Mickey’s Pool on the Disney Cruise Line (credit: Jimmy DeFlippo/Disney)
Cruises are becoming more and more family-friendly, offering a variety of activities for cruisers of all ages. Everything from on-board amenities to cabin sizes and recreation areas to dining options are what make taking a cruise very appealing to families planning a vacation. Some cruise lines have even gone as far as offering on-board camps, water parks and activities to keep kids busy from sun up to sun down, so parents can have some quiet time while on the ship.
Many cruise lines have multiple ships, all of different sizes and classes. Each ship offers unique features and amenities for cruisers in different age and interest categories. Some ships are designed to be more friendly for those traveling with toddlers and babies, while others are best for families traveling with older children. Either way, many of the ships currently cruising have something for everyone, regardless of age.
Here are some of the more family-friendly cruises for those wanting to take a cruise for their next vacation.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney is already known for being very family-friendly, and the family-friendly environment expands well beyond the theme parks. The Disney Cruise Line offers a variety of kids’ activities and plenty of opportunities for families to have fun together. While on board, families can enjoy the pools, water slides, the AquaDuck (a water coaster), sing-a-longs, games and much more. Kids will have fun in the kids-only sections of the ship, where they are treated to endless opportunities to explore, play and interact with other young cruisers. Plus, the kids will have a chance to see some of their favorite Disney characters while on board.
Crystal Cruises offers plenty of opportunities for everyone in the family to have fun together, no matter how young or old. Families can enjoy time playing games around the pool or exploring the different ports of call. Many of the ships, such as the Crystal Serenity, offer dedicated play areas and specials activities planned for little cruisers.
Crystal Cruises also offer packages designed just for families, including the Crystal Family Memories Program, where cruisers can earn on-board credits, gifts and free cruises when traveling with larger parties. Plus, on select cruises, kids 18 and under sail for free. That’s just one of the many reasons why Crystal Cruises is one of the best cruise lines for families.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Breeze is one of the newer ships in the Carnival Cruise Lines fleet, offering families plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, including water slides, a SkyCourse and family-themed game shows. In addition to all of the excitement on deck, Carnival knows what families need. Many of the ships offer family-friendly cabins that are large enough to sleep five and are conveniently located near the youth playrooms.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Many of the ships in the Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet offer plenty of on-board activities for kids of all ages. Older kids will enjoy the large water park with multistory slides, including one of the fastest water slides at sea. The littler ones will have fun on a wet deck that was designed just for them. Other activities for kids include an on-board play center, interaction with Nickelodeon characters, such as SpongeBob and Dora the Explorer, and an exciting pajama party.
In addition to the many different activities available for cruisers, Norwegian offers what is referred to as Free Cruising, where guests can choose what they do, where they dine and how they enjoy their time at sea. This is great for those with kids who never know from one moment or the next if a little one will be napping or in need of a time out.
Many of the Princess Cruises offer hands-on learning opportunities for kids. While cruising around Alaska, kids will learn about glaciers, native animals and endangered species through the Junior Ranger Program. Or kids can participate in the Science at Sea Program offered by the California Science Center. In addition to science-related activities, kids can become Junior Chefs by participating in the various cooking classes taught on-board. These are just some of the amazing activities available for kids while sailing with Princess Cruises.
Queen Mary 2
Definitely some of the more family-friendly cruises available are those aboard the Queen Mary 2. Everything a family needs is right on board, including real British nannies. Activities for the kids include fancy balls, high tea and lots of glitz and glamor. There is an on-board planetarium which offers programs where kids can learn about the stars and planets.
Royal Caribbean owns some of the world’s largest ships, many of which are home to award-winning kids’ programs. Several of the ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet offer on-board attractions including ice-skating rinks, merry-go-rounds and ziplines. If you are looking for character interaction while cruising, book your next family cruise aboard the Freedom of the Seas or the Liberty of the Seas. Both of these ships feature characters from “Shrek,” “Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda.” There are even Barbie-themed activities, including dress up and story time.
When planning a family cruise, it is important to remember that not all itineraries are created equal. When looking for a cruise, take time to look at on-board activities, destinations and shore excursions. Before booking the cruise, determine if these activities are age appropriate for everyone in the family, mostly because some cruise ships will cater more to families with smaller children, while others are more appealing to families with teenagers. Once you have found the perfect ship for your family, it is time to start packing and get ready to go cruising.