Depending on the cruise you will generally get all food included. Some cruise line have special restaurants where you pay £10 - £20 each, but you don't need to visit them. Some cruise lines have a drinks package to be purchased for an additional sum. What it includes varies.
Most cabins in all ships have beds that join together to become a double. Whether it is worth the £1000 extra to have a deluxe room it up to you.
Again some cruise lines are dressy and some not so. P & O have several nights on each cruise where you are expected to dress in formal wear (dinner jackets for men, long dresses for ladies). Other cruise lines have a more flexible approach and formal wear is not compulsory.
Some cruise lines have extensive programmes for children and teenagers, other cater for children under 12 only and other don't cater for children at all.
If you tell us the cruise line you are thinking of going on it will help.
In a smaller cabin you would probably need to configure the room with 3 separate single beds (one single and 2 as a bunk bed). In a larger room there is often a double bed and the single bed is a sofa bed.
They usually include everything except drinks. We buy a soft drinks card at the beginning which saves quite a bit but we're not big alcohol drinkers.
I would say get the bigger cabin if you can afford it. You might not spend much time in there but when you do you'll be thankful you aren't sitting on each other!
It's as dressy as you want to make it. I've only ever travelled on Cunard ships and they are extremely formal in the evenings. However, there are dining alternatives if you don't want to dress up, it's not compulsory. But shorts etc in the evening are always frowned on. Other ships are aways going to be less formal than Cunard. During the day normal, casual clothes are fine. I try not to wear jeans but DH does. It's not a problem. Wear what you like during the day.
As for what your DD will do, that's hard to say without knowing what facilities are on the ship and what sort of person she is.
I haven't cruised on Thompson but I have on several other cruise lines.
If you have a budget in mind and an area (med, Baltic, Caribbean etc) then it might be worth ringing up some of the big cruise specialist travel agents and seeing what they can offer. Prices fluctuate all the time and if you can be relatively flexible with dates or can go at quite short notice then you can get some really good deals. And as they tell you a deal, compare the price online so you can see if they are in the right ballpark; sometimes someone might sound a bit more expensive but they have more onboard credit or free parking or cabin upgrade...
Sometimes the fly cruises can be a bit cheaper than the uk round trip ones but make sure they are quoting you a price including flights as you don't want to then discover you need to pay lots for flights. Having said that there are some great US sites out there that sell great priced cruise only deals if you are happy to do your own flights (makes more sense there as youmight be driving from an hour away or flying from the other side of the country).
Other than my honeymoon which I got 40% off rrp (and booked because we very specifically wanted that cruise) I don't think I have ever paid more than 50% of the rrp, there are definitely bargains to be had, I just made sure I kept up to date with cruises I would be happy to go on and watch the prices fluctuate then jump in at a point at which you are happy to pay for it. I've missed out on a couple (right at last moment, have made booking and when agent hit final buy button it's said sorry none left when there were when I started the booking) but I've always had a great time and can highly recommend it.
To get the best price for a family cruise in school holidays you need to book the day the cruise is released.
I am on a cruise with P & O to Norway in June next year in the half term. The child price for my cabin (obstructed window) was only £80 a child (after paying two adult fares). The cheaper family cabins sold out the day they were released. P & O release their new cruises in March/April each year.
I can't believe there is nothing around. As I said above, I've only ever travelled on Cunard ships but they email me every flippin' day with new offers. The rest of my family booked a transatlantic crossing on a whim a couple of weeks ago because the price was so good. There must be something out there.
What's more important to you, being on the ship or the destination?
KatyMac, check out some of the smaller companies. I recommend Cruise and Maritime AND Fred Olson. Both are mainly round trip from the UK. Neither have children's programmes, but do have the things your DD is interested in.
I was previously a dedicated Cunard cruiser. First they sold off the Caronia and then the QE2. I had done about 15 cruises between those 2 ships - primarily the QE2. I tried the QM2 and absolutely loathed it. It was P&O / Princess writ large. No atmosphere.
Glad you found something. It sounds lovely, have heard good things about NCL. You'll have a great time
HopeEternal you must have been cruising for years! Did you go on the Caronia? We only started recently and the first ship we went on was the QM2. My parents went on the QE2 just before she was sold and they weren't particularly impressed. It's funny how your first experiences shape your preferences. I would love to have sailed on her but never got the chance.