There is no better place to enjoy a stress-free family vacation than on a cruise ship, and there is no better time! Cruising is a great way to let the whole family have fun together yet have special time to themselves as well. Dad can relax by the pool, Mom can have a pampering massage, the kids can be entertained in their own clubs and programs–then everyone joins up all together in the evening for dinner. Shore excursions bring everyone together for fun and can be very educational as well!
Cruising can be just as exciting for “toddlers to teens” as it is for their parents. To meet this growing trend and to make cruising even more fun for the family, the major cruise lines now have special programs for children that include everything from baby-sitting services to computer labs featuring the latest technology. On a cruise, you may never hear your children say: “There’s nothing to do!” Some cruise lines even offer special shore excursions geared to children.
A family cruise is a wonderful way for families to spend holidays and even family reunions, and offer families a shared experience that they will treasure for life!
BEST BETS FOR FAMILIES ON TRADITIONAL CRUISE SHIPS (opinion)
Top Overall Cruise Line Programs for Families with Children
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Best Cruise Lines for Families with Children under Age Two:
- Norwegian Cruise Lines offers a guaranteed baby-sitting service (additional charge) in guests’ staterooms from noon to 2AM .
- Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 has a staffed nursery.
Best Cruise Lines for Families with Children Ages Two to Four
- Carnival offer Camp Carnival programs that start at age two. The programs begin with a breakfast with the staff during days at sea and include pool fun and arts and crafts.
- Princess’s Sun, Dawn, Grand, Sea, Regal and Sky ships offer youth center activities for ages two and up (if a child is not toilet-trained, parents are responsible for diapering).
- Norwegian Cruise Lines’s programs accept children two and up.
- Disney’s creative children’s programs serves kids age three and older.
Best Cruise Lines for Families with Children Ages Five to Eleven
- Royal Caribbean has caring counselors and comprehensive programs.
- Norwegian Cruise Lines has a “Circus at Sea” on some ships.
- Princess Cruises offers a wide variety of activities.
- Carnival also offers a wide variety of activities.
- Disney has the largest kids’ facilities afloat and a creative program for this age group.
Best Cruise Lines for Families with Pre-Teens and Teens
- Royal Caribbean ‘s (most) ships have dedicated teen rooms.
- Princess’s Sun, Dawn, Grand and Sea ships feature special teen rooms and counselors.
- Celebrity Ships (in season) present an extensive program for teens that includes midnight film festivals, reggae Jacuzzi parties, and Dating Game “shows”.
- Disney has created some clever onboard and onshore programming for pre-teens and teens.
Carnival Cruise Lines
The activities and entertainment are nonstop, the food plentiful, and the cabins are comfortable and spacious. Brash and sometimes crass, Carnival has none of the gentility or grace of some of the other lines, but it does throw a good party. Carnival’s passengers are young, or at least young at heart. More singles cruise on Carnival than any other line, and they have excellent children’s programs as well.
Disney Cruise Line
This is the line to take if your children want to hang out with their favorite Mickey & Minnie characters plus enjoy great Disney service and entertainment. They do have separate areas for kids, teens and adults so each can enjoy their own onboard experience. Disney has their own private island featured on every itinerary–Castaway Cay. Itineraries on the two ships feature 3-day, 4-day or 7-day itineraries to the Bahamas, Eastern & Western Caribbean.
Holland America Line
Known throughout the industry for its near fanatical devotion to safety and sanitation. A solid, reliable and refined mainstream cruise–you’ll never go wrong taking one of their ships. If, however, you like non-stop partying and dawn to midnight entertainment, you should probably choose another line.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
All NCL ships offer a full schedule of activities and entertainment, generous portions of American-style food, snappy service by an army of stewards and waiters and a wide range of popular ports of call. NCL offers great Las Vegas style-shows at sea, along with a wide variety of sports activities. NCL offers a good cruise experience for singles and families alike.
This is the cruise line that was featured on the popular TV series, “The Love Boat”, and brought about the cruising craze. Princess is another mid-range line featuring a wide variety of activities and ports of call.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
RCCL is a well-run and experienced cruise line. They draw customers from every age group and economic bracket, all lured by the prospect of a cruising experience that is above average but not upscale. Life on board is similar to the party ships, but the atmosphere is slightly more sophisticated and conservative.