THINK cruise ships and most people conjure up images of luxury accommodation, pampering and five-star cuisine on the high seas, though not necessarily family holidays.
That's a mistake, according to Celebrity Cruises' New Zealand sales manager, Mark Kinchley, who guided me around the superliner Celebrity Century during its visit to Auckland yesterday.
The 71,545 tonne ship caters to children of all ages on its voyages, with a number of innovations designed to ensure a break for the whole family.
Just off the pool deck is the Xtreme Teen Lounge, a space designed exclusively for passengers aged 12-17 years, complete with a bar serving mocktails and soft drinks and a video arcade room.
The space has proved very popular with teenagers, says Kinchley.
Particularly approved of by the youth is the rule that parents need permission from their offspring in order to enter the lounge.
"They have to be asked in by the kids, they can't just wander in," he adds.
Younger children also have their own space on the ship - the Fun Factory, which is especially for those aged 3-11.Parents wanting to keep half an eye on their kids can relax though, the adults' disco area, Hemisphere, is right nextdoor.
Kinchley says the increased desire for family cruising holidays has led to a slightly younger passenger demographic, though there's something for everyone on the Celebrity Century.
In addition to the two onboard swimming pools, there are theatres, a casino, a boulevard of shops and a number of dining areas and bars.
There's also an open air basketball court - though it's wisely caged in by netting to stop errant shots from going overboard - and an onboard gym.
For those wanting to focus on their personal health and wellbeing, the ship's award-winning AquaSpa offers everything from manicures to acupuncture treatments. A limited number of passes guaranteeing access to Persian Garden - a special relaxation room that features heated loungers, saunas, steam rooms and tropical showers - are also available each cruise.
One of the more traditional parts of the ship is Michael's Club, an intimate wood panelled lounge where passengers can relax with a book, stop for a drink, listen to some live piano music or admire the Picasso original that graces its walls.
"The focus of this vessel, really, is a blend of contemporary and traditional luxury," says Kinchley, a contrast he thinks is best illustrated by the thoroughly modern Martini Bar which sits just outside Michael's Club.
With its gradually changing mood lighting and bar made of ice crystals, it's the perfect place to unwind at the conclusion of a hard day's relaxing - once the kids are in bed of course.
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