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

Seconds later 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 and, despite my initial reservations, I was almost disappointed when I landed at the bottom with a clatter.

I was travelling on a Cruise and Stay holiday with Virgin Holiday Cruises and Royal Caribbean International and, 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 which has two theme parks – the Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida – three on-site hotels and numerous restaurants, bars and shops.

Islands of Adventure 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, but most visitors’ favourite is clearly the latter.

The attention to detail is incredible – author JK Rowling had final approval – and fans will love the chance to buy a wand at Ollivander’s, try Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks, or take their photo with the Hogwarts Express.

The other half of the park is the movie-themed Universal Studios Florida. Complete with still-functioning film lots, it is divided into Production Central, New York, San Francisco, World Expo, Woody Woodpecker’s Kid Zone and Hollywood.

At night the studios really come alive when the streets of San Francisco, New York and Hollywood sparkle with the fluorescent lights of cinema fronts, stores and restaurants.

After the excitement of Universal Orlando Resort, it was back to reality with a reasonably soft landing as we were transferred from our hotel to Port Canaveral in time to board Freedom of the Seas.

The cruise ship isn’t just big, it's very big. One of Royal Caribbean International's larger ships, it is 1,112ft long and 185ft wide, with a guest capacity of 3,634.

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.

At the heart of the ship is the shop and restaurant-lined Promenade and on the upper decks you’ll find three swimming pools, six whirlpools and a Flow Rider where you can polish your surfing skills.

Once you have checked in on the ship, all you need is your SeaPass card – which acts as your room key, passport and credit card.

Although there’s a lot to explore, you cannot miss the ship setting sail and the best place to do this is on the upper decks. Cocktail in hand, we waved goodbye to Florida while the crew danced and sang around the main swimming pool.

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. I also watched a rather fantastic ice skating show, which was a slightly strange experience while in the middle of the Caribbean.

However, my favourite part of being on board was the food. While there are plenty of informal options - the self-service buffet at Windjammer, burgers and dancing waiters at Johnny Rockets and peanut butter cookies at Cafe Promenade – the dining really comes into its own at one of the restaurants or at the formal dinner.

I had perfectly-cooked filet mignon at Chops Grille and the most succulent seafood skewer at Portofinos. The formal dinner evening is also a great excuse to dress up and the food lives up to the occasion as much as the frocks.

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. This was anything but the unadventurous option!

Travel facts

Natalie Marchant was a guest of the 11-night Orlando Stay and Caribbean Cruise from £1,299 pp (two adults sharing) full-board with return Virgin Atlantic flights.

Virgin Holidays Cruises offers four nights at Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Resort on a room only basis with car hire, before joining Freedom of the Seas for seven nights from Port Canaveral, Cococay, St Thomas, St Maarten and Port Canaveral. Based on departure July 10, 2013, subject to availability.

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