Upgrading the Family Cruise
When it’s time for summer fun, multiple generations of the same family increasingly are booking a big-ship cruise. It’s the hottest trend for this summer. In fact, about half of Carnival Cruise Lines’ nearly 2 million reservations last year were for more than one stateroom.
Agents have multigenerational family sales hooks with “value-add promotions” such as onboard credits, stateroom upgrades or kids sail free programs. Plus, many lines have children’s supervised activity programs. But what else can agents do to upgrade the summer family cruise? Here are a few top tips from agents and cruise lines.
RELATED: Making Summer Travel Easier
Lobby for “Couple’s Time”: A successful family cruise isn’t only about the kids. Each family member should enjoy “me” time, and couples need to have a night or two out for romance. In fact, adults (often siblings) from the same family love to spend group time out “on the ship” having drinks, dinner and dancing the night away. Agents might suggest family members trade off babysitting each other’s children on certain evenings so another couple or two might explore the ship or a port without kids in tow. Or, the whole adult group can go out together by putting the kids in the line’s group babysitting or supervised evening activity program.
For example, parents sailing on Disney Cruise Line may head out to the night-time entertainment district on each ship. The line’s adult-only Palo is an elegant fine dining restaurant, plus some Disney ships also have the French dining venue Remy, with a soft romantic aura and Art Nouveau style, perfect for a romantic couple’s dinner. Disney ships also have a nightclub and an adults-only pool and bar area.
To occupy the kids, Disney’s Oceaneer Club and Disney’s Oceaneer Lab entertain kids 3-12, while Edge is for tweens 11-14 and Vibe for teens 14-17. In addition, each Disney ship also has a nursery for kids 12 weeks up to three years. Nursery space is limited. The cost is $9 per hour for the first child, $8 per hour for the second.
Urge Families to Spread Out: Moving families from smaller inside cabins to larger balcony accommodations may involve some coaxing, especially for budget-minded clients. Successful sellers use visualization to make the case for more space and a stateroom with a view. Michelle Weller, franchise owner, Travel Leaders of Houston, TX, starts out by using exclusive franchise offers to try and entice her family clients to upgrade to a balcony cabin. In the process, the clients typically receive onboard credits or other perks.
But what if that doesn’t work? “If the Travel Leaders exclusives are not available on a particular sailing we usually walk people into our office supplies’ closet and show them how claustrophobic an inside cabin would be,” Weller says, noting their closet is approximately the same size as an inside cabin. “We say, ‘For $300 more per person, wouldn’t you rather have a balcony?’ That usually does the trick.”
Agents must probe for exactly what the family expects in space and facilities. Some newer ships have lovely family-focused suites with separate bedroom areas and second baths. Those are great choices, say agents, but those are not on every ship at every port. Regular suites may still be a good option for some families desiring more space.
If families desire more privacy, not simply to pull out a living room couch or have the kids use a guest bathroom off the living area, Diane Santana, franchise owner, Cruise Holidays at the Ranch, Arvada, CO, suggests clients with two or more children book two connecting staterooms. “I personally like the idea of connecting staterooms better than the suite, because with a suite you get more space in the stateroom but usually only one bathroom, which creates challenges when everyone is getting ready in the mornings or for dinner,” says Santana. “With two staterooms, you get more livable space and two bathrooms.”
Suggest a Private Beach Cabana: Families with kids love casual beach days, as they don’t have to coax the kids along on guided tours or entertain them during long motorcoach rides. To upgrade the beach day, agents might suggest families rent a private beach cabana at a line-operated Caribbean or Bahamian island. While some cabanas are only for suite guests, lines often open them up for bookings to other guests if space is not reserved. Or, some beach cabanas can be rented by guests in any accommodation, usually on a first-come, first-served basis. Check each line’s policy well in advance, as cabanas tend to book up fast.
Royal Caribbean International’s suite-category guests have exclusive cabanas available for rental on Labadee’s Barefoot Beach.
For example, Royal Caribbean International operates CocoCay in the Bahamas and Labadee on Haiti’s northern coast; both have cabana rentals. Labadee’s Barefoot Beach is exclusively reserved for guests in suite-category accommodations; 20 cabanas there are available for rental, each for a maximum of six guests. Amenities include built-in ceiling fan, lounge chairs, two floating mats, beach towels, a water cooler with six bottles of water and a personal cabana attendant.
Guests also receive an upgraded buffet lunch. Barefoot Beach cabana prices for suite guests range from $175 to $250, based on location choice, such as overwater, waterfront, hilltop or beach. In addition, Royal Caribbean’s guests staying anywhere on the ship may rent private cabanas at Labadee’s Nellie’s Beach and Adrenaline Beach; prices range from $225 to $250.
Evaluate Entertainment Pre-Cruise: Mapping out some entertainment within the client’s cruise activities—while leaving plenty of free time for spontaneous fun—can allow clients to see great shows or enjoy dinner theater onboard. Most contemporary and premium lines have robust entertainment, such as the complimentary “Legally Blonde” show on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Getaway, sailing from Miami. Alternative options, while carrying a price, may be worth the bucks too, including Getaway’s new magic dinner theater show, Illusionarium, at $25-$30, depending on seating; advance reservations are highly recommended.
How about a one-of-a-kind concert at sea? Carnival Cruise Lines has debuted its new Carnival LIVE Concert Series, with 49 upcoming Carnival LIVE concerts on eight Carnival ships calling at Cozumel, Mexico; Nassau, The Bahamas; and Catalina Island, CA. Well-known musical artists will join the ship in port, perform in the main show lounge on port evenings and disembark before the ship sails.
It’s a boom for families who love a particular singer or group. The line-up so far includes 38 Special, Chicago, Daughtry, Foreigner, Gavin DeGraw, Jennifer Hudson, Jewel, Kansas, Lady Antebellum, LeAnn Rimes, Martina McBride, Olivia Newton-John, REO Speedwagon, Styx and Trace Adkins. For the complete list and dates, visit www.carnival.com/CarnivalLive. Tickets are $20-$40 each with a limited number of VIP tickets available at $100-$150 each. The VIP experience includes an artist meet-and-greet, photo opportunity, up-front seating and commemorative laminated concert pass.
Upgrading the family vacation experience has perks all around—greater satisfaction for the family group and a good chance at repeat business for the agent.
Pick Family Centric Shore Options: Spending time ashore is important to families. Agents say the ultimate family excursion is a customized, private shore tour either with a private car and driver or a small mini-bus. Family cruisers might take a European countryside hike, give kids a chance to view and photograph local livestock, and head to a castle where their relatives lived in the 1700s.
Alternatively, the group might enjoy making pizza and going swimming at a Tuscan villa. Customization means the small family group can design its own tour, and stop as needed for snacks, bathroom breaks or just to pop into an attraction that looks interesting. In lieu of a private excursion, though, such other shore trips as rafting, swim-with-the-dolphins, hiking, zip lining or beach walks also appeal to families with children.
In Alaska, dog mushing excursions, or simply meet-and-greets with the dogs, are almost always a hit with families. On Celebrity Cruises’ two-hour “Sledding & Glacier Flightseeing by Helicopter” excursion in Skagway—rated five-star in guest feedback—guests take a helicopter ride over glaciers and snowfields before arriving at a dog camp on the Denver Glacier.
Guests will meet the professional mushers and their dogs, either stand on the sled and “mush” themselves or, alternatively, sit in the sled and enjoy the ride. Cost is $510 per person for adults and children.
After disembarkation, if the family flight isn’t until late in the afternoon, how do parents entertain the kids? In Fort Lauderdale, Holland America Line offers departing passengers with late flights a post-cruise Everglades Air Boat Ride with airport transfer. The trip includes a one-half hour airboat ride into the wilderness to spot birds, fish and alligators. After the ride, guests tour a reptile exhibit and endangered species exhibit with the chance to perhaps view a rare Florida panther.
Family Options At Home and Abroad
In the continental United States, resorts are stepping up their soft adventure offerings as a way to get the whole family involved and moving during a summer getaway.
“Many guest ranches are including more ‘adventure’ activities in their programming like zip lines and challenge courses for teams, adults and kids,” said Colleen Hodson, executive director of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, which represents all-inclusive dude ranches in the Western United States. “Some of the challenge courses will be done on horseback, mountain bikes or climbing walls, and they can include ropes courses, kayaking, fishing and trap shooting.”
The Chuck Wagon ride at The Resort at Paws Up combines food and river views.
Horseback riding opportunities at dude ranches can include all skill levels and focus on themes like scenic rides, wine and cheese, beer, and cattle work, said Hodson. Other kid-friendly activities agents can ask for include ropes courses, scavenger hunts, panning for gold, capture the flag, and hay rides.
This summer luxury Montana ranch The Resort at Paws Up is introducing a new activity that allows guests to learn to drive a horse wagon team on their own along the Blackfoot River. Additionally, the resort is adding a Go Kart track and expanding its kids’ camp to include a new treehouse and mini zip line.
One of the resort’s signature family activities is the Chuck Wagon dinner, which takes guests on a horse-drawn wagon ride along the Blackfoot River for a campfire dinner on the riverbank. For a unique accommodation option, the resort has five luxury tents, as well as luxury homes with a private tent that can be set up just outside.
Agents can reach out to Drew Bigda, sales manager, Resort at Paws Up for details.
Ski resorts are also stepping up their soft adventure offerings this summer. Snowbird in Utah is expanding its trail system to beef up its mountain bike terrain. Other family-friendly activities include a mountain coaster, alpine slide, mountain flyer, bungee trampoline, climbing wall and kid’s inflatables.
“Another really fun activity is going to the Utah Olympic Park in Park City,” suggests Susie English, director of communications at Ski Utah. “They have a wonderful ski museum, adventure courses, zip lines, alpine slides and bobsled rides.” Visit www.utaholympiclegacy.com/activities for more details.
Blue Residences’ units each contain spacious living and dining areas decorated in a sleek contemporary design.
Also in Utah, Deer Valley Resort offers a Mountain Bike School with a full-time instruction staff, just like a ski school, that can offer lessons in mountain biking for all skill levels. The resort’s Summer Adventure Camp runs from June 9 to August 20 and offers hiking trails, hillside playgrounds and craft projects for children aged two months to 12 years old. Kids can be signed up for a day, a week or the full season.
In Colorado, Vail offers the Keen Kids Adventure Games for kids aged six to 14 that have teams of two competing in mountain biking, hiking, zip lines, a Tarzan rope swing, giant Slope-n-Slide, river tubing, cargo nets, mud pits and more. This year the eight-race series is scheduled for August 6-10. Visit www.vailrec.com/sports/2013-03-04-20-21-26 for more information.
Here’s a trip around the world where we’ve scouted out other options for your family’s summer of fun.
Although Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France’s most requested accommodation continues to be its rooms that face Flamands Beach, perhaps St. Bart’s finest, the luxury resort also offers an impressive garden section of rooms led by its two newly renovated Garden Villas.
The 15 rooms in the garden section of the hotel are just across the road and a two-minute walk from the beach. The Garden Villas, each 1,586 square feet, accommodate up to six people. These villas each have large living rooms that open onto an expansive wooden deck with a pool. Each villa is in effect a family compound, surrounded by a wall of palm fronds and banana leaves, which ensures privacy.
Los Cabos is a perfect international getaway for families looking for a great, yet inexpensive, option.
Chefs are available to make lunch and dinner in the villa, and Isle de France’s star babysitters will keep younger VIPs busy with sandcastle contests, French lessons, and shell art, or give parents some down time by taking children on excursions to natural tidal pools, a horse ranch or a paint-your-own-pottery shop.
Agents should contact Laurence Garret, reservations manager, at [email protected] or 590-590-2761-81.
In Aruba, Blue Residences, the first upscale condominium resort to open on Aruba’s Eagle Beach in 20 years, officially welcomed its first guests on March 3.
The property debuted its first tower—consisting of two five-bedroom penthouses, four three-bedroom penthouses, 12 three-bedroom units and 24 two-bedroom units, totaling 42 units—on March 1.
Blue Residences offers families impressive condos with unobstructed views of the ocean in every unit; elevated ceilings in the bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms; private Jacuzzi terraces; fully loaded kitchens featuring upscale appliances; and wireless Internet throughout the property. Onsite amenities include a private beach and poolside butler service, concierge services and golf privileges at two nearby courses.
Agents should contact Nancy O’Neill, reservations manager, at [email protected] or 401-847-4720.
Beaches Resorts recently announced the return of Single Parent Fun (SPF) Month for 2014. Single parent families who book a minimum three-night stay in any room category at Beaches Negril, Beaches Ocho Rios or Beaches Turks & Caicos from now through September 23 will be treated to a variety of special events and a waived single supplement fee. Travel must occur from September 1 through September 30 in order to take advantage of this enticing promotion.
The Napili Kai Beach Resort has special offerings for small groups and intimate gatherings and trips.
During the SPF Month, participating families will be invited as special guests in the popular weekly Caribbean Adventure with Sesame Street Parade where they will receive noise-makers, costumes and party favors.
Additionally, parents can bond with their children and meet other single parent families during Kinect for Xbox 360 Family Game Night where they’ll also have chances to win exciting prizes. When the sun goes down, families can dip their feet in the water while snacking on popcorn and watching a movie on an inflatable floating screen at Dive-In Movie nights.
Other exciting activities include family beach bonfires complete with roasted marshmallows, a new Pop-Up Adventure Play activity promoting learning through play, tennis lessons, parent and child pizza making, Beach Olympics with special games and challenges right in the sand, and more.
The Cartoon Network is back at Atlantis in The Bahamas for some family fun this summer with new activities for kids beginning May 30.
Children can find an inflatable obstacle course, nighttime outdoor screenings, red carpet premieres of their favorite shows, a free concert on the beach by the hit band Paramore and special Cartoon Network-themed camps and character parades.
Back by popular demand is the Adventure Time–themed obstacle course—9,000 square feet of inflatable obstacles will take over Paradise Lagoon, creating the Cartoon Network Lagoon once again. This obstacle course not only has a 16-foot Finn and Jake, a 50-foot long double Lady Rainicorn slide, 10-foot Ice Kingdom and Candy Kingdom towers, a 13-foot Beemo launch pad, 25-foot Princess Bubblegum and Ice King swings, but other Adventure Time characters, too.
Agents should contact Karime Buraye, executive director of sales for The Cove Atlantis, The Reef Atlantis and Atlantis, at [email protected] or 954-809-2000.
Summer Escapes in Los Cabos
Summer is just around the corner, and with that comes some great options for family getaways. If your clients want an international getaway that’s close enough to home and won’t break the bank, Los Cabos in Mexico is a perfect option. Here are some ways to make the most out of a summer vacation in Los Cabos.
Los Cabos’ location is one of its most attractive and defining features: craggy shores jut out into the Pacific Ocean, where travelers can boat around rugged cliffs, catch glimpses of whales, snorkel, dive and surf. But in addition to the destination’s maritime activities, Los Cabos is home to some equally exciting land opportunities. If your clients are landlubbers looking for action in Los Cabos, here is what the destination has to offer this summer:
Adventure travelers looking for something different can go on an all-day or multi-day Hummer tour through the desert, mountains and other off-road locations in Cabo with Baja Outback. Baja Outback also offers hiking to waterfalls and canyons, visits to remote villages, and tours of the famous surfer hotspot, Todos Santos.
At Costa Azul Ziplines Eco-Adventures, travelers can take part in a cable ride high above the canyon. Start from a platform at over 300 feet in the air and zip 50 miles per hour across several miles of cables.
Explore the back roads of the Southern Baja and take in views of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains while driving a 4x4 Jeep with High Tide Los Cabos. The drive runs parallel with the coast and leads you to one of the oldest missions in Cabo. Discover the town of Santiago, then stop at Fox Canyon to see the waterfalls where you can take a dip and enjoy lunch.
Wild Canyon is home to 10 zip lines, including the longest in the Baja at 2,600 feet at 55 miles per hour; as well as the Big Plunge, a high bungee jump; and the SlingSwingers pendulum swing at 300 feet high. You can also experience the Camel Quest—a camel ride in Los Cabos where you can interact with the camels, feed them and have a photo taken. Also enjoy an ATV tour with the Off Road Runners.
Where to Stay
At the Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort, kids can kick back at the property’s Cabo Kids Oasis. The hideaway has things to do for children as young as four years old. Contact director of sales Gabriela Vanderlee ([email protected]).
For something a little more luxurious, the One&Only Palmilla gives kids the opportunity to try their hands at the culinary arts, with pizza and sushi making classes. Reach out to executive director of sales & marketing Cristina Romero-Peri ([email protected]).
For those seeking a twist on the common Kids Club, head over to Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa, where children ages 3-12 can visit the Explorer’s Club. This once-a-week camping adventure is on the beach and lets little ones enjoy dinner and nature-oriented activities. Contact Director of Sales Esperanza Macias ([email protected]).
Grand Solmar Land’s End Resort & Spa also reintroduced a Kids Club that is designed as a tree house and provides themed evening offerings three times a week from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., including Camp Stories, Princesses & Superheroes and Neverland & Fairies. Travel agents can contact Director of Sales, Marketing and E-commerce Israel Gatica ([email protected]).
Families planning a trip to Los Cabos this summer should look at the special offers that many of the hotels and resorts provide. At the Sandos Finisterra, families can save up to 53 percent for travel after May 1 with rates beginning at $136 per night. Contact Director of Sales & Marketing Daniel Gerlach ([email protected]).
For all-inclusive options, families are invited to book the Fun Summer package with rates beginning at $80 per night by April 15 at the Royal Solaris Los Cabos.
At the Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort kids eat free now through September 30.
And for families looking for the ultimate indulgence this summer, One&Only Palmilla is offering a Summer Moments package from July 1 to September 30, which provides families of up to two adults and two children Oceanfront Superior Room accommodations and many complimentary kid-friendly amenities beginning at $700 per night.
This year, The Kahala Hotel & Resort has added more features to its Kids Eat Free program, which is available to guests booking the resort’s popular “4 for 3” room package, which already includes a fourth night free, breakfast for two adults and free Internet plus many other hotel amenities, including nightly turndown.
A minimum stay of four nights is required for the package and the Kids Eat Free program. The Kids Eat Free program is available from Scenic to Beach Front Lanai categories. Wholesaler partners can offer the program from Partial Ocean View room category and up.
The features of the Kids Eat Free Program provide for up to two children who are 12 years of age or under, per room or suite, and include one daily breakfast buffet at The Plumeria Beach House, one daily lunch item from the children’s lunch menu, one daily dinner item from the children’s menu, a daily gift from The Kahala Boutique and one daily smoothie for each child.
The Kids Eat Free program can also be combined with The Kahala’s Suite Amenity Program for all suite bookings. The Suite Amenity Program itself features generous offers, including airport transfer in a sedan car, daily breakfast for adults in the suite, welcome amenity, lei greeting and other complimentary suite services depending on the suite category. A minimum two-night stay is required for the Suite Kids Eat Free program.
The Kahala Kids Eat Free Program is available with the fourth-night-free-plus-breakfast package and suite rates for dates of stay from March 18 to December 19.
Agents should contact Kahala’s Director of Sales, Roger Bright, at [email protected] or 808-739-8888.
Just two years after its grand opening, Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa, the first Disney Resort located outside of the U.S. mainland, welcomes families to explore a new expansion of its popular Waikolohe Valley water play area: Ka Maka Landing.
The new enhancement features a spectacular infinity pool with a realistic grotto, a dynamic fun splash zone for smaller children and a new location for poolside and beachside dining.
The resort is also home to Disney Vacation Club Villas, providing families with spacious accommodations and beautiful views of the island. Disney Vacation Club, a leader in vacation ownership, provides families with the flexibility to personalize their vacation experiences and the ability to choose from a variety of different accommodations at Disney Vacation Club resorts such as Aulani.
The Napili Kai Beach Resort offers special amenities for family reunions and other small groups. Book four or more units for a minimum of five nights at Napili Kai Beach Resort and receive a guarantee of specific unit locations at the time of booking, tropical flowers in each unit upon arrival, a complimentary group photo session and Napili Kai t-shirts for everyone.
Most of the resort’s rooms come with kitchens. Other amenities include complimentary beach gear and a putting green just for children. The Family Studio units provide lots of space for families with young children, and it is also offering a complimentary Keiki Club program for children (ages 6 to 10) seasonally (Easter, mid-June to late August, Thanksgiving, and Christmas/New Year’s).
Agents should contact Diane J. Farnsworth, director of guest operations, at [email protected] or 808-669-9502.
Families heading to Maui this summer should explore and experience 553 newly refreshed guest rooms and suites in The Westin Maui Resort & Spa’s Ocean Tower.
Roughly $70 million has been invested for the stunning transformation, with redesigned accommodations featuring brand new in-room furnishings with Westin’s signature Heavenly Bed, contemporary elegance and island-inspired decor. New glass-enclosed showers and transparent balcony railings add touches of inspiration, creating vibrant energy. Its new Executive Suites with separate bedroom and living area appeal to families with young children and teens.
Agents should contact Sumithra Balraj, spokesperson for the resort, at [email protected] or 808-667-3200.
Central and South America
Although predominantly for couples, families heading to Nicaragua this summer should splurge a little for Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa Resort, one of the first luxury boutique hotels in the destination.
There are 12 one- and two-bedroom Beach Villas, which begin at 881 square feet, all with nine-foot ceilings and walls of glass. Beach Villas also have secret gardens with an outdoor shower. There are also 23 boohoos, or huts, set 300 feet above Playa Manzanillo, with sweeping ocean views. Each hut is 621 square feet.
For multigenerational getaways or large groups, we suggest The Casona Don Carlos, a 20,000-square-foot oceanfront compound that has an indoor-outdoor living area with 89-foot-high palapa ceilings. The six-bedroom suites are divided into two buildings: Casona Don Carlos with four, and Suite Doña Vivian with two. The suites have wrap-around stone terraces and share a large private pool.
Agents should contact Claudia Spada, director of sales and marketing, at [email protected].
|Family rooms at Gleneagles give parents privacy while allowing them to keep an eye on their children in twin or bunk beds.|
Two of Ireland’s airports allow U.S. citizens to clear customs before they depart so that the plane can land at a domestic terminal in the United States. For an easier arrival (especially one with kids), choose flights from Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2 or Shannon Airport, and make sure the flight is eligible for preclearance. When the plane lands, the passengers can simply walk out of the airport rather than waiting in another line.
The Parknasilla Resort & Spa stretches out over 500 acres of tropical vegetation. (Yes, tropical. Thanks to the Atlantic current, the area even has palm trees.) The hotel sits right at the water’s edge with islands, inlets and hidden beaches along the Wild Atlantic Way and Ring of Kerry. The two-bedroom lodges are a good pick for family and extended stays.
There are dedicated rooms for families at the resort as well as Courtyard Lodges and Woodland Villas. Family Rooms have an adjacent alcove to the main bedroom with two single beds, while the Courtyard Lodges and Woodland Villas are self-catering and offer more space.
Onsite facilities include an indoor swimming pool, spa thermal suite, outdoor hot tubs, tennis courts and a 12-hole golf course that runs alongside Kenmare Bay. There are also walking trails, and visitors can head to nearby Derrynane for horseback riding or surfing. Family-friendly water activities include fishing, motor kayaking, and boating. During school breaks, the resort has a kid’s club with a morning and evening session for children aged three and up. (Activities can include can painting, baking, playing with puzzles and board games or watching movies.)
In County Mayo, the Lodge at Ashford Castle (formerly Lisloughrey Lodge) is an intimate alternative to the neighboring castle. Families can stay in the Duplex Suites (parents upstairs in the bedroom, kids downstairs in the living room) or a customized “family suite”—one of the Lodge’s Quay suites and an adjacent Deluxe room. (The rooms can be blocked off with a private front door.)
Kids at the lodge can play with a Wii system, watch movies in a Cinema Room or head outside for fishing, cruising on the lake (Lough Corrib), nature walking, archery, clay pigeon shooting, horseback riding as well as falconry.
In Scotland, Gleneagles has three new single attic rooms for teenagers located across a corridor from double rooms (for parents), offering connectivity and privacy at the same time. The rooms come with PlayStations and iPod docking stations. Families with younger children can stay in alcove rooms with twin or bunk beds tucked away, letting mom and dad keep an eye and ear out while giving everyone a bit of privacy.
Parknasilla’s Library Suite, designed with the Edwardian era in mind, offers luxurious accommodations.
Gleneagles is famous for its golf (it will host the Ryder Cup September 23-28), but many other activities are perfect for kids. An onsite stable has horses for all different levels of riders, including ponies for the youngest equestrians. Archery lessons, tennis, polo and croquet are all available, and golf activities can be arranged for kids aged five and up. Teenagers can unwind in The Zone, a lounge with video games, table football, online games and board games; or try their hand at outdoor activities like clay pigeon shooting—or even deerstalking or game hunting (with Mom and Dad’s permission, of course).
Of course, one of the best things of a summer vacation is having the time to really go from place to place. Tour operator Tauck has launched a new itinerary specifically for families that will cover a wide range of cities...and even countries: The eight-day “Castles on the Rhine: Family Riverboat Adventure” goes from Basel to Amsterdam aboard Tauck’s new MS Inspire riverboat. Families will kick off their adventures by venturing outside of Basel to travel on the world’s steepest cogwheel train to the 7,000-foot summit of Mt. Pilatus in the Swiss Alps. Cruising along the Rhine, they will also visit sites in France, Germany and The Netherlands, including Heidelberg Castle and the thousand-year-old Reichenstein Castle. Families can also try fondue and chocolate tastings, a French cooking demonstration, a riverside cycling adventure, and a canal boat cruise and visit to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
Tips for Summer Vacations in the U.S.
“Make sure and pack what you need,” said Colleen Hodson, executive director of the Dude Ranchers’ Association. “Several ranches have a list on their site.”
“If you’re booking a family trip, make sure to get to know every person in that family,” said Jaclyn Sienna India, cofounder of Sienna Charles. “These trips are all about the different personalities.”