Best Cruise Ships for Families

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Cruise for the holidays

With National Cruise Vacation Week taking place in just 3 days, we have been getting lots of emails about which cruise lines are best for families… small kids, infants, teenagers, you name it.  So we decided we would answer this question with a post and share it with everyone.

We know it is tough, with all the different cruise lines available, to know which one is most suitable for families.  Not only which cruise line, but what destination… is Europe too far for a US resident to cruise with little ones?  Well, of course, the answer to that question is subjective, but we can give you some idea to assist you in making a more informed decision for your family.

Our recommendations fall into the mass/resort style cruise lines.  What do we mean by this?  We typically place cruise lines into categories such as the following:

Check out our Cruise Line Comparison for additional details.

  • Mass/Resort style such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney.
  • Premium cruise lines like Celebrity, Holland and Oceania.
  • Paul Gauguin and Sea Dream Yacht Club are examples of Luxury Cruise Lines.
  • Niche cruises line are plentiful with cruise lines such as Windstar falling into this category.
  • River Cruise lines are popular with the mature, well-traveled person fitting cruise lines like Viking and Avalon Waterways.

This is not to say that families do not bode well on any other type of ship.  We are just recommending cruise lines with programs highly geared toward families which may enhance your cruise experience.

Our Top 5 Picks (In Alphabetical Order)

Crystal CruisesCarnival’s Magic

While Carnival has many ships in its fleet of family-oriented cruise liners, the Carnival Magic just debuted May 2011 and Abundant Journeys will be Magic for its US debut November 13th.  Thus far, Magic has set sail in Mediterranean waters, offering separate clubs for kids, tweens and teens as well as a host of activities for the young and seasoned adult.  For your tween and teen, there are dances and pool parties for them to partake in during your cruise.  And the little ones have scavenger hunts, sing-alongs, fun parties, and more.  Once you sign them up, they may forget you are even on-board.  If you need to experience the night life, then babysitting services are available for a small, nominal fee until 3am on most ships.  We recommend Carnival’s magic for children age 2 years and older.

Disney’s Dream

While it is difficult to choose a ship for Disney, the popular Dream is now hot on our list. While Carnival is very strict with sticking to the age-groups for the kids programming, Disney has more of a group approach.  Kids ages 3-12 have access to the same space allowing siblings and friends in different age groups to spend time with one another.  Much like Carnival, Dream offers a tween and teen club for kids age 13-17.  Often times, adults wonder if Disney is all about the kids and nothing for them.  Disney remembers the adult too.  With kiddie pools on one end of the ship and adult pools on the opposite end, adults can wade in kid-free waters if they choose. Also, adult’s can enjoy an adults only Champagne breakfast to get some alone time.  Disney is great for the entire family.

Holland America’s Vista Class

Now we just featured Holland America in a recent post since they are offering some amazing deals for National Cruise Vacation Week a few days early.  Read more here.  Nevertheless, Holland America’s Vista Class ships offer a Club HAL Children’s Program for your little one to participate on-board.  If you have a little one at least 3 years of age, they can participate in the On-board Culinary Arts Center which offers cooking classes to keep them occupied and entertained while cruising Holland America.

Princess’ Emerald

Princess does not disappoint with a fleet of ships catering to families.   While we chose the Emerald, we could have easily have chosen the Ruby or Crown or Diamond or… you get the idea.  With more family suites, kid-only pools, scavenger hunts, painting parties, a 10,000 square foot area dedicated to kids… Princess tops our list of family-friendly cruise-lines.  There is just so much for kids to do aboard Princess they really will forget Mom and Dad came along too.  No worries though, while the kids are enjoying themselves, you can enjoy one another on the adult-only sun deck or a romantic dinner for two or spend a day in the spa.  Whatever your choice, Princess is sure to take care of the entire family.

Royal Caribbean’s OasisRoyal Caribbean

One of our very favorites, Royal Caribbean.  Once again, choosing just one ship is ludicrous, but we did anyway with Oasis.  But, please, do not let that stop you from sailing Mariner of the Seas or Allure of the Seas.  We have sailed them all with our kids and loved every minute of it.  From rock-climbing walls, to ice-skating rinks, to discos for the kids, your kids will thank you over and over for taking them on a Royal Caribbean cruise.  Watch the parade, join a scavenger hunt, do what you want.  Royal Caribbean boast a delightful and fun staff to keep your kids well-entertained while you enjoy some adult time.

There are so many choices, but this is a short list you can choose from if you like.  With National Cruise Vacation Week starting officially this Monday, October 17th, you want to contact Abundant Journeys straight away because the deals will not hang around for long.  People are ready to book and there is only so much space aboard any one ship.  So what should you do this weekend before Monday arrives?

  1. Research your desired trip now on Abundant Journeys’ website.
  2. When you locate your desired cruise, go through Steps 1-4 of the booking process right away… do not delay.
  3. When you get to Step 5, scroll to the bottom and click “Ask An Agent”.
  4. Complete the requested info on the “Ask an Agent” form.
  5. Click Submit.

An Abundant Journeys consultant will review any non-public deals related to your requested trip, if any, create a quote specific to you and contact you as quickly as possible to book your trip.  It is that easy.  So spread the word.  Tweet this post.  And book your trip pronto.

 

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Maria writes as well as handle guest post articles for Abundant Journeys blog. Abundant Journeys, an independent travel agency affiliated with MTravel CST# California: 1018299-10, blogs about wellness travel for the discerning travelier in three different life stages: Couples, Travel with Kids and Girlfriend Getaways focusing on Moms. We also enjoy blogging about fine foods and great gifts. Live Life. Must Travel. Start your journey today. Find our stories on JustLuxe.com in the travel section.

5 Comments
    1. Yes, mass market ships (Royal, Princess, Norwegian, etc) are great for families. You want to steer away from families for a more intimate experience, move to premium (Celebrity), luxury (Regent) or small ship lines (Seabourne).

  1. My wife and I have really been eyeing a cruise for one of our upcoming anniversaries, and though we don’t have any children at the moment, we’ll definitely keep your Disney review in mind. We’re both pretty big Disney fans (did our honeymoon at Disney World…ton of fun), so the idea of experiencing all of the Disney offerings is one of our bucket list items. They’ve got one to Alaska, one to Hawaii, and one to the Caribbean as well that we’re looking at…all look incredible.

    Anyways, I appreciate the review :) We’re excited to see you giving Livefyre a go, and if you ever have any questions or feedback for us, please don’t hesitate to send it our way as we’d be more than happy to help in any way that we can.

    1. Thank you so much for the comment. Really think we are going to love livefyre. Definitely keep Disney in mind… and know they have Disney Adventure Land Tours for the whole family as well. Cheers to you.

    2. @JMattHicks Thank you for the comment. Really think we are going to love livefyre. Definitely keep Disney in mind… and know they have Disney Adventure Land Tours for the whole family as well. Cheers to you.

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