This could be the ultimate stress-free family holiday

The teenagers want a base with full amenities, you want a bit of culture. The answer? Take the resort to the sights on a cruise, says Suzanne Cadisch

A 12-night cruise out of Harwich suited bed-loving teens right from the start. They didn't have to be fresh for a long journey and they didn't even have to be that organised. It was a case of falling into the car with as much luggage as they liked, snoozing for a couple of hours en route to the port, and then falling into their cabin for a shower. Sorted.

Beginning a fabulous holiday like this was bliss for us, too. No nagging, no baggage weight restrictions (well, 200lb, so as good as), no hanging around airports, no transfers. Plus there was the prospect of being waited on hand and foot while our "hotel room" was transported around the Baltic to five glorious European capitals.

But first things first. With four full days at sea during the trip and every night on board, did our floating resort pass muster with the girls (one almost 16 and the other going on 18)? Absolutely. You just can't fail to be wowed by a ship like Royal Caribbean's 90,000-ton Jewel of the Seas and, for a teenager, what's not to like?

There are indoor and outdoor pools, sundecks, hot tubs, a gym, sports court, rock-climbing wall 200ft above the waves, arcade games, shops, West End-quality shows in a spectacular theatre. And you can order a burger or three (room service is free) while you overdose on Cartoon Network or watch movies in your cabin – which a smiling steward then cleans up for you.

On top of all that, there is a truly impressive free Adventure Ocean programme for under-18s, with activities for seven age groups, from babes in arms to 15-17-year-olds, giving parents and offspring of all ages real freedom to enjoy a holiday their way and making family cruising fantastic value.

A word of warning, though: while cruising and teenagers most definitely go together, pick your destination carefully. Admittedly, we were extremely unlucky with the weather when we travelled last August, but, even at its best, the Baltic probably wasn't the cleverest choice for teenage girls whose first summer commandment is "Thou shalt get a tan".

At least we never had to prise them away from the pool to come ashore with us. In Stockholm we gaped at the world's oldest warship, the Vasa, salvaged from the sea after 333 years and looking as if it had come straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean. In Copenhagen we posed with the Little Mermaid and strolled around the Tivoli Gardens. In Oslo, where we woke to a castle outside our window, we marvelled at how the Kon Tiki raft could have made that famous Pacific crossing in 1947. We sipped warm Monk's Bride pastis on the cobbled streets of Estonia's medieval capital Tallinn, and we tasted reindeer while basking in the sunshine of Helsinki.

But the undoubted highlight of the trip was St Petersburg. Unless you have obtained your own Russian visa in advance of travel, the only way you can go ashore during the 35-hour stopover here is on official Royal Caribbean tours, which cost extra but proved excellent value. We booked as many excursions as we could cram into the two days.

Equipped with radio earphones, we received a stream of fascinating information from our passionate guides as we toured the Hermitage and its world-famous art treasures, rode Stalin's subway, shopped in local markets and, on day two, visited the breathtaking palaces at Pushkin and Peterhof.

Back on board, a recent Royal Caribbean innovation that suited us was open dining, where you can opt out of the rigid dinner seating system and make a daily booking for whatever time you like. And the food, of course, was fabulous.

Cruising has to be the ultimate in a stress-free family holiday. A ship like the Jewel of the Seas – 962ft long with a crew of 850 serving up to 2,500 passengers – can be all things to all people: join in or chill out, get fit or get fat, go see the sights or watch the world go by from your favourite on-board bar.

Just be prepared to fork out for a spray tan if you take teenage girls to the Baltic.

Compact facts

How to get there

Royal Caribbean International (0844 493 2061; royalcaribbean .co.uk) offers a 12-night cruise on board Jewel of the Seas to Scandinavia and Russia in July 2009 from £1,629 per person, based on two sharing a balcony cabin, and from £1,031 per person, based on two sharing an inside cabin. Booking a suite can be cost-effective for a family. Alcohol and branded soft drinks are extra. Shore excursions in St Petersburg cost from about £28. A day tour of Pushkin and Peterhof including lunch costs about £125 per person (£75 for under-12s).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
life
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Life and Style
tech
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
The Commonwealth flag flies outside Westminster Abbey in central London
news
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
Extras
indybest
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
tvWebsite will allow you to watch all 522 shows on-demand
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Recruitment Consultant (Trainee), Finchley Central, London

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    Day In a Page

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor