Although many children enjoy seeing places they have learned about at school; for instance Pompeii near Naples, The Colosseum in Rome and the Acropolis in Athens, museum fatigue can set in if you drag them round too many cultural sites. That’s why most cruise lines also have beach transfers and activity-based excursions. And even if an excursion seems like a must, if it involves hours in a coach, you are unlikely to enjoy it much yourself.

Visit Turkey’s Adaland Aquapark, one of the largest in Europe, on P&O Cruises’ itineraries that call at Kuşadasi, or explore Oceanografic Marine Park if your Western Mediterranean cruise takes you to Valencia. P&O also offers dolphin and whale watching on some cruises, as well as family city tours.

Royal Caribbean International’s family excursions include Dog Sled Summer Camp in Alaska, swimming with turtles in the Caribbean and visiting the Tivoli Gardens and theme park in Copenhagen.

“There are also lots of opportunities for families to do things together on our cruises, with special family-friendly shore excursions, great public areas on board, pools and sports facilities to enable families to enjoy their time on holiday together, as well as apart,” says Giles Hawke, Executive Director, MSC Cruises.

Princess Cruises will be offering plenty of shore options through its partnership with the Discovery Channel. “We are pleased to be working with the Discovery Channel to offer exciting family activities, both on board and on shore, including a range of Discovery Recommended shore excursions and experiences: Stargazing at Sea, Shark Week and the Princess Culinary Academy,” says Paul Ludlow, Princess Cruises.

Many shore excursions are designed specifically with families in mind, including kayaking, jeep safaris and fantastic water parks. “A cruise holiday really does tick all the boxes for a great family adventure,” says Andy Harmer, Director of the Cruise Lines Association UK & Ireland.
Some cruise lines will arrange group baby-sitting or supervised children’s entertainment on port days. For instance, adults on Norwegian Cruise Line ships can leave potty-trained toddlers and older children on Splash Academy and Entourage programmes while they go sightseeing.

Under-threes are often exempt from excursion charges if they don’t take up a tour seat, and children’s rates may be available up to the age of 12 or 13.

Carnival Cruise Lines has excursions just for teenagers, which are planned on board by the Club 02 leaders once they know the numbers.
Princess has its own Caribbean island, Princess Cays, where children can use a supervised play area, Pelican Perch, while their parents enjoy the beach and sports facilities.