Cruise holidays: Fine wine and jugs of butter beer on a tour of the Caribbean and Orlando

'Cool!' 'Wicked!' and 'Nice One!' were the somewhat brief and enthusiastic replies my wife Denise and I received from our sons, Scott, 15, and Adam, 22, when we revealed our plans for our summer holiday.

We had plumped for a nine-night Western Caribbean cruise on the five-star Emerald Princess, departing from Fort Lauderdale, followed by a further week in Orlando to visit the attractions.

A women is pictured sitting on a rock in her bathing costume at Dunn's River Falls

Wonder falls: The tour includes a trip to Dunn's River Falls near Ocho Rios in Jamaica

Capable of carrying 3,740 passengers, the Princess Cruises ship is 951ft long and 195ft high with a range of luxury staterooms.

Denise and I had one with a private balcony while our sons shared an inside cabin. Our room contained a sumptuous double bed, en-suite bathroom with complimentary toiletries, a walk-in wardrobe, fridge, satellite TV and individually controlled air-conditioning.

We also had 24-hour room service and the use of that super balcony to enjoy private sunbathing, al fresco dining and cocktails at sunset.

The focal point of the ship is the 'piazza-style' grand atrium. Spanning three decks with grand marble staircases, Art Deco lighting and glass-fronted lifts, it has the buzz of a 'village centre' with an international cafe open 24 hours a day and Vines Bar, popular with lovers of fine wines and seafood.

In total, the ship has 20 bars and there are enough leisure facilities to put most holiday resorts in the shade.

They include four swimming pools, a giant outdoor movie screen, a nine-hole putting green, a golf simulator and nine whirlpool spas. Children have their own activity clubs, with a supervised programme of games and activities.

Our sons were quite happy doing their own thing and we met up with them at dinner time.

Denise and I witnessed an ice-carving demonstration, joined in a wine tasting, sent emails from the internet cafe and walked a mile every morning (equivalent to three times round the deck) to work off all the lovely meals we'd had.

Talking of food, our daily treat was afternoon tea in the Da Vinci Restaurant - which was served with a mouthwatering array of delicate pastries, finely cut sandwiches and freshly baked scones with jam and clotted cream.

Emerald Princess boasts three main restaurants - the Botticelli, Da Vinci and Michelangelo. We liked the flexible dining options, which included traditional dining (at a set time) or anytime dining at Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Opting for anytime dining, we found the menus sophisticated and imaginative - it was like dining at a five-star restaurant.

In between, Denise also treated herself to a deluxe manicure at the Lotus Spa and I attended an art auction.

After dark, the onboard entertainment shifted up a gear with large West Endstyle shows and lavish stage sets in the Princess Theatre. Our favourite production was Motor City (a tribute to the music of Motown).

An exterior shot of the five-star Emerald Princess cruise ship

Five-star service: The Emerald Princess can carry 3,740 passengers and offers a range of luxury staterooms

Ports of call included Princess Cays in the Bahamas, home to Princess Cruises' private beach resort on the beautiful island of Eleuthera, Ocho Rios in Jamaica - where we toured the famous Dunn's River Falls - and Grand Cayman.

Our final trip took us to Cozumel in Mexico where we visited colourful shops selling leather goods, pottery, stone carvings and wooden masks.

We arrived back in Fort Lauderdale, having cruised 1,916 nautical miles.

Now it was time to embark on the second stage of our holiday - a week in Orlando. Staying at Staybridge Suites on International Drive, we visited the theme parks - Walt Disney World Resort, Seaworld, Discovery Cove and Universal Orlando Resort. A particular highlight came at Universal, where we had great fun at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

We enjoyed the state-of-the-art rides (especially Dragon Challenge), then wandered through Hogsmeade, dined at the Three Broomsticks and drank butterbeer at the Hog's Head pub. Other favourites at Universal included The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and The Simpsons Ride.

Our two-week holiday had been an incredible adventure. We'd experienced the beauty of the Caribbean with Princess and enjoyed the magic of Orlando with Harry Potter - a novel ending, no less!

Travel facts

Princess Cruises offers a selection of Western Caribbean cruises during selected dates in 2011 on board Emerald Princess or Crown Princess.

Prices start from £1,243 per person and includes return flights, transfers, precruise accommodation
in a first-class hotel and full-board accommodation on the ship. Transfers to Orlando and accommodation in Orlando is optional. Call 0845 3 555 800 or visit

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