The Best Cruise Lines for Families
No two children are alike – nor are cruises. If you’re looking for a family friendly cruise you’ll have your work cut out for you.
After all, you’ll need to make sure there are activities available to accommodate the needs of your toddlers, young children, tweens, and teens – not to mention you adults. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started with your search.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines tops the list for families with toddlers, young children (ages 3-7), and teens (ages 12 to 17). Regardless, we’re pretty sure you’ll find Carnival Cruise Lines to be quite accommodating. While most cruise lines will only cater to children over the age of 3 (if they’re potty trained) you’ll find that the counselors at Carnival are willing to change diapers if they have to. They even offer group babysitting and stroller rentals if necessary.
For older children, up to age 7, Carnival offers a myriad of activities including talent shows, face painting, and youth programs running up until 10pm. They offer additional babysitting services, at a charge, up until 3am. Teens will enjoy special shore excursions designed for them to participate in as groups and have access to the exclusive Club 02 – a special room filled with video games and large screen televisions.
Carnival Cruises depart from ports up around the United States and beyond. Some of the most popular are Baltimore, New York City, New Orleans, Galveston, Honolulu, Orlando, San Juan Puerto Rico, and even Rome. If, for example, you book a few nights in one of the fabulous hotels in New York City you’ll be able to explore the city for a day or two after your ship returns to port!
Holland America Line
Holland America ranks high when it comes to cruise lines for families but is especially accommodating to those with infants and for those with teens. Most of the youth programs on Holland America cruises only accept children over the age of 3, but the youngest of travelers aren’t forgotten. If you book your cruise at least a month in advance you’ll be able to order baby food, wipes, diapers, and other essential supplies – cutting back on the amount of stuff you’ll have to pack in your bags.
Your teens will love hanging out in The Loft complete with video games, Dance Dance Revolution, and a few handy karaoke machines. A few of the ships even have a secret passage that allows kids to get from the Loft out to the Oasis where they can enjoy a private wading pool, waterfall, and juice bar.
Holland American has ports around the globe. Why not create an international adventure for the family by booking a few days at a Hong Kong hotel, exploring the city, and then taking off on a cruise around Asia?
Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean International has tons to offer families with children of all ages, especially those ages 3 and up. Young children will love taking part in the Adventure Ocean club where they’ll get to do art projects, take drama classes, and even try their hands at a science experiment or two. Older children will enjoy the ship’s supervised rock climbing wall, miniature golf courses and, on the larger ships, ice skating rinks.
Teen programs actually split the kids into two different age groups, 12 to 14 and then 15 to 17. Every ship has at least one room for teens-only and a handful of ships have three dedicated teen rooms each – one for evening entertainment, one for sunbathing, and one for just hanging out. They can also participate in scavenger hunts, outdoor sports games, and even surf on board the ship.
Royal Caribbean has ports scattered around the world as well. If you’d like a cruise that doesn’t venture too far we recommend starting out in Boston and then cruising Canada and the New England States. There are plenty of hotels in Boston, inviting you to relax and explore the city before or after your cruise.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Lines are incredibly accommodating and, as you can imagine, cater to the youngest of imaginations. They offer daycare services for children as young as 12 weeks old and have dedicated swimming pools with special filters to accommodate toddlers in diapers. They even make sure your stateroom has a bathtub – making it easier to bathe your little one.
Your young children, ages 3-7, will love the intimate setting the cruise ship provides. You won’t have to wait in long lines in the theme parks for your kids to see their favorite characters as they’ll instead have the opportunity to greet them during mealtimes on the ships. They’ll even do special shows onboard. Kids between the ages of 8 and 11 will also enjoy spending time in the Ocean Quest room where they can simulate controlling the boat or, on some ships, in the Oceaneer Lab where they can participate in fun science experiments.
Disney Cruise Lines has really grown, offering special Disney cruises not only out of Florida ports but from other hot destinations around the world as well. Why not try a cruise departing from Cozumel instead of Key West? Spend an extra night in one of the hottest hotels in Cozumel for a sensational vacation experience the entire family will enjoy.
Booking a cruise, especially with a family in tow, doesn’t have to be difficult. Take some time to plan your vacation in advance and make sure you book at least one night in a hotel before and after your cruise to give your family a chance to relax before running to the airport again. Enjoy!