Haven Holiday Take Three!

We’re were Haven holiday ambassadors in 2013 and as such we went to Rockley Park in Dorset last June for our first caravan experience as a family. We had a lovely time and enjoyed it so much that we booked another holiday for last October when we went to the ever so cold but lots of fun Haven holiday park in Caister.

We were thrilled to be chosen as ambassadors again for this year and are looking forward to our blog trip to Hastings in June. We couldn’t wait that long though so booked to go back to Caister in April for a fun few days! That was last week and we had a brilliant time – again!

We like Caister because it’s right on the (gorgeous) beach, has an AMAZING swimming pool and a fab soft play for when it rains which let’s face it, is rather likely when visiting in October and April. We were actually rather lucky with the weather this time though and had to make excuses to go to soft play because the children like it so much!

For the first time on our visits we didn’t stay in luxury accommodation; we only upgraded from the very bottom rung meaning we had a smaller caravan which wasn’t QUITE as comfy but totally adequate. There was no DVD player (typically this time I’d remembered to take one to watch) and without much floor space it was tricky with the little ones at times. I think I’d prefer the better standard and wouldn’t go for the level below in the future. The holiday did only cost us £98 though including entertainment passes and service charges -brilliant for a budget!

The Caister park is clean, well run and has a wealth of helpful and polite staff. In particular the guy on reception and the chaps from the swimming pool and sports centre were very polite and remembered Florence for each activity and just saying hello around the park which she was very pleased with.

I did get annoyed after an activity she had done which was meant to be for her age, she had loved on the previous go and had no problems with before. This time the chap running it had tailored it entirely to the older children in the group leaving her out which was a shame. It was the same day Florence had been in tears because the lifeguard wouldn’t let her on the slide for not being tall enough. I know rules are rules but Florence is only 4mm under the height restriction, has been on it before and can pretty much swim. The slide also touches down into a separate splash pool no deeper than up to my ankles so I was very confident for her to be on it. I complained, had the rules explained again but eventually they allowed her go on it and offered another activity to make up for the one she’d not enjoyed. They were as always, very good about it.

We do love the pool at Caister and it was at this park back in October where Florence learned to swim unaided on her front and under water. She came away from this latest trip, after taking one paid for swimming lesson and one free water confidence class, having learned to float and swim on her back! Thanks to Nathan the water confidence lifeguard! It is a perfect pool for little ones with a massive shallow area just right for learning to swim and Jimmy LOVED it too!

We also enjoyed a great deal of the activities which were brilliant for Florence if not bulging with things for Jimmy. The evening entertainment isn’t really my thing but we went for an hour anyway because the children enjoyed it so much. I do think however, it could be much better for them. I actually worked as a holiday entertainer and for us, the time which is appropriate, is a bit lazy… Please see below for changes I would make.

All in all we had another beautiful holiday and plan on another Caister trip this year! For this one I saved tokens in the dreaded Sun newspaper and will do the same for later on in the summer. Caister is an ideal location to get to on the bus from Norwich, there’s not much there although a Lidl is within walking distance and for the flashing fun of Great Yarmouth it’s just a short bus ride away.

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We really enjoyed the activities which are reasonably priced!

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The children thought the slot machines were fun!

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The beach at Caister is simply gorgeous and unspoiled!

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Florence and Jimmy loved all the character things even though I think they could be better! 

What would I change?

Well, not a great deal, you get what you pay for and much more but I do think a couple of points could be addressed.

  1. The slides in the pool have a height restriction and  I do understand however I think an age could be used as well. At 4 Florence can pretty much swim but at 4mm under the height restriction it was pretty upsetting to watch taller two year olds splashing away. She was finally allowed on but I think discretion could have been implemented sooner.
  2. If an activity is for a wide range of children then the games within it need to be frequently changed so that they allow every child in the group something for them. It’s fine to do something for a little while which isn’t fun for you but not a whole paid session.
  3. The times of the activities need to be better thought out. There is lots for older children, a few things for 4 year olds and only a couple for tiny tots. It seemed the schedule was such that all the things suitable for Florence and Jimmy happened either at the same time or back to back in different locations meaning we couldn’t get from one to another. I would like to see them spread out a bit.
  4. The excellent soft play needs a gate on both the baby and older children areas and the main door needs serious rethinking. I think a heavy door which shuts on its own regardless of the selfish people who wander in and out leaving it open and it also needs a push button high up to press in order to open it.
  5. The evening entertainment, while brilliant for some, is just not our cup of tea. The children however really enjoy going and call it a disco even though really and truly it is not. At 6pm-7pm they have a recorded story ‘told’ by one of the characters in the ‘Sea Squad’. Following this is a massive queue up for a photo with said character and then a few minutes to dance and play one game to be finished at 7pm in time for Rock ‘n’ Roll bingo. This is playing for a prize toy and not money but I feel a little inappropriate. I think the time from 6-7.30 could be better spent doing a proper children’s disco and games with character photos at specific times in the day instead. I know my children would enjoy it more and we’d certainly stay that extra half hour with a drink in our hand if it meant the Rock ‘n’ Roll bingo was replaced.

Aside from those points the park is brilliant and I can thoroughly recommend the fish and chips too!

I am a Haven ambassador but I was not provided any special treatment for this trip. We booked and paid for it and our upgrade ourselves.