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Taking the Kids: Adventures by Disney Takes to the Seas
The Gladiators are really going at it!
In Rome's ancient Coliseum, everyone watches the battle, but these gladiators won't fight to the death, thank goodness. They're not slaves or prisoners of war.
They're the kids whose parents have signed on for Adventures by
In 2011, there will also be the option for a special three-day, pre-cruise "adventure" at the port of embarkation like Vancouver or Barcelona where
Most cruise lines have concierge or VIP services and you can certainly book private tours wherever you go. But Adventures by
On one Mediterranean sailing aboard the Disney Magic last summer, there were 13 families, including three grandparents and three couples without kids (yes the
The guides sweat the details and always have a joke and snack ready for the kids. They make sure you get those vacation photos too, cajoling the kids to pose. With Adventures by
This makes traveling with kids in Europe, and now in Alaska, a lot less stressful and a lot more fun -- albeit at a steep price ($2,299 for adults, $2,069 for kids), in addition to the cruise price. The price, though, does include not only the shore excursions and meals off the ship but extras like photos and onboard tips, which can add up.
The families I met aboard the Magic think the price is money well spent. "I did the math," said Lori Degliantoni, from Northern California, traveling with two teenage nieces. "This was better financially when you figured in all the shore excursions, the tips and the extras." Besides, she added, "It is a lot easier for me. The girls haven't been to Europe before and I wanted to do as much as I could."
Then there are the friendships forged over lunches and dinners, walking around Rome, touring a palace in Monaco or having lunch at a farm in Italy. Nick Carpenter, 10, who lives in China has bonded with 10-year-old Hunter Ayyad from San Diego and Dylan Davis from Florida. "It will be an added bonus to go home having made friends from around the world," said Mickey, Dylan's mom.
For Shelley Morley, traveling with her husband, three daughters and father, the clincher was being able to avoid lines. "It is
Another plus to touring with Adventures by
In addition, we get the 411 on everything from where to find gelato to where to find the bathrooms -- much appreciated with young children in the mix. The guides think of everything --toting snacks in their backpacks, even giving us postcards with the special Vatican stamps so we don't have to stand in line to get them.
Some might turn up their noses at such handholding and not being able to choose their own itinerary. Others might not like spending their vacation with companions not of their choosing. But if you can afford it, aren't familiar with the locale, and want to keep your kids happy (those "only" children in the group were especially thrilled not to be spending all their time off the ship with mom and dad), the concept works, no matter what the kids' ages.
In this group, there were kids as young as four and as old as 18 -- 21 kids in all -- and I was impressed that the guides managed to keep them all happy -- most of the time anyway. Even when 4-year-old Elle Zais, the youngest in our group, had a meltdown at the Coliseum, our guide Courtney Robicheaux gets her smiling again and then the older girls in the group took over entertaining her.
"This is absolutely grandparent heaven," observed Elle's grandmother Janet Gilmore, from Texas, adding the trip with her two young granddaughters was made so much easier by the teens and tweens who amused the girls wherever we went.
Parents watched each other's kids; the kids formed bonds because they saw the same faces at dinner and on every excursion and at every onboard activity.
That's probably why the kids were still smiling and laughing -- though exhausted -- at the end of a long day touring a very warm Rome. (The day started with a 1-1/2-hour bus ride from the port of Civitavecchia, a visit to the Sistine Chapel, St Peter's Basilica, the Spanish Steppes and finally the "battle" at the Coliseum.)
"The sites will always be there," explained guide Jennae Campeau. "We want to create the powerful experiences that will make you remember visiting them."
I don't think any of the boys and girls "fighting" each other at the Coliseum on a hot summer afternoon will have trouble remembering. Besides, they'll have the photos -- courtesy of our guides, of course -- to help.
© EILEEN OGINTZ DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
Vacations - Taking the Kids: Adventures by Disney Takes to the Seas