With around two million children taking to the high seas every year, cruising is a family affair offering plenty of fun for small sailors.
1. DISNEY CRUISE LINE – MAGICAL MOMENTS
Youngsters can meet Mickey and friends closer to home next year when Disney Magic sets sail on its first British Isles cruise on 2 September visiting Cork, Dublin, Greenock (Glasgow and Edinburgh) and Liverpool. All of the cruise line’s ships are packed with family fun from bow to stern, including hit shows such as the recently premiered Tangled: The Musical and the Marvel’s Avengers Academy, which uses dazzling technology to transform youngsters into their favourite superheroes.
0800 171 2317 disneycruise.com
2. ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL – BIG CHOICE
The Adventure Ocean programme offers some of the largest kids’ clubs at sea, plus after-hours nursery care and adult-only enclaves so parents can enjoy some grown-up time, while their children play or sleep. There will be plenty of more large-scale thrills in store next year when the 5,494-passenger Symphony of the Seas, the world’s biggest cruise ship, launches in April and at 10 storeys high, it will feature the tallest slide at sea. The ship will spend its maiden season in the Mediterranean.
0844 493 4005 royalcaribbean.co.uk
3. P&O CRUISES – CREATIVE COOKING
Young chefs can cook up at treat in the new hands-on cookery classes on flagship Britannia, which include baking for under-eights, bread making for nine to 12-year-olds and pasta making for teens, plus family classes. P&O’s sailings from Southampton are geared to Brits and include mini cruises that are a fantastic introduction for first-timers dipping their toes into life at sea. There are four age-appropriate kids’ clubs on board, family pools, a sun deck and pool for teens and a sports arena.
0843 373 0111 pocruises.com
4. NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE – MAKE A SPLASH
Norwegian Escape boasts the biggest aqua park at sea, a plank extending 8ft over the side of the ship and a dedicated area for smaller children. The Splash Academy is next to the family-friendly oceanview cabins and, in a first for the line, Escape has a nursery for youngsters aged six months to three years. The ship also has a big Sports Complex so kids can play a whole range of sports as well as tackle a high ropes course, bounce around on a bungee trampoline or climb a rock wall in the middle of the sea.
0333 241 2319 ncl.co.uk
5. CARNIVAL – HAPPY CAMPERS
Children can pitch up at Camp Ocean, which recreates the fun and games of a summer camp, while families can pit their skills in front of a live audience in Hasbro, the Game Show. The line’s newest and largest ship Carnival Vista, has the Family Harbour zone, which features amazing attractions including SkyRide, a suspended open-air cycling experience, and the first IMAX on a ship. Carnival Vista also has an impressive water park with a wide choice of slides for thrill seekers.
0843 374 2272 carnival.co.uk
6. UNIWORLD – TAKE ME TO THE RIVER
Uniworld was one of the first river cruise lines to launch dedicated family cruises. This year, the Generations programme features nine multigenerational journeys with activities such as scavenger hunts, castle walks, Segway rides, kayaking and paddleboarding, pretzel and
pasta-making workshops and even rowing a gondola in Venice. New for this year is the 10-day Rhine-Main Discovery cruise, which includes a visit to fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle.
0808 168 9110 uniworld.com