The Best cruises for kids are the ones that offer activities that keep kids excited, engaged, and stimulated. That being said, it can be hard to find a cruise line that can really deliver in that department. For a long time, cruises have been associated with older kids and adults, which makes sense to a degree when you consider you’re on a ship for at least a week and often going on off-ship excursions.
Over the past decade, however, cruise lines have seen the value of making their cruises more kid-friendly. So let’s take a look at four of my picks for top cruises for kids.
The Four Best Cruise Lines for Kids
These cruise lines offer great entertainment for family members of all ages, but they really put some excellent attention to detail into their children’s programs. I can vouch for at least two of these because we have cruised with Carnival and Norwegian. In fact this month we are cruising with Royal Caribbean. (Updated Royal Caribbean is amazing for teenagers especially. Very fun cruise line for families and so much to do!!)
Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean’s largest ships, the Anthem of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, and Oasis of the Seas are ideal for families with kids of all ages. These ships have an excellent range of family-friendly activities and entertainment that includes four pools, ten hot tubs, a 3D theater, rock climbing walls, ice skating rink, two surf simulators, and a zipline. They also cater to families with their selection of family cabins.
What makes this cruise line excellent for the younger kids is the sheer amount of space and manpower dedicated to the kids. Royal Caribbean has children’s programs for every age range – Aquanauts for ages 3 to 5, Explorers for ages 6 to 8, and Voyagers for ages 9 to 11. These kids’ clubs are among the largest in cruising, with a toddlers-only splash pool, arts and crafts workshop, video arcade, computer stations, and some of the best counselors in the industry.
I couldn’t wait to try this one because of the ages of our kids. Our girls are 12 and 15 and Royal Caribbean has some amazing teen and tween programming. Plus the on ship activities are perfect for that. The Flo-Rider for instance is not really meant for small children but for teens it is perfect.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line makes my list of best cruises for kids for a couple of reasons. First, their casual atmosphere is perfect for families with children because there are no strict dining times or venues. In addition, their Splash Academy offers activities for kids of all ages. Among cruise lines, Norwegian is just about the most laid back, which is perfect for families. We cruised on the Norwegian Escape last December and it was incredible. It had the best on board activities of any ship I had ever been on.
Much like Royal Caribbean’s children’s programs, Splash academy divides the kids into age groups of 3 to 5, 6 to 9, and 10 to 12 so the kids can have fun without feeling out of place. Kids can enjoy arts and crafts, karaoke, and video games, as well as a jungle gym, interactive light-up dance floor, and no shortage of room for them to run off all of their excess kid energy.
Other popular kid-friendly activities include rock climbing and rappelling walls, climbing cages, 6 bowling lanes, water park areas, and more. The Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway feature 5 multi-story water slides, and the Norwegian Escape offers the largest rope course and water park at sea. We loved the ESCAPE and my family was crazy for the ropes course and the plank too.
Carnival Cruise Line
Last, but certainly not least, on this list of top cruises for kids is Carnival. Their Dream Class ships, the Vista, Breeze, Dream, and Magic offer a variety of onboard fun for kids of all ages, with clubs for ages ranging from 2 to teens.
Camp Ocean, a soon to be fleet-wide children’s program offers a variety of activities for kids aged 2 to 11. Penguins (2 to 5) have sing alongs and enjoy arts and crafts. Stingrays (6 to 8) design custom aquariums and enjoy Pirate Game Night. Sharks (9 to 11) play music, Jeopardy, design their own cruise ships, and play sports. Circle C, the 12 to 14 program, and Club O2 for teens 15 to 17 have their own areas with access to regular dance and pool parties, as well as special, teen-only excursions and PlayStation and Xbox consoles.
Carnival was our first cruise. We travelled on the renovated Carnival Pride in January one year and it was delightful.
Disney Cruise Lines:
We have never been on a Disney Cruise but I know from experience that all Disney resorts and properties are well managed. The cast of characters and the service is always well worth it. Disney started cruising in 1996 and they have a wide range of boats and ports available for pretty much everyone. There is something wonderful about Disney vacations and they tend to bring out the child in everyone.
Disney service is always top notch. Also frankly I would opt for a Disney Cruise happily if I had a child with food allergies at all, because Disney does that very well. Also their character events and meals are beyond comparison.
Disney makes your vacation unforgettable. There are character deck experiences and there’s also live theatre that is remarkable. Keep Disney Cruise Lines in mind for your next family vacation, but start saving now.
The Best Cruises for Kids Cater to Your Family
If love family travel and want to cruise with your kids, these fun entertaining family cruises for kids can’t be beat. Although I focused on the kid-friendly aspects of these cruise lines, they all offer all the adult entertainment and activities you’ve come to expect from big name cruise lines. If you’re looking to cruise the high seas with the family, consider these top four cruise lines for families. You can’t go wrong with any of them.
Have you been on a cruise yet?