There’s no denying that cruising is great for families, but when you think of a ‘family cruise’ you tend to picture the big white ships, packed to the gills with waterslides, roller skating rinks, dodgem cars, movie screens and friendly cartoon characters. But there are plenty of other options for families who want to break out of the mould. Here are five great alternatives for your next multigenerational cruise.

UnCruise Adventures

UnCruise specialises in small ship voyages to remote, untouched destinations that are known for their wildlife, natural wonders and rich culture. Destinatins include Alaska, Central America, Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, the Hawaiian islands and the Galapagos. These are ideal journeys for active families with children over eight. Kids can join in all the regular activities, like kayaking, paddleboarding, hiking and snorkelling, as well as some special extras just for them – treasure hunts, costume reenactments and rope swings from the bow. Visit their website

Adventures by Disney river cruises

River cruise lines don’t tend to market themselves to family travellers, and the small ships and sedate pace are designed for a relaxing couples’ holiday. But Disney is looking to change all that. From next year Adventures by Disney will be partnering with AmaWaterways to offer family river cruises through Europe, sailing on the new AmaViola which is custom designed to accommodate families in larger suites and connecting cabins. Don’t expect any crew members dressed as Mickey Mouse however. These cruises will focus on culture, art and immersion in local culture, with specially designed activities for kids of all ages. Visit their website

Le Boat

Instead of a big ship, why not go with a really, really small one? Le Boat offers a range of small, self-skippered boats that sleep up to 12 people and are great for a family looking for a private getaway. Families can even set their own itinerary, allowing as much or as little time as they would like to travel through a region. Cruise along the Caledonian Canal in the Scottish Highlands, along the coast of the Mediterranean in Camargue, France or float past the ancient castles that line the Thames. Visit their website

Captain Cook Cruises, Fiji

The South Pacific is the most popular cruise destination for Australians and is a huge hit with families – think white sand beaches, warm ocean waters and friendly locals. But these tranquil islands can feel overrun when a megaliner disgorges 3,000 passengers onto the shore. Captain Cook Cruises’ Reef Endeavour takes just 130 passengers to the Yasawa Islands or the remote northern islands of Fiji. Days are spent swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, exploring the islands or visiting local schools and villages. There are no real kids’ club facilities, but child minding is available for most of the day and children under five are allocated their own nanny. Visit their website

Crystal Cruises

You shouldn’t have to leave the kids at home just because you appreciate the finer things in life. Crystal Cruises is becoming a popular choice for luxury loving families, not least of all because they frequently offer deals where children under 18 can travel free when staying in the same room as two adults. Onboard there are games, crafts, video arcades and computers, as well as special activities like cooking classes, trivia, fashion shows, pool parties, karaoke and scavenger hunts. Visit their website