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The Best Cruise Ships for Families

Cruise holidays with children have become increasingly popular in recent years. In 2013 alone, 2 million youngsters under 15 enjoyed a voyage with their families. Cruise lines are creating newer ways to entice kids on board, and choosing the best cruise ship for your family is a decision worth serious consideration.

Newer cruise ships were built with kids in mind, and have some of the best child-friendly options compared to older refitted vessels. Whether it’s kids clubs, themed stage shows, or even kids-only pools, cruise ship companies are competing for their market share. Here are some kids cruising attractions sailing to a port near you.

A safe place to stay or play

Many ships are beginning to provide separate facilities for teens (age 13 – 17) and tweens (age 12 – 14). Shipwide options include flexible programs that allow kids to come and go as they please, and specialised shore excursions offering dedicated kids attractions. The younger set can even enjoy similar treats to their parents with their own pampered spa treatments.

Multi-generational cruising

Along with kids-only areas, new cruise ships are also designed with adults-only sections. Parents and guardians require down time away from noisy teenagers, and cruise lines are more than happy to accommodate every generation of holidaymaker.

Fantasy Nemo Reef

Family friendly cabins on the increase

Many new ships are being built to incorporate family accomodation facilities. Disney, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian provide self contained family staterooms that house up to six passengers, meaning your holiday can include plenty of family time.

The arrival of the “megaships”

The natural consequence of a well designed megaship is the provision of more room and extra facilities for everyone. Cruising with families has evolved to include pastimes including rock wall climbing, water parks, mini golf, bowling, bumper cars, outdoor movies and more.

Themed cruises with kids entertainment

Major cruise companies strive to outdo each other with spectacular entertainments. Royal Caribbean hosts the DreamWorks experience on many of its ships, including appearances from Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. Norwegian host Nickelodeon entertainments onboard a host of ships, and the ever popular family favourite Disney Cruises bursts at the seams with Disney family fun.

fireworks on Disney Cruise

Family friendly dining and fun

On land or on sea, most kids hate to be locked into a regimented schedule. Cruise ships accommodate their needs with relaxed dining facilities, including flexible dining hours and special kids menus. Open air entertainments are also a big hit, with Royal Princess kids clubs now including outdoor play areas.

Here are just a few cruise ship highlights to stimulate further investigation.

Royal Caribbean International

  • 3D Theatre
  • Ice skating rink
  • Surf simulator
  • Family cabins
  • Kids clubs, nursery and baby sitting
  • Toddlers-only splash pool

Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Splash kids academy
  • Circus school
  • Teens-only nightclub
  • Nursery and toddlers play area
  • Bowling
  • Waterslides

Carnival Cruise Lines

  • Kids clubs
  • Water parks
  • Camp Carnival arts and crafts
  • Kids talent shows
  • Teens-only shore excursions
  • Mini-golf

Disney Cruise Line

  • Oceaneer Club with themed play areas
  • Disney stars including “Toy Story”, “Monsters Inc”, “Marvels Avengers”.
  • Animation and sound studio
  • Nursery care for babies and toddlers
  • Karaoke
  • Walt Disney Theatre

Princess Cruises

  • Flexible dining options
  • Kids clubs
  • Kids dance parties
  • Junior chef program
  • Fun zones
  • Teens-only pool
  • Arts and crafts


The facilities listed above are only a partial overview of increasingly diverse and unique kids entertainment options. Cruising is the only vacation style that combines such a range of kids holiday adventures, while still providing parents with the relaxation they deserve.

Image credit: Peter Dedina, Paul Brennan, Trey Ratcliff

What do you think? Which is the most family friendly cruise company?

Robert Grant

Loves cruise tips and cruise ships. Shares his personal opinion about cruise deals and cruise tips that might help other travellers. Do let me know if you'd like to read more about certain cruise related topics.

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