guide to cruises
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Beginner’s guide to cruises

Family cruises are becoming more and more popular as people’s perceptions of cruises change. Nowadays there really is a cruise for everyone – whether you fancy touring the Caribbean with kids in tow or exploring the Northern Lights for a special anniversary.

The key to booking a successful cruise is of course choosing the right one for what you are looking for. If you’re new to cruising, haven’t ever thought about doing it, or are interested to know more – have a read of our guide of where to begin.

1. Decide where you want to go

With everywhere from Alaska to Australia covered, the world really is your oyster. The Carribean,  Europe and South America are all popluar destinations – though even Dublin gets in on the action with a British Isles tour courtesy of Princess Cruises

2. Decide what you want on board

Are you looking for fine dining and meeting new friends? Or anonymity and escape? Or perhaps amazing kids clubs and wonderful port excursions? Prioritise what you want and then find the cruise that gives it to you.

3. Look at the costs

Don’t assume cruises are out of your budget. Most cruise ships do all-in packages, so food and some drinks are included in the price. When you add up all the costs of a standard holiday including flights, car hire, hotel and expenses – it can often be more expensive than an impressive cruise. For example a 7 day cruise  from Rome to Athens including dining and 24 hour room service begins at approx €600 with Princess Cruises.

4. Myth busting

Don’t assume that cruises are boring, or full of retirees and honeymooners. With kids being catered to more and more there are many families that choose cruising as their annual holiday every year. With amazing activities for them to partake in on board and new cities to visit at every port it can be a different experience every time.

guide to cruises

Penny, travel writer and mum of three says of her first family cruise:

Our 12 day Mediterranean cruise started in Venice. We had 2 days at sea and on the other days stopped at ports in or near: Dubrovnik, Athens, Izmir, Sicily, Naples, Rome, Tuscany and Marseilles. We finished in Barcelona. You had full day in each port, so maybe 8am-5pm or 7am-4pm. The sail away party was amazing!

5. Think big

For family cruises it’s usually bigger is better. Many new bigger cruise ships are kitted out with cinemas, multiple pools, wave riders, and even climbing walls. And bigger doesn’t actually mean more expensive – in fact the opposite is true with smaller more ‘exclusive’ ships costing more.

There are lots of different tour operators and cruise companies that will help answer your questions so do your homework and Bon Voyage!

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Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….


Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.