CAROLINE HENDRIE steps aboard Carnival Cruise's newest vessel for a fun-filled voyage from Barcelona
GINGERLY putting one foot in front of the other, I try not to look down as I teeter along a thin rope 150ft above the sea.
It's only when I'm up there that I realise I'm tackling the ropes course on the same day that daredevil Nik Wallenda is making his tightrope walk across Niagara Falls.
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His feat has gone down in history while mine was diminished by being lapped by two 10-year-olds. For me, however, completing the circuit at all was a triumph.
All around the Deck 12 SportSquare on the new Carnival Breeze cruise ship, holidaymakers played crazy golf and basketball while bathers on the pool deck below were entertained by music videos on the Dive-In big screen.
In the Waterworks aqua park, children squealed as water from the 300-gallon Power Drencher bucket was tipped over them to the amusement of those clambering up the waterslides.
If you are a fan of Florida and theme parks you'll love a cruise on Carnival Breeze (and you don't, at least initially, have to fly long-haul).
The 3,700-passenger ship is sailing 12-night Mediterranean itineraries out of Barcelona until late October before relocating to her permanent home of Miami in November to cruise the Caribbean.
Launched last month the Carnival Breeze has even more exciting features than her sister "fun ship" Carnival Magic.
In the Thrill Theatre I shrieked and clung to my seat during the Extreme Log Ride show. I was shaken and stirred, rattled and rolled, and totally immersed in the 3D film. I won't give away any surprises but you can pick up a towel at the exit.
On sea days you can take part in Hasbro, The Game Show, trying to win prizes in giant versions of Connect 4, Yahtzee Bowling and Sorry! Sliders or sample Fat Jimmy's C-Side BBQ on the promenade deck.
Around the pool you'll find the Red Frog Rum Bar and Blue Iguana Tequila Bar and Cantina serving burritos and tacos.
I flew to Barcelona the day before the cruise to explore the city and stay at the just-opened and superbly located Renaissance Barcelona Hotel close to La Rambla.
It has a fantastic view of Gaud's extraordinary La Sagrada Familia church from the eighth-floor roof terrace and was just a 15-minute taxi ride from the port.
Most of my shipmates were from America where the school summer holiday starts earlier than in Britain (there were 800 under-21s on board). Thank goodness for Serenity Retreat, a child-free zone with hammocks, big day beds and whirlpool baths looking out to sea.
For their part, youngsters can have a great time in the kids' clubs for ages two to 17.
When we docked at Livorno in northern Italy, rather than making a hideously early start for the all-day coach trip to Florence, three friends and I took a private car booked through cruise excursions agency viator.com.
Our powerful chauffeur-driven BMW whisked us into Florence, enabling us to view the Duomo before the crowds arrived.
With a £21 ticket pre-booked with Viator, I skipped the long queues to see Michelangelo's David in the Accademia while the others shopped. Then we strolled over the Ponte Vecchio and along the banks of the Arno to find a quiet cafe for lunch.
Viator charged £99pp, which seemed excellent value.
Be careful if you make your own way into Florence. One Australian returning by train got off but had forgotten his hat. He jumped back on and the doors shut. We sailed without him and he had to find his own way to rejoin the ship at Civitavecchia.
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While he was left wondering if his hat had been worth the hassle, I was eating la carte Japanese food in the Bonsai Sushi restaurant while deciding whether to round off the evening in the Punchliner Comedy Club, the Liquid Nightclub or watch a big-screen movie. The fun never stops.
Carnival Cruises (0845 351 0556/www.carnivalcruise.co.uk) offers a 12-night cruise aboard Carnival Breeze from £520pp (two sharing), full board. Departs Barcelona various dates throughout 2012. easyJet (0843 104 5000/www.easyjet.com) offers return flights to Barcelona from £65.
Renaissance Barcelona Hotel (00800 1927 1927/ www.renaissancebarcelonahotel.com) offers doubles from £105 per night (two sharing), B&B. Viator (www.shoreexcursions.viator.com) offers various shore excursions.