Category Archives: Travel

Little Captains — Preparing Kids for a Cruise

There are several reasons why you’d want to go on a cruise holiday with the family. You can choose from a range of destinations, on-board entertainment and activities are plentiful and nearly everything is included in the fare. As a result, there’s no need to make travel and accommodation arrangements or worry about where you’re going to eat and drink each day.

Little Captains — Preparing Kids for a Cruise

Most operators cater for the wants and needs of all those families who are adventurous enough to board a ship. Operators like Royal Caribbean, for instance, offer dining options for both young and old, teenager clubs and nurseries. But before embarking on a holiday to remember, don’t forget these helpful tips.

When it’s just a thought

Pick a family-friendly cruise — Some cruise operators have minimum age requirements for passengers. There may also be rules about how old kids have to be to use the swimming pool or take part in activities, so double check the finer details.

Choose accommodation wisely — Even though you’ve probably got a budget, your choice of accommodation could make or break the holiday. You’ll probably want to be nearer young ones while teenagers could do with the extra space. Some cabins only come with a shower and not a bathtub, so be aware of this too.

The build up

Get the kids excited (but not worked up!) — Your children are more likely to have a better time if they know a bit about the ship and destination before leaving. Show your kids some pictures or tell them about the activities and entertainment on board.

Pack specifically for children — Remembering to pack your kids’ favorite clothes and toys is fairly obvious, but think about things like wet wipes, toilet paper, snacks, books, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect spray, seasickness tablets, and earplugs, too. Those aren’t as obvious!

Once you’re on board that ship!

Sign up for clubs and activities — Spending quality time with each other is important, but signing your kids up to a supervised club enables you to relax and unwind. Thankfully, they’re bound to have a great time too. You may also want to join a shore excursion, but remember to take it slowly. Kids can get restless and tired easily.

Stick to your regular schedule — Try to get out of bed at a normal time each day and don’t let the kids stay up too late. Although you’re on holiday, sleepy or overactive children are difficult to deal with and could cause unnecessary stress.

With numerous benefits to this type of holiday and family-specific ships, there’s no reason why you can’t have the trip of a lifetime on a cruise. Travelling with kids is difficult and demanding, but stick to these tips and it’s so easy. Who dreads family holidays!


Image by flickrized, used under Creative Commons license.

Child-friendly travel in the Canaries

Our last two family breaks have taken us to the Canary Islands, first to Tenerife and then to Gran Canaria. We have found the Canary Islands a great destination for young children, and the islands are easy to get to from the UK. If you’re planning a trip to these fantastic Mediterranean islands, here is my advice on how to plan the perfect holiday with the kids…

child friendly travel in the canariesWhen to visit

The Canary Islands are popular year round, but are particularly popular during the winter months, when the Mediterranean beaches are still too cold for sunbathing. Temperatures are more tolerable at this time of the year, especially for children, though, as it is peak season, accommodation can be more expensive. However if you opt for late Gran Canaria holidays, for instance, you may be able to get island hotel or airport prices slashed. Quieter resorts, which are preferable for families, include Arguinegin, Patalavaca and Puerto de Mogan in Gran Canaria, and Los Gigantes and Puerto Santiago in Tenerife.

Planning your trip

Getting to the Canaries involves a flight of between three and five hours from most major airports in Europe. Hiring a car from the airport will be the easiest way to transport prams/pushchairs (though you may be able to hire these from your accommodation) and all the other luggage that you have. Ensure that you book a family-friendly resort with facilities suitable for children. Washing machines, restaurants which serve kid-sided meals, a playground, a children’s pool and babysitting services will all come in handy.

All-inclusive options may also be preferable, though many accommodations also come with cooking facilities. We found that booking accommodation close to the beach saved a lot of hassle getting to and from the seaside each day. Staying close to the beach also means that you avoid having to push prams up hills every day!

While you’re there

If you’re taking small children to the beach, ensure that you have an umbrella to shade them, and apply plenty of suncream to protect their delicate skin. Be aware that topless sunbathing is common in the Canaries. But holidays in the Canaries aren’t just about the sun and the sea. Hiking, scenic drives and adventure parks will also keep the children entertained.

As the children get older, we hope to go back and do some of the excellent hikes on the islands. Among the trails suitable for families are the Trail of The Senses in Anaga Rural Park (Tenerife), the walk to Roque Nublo which is one of the most iconic beauty spots on Gran Canaria, and Teneguia volcano walk on La Palma.

This is a guest post written by Paul Anderson.

Image by Mate Marschalko, used under Creative Comms license.


The Response from Lufthansa

Here is the reply from Lufthansa if you were wondering what they’d say about my rant about BiP’s flight from hell …


Dear Mrs. Falchetto, dear Mr. Falchetto,


Our Lufthansa Social Media team informed us about your post on Lufthansa’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. We also read your detailed report on your personal blog “Mummy in Provence”. Thank youvery much for making the effort to let us know about the unfortunate experience you had on your recent Lufthansa flight.


Lufthansa considers itself to be a global airline with an open mind towards all travellers, placing great value on the personal attitude and service ability of our staff. You are therefore right to expect our staff to be courteous, helpful and respectful at all times, especially when travelling with a young child – a fact that is surely stressful enough on it’s own. It therefore goes without saying that wesincerely regret to hear about your experiences on May 26 – the lack of service and even of generalcourtesy that you encountered is simply unacceptable. Please accept our sincere and heartfelt apologies for this.


Please rest assured that we as the Head Office for Customer Relations have informed our personnel management responsible for the respective crew, and there will be an internal follow-up with all involved regarding this matter. In addition, your feedback will be used – of course anonymously – in future trainings to help our staff visualize what impression certain inadequate behaviour can evoke with our passengers.


While we cannot make up for the unfavourable impression you gained from us on that flight, we have sent your daughter a gift by post to your address in France, as well as a token of our appreciation for Mummy and Daddy as well.


Dear Mrs. and Mr. Falchetto, we truly hope that this recent experience will not prevent you fromchoosing Lufthansa again for your next flight. We place great value in your patronage and can promise you that we will do everything to make your future flights with us once again a pleasant experience.




Lufthansa German Airlines

Customer Feedback Management


BiP’s return flight from hell: A rant

We went on our first family holiday to New York last week. We had a wonderful time, the outbound flight was smooth, BiP was adored by the cabin crew making the 8 hr flight a breeze and our days in NYC were action packed. It was a fabulous family holiday. Sadly, our return flight on Lufthansa (LH 401) from JFK to Frankfurt was nothing short of awful. Yes, this is a rant, I am still so annoyed that I have to get it off my chest.

BiP’s seat belt and bassinet
After boarding the flight I asked about BiP’s seat belt – I was met with a curt “Yes, you can wait” – I was taken aback somewhat especially as we’d been on board for at least 20 mins. It was given to me after 10mins with no explanation on how to use it which is fine as I’d used it before. A little while later my husband enquired about the bassinet as this is something that is available on demand in-flight and cannot be reserved. His enquiry was met by a member of the cabin crew pointing to the fasten seatbelt sign and rudely being told to sit down. We sat for over 1 hr with the plane not even moving.  We asked someone else and we were told we would be “dealt” with once the plane had taken off.

Shortly after the plane took off another member of the crew came with the bassinet – I had to tell him how to install it with the safety buckles available etc. and he was very abrupt – didn’t offer a blanket or a pillow like his colleagues on the inbound flight – it was a night flight so we had to use our assigned blankets to pad out the bassinet. No instruction was given to keep BiP’s head to the opposite side of the aisle to ensure she wasn’t knocked by the trolleys – a basic safety aspect that could easily be overlooked by first time flyers.

The toys, eavesdropping and serious attitude
Every child get’s a toy on a flight right? Well, not on the Lufthansa LH 401 flight. The stewardess who came through the cabin with her tray of toys decided BiP wasn’t worthy of a toy. When we asked where her toy was she snapped “I have nothing for her age” – umm maybe let us be the decider of that? I was banking on something BiP could play with to keep her occupied other than the stash I’d brought with me. Give her a postcard, give her a puzzle, give her anything! Especially as you had a tray full of toys and I seriously doubt giving one to BiP that was not considered to be age appropriate would have led Lufthansa to bankruptcy!

She was so incredibly rude. My husband turned to me and commented on her attitude – she was clearly eavesdropping on the conversation so came back with an attitude I have never seen before in any service industry “What did you just call me?” she sniped,  “Umm nothing, I was talking to my wife” replied my husband “I heard you say something about me, you have no right to talk about me” she continued aggressively. Whoa lady! You just eavesdropped on a private conversation and then chose to jump in and ignite the situation! We were then visited by the Purser, her supervisor, who seemed to think that no toy for BiP was fine and eavesdropping equally ok. By this point we were 1.5 hrs into the flight and you could cut the atmosphere with a knife!

Sick baby and barging cabin crew
About an hour into the flight BiP started running a high fever of 39.5C/103F plus diareha etc … we were trying to take her temperature and give her some tylenol when a member of the cabin crew said “Excuse me!” My husband said “Please can you wait 10 seconds” to which he replied “NO! I can’t!” and barged past both myself and my husband knocking us both into the bassinet causing BiP to scream once again. The reason? Someone had pressed the call button for him to retrieve an empty glass. He could hear that BiP was clearly in distress and upset – 10 seconds could not have hurt but it was clearly more important to perform his waiting duties than wait for 2 tired parents to administer medication to their sick baby.

Another meeting with the Purser ensued – he again, defended the actions of his crew claiming that the children behind us were delighted with their toys and the service they’d received. Good for them. We were enraged. I’m not going to even go into detail about another member of the cabin crew who was trying to give my Gluten Free meal to another passenger who clearly stated it wasn’t his and when I said “I think that’s for me” she snapped “Will you just wait!” and 10 mins later dumped the same, now cold meal, in front on me without a word. Words cannot empahisise the tone but I can assure you that I have never spoken to someone in that tone unless I was looking for extreme retaliation!

NOT the faces of Lufthansa we experienced on LH 401 from JFK to Frankfurt on 26th May 2011

Which exit? Scarily clueless
Upon arriving at Frankfurt airport we were relived to be getting off the worst flight of our lives (both my husband and I have travelled all over the world regularly since we were just months old so this really is saying something). I enquired about where we would be able to collect BiP’s stroller from when we were met with blank faces and told “Get off the plane and ask someone” – excuse me? Usually it is either the back or the front of the plane? It’s not rocket science and this is basic information that the other crew on the previous flights knew and had informed us of prior to landing!


Fake smiles and empty gestures
After my husband gave your crew free training in how, as a service provider, you have a duty to be courteous, polite and maybe to even care about your passengers your attempts failed. They were transparently forced and annoying. It was way too late. I’m not sure if you realise that such a miserable experience cannot be remedied by 2 mins of forced empathy.

Yes, this is a rant, yes this is a complaint.  From my side this was an epic FAIL in customer service. I am not asking Lufthansa to like children or even play with them – I am fully aware that the crew on Lufthansa (LH 410) on 19th May 2011 from Munich to JFK were exceptional but I have no idea what was going on with the crew on the 26th May 2011 from JFK to Frankfurt on Lufthansa (LH 401). Perhaps it’s because this crew were specially selected to fly on the Airbus A380 – a big honour in the aviation world – maybe it’s gone their head – but if this is the pick of the crop then there is something seriously wrong.

Oh, and Lufthansa, if you read this – I am still waiting for a reply to my tweet and I’m not interested in filling out your faceless customer complaint form.