The family cruise market has grown significantly in years, and many cruise lines now specialize in family vacations with amenities, accommodations, and entertainment for adults and children of all ages. If you want to take a cruise and you have children, a family cruise will allow you bring them along, with the assurance that enough onboard activities, facilities, and services will be provided for their needs (and for yours as a parent).
If you’re interested in booking a family cruise, here are our best cruise lines for families.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruises have activities and entertainment for children of all ages. Your children will surely enjoy the Character Experiences program, which allows children to interact with their favorite Disney characters for photos, autograph sessions, and more! Each Disney ship comes with several youth clubs divided by age so there is always something exciting for everyone to explore no matter the age.
For your pleasure, Disney Cruise Line ships offer adult-only areas and entertainment, such as nightclubs and lounges, relaxing spas, state-of-the-art fitness centers, adults-only dining options and much more.
Your whole family can enjoy the movies screened in the onboard theater, the pools, and the live performances of Broadway-quality Disney musicals.
Royal Caribbean’s family line of cruises includes their award-winning Adventure Ocean Youth Program, which prepares programs for children based on their age group and has activities run by their team of professionals with extensive education and experience with providing recreation and entertainment for children.
Royal Caribbean also has a partnership with DreamWorks; their onboard experiences include the chance to meet favorite characters from DreamWorks productions such as Shrek, as well as onboard screenings of DreamWorks movies. (Currently, the featured film is Penguins of Madagascar.)
Carnival’s family cruises have a wide variety of onboard activites for children. From the WaterWorks waterpark, to the thrills of the SkyRide, to more traditional activities like pools and mini-golf, Carnival is a great cruise option for the family that loves to play outdoors.
Of course, the Carnival family cruise comes with other forms of family entertainment, as well. See an exciting 3D film in the Thrill Theater, or something more relaxing at poolside (or even in the pool) at the Dive-In Movies. Partnerships with the estate of Dr. Seuss and with Hasbro allow for unique onboard experiences, including the Seuss at Sea experience, and “Hasbro, the Game Show,” where anyone can play giant versions of their favorite Hasbro games, such as Connect Four and Yahtzee, on stage in competition.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line offers a number of options for their family cruises. Splash Academy, the program for children ages 3 to 12, offers sports, creative arts and crafts, water activities, and more. Entourage, the program for teenagers, has more of a focus on video games, movies and music, and socialization, including dance clubs at night.
Norwegian’s partnership with Nickelodeon offers children the chance to have exclusive experiences with their favorite Nick shows and characters, such as SpongeBob SquarePants.
Even the adults can take a night off if they want a romantic evening to themselves, as Norwegian offers Group Sitting to watch children while their parents have an intimate night to themselves.
MSC’s family vacations offer a very wide range of activities and entertainment. One of the ways MSC caters to families is by allowing children under 11 to travel for free (if they share a stateroom with one of their parents).
MSC divides their entertainment crew into more age groups than any other family cruise line. MSC has the “kids” and “teens” age groups for more general activities, but for specific, smaller group activities, MSC divides kids into the Miniclub (ages 3-6) and the Juniors Club(ages 7-11). The teen group is divided into the Young Club (ages 12-14) and the Teens Club (ages 15-17). This level of detail assures your children get the best entertainment and enrichment experiences, with activities more specifically suited to them. (The kids can participate in the LEGO Experience on board; the teens have dance clubs, video and social-network games, and even spa and salon treatments.)
MSC has an extensive line of options for baby care services, entertainment, and activities as well.
Among Holland America‘s wide range of onboard activities is Club HAL, the name under which the cruise line offers their activities for children. Holland offers a Kids Club for ages 3-7, a Tweens Club for ages 8-12, and The Loft for teens ages 13-17. The Kids’ Club offers activities like storytelling, crafts, ice cream sundaes, and a pajama party. The Tweens Club has video game tournaments, scavenger hunts, relay races, and for those traveling on an Alaskan cruise, the National Park Service Junior Ranger Program. The Loft offers sports competitions, teen yoga and hip hop classes, cooking and technology demonstrations, and night club events.
Aside from the child-specific activities, Holland America has a number of other onboard activities as well, from a Culinary Arts Center to a spa and salon to an art gallery to a fitness center.
You can book a family cruise with any of these lines by going to AffordableTours.com or calling us at 1-800-627-3753. One of our cruise consultants will gladly help you.