Diannes Family Holiday in Europe
In the July school holidays, my husband Craig and I took our children - Hannah (13) and James (11) on a family holiday to Europe. We flew direct to London, caught the chunnel to Paris, flew to Stockholm, took a 7 night cruise on Royal Carribbean's Vision of the Seas around the Baltic Sea, taking in Helsinki, St Petersburg, Latvia, Gdyansk and Visby (Sweden), then flew to Copenhagen and had 3 days in Tokyo on the way home.
This was an amazing experience for our family and I have concluded that the ages of our children contributed to the success of this holiday. Old enough to appreciate the Lourve, and young enough to enjoy being with us!
In London, we visited Eton, Windsor and most of the main London Sights. The highlight for our children was a Warner Bros tour of the Harry Potter Set in Watford. This must be booked in advance as it almost always sells out. Watford is about a 45 min train journey from Kings Cross.
We stayed at Novotel Euston Rd, which was incredibly convenient as it was located within an easy walking distance from Euston and Kings Cross stations. This was particularly perfect as we had booked an early morning chunnel to Paris, to make the most of our time in Paris.
The Chunnel is an incredibly fast, efficient means of getting between Paris and London. Paris was as divine as ever, we stayed in apartments called "L'Empire Paris" which were perfect. A mere 5 min walk to the Lourve. I would highly recommend these apartments to families with limited time in Paris.
Our cruise was fabulous, the children made friends on the first day, and absolutely loved their time with their new friends in their respective Teen and Kids clubs. I was very impressed as the Windjammer Cafe on the ship in which the children ate most of their meals as they did not serve pizza, fries, burgers, but instead had plain healthy options of meat, vegetables and salads, so picky eaters could still find something they liked without resorting to junk food. Plus they had fruit juices and water readily availble with meals, so there were no requests for fizzy drinks.
We were very fortunate as the weather on our cruise was almost all sunny, and it was warm enough to swim in the ships pool (just). Daily temps were around 20-22 Deg, and the best part was the "white nights". In some places it did not get dark until after midnight, and the sun came up around 3am. Luckily the cabin had a good curtain!
Copenhagen was the find of the holiday, we all loved it, and found it a very friendly, beautiful, easy city.
Tokyo was interesting, we went into downtown once and spent 2 days at Disney. Top tip here would be get a pass for the monorail for the duration of your stay at Disney. This connects you with the main train station into Tokyo, but more importantly there is a shopping mall by the train station with plenty of restaurants/cafes. We found the hotel prices ridiculously expensive, so instead of dining at the hotel we caught the 5 minute monorail (departs every 4 mins) and our entire breakfast at Starbucks was less then the cost for one of us to have the buffet at the hotel.
Tips for travelleing with kids and young teens:
- Free Wifi is a MUST - make sure your hotels have it, they loved communicating with friends while away.
- If flying long distances, opt for flights that arrive in the afternoon/evening , that way you dont need to keep them awake very long once reaching your desination - dont ever count on kids sleeping on the flight.
- If going on a cruise, and the kids would rather stay on board rather than visit ruins of a historical city - then let them.