Traveling with children presents certain challenges, especially when you're the only parent. As I planned a summer vacation to Europe for my two children, ages 10 and 12, I wanted to ensure a seamless experience for myself and a chance to unwind during the trip.
After considering options and getting feedback from the kids, we decided on a 7-night Mediterranean cruise aboard the Enchanted Princess, sailing from Barcelona to Rome. This cruise would give them a taste of Europe and the opportunity to see famous landmarks like the Rock of Gibraltar, Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Colosseum.
Boarding the ship in Barcelona was incredibly easy, and we were given Princess Medallions, which proved to be more than just room keys—they became the vessel for a fantastic vacation.
Princess Medallion Class Ships are equipped for a touchless experience. As a solo parent, this technology enhanced our vacation beyond my expectations. The Medallions served as room keys and connected us to the Medallion app and its features.
My kids loved wearing the Princess wristbands with their Medallions like watches, and since they were waterproof, they wore them all the time, --- even while sleeping! This innovative technology allowed me to keep track of them through the app and touch screens onboard. They could easily find me too, which made our experience much more relaxed and enjoyable.
The Medallion simplified the onboard safety training, providing keyless stateroom entry, and made dining reservations and ordering food and drinks a breeze. Additionally, it offered a list of onboard events and helped navigate around the ship. The Wi-Fi onboard was also fantastic, making communication and updates easy.
Our ports of call for this trip were Gibraltar, Marseille, Genoa, Livorno, and finally ending in Rome. Princess Cruises offered a variety of shore excursion options in each of these ports, including ones specifically designed for families and those traveling with children. These family-friendly excursions were fantastic because during the tours, parents could connect with each other while the kids had a great time together.
Getting from the ship to the center of the cities we visited was easy and convenient. We had plenty of time to explore, enjoy local delicacies - especially gelato, which we couldn't resist sampling! And when the kids had their fill, getting back to the ship was a breeze.
Once back on the ship, thanks to the Medallions, the kids could enjoy their freedom after being on a guided tour with their mother. My one son's absolute favorite thing to do was hit the basketball court, while my other son practically turned into a fish, spending so much time in the pool.
We had wonderful moments together as a family, but we also had the flexibility to do our own things until we reunited for dinner later in the evening. It was the perfect balance of family time and individual pursuits, making our cruise experience truly memorable.
During our Princess Cruise, formal nights were optional, and it was fascinating to see a mix of guests in gowns and tuxedos as well as passengers in shorts and flip-flops enjoying the buffet. Everyone was having the vacation experience they desired. The ship offered endless entertainment options, including Irish music, formal string quartets, theater production shows, and comedians.
One of the best things about being on board was the abundance of photography opportunities for families. Getting pictures taken together was easy and convenient, unlike in our everyday lives, where it can be challenging to find the time for a nice photo. On the ship, with everyone already together, you could simply head to the designated photo area, and if the first set of pictures didn't turn out as expected, you could try again the next night.
One of my favorite Princess Cruise experiences was the "Movies Under the Stars" on the pool deck during the day and evenings. They provided extra padding on the deck chairs and lovely checkered blankets for guests to curl up while watching movies, concerts, and live events on the big screen. The pools on the ship were open much later than on other ships, allowing us to enjoy the movie while my one son played in the pool, and the other was at the sports court.
As we headed back home, we were already dreaming of our next cruise. My kids were adamant about going on another Princess Cruise, preferably to a destination they hadn't visited yet. So far, a seven-night cruise to Norway from Southampton and a seven-night Alaska cruise were the front-runners.
The Medallion technology onboard is not only beneficial for solo parents --- such as the case on my journey --- but also a game-changer for larger groups. With the touchless experience and the ease of communication, staying connected with family members becomes effortless.
In the past, groups would be required to use cumbersome walkie-talkies. The Medallion eliminates that while allowing the whole family to enjoy the vacation with more freedom and flexibility.