Excerpts from 800-word article

SUPERLINER ECSTASY IS FUN FOR ALL AGES

I could hear the pirates long before I saw them with their fiercely painted faces and paper hats, marching along the corridor in search of treasure. They paused in front of me as their leader studied her map. "It says 'ere" she told them in a fair pirate imitation, "It's a place wot glitters..." The kids looked about them - out to the sparkling Caribbean, up to the twinkling chandeliers, then decided to head for the Blue Sapphire Room to continue their hunt.

Carnival's thirteen Fun Ships hosted 200,000 youngsters last year. I can understand why, having just witnessed participants in Camp Carnival's programme catering to 5-7 yr olds, here aboard the Ecstacy. Other groups range in age from 2-l7 years. A children's menu served in the dining room offers all of junior's favourites. If he doesn't want to get out of his swim-shorts, no problem, the pizza place and self-serve buffets are great for casual dressers. Unlimited soft drinks, hot dogs and hamburgers, seven make-your-own ice cream sundaes - no wonder youngsters are hooked on these Fun Cruiseships.

EVERYONE HAS FUN HERE

It shouldn't have surprised me to see youngsters having a good time because this is what the megaships are all about. EVERYONE is kept happy: the young women gyrating to a calypso band beside the pool, the bingo players and slot machine enthusiasts. The contestants and the country line dancers, the spa customers and aerobics devotees. Even, I suppose, the passengers attending a weight-loss seminar. (Six meals a day for four days, and we want to know about weight loss?) For most of us, it is heaven to simply relax on deck with our sun bloc and shades, ignoring news of snowstorms back home.

Cruises used to be for the rich and idle, but not any more. Savvy cruise lines are proving that a few days away does wonders for the stressed-out executive, busy parents who just can't find time alone at home, Snowbirds looking for a break from their Florida break. And grandparents wanting to add an exciting mini-trip to their grandchildren's visit. A mini-cruise is also an excellent introduction to life at sea on a modern ship, for novices contemplating a longer voyage.