Cruising is an excellent vacation option for families of all sizes and ages.
Onboard kids love Club HAL where they can make new friends and play games, while parents check out the onboard activities. While there are plenty of options for family members to pursue their individual interests, it’s the quality family time that really makes cruising special. Far from home, families have the chance to connect over dinner without the hustle and bustle of everyday life. When in a port, a host of shore excursions allow families to participate in extraordinary activities and create lifelong memories.
Whether you’re a family of adventure seekers or prefer to take in the history of a region, in 2014 there are a number of fabulous new family friendly excursions in Canada and New England that amount to an unforgettable summer vacation.
First up, it’s not just any day at the beach for families cruising to Prince Edward Island. Sensational Sandcastles is a great excursion for families with kids of all ages. There you’ll join local sand sculptor Maurice Bernard as he teaches simple techniques for creating amazing sandcastles. Maurice is an excellent story teller and will entertain the family with tales of life on Prince Edward Island while instructing on the art of sandcastles. While the gorgeous sandcastles will wash away eventually, the experience is anything but temporary and the skills learned can pop up on any beach anywhere.
Another great option at Prince Edward Island is Family Fun with Falcons. When was the last time your family had the chance to watch a Saker falcon in full flight? This is not something many people have seen in the wild. Saker falcons are an endangered species although their population is on the upswing thanks to conservation breeding programs. This is an interactive program and you will have the chance to join the conservation efforts as you work alongside Jamie Stride to help train the birds to fly free and return to a lure at speeds of up to 200 mph. Kids love the rush of excitement that comes from having one of these magnificent birds placed on their arm in a handler’s glove, and parents love the educational experience.
Every family has a different pace, and at Halifax, Nova Scotia, you can explore on your own with the Hop-On Hop-Off & Family Fun tour. A traditional London double decker bus painted pink to promote breast cancer awareness loops around the city providing you with all day transportation. The best part of the deal? Each adult ticket purchased qualifies you for a free child’s ticket. So this is an affordable option for families as well. You decide when you start and what you want to see. Highlights of the tour include the Museum of National History where artifacts and fossils offer insight into Nova Scotia’s past; and the Discovery Centre where kids can unravel the mysteries of science and technology through fun, informative interactive activities and exhibits.
Families with older kids who are looking for adventure can check out the Reversing Rapids Zip Line Adventure on calls at St. John, New Brunswick. There expert guides will take you through the 5-line course, escorting you from tower to tower and ensuring safety along the way. The signature line crosses a turbulent tidal cove, sometimes soaring 100 feet above water depending on the tide. From your bird’s-eye perspective you can watch the rush of low tide or the push of high tide as the St. John River fights with Bay of Fundy for supremacy. The experience is exhilarating for kids and parents alike.
Those who love the rush of the river and the energy of the forest may also be interested in Two Rivers Wildlife Park at Sydney, Nova Scotia. Great for families, this park has more than 35 species of native and exotic animals. Take a stroll and enjoy the scenery. You may see moose, bear, deer, otters and more along the way. Later take the kids to the children’s playground and petting zoo to get up close and personal with the animals, or enjoy a picnic with the gently rolling hills and historic Mira River as your backdrop.
For an exclusive look into the lives of an ancient community check out the Ultimate Innu Experience at Sept-Iles. There kids can appreciate life before the technology that we’ve come to rely on. Learn how the Innus lived in tents made of animal skins and followed the migratory caribou in order to survive. The rivers were their main pathways, and today the Moisie River remains one of the most important access ways to their traditional lands. It’s there, on the banks of the Moisie that you’ll be immersed in traditional and contemporary Innu culture, history, beliefs and traditions. Learn about traditional Innu Medicine, snowshoe weaving and drum making. Listen to traditional Innu chants, and enjoy a demonstration of traditional dance. This tour is certain to make an impression on the whole family, and send you home with stories to share.
The summer months are a fantastic time to explore Canada and New England without your parka, and select itineraries are part of the Summer on Sale promotion offering reduced fares, complimentary beverage cards and free or reduced third and fourth cruise fares for kids. Maasdam and Veendam will spend the summer exploring the region and you can choose between seven- and 14-day itineraries.
Do you have great family photos from a HAL shore excursion? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and you may be featured in a post!