I have made no secret of the fact that during the three days we were at sea, Roo and Elliot have spent most of their time at the kid’s clubs, leaving me to while away the days in the sauna, getting my nails done, or sipping wine by one of the pools.
Mama definitely got a break whilst sailing on Ventura.
And while this does sound like I went on a family cruise, and spent precious little time with the younger members of my family, it’s worth remembering that the children’s facilities on board Ventura are second to none, and they’d rather have been mucking about, doing hunts around the ship and playing with people their own age than hanging around by a pool whilst Alice and I made our way through large glasses of Sauv Blanc.
First and foremost, being able to kiss the children on their angelic little heads and send them off for hours of age-appropriate fun with staff who have endless patience and oodles of enthusiasm means that this cruise has been a well deserved rest for me, too. Although Ventura is a family-friendly ship, there are areas on board not suitable for children, and those were just a bit too tempting.
First of all, the clubs are well advertised – so there is no need to worry about not being informed. On the day of embarkation, we received a leaflet in our welcome pack detailing all the activities and themed days that would be happening during our stay on board. This was invaluable for settling Roo into her club (Surfers), and we spent a little time going through and choosing the things she’d like to do. Elliot, being an entirely different child, took no notice of the arrangements for his club (Splashers) and barrelled straight in to play.
Enrolment couldn’t be easier: you fill out a form and sign the children in before trotting off to enjoy the ship. Children are signed in and out of each session and are not allowed to leave with anyone who hasn’t been authorised to collect them. There is a strict no photo policy, meaning you can leave, safe in the knowledge your bambinos are not going to end up in anyone’s holiday snaps – and this policy extends to children attending the sessions: cameras and phones are not allowed.
The staff, as I mentioned above, are fantastic. Friendly, enthusiastic, and very, very patient, even with my toilet training son, who had numerous accidents whilst in their care. Each time, they waved off my slightly embarrassed apologies on his behalf, and have let him run around in dressing up clothes instead of calling for me to pick him up. They were always quick to say hello when we saw them around the boat, and were genuinely interested in what we’d done on our port days.
The clubs close around meal times, but for adults who want a more grown up evening, the night nursery service is fantastic; parents are provided with a pager and babes can be dropped off once more from 6pm, and, depending on their age, can be put to sleep in a cot or left to play again. For Elliot, this meant pyjamas and dimmed lights with episodes of cartoons. Sleeping bags were provided for toddlers to snuggle up in and they were not woken up if they fall asleep. Things were slightly more raucous for the older children, free play time and movies that didn’t start until slightly later on. Ruby very much enjoyed the girl’s night in themed evening; boys were packed off for a foosball tournament and a camp night feast whilst the girls played Just Dance on the Wii and had their hair braided, sleepover style.
It’s worth noting that if your child doesn’t fancy going back into the club in the evening, and is joining you for dinner, they are always made to feel very welcome at all the restaurants on board – including the fine dining establishments, where the menus tended to have something on them suited to younger palates. Children are very well looked after on ship.
We disembarked at Monte Carlo, halfway through the cruise, and I felt a little emotional picking up my children from the club for the last time, knowing what a wonderful time they’d had. There were hugs all round, and Ruby had an entire folder of drawings and badges and crafty things she’d made during her time at sea to take away with her. Children are also given a lovely bag of goodies to take home which included a soft toy and colouring kit.
So, would I use the children’s facilities on board Ventura again? Absolutely.
A week on, Ruby is still raving about what a great time she had, the friends she made, and the things she did. In fact, I’d go as far as to say the children’s facilities provided on Ventura would be a huge plus point as to whether I booked another family cruise or not.
Disclosure: We were invited on board Ventura and were able to make use of the children’s facilities. Although this press trip was complimentary for myself and my family, all experiences and opinions are our own.