WHEN I went on the first cruise I paid for, my bandmate Anthony Costa brought his mum along too.
While our parents got pampered we got up to all sorts of mischief, meeting girls and making loads of new friends.
But now, with my daughter Tianie nearing 14, and mum Fiona in her sixties, life is a little different.
Although one thing hasn’t changed — I still love cruises.
So for my 40th, I decided to book my mum, Tianie and her mum (my ex), on a voyage around the Caribbean.
I needed a ship that ticked the boxes for my daughter and for my mum.
Tianie doesn’t want to be stuck with boring adults all day long, while Mum likes somewhere quiet to unwind — that’s why we chose Carnival Horizon.
The thing that sold it to my daughter — and me, a big kid — was the Skyride.
It’s like a monorail with pedals. You get in these little cars, arranged two by two and dangling in the air, cycle out over the sea and all the way around the ship.
As for my mum and Tianie’s mum, Claire, they loved the spa with its thalassotherapy salt pool, steam room and sauna.
GO: CARNIVAL HORIZON
GETTING/STAYING THERE: Six nights’ full-board on the Carnival Horizon is from £688pp based on a family of four sharing a Deluxe Ocean View Cabin including flights from Heathrow to Miami. See virginholidays.co.uk or call 0344 488 3084.
And we all got pampered with treatments from facials to massages.
The mums also loved the private Havana pool area at the back of the ship, exclusive to Havana suite guests.
It had its own private pool and Jacuzzi where the music wasn’t so loud. But even if you don’t have the cash to splash out on a suite, the ship also has the Serenity Deck which is adults-only and comes complete with a bar, salad bar as well as comfy cabanas and Jacuzzis and best of all, it’s free.
There’s literally something going on every second of the day when you’re sailing between ports.
There are dancing competitions by the pool, a water park for the kids and plenty of sports and activities. There’s even a high-ropes course and minigolf. My mum loved going to the talks about each port.
She would get all the info on the different islands then march us about, playing tour guide when we disembarked.
As for me? Food is my life.
So I loved the huge range of restaurants on board.
The first night on board was my 40th, so we went and had a lovely meal in Fahrenheit, one of the ship’s speciality restaurants.
I still can’t get over the fact that you can be on a ship, in the middle of the ocean eating at the most spectacular, high-end restaurant.
We had oysters to start, served in a glass container filled with smoke. I’m a huge steak fan so couldn’t resist the huge T-bone for main.
But the masterpiece was dessert.
The chef comes out with sauces and ice creams and creates an artwork in front of you — all over the table! “Here ya are guys,” he says, and leaves you with some spoons to make your own art eating it.
With 19 dining options on board including American, Italian, Asian and Mexican restaurants, we spent most of our time eating.
You don’t really go on a cruise to lose weight but they’ve got a nice gym on board which I did use to try to keep the pounds off.
Every day we’d get an itinerary of what was going on, with so many kid-friendly activities.
There is a 3D Imax theatre, a video game arcade, WaterWorks water slides, pools and a Jacuzzi.
Tianie’s a water baby so she didn’t want to leave.
For nights out, our favourites were the Playlist Productions theatre for musicals, Punchliner Comedy Club and Redfrog Pub & Brewery — they do tours for £11.50 or you can just unwind, pint-in-hand and listen to the laid-back music.
One night at Piano Bar there was karaoke and Tianie egged me on, saying “go on Daddy, sing”.
The lady who ran it was Jamaican and didn’t have any idea about Blue, so I got up, sang My Way and got a standing ovation.
I’M A MASSIVE NERD
I felt like I’d cheated a bit because they handed me a trophy and a bottle of wine, but my daughter was so proud.
I’m a massive nerd, and love going behind the scenes on holiday and seeing how things work, so I was so excited to have the captain invite us up to the bridge.
I felt like I was in Star Trek.
I was a bit cheeky and asked how many people he’d had fall overboard — you’ve got to ask, if you get the chance, right?
What to do once ashore
OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA: The jewel in the crown of Jamaica, this port town on the north coast is surrounded by rainforest, rivers and waterfalls. Top must-do for a fun family day out is zip-lining in the jungle at Dunn’s River Falls, a terraced 180m mountain waterfall with lagoon pools.
GRAND CAYMAN: This tiny British Overseas Territory offers stunning beaches and a fantastic colonial-era fort. No need to do an excursion and it’s so small so you can get around yourself by cab. A great place to do snorkelling or a helmet dive thanks to its calm shallow waters.
COZUMEL: This Mexican island is mostly uninhabited. Visit San Gervasio for Mayan ruins – the kids will love the iguanas. Don’t forget to taste the fantastic local cuisine and mezcal, the smoky spirit made from the agave plant. Or for something more thrilling, try an ATV tour through the verdant jungle.
Don’t worry, he told me it’s pretty much impossible. It’s amazing how they get the ship into port. The sailor controlling the thrusters sits in a capsule hanging over the side of the ship.
Looking down through a glass floor they then park the mammoth floating building with a joystick, like a video game.
For me, the balance of socialising and personal time works so well on a cruise.
When you’re in your cabin and your door is shut you’ve got your own time for you, you can sit on your balcony.
But when you go outside there’s always lots going on whether you want to go down to one of the deck to see a show, visit the casinos, cinemas, go shopping… or even try karaoke.
Bizarre attractions you can visit in England, including an upside down house
DEATH IN THE CANYON
Tourist falls 984ft to his death while taking photos at Grand Canyon
JET, SET, GO!
Head to Majorca for a 7-night all-inclusive break with Jet2 for just £255pp
Comedian blasts Delta for asking if his black wife should be in first class queue
Everything you need to know about Hols from £15 and how to book yours now
When I was a kid and my mum took me on my first cruise I loved it so much.
So it was great to be able to treat mum again, and as for Tianie?
She said it’s her favourite holiday she’s ever been on.