How you can book your dream trip away

Loews Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, Florida. Picture: PA Photo/ Natalie Marchant.
Loews Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort, Florida. Picture: PA Photo/ Natalie Marchant.

From blazing through the sky on a broomstick to sailing the high seas in style, big kid Natalie Marchant discovers a cruise and stay holiday in Orlando is more of a rollercoaster ride than she ever imagined.

Standing on a hill 500ft above sea level and staring down at the water in front of me, I’ll admit there was a brief moment when I wondered what on earth I was doing.

Seconds later, after a gentle push, I was flying through the air at up to 50mph harnessed to a zip wire above the perfect white sandy beaches of Haiti.

At more than 2,500ft long, the Dragon’s Breath flight line is the world’s longest of its type over water, but any initial fear I had dissipated as I took in the view.

From that height our normally majestic cruise ship, Freedom of the Seas, looked like a toy boat against the picture perfect Labadee bay.

During the past week, I’d been spoilt for choice with adrenaline-pumping activities: I’d hurtled through the sky on a broomstick with Harry Potter, fought aliens with the Men in Black, gone rock climbing, watched an ice show, and had still found time to relax in a hot tub, soaking up the warm Caribbean sun.

By way of explanation, I was travelling on a cruise and stay holiday with Virgin Holiday Cruises and Royal Caribbean International.

After spending a couple of high-octane days at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, we hit the high seas on board the Freedom of the Seas.

Our trip began at Universal Orlando Resort. We stayed at the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel which provides plenty of entertainment for children and is only a short water taxi ride from the theme parks.

We headed to the Islands of Adventure which is divided into six themed areas - Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, The Lost Continent, Seuss Landing and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The highlight is undeniably the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. If there was ever an attraction that lets you live out what you see in the movies, it’s this one.

After the excitement of Universal Orlando Resort, we were transferred from our hotel to Port Canaveral in time to board Freedom of the Seas.

On board, there is everything from an ice-skating rink to a 1950s-style diner, a theatre to a casino, and a rock-climbing wall to a wedding chapel.

Once at sea, you can do as little or as much as you like. I went rock climbing, played mini-golf, had a massage in the Freedom Spa and sat around in numerous hot tubs.

One of the greatest advantages of going on a cruise is the opportunity to see far-off lands that you would otherwise not visit.

Our ship called at Labadee in Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico, before returning to Florida.

There is an extensive list of excursions you can sign up to before you arrive at each port - from parasailing to sunbathing on a beach or learning about local life as part of a cultural tour.

But my personal highlight was still the zip line over Labadee.

Flying through the air, any preconceptions I had about theme park and cruise holidays quickly evaporated.

I loved every second of it - both on land and at sea.