Cruising, for so long perceived as a nice gentle holiday for older folk, has become a popular choice for family holidays thanks to annual launches of ever-larger, resort-style ships offering a greater variety of entertainments and activities for children and their parents.
But what if you prefer to avoid young families on your holiday, particularly if you are tied to school breaks or simply want to get away in high season? The answer is simply to pick the right ship.
On P&O's three ships for adults, Arcadia, Oriana and Adonia, the absence of kids' clubs means all the more room for big spas and lots of bars. On 4 August, Arcadia embarks on a 17-night voyage to the Mediterranean, reaching Venice, Dubrovnik and Corfu, on a Strictly Come Dancing-themed cruise costing from £1,699pp. Oriana sails on 5 August for 14 nights to Norway's North Cape, from £899pp; and Adonia departs on a 16-night cruise to the Baltic capitals on 9 August, from £1,499pp. All three cruises start and end in Southampton. To book see: 0843 373 0111; pocruises.com.
Saga (0800 096 0079; sagacruises.co.uk), tour operator for over-50s (and companions aged 40-plus), also offers no-fly cruises. A 14-night round-trip departs Dover on 4 August to the Baltic with three full days in St Petersburg and costs from £1,949pp.
German line Hapag-Lloyd's new, ultra-luxury Europa 2 launched last month. It takes a maximum of 516 guests and has the most space-per-passenger of any cruise ship at sea. Just 45 children are permitted on a cruise at one time. The cruise-only fare for a seven-night voyage from Malta to Barcelona, departing 27 July is from £3,300pp in a balcony cabin, booked with Travelux (01580 764344; travelux.co.uk).
It would be a surprise to find children on French vessel Tere Moana, in its first season on the Mediterranean this year, because the luxury super-yacht, for only 90 passengers, just doesn't cater for them. A week's cruise from Istanbul to Athens from 27 July costs from £2,557pp including flights from Heathrow with Paul Gauguin Cruises (020-7434 0089; pgcruises.com).
Azamara (0844 493 4016; azamaraclubcruises.co.uk) is another line that has no special facilities for U18s. The two ships for 700 passengers have no kids' clubs or youth entertainment, so tend not to attract families. Sail for nine nights from Hamburg aboard Azamara Quest on a Northern Europe Highlights cruise, departing 7 August, from £2,209pp for a balcony cabin, including flights from Manchester, or from £1,699pp cruise only.
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