The long-held perception that cruising is for the older generation has been gradually shifting, and these days you can find a ship to satisfy almost any taste. A quick chat with any expert will help you quickly find out which are the cruise lines that will suit you, and you'll be sailing happily into the sunset before you know it. It's a particularly appealing option for intergenerational families thanks to the fact that it's generally pretty economical, incredibly easy (often even leaving from your home town), and most of the lines are well set up for the younger generation with kids' clubs and dedicated specialist staff, not to mention menu options to suit even the fussiest little eater.
Here are some of the cruise lines where kids are welcome on board:
These ships operate around New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands, with a bumper Australasian season planned for 2016-17. There are four age-specific kids' clubs (from 2-17 years) offering talent and theatre shows and programmes such as Broadshorts where kids can make a short film using Stop Motion Pro. The P&O Edge Adventure Park features 19 adrenaline-fuelled activities, including a surfboard simulator, funnel climb, flying fox, walking the plank, rock climbing, bungee tramp, and much more.
CAPTAIN COOK CRUISES
This line's Fijian cruises offer the chance to learn about the local marine life and visit island villages and schools. There's a freshwater swimming pool on board, games in its Reef Room, and group child-minding available for children aged 5-9 years at certain times.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINE
Children as young as 6 months are catered for on board Royal Caribbean ships, which have three age-specific kids' clubs. There are educational programmes alongside a video arcade, a water park, rock climbing walls, a mini-golf course, ice skating rink, and the FlowRider surf simulator. On the huge Oasis class ships you'll find a full-size carousel and a zipline while the Quantum class ships have dodgems, a sky-diving experience, robotic bar, viewing pod (North Star), and much more.
Last year, this American line partnered with the Discovery Channel for its Discovery at Sea programme. This will keep the kids busy with activities such as Discovery Under the Stars, where they can stargaze from the top deck of the ship, Shark Week at Sea, and Animal Planet and Science Channel-themed activities. Designed to bring to life the nature, wildlife and history of the regions guests are sailing in, shore excursions will carry on the theme. The ships also have youth centres for those aged 3-17, offering cooking lessons, video games, the latest movies and music, sports tournaments, and dance and DJ classes. Particularly popular are the Movies Under the Stars shown on a huge poolside screen.
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE
You'll barely see your little ones on a Carnival Cruise because they'll be too busy enjoying the onboard waterpark, mini-golf course, life-sized board games, video arcade, poolside movies, and Dr Seuss shows. New onboard is Camp Ocean, a marine-themed club for children aged 2-11. Split into three age groups, the club offers more than 200 educational activities. Teens are catered for in Circle C (12-14) and Club O2 (15-17). carnival.com.au
With thanks to Cruise Connections, MG Media, Our World and Princess Cruises. Not all facilities will be available on all ships - check before booking.