all ages. Phil Davies checks out the on-board entertainment.
The popular misconception that cruising is only for those of a certain age and that there's nothing to do on board apart from play shuffleboard and eat copious amounts at the midnight buffet couldn't be further from the truth, thanks to a fleet of new mega ships.
Cruising is now truly entrenched as a mainstream holiday choice, providing a wide range of activities for parents and children, from celebrity-chef masterclasses to bumper cars.
Cruise lines are out to capture the imaginations of newcomers by adopting the tried-and-tested formula of theme parks and all-inclusive resorts and bringing on baord cartoon characters such as Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Barbie (Royal Caribbean International), Dr. Seuss (Carnival Cruise Lines) and Mickey, Minnie and the Magic Kingdom crew onDisney Cruise Line.
Supervised kids' clubs are the norm on board, catering for all ages from toddlers through to teens as well as night nurseries for babies. A programme of daily activities is provided, encompassing games, arts and crafts, treasure hunts around the ship, pool parties and disco nights.
Ultra-luxury Crystal Cruises employs junior activities directors during school-holiday sailings to keep children entertained from 10am until 10pm with backstage tours of the ship's show lounge, pyjama parties, art and craft activities and film shows.
Parents can enjoy some 'me' time with spa treatments, intimate dinners at specialty restaurants, nights out at the on-board theatres, comedy clubs, live music venues, bars and discos - all while knowing that their youngsters are being looked after in a secure environment.
Celebrity Cruises boasts Microsoft Xbox-themed spaces across its fleet of uber-modern ships, offering families interactive game experiences and themed nights ranging from sports and dance to adventure and racing on Xbox 360 and Kinect for Xbox 360.
For adrenalin junkies, adventurer and TV presenter Ben Fogle has created a series of 'Great Adventures' for Celebrity Cruises, which include speedboat rides, triathlon trails in Croatia and snorkelling with salmon in Norway.
Carnival Cruise Lines; 0845 351 0556; carnival.co.uk
Celebrity Cruises; 0845 456 0523; celebritycruises.co.uk
Crystal Cruises; 020 7399 7601; crystalcruises.co.uk
Disney Cruise Line; 0800 171 2317; disneycruise.disney.go.com
P&O Cruises; 0843 374 0111; pocruises.com
Royal Caribbean International; 0844 493 2061; royalcaribbean.co.uk