Once the domain of pensioners, cruise ships are incorporating more facilities, activities and entertainment for families, and more and more mums and dads are realising that cruising certainly isn't just for adults. Thomson Cruises have gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure children have the time of their lives when onboard one of their cruise ships. Thomson Cruises have stepped things up a gear with their latest ships, TUI Discovery (launched in summer 2016) and its sister ship, TUI Discovery 2 (launching in summer 2017) which feature even more creative and diverse ways for kids to make the most of cruising, including a new Baby Centre and an exclusive club just for teens.
8 ways all Thomson Cruises put families first
Family-sized and interconnecting cabins.
Buffet lunches serving up plenty of family favourites like spaghetti bolognese and pizza, plus special kids' menus.
Dozens of activities, including football and table tennis tournaments, fun quizzes and early evening shows for younger audiences.
When the ship isn't in port, kids up the age of 12 get discounted rates on some exciting shore excursions. Excursions include trips to waterparks, aquariums and beaches, plus once-in-a-lifetime experiences like swimming with stingrays and dolphins.
Every ship has a free Thomson Kids’ Club, so little ones can be kept busy with face-painting, treasure hunts and storytelling, leaving mum and dad free to enjoy time together. As well as plenty of dressing up, there are movie nights and pyjama parties. Plus, the fully accredited staff even take the kids up the bridge to high-five the captain! Groups are divided into Tots, for three-five year olds, Team for six-eight year olds and Tribe, for kids aged nine to 11. And of course, it's all free.
Every Thomson ship is bursting with activities that you can enjoy as a family. On TUI Discovery you can even challenge the kids to a round of minigolf or a race to the top of the climbing wall.
It's worth advising your little ones to keep their eyes peeled for Thomson The Dog, who tends to pop up poolside, especially during storytime. They wouldn't want to miss the chance to get their photo taken with the friendly mascot!
If you fancy pairing some time onboard with a spell at a hotel, choose a Cruise and Stay holiday. With family-friendly hotels available in all homeports (bar Dubrovnik as these are adult-only sailings) you and the kids can experience the best of both worlds.
What's cool onboard TUI Discovery and TUI Discovery 2?
All Inclusive is the standard onboard TUI Discovery and TUI Discovery 2 from summer 2017. This means drinks (yes, that includes cocktails, Prosecco and cider!) are included, as are meals in a range of restaurants, most onboard activities, like the climbing wall, minigolf and the Kids’ Club, as well as extras like in-cabin safes.
If you’re travelling with children aged 10 and over, TUI Discovery & TUI Discovery 2 both have mountain bikes on board. At almost every port, you can join an experienced guide and pedal your way around the best sights.
On TUI Discovery and TUI Discovery 2, as well as a Kids Club, you'll also find a Baby Centre and a teens-only space called The Hideout, which is ideal for those hard-to-please older kids.
On TUI Discovery and TUI Discovery 2, little ones will love Splash Live! - an interactive evening show with games and songs performed during high season. Kids aged six to ten can also join Thomson Cruises exclusive Splash Cadets club.
Challenge the kids to get to the top of the rock-climbing wall, and get a bird’s-eye view of the ship and the ocean.
The Broadway Show Lounge boasts an 800-plus capacity and hosts 11 unique shows, including Beatz Interactive, a hi-tech dance piece featuring astonishing LED-lit costumes.
Thomson Cruises is premiering an open air cinema, where you the kids can snuggle up with blankets, hot chocolate and popcorn and watch the latest box office hits under the stars.
A brand new feature for Thomson Cruises, both ships have an impressive indoor pool with a huge glass canopy roof and rows of comfortable loungers. Of course, there's a main outdoor pool too.
Break out and escape! In this real-life escape game, you'll need to work as a team to find clues and solve puzzles and escape from a locked room before the time runs out. A fee applies.
The Hide Out is a just-for-teens hangout spot, which even features a karaoke booth where teens can record their own CDs.
The minigolf green, with nine holes and vast sea views, is bound to be popular with all the family.
Gamerzone is packed with game consoles for kids - and big kids!
TUI Discovery and Discovery 2: the lowdown
Highlights of the Mediterranean on TUI Discovery sails from Majorca to Ajaccio, Civitavecchia (for Rome), Livorno (for Florence and Pisa), St Raphael (for St Tropez and Cannes) and Barcelona. Prices start from £2,531 for a family of four in an inside cabin on Decks 2/3 departing 6 May 2017, flying from Bournemouth Airport.
Children don’t pay adult prices or cabin supplements. There are special prices for infants under two. Onboard cots are free of charge – just remember to ask for one when you book.