When someone thinks about kid-friendly cruises, certain providers will come to mind at first, but there are more options out there than ever before if you do a bit of research. The top cruise lines for families let parents and their children enjoy time together and apart, with as little stress as possible. Most families don't get to take cruises that often, so it makes sense to delve in deeper to discover what works best for your gang.
Travel + Leisure shares an informative article based on their World's Best Awards traveler survey from 2020, with links to the top choices: Disney, Quasar Expeditions, Australis, Delfin Amazon Cruises, and Club Med.
They point out that the best family cruises are designed for multi-generational travel, so there are things for toddlers, teens, adults, and grandparents to enjoy. Everyone can experience their own adventures during the day, meet for dinner, and enjoy evening activities. Doesn't that sound amazing?
Cruises eliminate the pressure of planning how to get from point A to point B after you land while enjoying fun and exciting programming and seeing different places in the world. You don't have to only visit the Caribbean; family-friendly cruises travel to places in Europe and Alaska, too. To keep the trip organized, though, book the excursions before you board and see if you need to sign up for things like special dinners and babysitting.
Best Cruise Line for Families
The Points Guy lists his top five best cruise lines for families, starting with Disney. Everyone can enjoy Broadway-quality musicals, first-run movies, watersports, spa treatments, gourmet food, grab-and-go food, and everything in between. Kids get to meet all their favorite characters, and there are interactive dining experiences, colossal play areas, and kids clubs. There are also spaces for teens and tweens like "Edge and Vibe," with video games and foosball.
Royal Caribbean is also a best luxury cruise line for families, and like Disney, it has a private island excursion where guests can disembark and enjoy the ocean and other outdoor activities. This cruise line has onboard amusement park-like amenities, like sky diving, zip-lining, and laser tag to get the adrenaline going, plus festive parades, ice skating, and Broadway musical performances. Kids enjoy clubs designed for their ages, and parents take advantage of drop-off nurseries and an adults-only thermal suite. Carnival has similar offerings and is about in the same price range.
More Family-Friendly Cruise Lines
Now that those big three have been mentioned, you might want to learn about their competitors. U.S. News & Travel mentions MSC Cruises, a Swiss-based tour operator that offers free sailings for children ages 18 and younger.
This up-and-comer has partnered with Lego and provides Family Explorer Club tours that cater to all ages at half cost for kids. Their onboard kids' club offers free sitting for ages 3 to 11, and the ship also has a Baby Center, a baby laundry service, and play spaces for different age groups.
Norwegian Cruise Line also has children's clubs, with fun and supervised youth programs where kids attend themed parties, do arts and crafts, and even learn how to juggle. Children's menus are available in every ship restaurant, too. They also have adult-only sundecks, family laser tag games, live concerts, and amazing waterslides. Norwegian also offers a week-long Hawaii trip that allows families to visit multiple islands together.
Family-Friendly Cruise Ship Cabins
While cruise ships need to have fantastic food and cater to family leisure activities, much of your time is spent in your cabin, including when everyone is asleep. The wrong kind of cabin can be a dealbreaker; if everyone doesn't have enough room and isn't comfortable, there will be temper tantrums, meltdowns, and the need for naps during the day. Who wants to deal with that?
Cruise Critic shares their choices for the best cruise ship cabins on kid-friendly cruise lines, which is well worth the read. They chose Royal Caribbean as the best because they offer 37 family cabin options, rooms that accommodate up to 14 people, convertible beds, two bathrooms, and luxury options like hot tubs.
Thought to be one of the most inexpensive cruise lines for families, Carnival cabins aren't as luxurious, but they offer a variety of choices; some also have two bathrooms.
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