If you want to whisk your loved ones away for a break on the water, you might be wondering just how cruise lines cater for families - especially young children. There's no need to worry about little ones getting fed up onboard if you select a family-friendly cruise line, though.
You can expect to enjoy the same level of luxury you would on a regular cruise if you decide to look at family cruises for your getaway, and still choose from great destinations like the Caribbean or the Med. Ships are specially kitted out to cater for children and there are usually lots of clubs for youngsters to make the most of. Keep reading to find out more.
Whether you decide to travel with P&O, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruises or another top firm, you'll find family-friendly cabins onboard a selection of the line's ships. Cabins are usually three or four berth, and some have bunk beds or pull-down alternatives.
If you need to be near your children, you can often book interconnecting cabins, with doors between the rooms so you can easily access your offspring if need be. Junior and family suites can offer more room but are more expensive, while they also boast a bath, which is a must-have if you need to keep infants clean.
Staterooms, meanwhile, tend to have a sofa-bed - ideal if you need some extra sleeping room, and superior staterooms with P&O have a bath.
Family-friendly cruise lines usually have onboard kids' clubs, and these are divided by age. For example, Royal Caribbean runs an Adventure Ocean youth programme that caters for children up to three, from three to five, six to eight and nine to 11, while older children have a teens-only venue.
If you decide to book with Carnival Cruises, toddlers and juniors will be able to watch puppet shows, finger paint and listen to stories, while 12 to 14-year-olds can have movie nights, swim parties and play video games.
Most cruise lines offer teenagers the chance to have parties, attend discos, have a go at karaoke and take part in a wealth of sports, while some also organise on-shore excursions for older kids.
As well as organised activities, cruise lines offer onboard facilities for children, such as cinemas showcasing the latest releases. Climbing walls and children's swimming pools are also commonly found on family-friendly vessels.
Royal Caribbean adds a thrilling surfing machine called FlowRider on some of its ships, while Princess Cruises offers Teen Dinner events and an onboard science centre where children will be fascinated by the live chemistry experiments.
Norwegian Cruise Line's family-oriented ships have aqua parks and bowling alleys, while the firm also organises workshops for the whole family to get involved in, like the Face-Off Game Show and Family Pizza Making.
All this activity might leave mum and dad in need of some together time in order to unwind, in which case you'll often be able to take advantage of an onboard babysitting provision.
This usually applies for children of all ages but some lines levy an additional charge for the facility. The service usually runs between 10pm local time and 1am or 3am, depending on the cruise line you choose to book with. Carnival Cruises and Princess Cruises are just two of the firms offering this service.