Combining a cruise with a visit to either Walt Disney World, Universal or one of Orlando’s many jaw-dropping attractions continues to be one of my big ambitions. And the pester power currently being exercised by my son and daughter – aged eight and 11 – means a trip of this nature is almost inevitable.
The cruise: The Davies family did go on a whistle-stop tour of Walt Disney World as part of a Disney Cruise Line sailing last summer, but I’d be taking the Mickey if I told you that we did any more than scratch the surface. Theme parks can now be tied in to seven-day cruises – either to the eastern or western Caribbean – from Port Canaveral on Florida’s Space Coast, which is only an hour’s drive from Orlando.
Royal Caribbean International offers packages that combine the best of land and sea, and include hotel and shipboard accommodation, as well as multi-day passes to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
What my kids love about this idea is that the theme-park experience doesn’t end when you get back on board ship. In fact, it’s more like attending a theme park that happens to stop off at beautiful destinations. DreamWorks characters such as Alex the Lion, Po the Dragon Warrior, and Shrek and Fiona sail with you on a series of new Royal Caribbean International cruises. And activities include character breakfasts, parades and themed shows. A newly installed oversized video screen overlooking the main pool deck shows the latest DreamWorks movies.
The ship: The theme-park vibe can also be felt on the line’s Freedom of the Seas – which comes with an onboard FlowRider surf simulator, cantilevered whirlpools, the H2O Zone kids aqua park, and a four-bedroom, four-bathroom Presidential Family Suite that can accommodate up to 14 people.
One of the most popular cruise-and-stay options is to take a three- or four-night break at the theme parks and then head off to sea for a seven-night taste of the Caribbean with all food, entertainment and childcare included in the price.
Packages: Several cruise lines, including Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line, have made families their focus this season, and offer similar opportunities to mix and match fun ashore with fun at sea. Speaking as the father of two cruise-loving youngsters begging to be taken on a theme park-packed holiday, this option looks to be a no-brainer.
Price: Four night pre-cruise stay at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Studios and a seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise on Freedom of the Seas, from £1,516 for adults; from £1,319 for children, including flights (based on an inside cabin for two adults and two children for a sailing on 17 November, 2013).
More information: Contact Royal Caribbean International (0844 493 4005).