Becoming a parent doesn’t mean saying goodbye to luxury. As a wider range of people ‘trade up’ to luxury cruise ships, there’s a growing demand for families to be accommodated.

This is sticky ground for the cruise lines, which trade on a relaxing, refined atmosphere, fine food and round-the-clock pampering – not high chairs in the dining room and kids screaming round the pool. But no line wants to turn away business, so we’re beginning to see low-key children’s entertainment appearing on some luxury ships.

Cunard Line keeps strangely quiet about its children’s facilities, but has some of the finest at sea and is actually a great choice for parents with babies from one year upwards, as the nurseries are all staffed by qualified British nannies. All three ships offer The Play Zone for younger children and The Zone for 12 to 17 year olds, with activities from movie nights to air hockey, discos, table football and, for the little ones, arts and crafts.

Cunard has plenty of activities for Children
Cunard has plenty of activities for Children

Crystal Cruises has always been very good with families and provides decent children’s clubs on both its ships for kids aged three to 17, with qualified counsellors and structured activities. There are children’s menus in the dining rooms, and both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity have three-berth and interconnecting cabins. Crystal is also one of the few lines to offer babysitting in your stateroom, for a fee.

Seabourn will take children, although it doesn’t shout about it, and occasionally brings children’s entertainers on board during the school holidays.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises answers the demand for family travel by designating certain cruises ‘family friendly’ with its Club Mariner youth programme. Children aged from five to 17 are entertained in three separate age groups in the summer holidays and at Christmas.

Read our Family Cruise Guide for more