Cruise International Awards judge Sue Bryant looks at the most family-friendly cruise lines

A successful family cruise often depends on the enjoyment level of the children. Not that it’s hard to have fun on a cruise – but for years, kids will remember the activities they tried and the friends they made.

All the big cruise lines are experts at entertaining kids but there always seems to be one big highlight. The high-speed waterslides on the new Carnival ships, perhaps. Or doodling over dinner on a Disney ship in the Animator’s Palate restaurant and having your masterpiece turned into a real cartoon character. A family game of boules on the lawn on a Celebrity Cruises ship (and it’s not all about the gadgets and gimmicks – my children loved this). Gasping at the antics of the egg-juggling chefs in Norwegian Cruise Line’s Teppanyaki restaurants. Watching out for whales as a Holland America ship glides through the still waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage. Or tucking into popcorn and hot chocolate on a Princess ship for Movies Under the Stars, broadcast on the giant poolside screen.

Children’s clubs on cruise ships are generally far superior to anything you’d find in a hotel, with everything from adult-free discos to lounges to teen-only shore excursions, Wii and Xbox, and for the youngest children, splash pools and night nurseries. Each line has its strengths. P&O Cruises is great for parents of toddlers, thanks to the night nursery (where children can sleep while parents have dinner). Carnival has fantastic teen-only nightclubs on its newest ships. ‘Aquanauts’ on Royal Caribbean’s larger ships can play around with science experiments in their own lab, while teens on Princess Cruises can dress up for a hosted, teen-only dinner and group photo session with their new friends.

Which would you vote for in the Cruise International Awards 2012? The nominations are:

Carnival Cruise Line: Camp Carnival, waterslides, stand-up family comedy on Carnival Breeze

Celebrity Cruises: X Club and half an acre of lawn to play on

Disney Cruises: Kids’ clubs for all ages and cartoon characters galore

Holland America Line: Club HAL and for teens, The Loft

Norwegian Cruise Line: Splash Academy and Entourage – and multiple, casual dining options, perfect for foodie families

P&O Cruises: Clubs for children aged two to 17 and no-fly cruises, which families love

Princess Cruises: Activities for all ages, Movies Under the Stars and family-friendly excursions

Royal Caribbean International: Adventure Ocean, packed with facilities