1/6 Cruise and stay: Caribbean
The cruise: Orlando’s theme parks are on the doorstep ahead of a 10-night Caribbean cruise on board Carnival Cruise Lines’ newly revamped Carnival Sunshine.
And stay… The line includes a pre-night stay ahead of a seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruise at either the Marriott Orlando Airport or the Renaissance Orlando Airport but additional days can be added on.
This will allow for a full-on tour of the latest Disney or Universal creations before setting sail from Port Canaveral for seven nights around the southern Caribbean.
On board: Once on board families can extend the Florida fun by competing against each other on the Speedway Splash waterslide as part of the ship’s WaterWorks waterpark.
Adults have their own vast chill-out zone while children can play in the swimming pool or watch an outdoor film on a giant movie screen.
There are games on SportSquare, a jogging track, while those with a head for heights can traverse ropes on the SkyCourse high above the ocean.
Hasbro, The Game Show gets families up on stage in larger-than-life competitions ?while children have a variety of dedicated clubs available with organised activities and the latest computer games
The ship JiJi Asian Kitchen provides some of the best wok-cooked delights you are likely to find on board a cruise ship while Guy’s Burger Joint on deck serves up a selection of all-American classics.
The EA SPORTS Bar features a bank of giant screen showing a range of US sports, depending on the season.
Excursions: From swimming with stingrays off the uninhabited island of Gibbs Cay or riding horses along the beach in Grand Turk. Carnival Sunshine also visits Aruba and Curacao as well as spending time at sea on the eight-night cruise.
Price: For a family of four departing on August 22, prices are from £5,419 for an August 22 holiday including return flights from Heathrow and a night’s pre-cruise hotel stay.
More info: carnival.co.uk
2/6 Cruise and stay: Alaska
The cruise: The vast wilderness of Alaska is surprisingly accessible and by cruise ship there’s plenty of opportunity to get up close and personal to thriving populations of North American wildlife.
On board: Having a balcony cabin is an absolute must when sailing through the famed glacier regions and past ice-fringed fjords.
Summer is the best time to travel to the ‘last frontier’ when the sun is high in the sky and the bald eagles swoop around the mountain tops.
Whales, seals, sea lions, Orcas, sea otters, mountain goats, brown and black bears, puffins and kittiwakes can all be commonly spotted during the summer months.
Excusions: Most cruise companies provide the chance to add a pre- or post-tour to time on board ship in order to add an additional dimension to the Alaska experience.
These include seaplane trips, train journeys, coach tours and the opportunity to stay in wilderness lodges. Kayaking, dog sled rides, Jeep tours, sight-seeing by helicopter and rainforest hikes are among the many options available.
A typical family adventure holiday in Alaska involves a cruise combined with a land tour to give a history, geography and science lesson all rolled into one.
And stay… Celebrity Cruises runs a five-night Canadian Rockies land package prior to a nine-night Alaska Hubbard Glacier cruise from Vancouver. The ship Celebrity Century sails through the Inside Passage, Icy Strait Point, past the Hubbard Glacier to Juneau and Ketchikan before returning to Vancouver.
The Rockies element features a train journey to Jasper before travelling to Lake Louise through the Jasper and Banff National Parks to Calgary before flying back to Vancouver to board the ship.
Price: A 14-night cruise tour from £3,763 per adult and £3,268 per child based on two adults and two children sharing including return flights from Heathrow and a night’s pre-cruise accommodation, based on an August 12 departure. ?
More info: celebritycruises.co.uk
3/6 Cruise and stay: Miami
The cruise: One of the hottest destinations in the US combines miles of pristine beaches during the day with a cutting-edge vibe at night.
And stay… With a tropical climate and an area surrounded by water, there are plenty of opportunities to take the plunge, ranging from stand-up paddleboarding and windsurfing through to kayaking, canoeing and snorkelling.
A stroll around the historic Art Deco district of Miami Beach is a must-do, stopping off to people watch from a stylish open-air café.
Little Havana at night provides an insight into Miami’s Latin side, with monthly Cultural Friday events combining music and dance with the chance to sample fiery Cuban cuisine.
Any visit to Miami would not be complete without a blow-out at Aventura Mall, 2.7 million square feet of shops including department store giants Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s JCPenny, Sears and Nordstrom plus more than 300 other shops, restaurants and a 24-screen cinema.
Miami is a handy starting point for cruises to the Bahamas and the Caribbean, from the city’s port or from nearby Fort Lauderdale.
Price: MSC Cruises flagship MSC Divina runs seven and 14-night Caribbean cruises from Miami throughout the year. The week-long voyages take in St Maarten, San Juan in Puerto Rico and Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. Cruise-only prices for a family of four start at £1,648 for a balcony cabin based on departures on August 9, 16 and 23.
More info: msccruises.co.uk
4/6 Cruise and stay: Paris
The cruise: Combine the enduring allure of the City of Light with a river cruise in the South of France and there’s a great cultural combination for families not wishing to take to the high seas.
Tauck River Cruising runs a series of adventures for children in Paris including a scavenger hunt in the Louvre, a visit to La Manoir de Paris, a supposed “haunted” mansion; an insider’s visit to Notre Dame cathedral and a picnic lunch in the Tuileries Garden situated between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde.
And stay… A 10-night package this summer includes a two-night stay at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand Hotel – close to the Paris Opera House and Louvre – complete with fully guided sightseeing.
The trip includes high-speed rail transfer by TGV to join the rver cruiser Swiss Emerald for seven nights.
Excusions: Tauck family trips place an emphasis on “shared enrichment,” where family members of different generations experience a destination together and build bonds in the process rather than separating children in kids clubs.
Families can participate in bicycle rides along the tow path as part of the week-long river cruise along the Rhone, stop to play pétanque in Viviers of visit to a chocolatier for a demonstration and tasting.
Other organised activities include a tour of underground passageways in Lyon thought to date back to the 4th century. They were used by medieval craftsmen to transport silk wares without exposure to bad weather and by locals trying to evade the city’s German occupation during World War II.
There’s also a visit to a private ranch to meet the “cowboys” of the Camargue; including a hayride, Provencal lunch, gypsy music and a demonstration in which cowboys attempt to retrieve paper tokens from a bull’s horns.
Price: For a family of four for a 10-day France river cruise and stay on June 19, July 28 or August 11 start at £11,740 excluding travel to the French capital.
More info: www.tauck.com
5/6 Cruise and stay: Norway
The cruise: The most special time to explore the wild and untamed Norwegian scenery is in winter. The landscape is covered in pure white snow and provides the best chance of experiencing the Northern Lights.
Join various miniature polar expeditions like a husky sledge adventure or a snow mobile trip into the Polar Night through a frozen landscape with views of the Arctic wilderness.
And stay… For a truly Arctic adventure Norwegian coastal cruise line Hurtigruten provides add-on stays at the Snow Hotel in Kirkenes in the far north – east of Norway close to the Russian border. The structure is constructed entirely from snow and ice each year and has spacious, illuminated snow suites decorated with snow sculptures and an Arctic snow bar.
Excursions: Optional excursions include dog sledging from £199 per person, Reindeer sledging (£188pp) or a Snowmobile Safari (£213pp).
Price: For a family of four sharing a cabin on a seven-day Classic Voyage North from Bergen to Kirkenes departing on February 14, 2015 costs from £889 per person. International flights and transfers are available from an additional £395 per person.
A night at the Snow Hotel costs from £247 per person, based on two sharing including transfers, dinner and breakfast.
More info: hurtigruten.co.uk
6/6 Cruise and stay: Venice
The cruise: The one drawback of taking a cruise is that while you may visit multiple places in a single holiday, there’s rarely enough time in port to do anything but scratch the surface of each destination.
Venice is one case in point. Some ships stay overnight but the port of Venice is some way from the central attractions such as St Mark’s Basilica, the Rialto Bridge and Doge’s Palace so there is little time available to truly explore. To really capture the canals, gondolas and historic atmosphere families need extra time to traverse the city by water bus and linger over plentiful pasta dishes.
And stay… One solution is to tag on a city break to a new series of P&O Cruises fly-Med holidays this summer on family-friendly superliner Ventura. Hotels are available not just in Venice but also in Genoa, Milan and Nice to extend either seven or 14-night itineraries covering the Greek islands, Dalmatian coast, French Riviera and the pick of Italy’s stunning cities.
Price: A seven-night Ventura fly-cruise to Venice from Savona with calls in Livorno, for Florence and Pisa, Naples and Dubrovnik costs from £1,079 per adult and £917 per child based on a July 23 departure, including flights from the UK.
Hotel packages start at £140 per person with additional nights from £60pp staying at the four-star Crowne Plaza Venice East, a 15-minute train journey from the main sights.