Our Summer Holiday onboard the Enchanted Princess

One of the hardest things for me working in Travel is booking my own family holiday.  You would think that by now I would have it off to a T, but when you see “holidays” each and every day, I am like a kid in a sweet shop trying to decide which one to have (I want them all) and most importantly which one is best for all of us.  So back in May, I decided to jump at a great offer and book our family on a 7-night cruise from Southampton.

Of course, I discussed it with the kids (17, 14) first, I have been on a cruise before, so I knew what they entailed, but I wanted to see if they were happy to give it a try.  Last year’s holiday wasn’t what we had hoped for, partly due to covid and instead of Lara Beach in Turkey we ended up in Gulf de sur, Tenerife.  Don’t get me wrong, it was great to be away, but we all felt that we needed more, and the hotel wasn’t right in terms of things to do for our teenagers.

This year’s holiday was going to be a test, or taster, 7 Nights on a Cruise, onboard the Enchanted Princess from Southampton.

Living in Bromley, normally we fly from London Gatwick or Stansted, which means 1 hour – 1 hours and half drive away. It’s always a taxi to take us and all our luggage (one piece each) and a very early start as I prefer the first flight of the day if travelling to Europe.  But going from Southampton was a completely new experience and now one I would highly recommend.

We had chosen a boarding time of 12.30-1.30 and as it can take between 2-3 hours to get there, we left in plenty of time (I hate rushing or being late).  We didn’t book a taxi; Southampton is a little too far for that, so we booked car parking just outside the terminal and drove ourselves.  Unlike flying, with cruising there is no luggage allowance, we could take as much as we wanted, however as we all had to fit in our car, we actually had to limit ourselves to 2 cases in total.  Admittedly I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to fit everything in, but it was a good lesson, as everything we took, we used, and it certainly made me more resourceful.



I am converted! Embarking a cruise is nothing like flying. Honestly if all my holidays and travelling could be as simple and efficient as that, it would be amazing.  We arrived at the terminal, dropped our suitcase outside, where they were taken to be loaded onto the ship and lined up with our passports and other documents (covid pass etc) to be checked.  We where then seated for a maximum of 10 minutes when they directed us to go through security and then onto the ship.

It was delightful, the whole process! And a great start what was to be the best family holiday.


Their faces

As we entered the Enchanted, the kids’ faces lit up, even though they had seen videos (Tik tok) of the ship before boarding, the pure size and elegance of what was inside hit them and they were truly impressed.  I had explained that it was like a floating hotel, but until they saw it for themselves, they could not comprehend.

Walking through the main foyer, looking almost star struck, our holiday had begun. Live music was playing, all the staff had welcoming smiles and we almost felt like v.i.p’s. Enchanted Princess had made a great first impression and instantly we were happy to be on-board.


Travelling as a family of four

I refer to them as kids, but really, they are young adults and as much as I love them, sharing a room would be out of the question (they are bigger than me now).  When I made the cruise booking, it was vital to get inter-connecting rooms.  As they are 17 and 14 they are not allowed to be in their own room, understandably however, we wouldn’t of fitted comfortably in one stateroom with all four of us.  The rooms had a connecting door, which had to be unlocked by both sides and remained open throughout our cruise.

Please note that if this something you would want, book early, the inter-connecting rooms are few and get booked up quickly.  They are not reserved for families like ours and anyone can book them even if they are not going to be using that door. 

Our rooms were Balcony cabins, which I would highly recommend.  Having experienced inside cabins on a previous cruise I had been on, I knew all too well the importance of an upgrade to have some outside space and the importance of the ever-changing views, plus some morning we ate our breakfast out there).


It’s not the destination, it’s the journey

Our itinerary for our cruise over the 7 days included, Guernsey, La Rochelle (France) Bilbao (Spain) and A Coruna (Spain).  In all honesty I didn’t choose this cruise based on the destinations, I have been to A coruna previously, however I had little knowledge of the other ports of call.

This cruise for us, was about the experience, the journey, a chance to enjoy the ship, experience “cruising” and to see places that we wouldn’t otherwise have.  As it was the first family cruise, that was our priority, however now that our experience together was an amazing one, I would now going forward consider more of the destination. 

Unfortunately, due to the weather conditions in Guernsey we wasn’t able to disembark, which of course was disappointing, however it’s important to remember, safety is paramount and another day at sea meant were able to explore the ship to the full.


The people

From my experience, each cruise line is different and attracts different types of people.  We sailed with Princess, which I had been told was more for adults, as opposed to families.

This of course didn’t put us off, in fact as we were travelling in the school holidays, we knew that we wouldn’t be the only family on-board, and it was worth the experience.

There were approximately 3500 guests on-board, the majority were of retirement age or near to it.  There were also other families like us, who had teenagers, but not many families with young children.  Personally, I feel that our children were of the perfect age, any younger it may be harder work and not the easiest of holidays.  Luckily the kids are very independent and that’s what they loved about the cruising.  I felt safe letting them do their thing, whether that was to play basketball, swim in the pools, or go off and help themselves to food, they never got bored and they didn’t feel they were in the wrong environment.

Everyone we met or passed in the lift was so friendly. I know everyone is happier when they are on holiday, but it almost felt like a community on-board and really relaxed.  We spent some evenings watching Karaoke, the support there for the people who wasn’t so talented or couldn’t keep time was like a family of well-wishers, it felt refreshing.

If you were a solo traveller, you wouldn’t feel alone, there were meet up groups arranged, and everyone felt safe and well looked after. 


The staff

Wow, what can I say, from the moment we embarked, we were well taken care of.  Every staff member greeted you with a smile and they worked so hard, which felt like 24/7.  The staff made the ship what it was and although sometimes you had to wait a bit to be served a drink in the evening, you knew they were trying their hardest to keep up with the demand.


So, what can you do on a cruise (Princess), I hear you ask.

Here are some of the “activities” that were available to us.

·        Sunbathing

·        Gym / Work out / Dance Fitness Classes

·        Basketball

·        Three Pools for Swimming + Adult only pool

·        Hot Tubs

·        Teenage Club (13-17 yrs)

·        Watch movies under the stars

·        Learn to dance – Line Dancing, Ballroom etc.

·        Eat at the many restaurants (Fine Dining, Pizza, Gastro Pub, Buffett, Seafood)

·        Spa Facilities – Message / Acupuncture / Facials / Detox etc

·        Bible study

·        Picketball

·        Knitters and Knatters – Meet ups

·        Art Gallery

·        Duty Free Shopping

·        Ping Pong

·        Poker (Casino)

·        Quizzes

·        Bingo

·        Paper plane competition

·        Pamper party

·        Cards and games

·        Lawn Bowling

·        Goofy Golf

·        Wine tasting

·        Afternoon Tea

·        Cocktail experiences

·        Singles and Solo Travellers get together

·        LGBTQ+ Get together

·        Piano entertainment

·        Karaoke

·        Night Club

·        Theatre shows

·        Presentations

·        Fashion Jewellery event

·        Sea Crafts

·        Sports betting

·        Make-overs

·        Golf putting tournaments

·        Dodgeball

·        Veterans and military personal get together

·        Sudoku challenge

·        Air hockey

·        Chess


There’s so much to do on the ship, you won’t get bored, then there are organised trips you can take when you are in port, or you can just be at leisure and find your own way around, taking it all at leisure.

The food

One thing I love about holidays is no time constraints, personally I like to eat quite late in the evening, so I am not losing half my day out by having to come back early and get ready.  If you are like me, you can eat when you want at the Market Place restaurant, which is great, however if you are hoping to try out different restaurants, specialised ones that you have to pay extra for, these need to be pre-booked and I would advice to do that asap.    Unfortunately we left it too late to book and the only time they had available was too early for us (17.30) .

We are what I would call, standard eaters, we eat pretty much anything, and the variety was good, I especially love fish and there was plenty of that to be had.

One of the perks was room service, this was included in the package. My children certainly took advantage of this and often had a midnight snack after our evening entertainment.  We also used it for a few mornings, to wake up to good coffee and some cereal which we ate on the balcony, that was a great way to start the day.


They say that you put on lots of weight when you do a cruise, but fear not, there is a gym, so you can always work it off and you will do so much walking, you may even get fitter!


Would I recommend a cruise?

Yes, but it certainly isn’t for everyone, and each cruise line is different.

We all loved it, I would do it again and again, there were only positives for me.

If you have a young family that I would say to hold off until the children are older.  If you are a couple or friends that like to relax but equally like to have the opportunity to take part in lots of things, then absolutely.

If you are single and would like to meet like minded travellers, again I think it’s perfect.

If you like to visit new places and enjoy exploring, again a ocean cruise is perfect.


7 Top Tips

1.      Book early, generally to get the best prices and best cabin location.

2.      Book restaurants as early as possible.

3.      Invest in drinks package that is right for you, remember you have to have the same package per cabin.  Whether that’s with alcoholic beverages or just soft drinks.

4.      Put swim wear in your hand luggage – This way, when you arrive on-board you can jump straight into the hot tub or pool, as sometimes you have to wait a few hours for your suitcase to arrive in your room.

5.      Entertainment – If there’s something you particularly wish to see, arrive early, these are first come first served and some entertainment venues can get busy.

6.      Take a outfit for those dress to impress nights.

7.      Get up early for those days at sea if you want a sunbed! Yes, us British still like to put our towel out at 7.30 in the morning.


Meanwhile check out my inspiration video here