-old fa­ther and two pri­mary-school-age chil­dren. Grand­dad wants his­tory and ex­cur­sions from a hol­i­day. The girls want white-knuckle wa­ter slides and py­jama par­ties at the kids’ club. No won­der I feel like a stiff drink.

But fi­nally I hit on a pos­si­ble so­lu­tion: a cruise. No, re­ally – hap­pi­ness came in the form of a seven-night Mediter­ranean cruise from Barcelona with Nor­we­gian Cruise Line. A ship like Nor­we­gian Epic is large enough to of­fer a range of day­time ac­tiv­i­ties, nightly shows and flex­i­bil­ity to eat in­for­mally when you want.

Bet­ter still, with Grand­dad busy at a lec­ture, and the girls dress­ing up at the Splash Academy kids’ club, I could sneak a few hours each morning for my­self, es­cap­ing to the steam room, tak­ing a yoga class, or sim­ply sit­ting in the Jacuzzi on the adult­sonly Spice Pool deck and watch­ing that day’s port of call stretch­ing to in­fin­ity.

Hav­ing our own space was key. Af­ter break­fast to­gether, the older and younger gen­er­a­tions would dis­perse, with me safe in the knowl­edge that they were safely and hap­pily oc­cu­pied. We would then re­con­vene for a buf­fet lunch and spend the af­ter­noon on the sun deck, the girls splash­ing amid the Nemo stat­ues in the pool, while my fa­ther read his book nearby. There was a ready sup­ply of ice cream and cold drinks if any branch of the fam­ily was seen to be get­ting a bit hot and both­ered.

Come evening, we ei­ther ate early and caught one of the nightly shows, such as a child-friendly magic show, or the girls joined the slum­ber-party film screen­ing while Dad and I sam­pled one of the spe­cial­ity restau­rants, such as the Ar­gen­tine steak­house.

By the end of the week, the pres­sure-cooker en­vi­ron­ment of some fam­ily hol­i­days had been dis­si­pated by the free­dom to de­velop our own in­ter­ests. I may still be the piggy in the mid­dle but, af­ter a week in the sun, I was feel­ing de­cid­edly less squeezed.

Five great multi­gen­er­a­tion cruises

Na­ture lovers

Who: Fred Olsen Cruises The new kids’ club, Lit­tle Skip­pers, across the four­ship fleet of­fers fam­ily ac­tiv­i­ties and child care with qual­i­fied hostesses, plus swim­ming classes. A 13-night Green­land, Ice­land and Nor­way cruise costs from £1,799 per adult and £1,260 per child, based on four peo­ple shar­ing a cabin. An in­te­rior sin­gle room for an ac­com­pa­ny­ing grand­par­ent costs from £2,899pp (fredolsen­

Foodie fun

Who: P&O Cruises The kids’ club of­fers five groups for dif­fer­ent ages, in­cludes chil­dren’s cook­ery classes, plus a range of din­ing op­tions for all tastes.

In­trepid fam­i­lies

Who: Crys­tal Cruises Ad­ven­ture des­ti­na­tions like Alaska of­fer plenty of his­tory, na­ture and wildlife to ap­peal to the whole fam­ily, in­clud­ing teens. A 10-day Klondike Ad­ven­ture cruise costs from £4,741pp, in­clud­ing flights, based on two adults and two chil­dren shar­ing two sep­a­rate deluxe rooms. A sin­gle cabin for an ac­com­pa­ny­ing grand­par­ent costs from £5,956, in­clud­ing flights (crys­tal­

Pre-school chil­dren

Who: MSC Cruises MSC’s next-gen­er­a­tion ship, Mer­av­iglia, has mod­u­lar cabins to ac­com­mo­date a fam­ily of up to four, plus there’s a ded­i­cated fam­ily area on board. A seven-night Mediter­ranean cruise costs from £799 per adult and £119 per child (2-11 years), based on four shar­ing an in­side or bal­cony cabin. Ac­com­pa­ny­ing grand­par­ents pay £799pp, based on two shar­ing (msc­

Older teenagers

Who: Car­ni­val Cruises Club 02 hosts nightly themed par­ties for 15 to 17year-olds seek­ing in­de­pen­dence, plus shore ex­cur­sions for teenagers. Car­ni­val of­fers a six-night west­ern Caribbean cruise from £605 per adult and £605 per child, based on four shar­ing an in­te­rior cabin. A sin­gle in­te­rior cabin for an ac­com­pa­ny­ing grand­par­ent costs from £1,279 (car­ni­

In the safety of the kids’ club, above, chil­dren can make new friends – and adults can re­lax Por­tu­gal cruise on Bri­tan­nia for a fam­ily of four costs from £899 per adult and £629 per child, based on four shar­ing an in­side cabin. A sin­gle in­side cabin...

Chil­dren’s cook­ery classes, left, are just one of the op­tions on a cruise

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