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).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
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
  • Get to the point
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

    Guru Careers: Dining Room Head Chef

    £32K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Dining Room Head Chef to work for one of ...

    Guru Careers: Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Chef

    £27K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pastry Sous Chef / Experienced Pastry Che...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power