Best family cruises 2018

MSC Magnifica, which is based seasonally in the UK for a part-season, has kids’ areas situated at the aft and midship on Deck 14, that consist of age-divided indoor and outdoor spaces.

The Programme

The kids’ programme is extensive, exhaustive and carefully tailored to the different age groups. Activities on offer include arts and crafts, games, gymnastics, quizzes, treasure hunts, video games, puzzles, dance, circus games, karaoke and themed evenings such as a pirate night and carnival night. MSC Cruises has also introduced a couple of video characters — Kelly & Kloe. Youngsters have the chance to become Kelly & Kloe stars themselves by taking part in a casting session and making a video of their performance to take home as a souvenir. The children’s club teams are excellent — enthusiastic and kind — and all of them multi-lingual.

Kid-Friendly Features

On Meraviglia there is a games arcade, a 4D flight simulator, a F1 simulator and even bowling. The kids’ area is above the sports complex, where fun games like dodgeball and basketball competitions take place. Happy Dinners offers a speedy children’s dinner for Mini Club members, where the youngsters are served their meals while parents enjoy their starters. The children are then escorted to the Mini Club by the entertainment staff while the adults enjoy a leisurely dining experience. Meraviglia also debuts “family cluster” cabins comprising three interconnecting cabins, one of them with a virtual window.

Both MSC Splendida and MSC Magnifica have three Executive and Family Suites, which can sleep up to four people.

Let’s face it: Disney vacations can be expensive. And upon first glance at the price per person, Disney Cruise Line vacations can seem to be the most expensive of them all. But don’t let the seemingly high price point keep you from the vacation of a lifetime.

We’ve shared all of the ways that you can save money on a Disney vacation, and now we’re sharing why a Disney Cruise Line vacation is worth the price. Keep reading to discover our Disney Cruise price breakdown to learn why, with everything included in a Disney Cruise Line trip, a vacation at sea could be your top choice for your next Disney getaway.

The cost of a Disney Cruise Line vacation

To illustrate this price breakdown, we’ll be using a six-night cruise in June as an example. For a family of four, a six-night cruise from Port Canaveral sailing to Mexico and Castaway Cay will cost $7,819 for an interior room. The price per person, per night, including food, activities, and other amenities will be $325.79.

Now to further illustrate how much a Disney Cruise Line vacation will cost you, let’s compare it to the cost of a six-night Walt Disney World vacation for the same dates in June. For a family of four, a six-night stay at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort with the Disney Dining Plan and seven-day theme park tickets will cost a total of $4,563.04. The price per person, per night, including food and theme park tickets will be $190.12.

Of course, these prices don’t include flights, and they don’t factor in the cost of gratuity, extra experiences, or souvenirs. But this should give you an idea of what the cost of each vacation could look like.

What you get for the price

Upon first glance, you’re probably thinking that a Disney Cruise Line vacation may be double the cost of a Walt Disney World vacation. And depending on the length of vacation, where you are staying/sailing, and the type of room you book, you could be right! But the most important factor to keep in mind is the true value of your vacation: what you are getting for the price.

Here is everything included in a Disney Cruise Line vacation, according to the official website:

  • Enchanting Entertainment: Delight in Broadway-caliber musicals, lively deck parties and fireworks at sea (fireworks on most cruises).
  • Spacious Staterooms: Designed for Families: extra space and storage, sitting area, and split bath to allow more people to get ready at the same time.
  • Disney’s Private Island: Relax in paradise with beach chairs, umbrellas, waterslides and a buffet lunch (on most Bahamian and Caribbean cruises).
  • Variety of Dining Options: Enjoy upscale restaurants, buffets, poolside snacks, and 24-hour room service.
  • Imaginative Youth Clubs: Play in themed clubs for every age, staffed by specially trained Disney counselors.
  • Nightclubs & Lounges: Discover adults-only areas that include a variety of bars and pubs.
  • Pools & Recreation: Splash it up in freshwater pools and waterslides at sea.

So for the cost of less than $350 per person, per day, you and your family can enjoy all-you-care-to-enjoy food, Broadway-caliber entertainment, unlimited activities for your kids (including access to Kids Zones and babysitting services), and even adult-only pools and nightclubs.

Why a Disney Cruise Line vacation is worth the seemingly high price tag

Looking at these numbers, we can see that the average, non-discounted Disney Cruise Line vacation could cost your family of four almost $200 more per person, per night, than the average, non-discounted Walt Disney World vacation would. And if you are getting amazing attractions, dining, and experiences at Walt Disney World and on a Disney Cruise, why spend the extra money on one instead of the other?


The first thing to keep in mind with this comparison is that when you are on a Disney Cruise you truly are getting more. Let’s look at food first. The Disney Dining Plan entitles you to one Quick Service Meal, one Table Service Meal, and two Snacks per person, per day, whereas on a Disney Cruise you have unlimited meals and snacks. Admit it: access to ice cream whenever you want sounds pretty sweet! But it goes beyond that. On my recent trip aboard the Disney Magic, I experienced Rapunzel’s Royal Table, a dinner show that is at least on par with (and arguably better than) Cinderella’s Royal Table in Walt Disney World. Character meals such as these in the park require two Table Service Meal credits on the Disney Dining Plan. For many cruisers, breakfast and lunch will be at Cabanas, an all you can eat buffet, which compared to the Disney Dining Plan equates to a 1 credit Table Service experience, not a Quick Service Meal, plus you get one extra meal. But maybe Room Service is more your style. On the Disney Dining Plan, we are back to a two-credit Table Service charge, whereas Room Service on a Disney Cruise is included.

That’s why the Disney Dining Plan is an inferior dining experience relative to a Disney Cruise. A more comparable experience is the Deluxe Dining Plan, which boosts the cost of our comparison trip up to $230.87 per person per night. Keep in mind depending on how you take advantage of your onboard dining experience, even the Deluxe Dining Plan may not be truly comparable and can easily offer more value than the Deluxe Dining Plan.


Next is the location and the cost to get there. For the most part, getting to Orlando and Port Canaveral, FL is fairly comparable to traveling to Walt Disney World, therefore for purposes of this comparison, it’s not necessary to factor in those costs. But with a Disney Cruise departing from Florida, you can also visit locations in Mexico, the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Disney’s Castaway Cay. Flying to any of those international destinations will cost you significantly more. For example, depending on the location of your home airport, a flight to Cozumel can easily run you $400 – $800 per person (pricing flights from Dallas and Chicago, respectively). All of a sudden, the remaining $95 per person, per day price difference is easily wiped out when you add the cost of airfare to the cheapest of the 3 destinations you will visit. Granted very few of us would fly to all 3 destinations as part of a single vacation because its both too expensive and would make the vacation too hectic. But the value and benefit of a cruise are that you can visit several destinations without an overwhelming cost or such a hectic trip that it sucks the fun out of the experience. A Disney Cruise allows you to travel to multiple destinations in one relaxing trip, something many of us only dream of.


Food and location are more than enough to justify the price difference on paper, but those two items are the only items which increase the relative value of a cruise. In the harder to classify category is the additional entertainment value. Aboard a cruise, you will experience Broadway caliber shows that each could justify a $100+ price tag. Alternatively, if you wish to catch a movie, each Disney Cruise ship has a movie theatre on board that shows Disney movies at sea the same day they are released on land. And don’t think for a minute you’re losing iconic Disney Park entertainment like fireworks. Disney is the only cruise line to offer fireworks at sea. These options and many more will add significant additional value to your trip and they are all included in the price of your cruise.

The Disney Fantasy is the Broadway-style production “Disney’s Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular.” The live stage show, performed in the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

Service: the Disney Difference

Last but certainly not least is the level of service you will receive. Disney fans know how important Cast Members are to the Disney Parks experience. We love Cast Members and for many of us, they are a big part of the reason we keep coming back to Disney vacations. But consider for a moment how often you actually interact with those cast members while at the park. It’s not nearly as often as you will interact with them aboard the ship. With rotational dining and waitstaff onboard a Disney Cruise, your nightly meal will be served to you by the same waitstaff night after night even though you’re in a new dining room each night. This allows the Cast Members to really get to know you and your needs and preferences, which in turn allows Disney’s legendary service to become even more special.

Interested in booking a Disney Cruise Line vacation?

There are so many fun experiences for the whole family aboard Disney Cruise Line, from incomparable dining to Broadway-caliber shows. Don’t forget to check out Academy Travel so you can book your next vacation with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner and take advantage of some amazing deals and experiences on your upcoming trip. We love using Academy Travel to make our Disney Cruise Line and other Disney vacations a total breeze.

One of the sad truths about parenting is that you never truly get a break—even when you’re on vacation. In fact, vacationing with kids—whether they’re toddlers, teens or somewhere in-between—can often feel more stressful than fun. But if you’re looking for some great family vacation ideas that will keep everyone in your family entertained, taking a cruise together is the perfect option!

With tons of on-board activities to keep kids of all ages engaged and happy, going on a cruise with your family is actually one of the least stressful types of family vacations you can plan—since there’s guaranteed to be something that appeals to every member of your crew (yourself included!).

So if you’re ready to hit the high seas with your kiddos in tow, here’s our expert-approved list of the 7 best new cruises for families to take in 2020:

Related: All Aboard: How to Plan an Incredible Cruise Vacation

1. Carnival Mardi Gras from Carnival Cruise Line

Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line (Carnival Cruise Line)

According to Cruise Critic’s senior editor, Erica Silverstein, “Carnival is a great pick for families, especially those who want to keep costs and extra fees to a minimum. Many cabins sleep 3-5 people, and most dining venues (including family favorite burger, taco and pizza options) are included in your fare.” Travel agent and The Mom Trotter blogger, Karen Akpan, agrees: “I highly recommend Carnival Cruise Line for families, because they are affordable and fun! This summer, I took the kids on a Carnival Cruise to the Bahamas on board the Carnival Liberty and we all had such a great time.” For her family’s next cruise, Akpan can’t wait to board Carnival’s newest and largest ship, the Carnival Mardi Gras, which is set to debut in 2020—because when it does, it’s guaranteed to make a splash! Specifically designed to provide the family vacation experience of your dreams, this majestic ship—which features the BOLT, the first-ever rollercoaster at sea—offers over-the-top fun for kids (and adults!) of all ages. Along with Carnival’s ever-popular Seuss at Sea programming for kids, this new ship will have six uniquely themed zones for the whole family to explore, including Grand Central, French Quarter, La Piazza, Summer Landing, Lido and The Ultimate Playground. From comedy clubs and craft beers brewed on board for adults to an elaborate WaterWorks aqua park, SportSquare and BBQ for kids, there’s something for everyone on this highly-anticipated new vessel that’s offering routes to the Caribbean, Canada and even transatlantic voyages from London to New York starting early next year.

2. Caribbean Princess from Princess Cruises

Courtesy of Princess Cruises (Princess Cruises)

The recently renovated Caribbean Princess is the ultimate family-friendly ship. Departing from Ft. Lauderdale, Quebec City and NYC, it has routes to the Caribbean, Canada and the Panama Canal and Puerto Rico planned for 2020. With a newly added splash park—featuring a water play zone for kids, lots of relaxing seating and a jacuzzi for adults and backyard-style games like corn hole for all ages to enjoy—and a program—where Princess Chef hosts hands-on workshops for kids ages 8-12, including a cake decorating class—your children will have endless entertainment options aboard the Caribbean Princess. Plus, thanks to a partnership with Discovery Inc., Princess Cruises offers a Discovery at SEA program for kids under 17 where immersive, educational experiences delight youngsters both on and off the ship, including family-oriented shore excursions to UNESCO World Heritage sites, like the Belize Barrier Reef.

Related: 14 Things I Learned on My First Cruise

3. Norwegian Encore from Norwegian Cruise Line

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line (Norwegian Cruise Line)

“A great choice for active families, Norwegian ships offer water parks, rock climbing walls and ropes courses, go-karts and laser tag, and Broadway shows,” says Silverstein. And Norwegian’s newest ship, the Norwegian Encore, which first set sail earlier this year, takes these family-friendly amenities and entertainment options to the next level. Featuring the world’s longest go-kart race track at sea and the largest outdoor laser tag arena (plus augmented reality elements!), this Breakaway Plus class ship—which sails from New York City and Miama to Bermuda and the Caribbean respectively—can’t be beat. And even if you don’t book the Norwegian Encore and instead opt for one of Norwegian’s other ships, you’re still guaranteed an epic family-oriented experience. “Many ships have play spaces or playtime for babies and toddlers, while teens get tricked-out hangouts,” shares Silverstein. When booking your family’s cruise for 2020, just be sure to “look for circus school activities and ships with special kid pool areas,” she encourages.

4. Disney Wonder from Disney Cruise Line

Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line (Disney Cruise Line)

With plans to set sail from a new port opening in New Orleans and two special cruises to Hawaii (after a 5-year hiatus) in early 2020, if you haven’t booked a cruise aboard Disney Wonder yet, this is the year to do it! “Disney as a company knows how to entertain families, and it brings those skills to its cruises,” Silverstein explains. “Ocean cruises feature huge kids clubs, as well as adults-only restaurants, sun decks and bars/clubs to allow parents and kids some peer time.” In addition to Disney Wonder’s regular offerings—like a Royal Tea with Disney princesses and a Marvel Superhero Academy for kids—the ship will feature a brand-new New Orleans-themed lounge named Tiana’s Place and a cool new space for teens, in addition to live action performances of Frozen, complete with a Frozen deck party! Throughout its 2020 season, Disney Wonder will also sail to Mexico, Alaska, Canada, the Caribbean and the Bahamas, making it the perfect choice for your family’s cruise—no matter where in the world you’ve been dreaming of visiting.

5. Odyssey of the Seas from Royal Caribbean

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean (Royal Caribbean)

“Royal Caribbean is a great pick for active families, who’d like to swim, slide, surf, zip-line, sky dive, rock climb and ice skate together–all without leaving the comfort of the cruise ship. Parents can escape to the adults-only solarium for R&R while kids, from babies to teens, take advantage of spacious kids-only play areas,” explains Silverstein. Of the 27 ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet, its newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas, is the crown jewel—in addition to being the first Quantum Ultra Class ship to arrive in North America. Set to embark on its maiden voyage to the Caribbean from Ft. Lauderdale in November 2020, Odyssey of the Seas is jam-packed with family-friendly entertainment, including a wind tunnel skydiving experience for kids ages 3 and up, a glass observation capsule lofted 300 feet above sea level for the whole family to enjoy, a roller skating rink, bumper cars and even an on-bard trapeze school! Plus, “family cabins and multi-bedroom suites give families plenty of accommodation options” on Royal Caribbean ships, Silverstein adds.

Related: 10 Best Vacation Spots for Kids

6. Koningsdam from Holland America Line

Courtesy of Holland America Line (Holland America Line)

While Alaska might not be the first destination to come to mind when you think about booking a cruise vacation for your family to take next year, the Koningsdam’s stunning route—starting in Vancouver and journeying through the Inside Passage, Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay with stops in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan—will rival any tropical getaway. Plus, the diversity of unique and engaging opportunities for all ages that are available on this Holland America Line expedition—including dog sledding on a glacier, whale watching, throwing axes, zip-lining, seeing rescued bears, touring the Deadliest Catch crabbing boat or joining the Junior Ranger Program—offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences for everyone to enjoy, making it the ideal cruise vacation for a multi-generational family that’s ready for adventure.

7. Disney Fantasy From Disney Cruise Line

Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line (Disney Cruise Line)

From the AquaDuck water coaster to interactive on-board play areas, like Star Wars: Command Post, Disney Fantasy is a ship that’s full of family-friendly surprises. “So many of Disney Cruise Line’s activities are for families to do together, from high-quality Broadway-style shows and first-run movies to waterslides, deck parties, shore excursions and even engaging dining venues,” says Silverstein, which is yet another reason why Disney remains a favorite for families. And in 2020, Star Wars fans of all ages (yes, even adults like you!) are in for a special treat when Star Wars Day at Sea returns for nine special sailings from Port Canaveral to the Caribbean from January through March. Here’s what Sara Warren from @travelswithtots had to say about her family’s experience other Instagram page; “Star Wars Day at Sea is such a cool, immersive experience offered on certain @disneycruiseline sailings. The night before Star Wars Day at Sea is set to take place there is a ‘secret’ kick off where Darth Vader arrives to take over the ship.” What’s more, you and your kids can expect to spot iconic characters from the Star Wars saga, including Jedi, Wookiees, droids and Stormtroopers, aboard the ship during this special day-long celebration.

Looking to plan a multigenerational vacation? Check out essential tips here if you’re traveling with everyone from grandparents to toddlers!

Cruising is often compared to a dinner wine; the wrong one can spoil your whole experience!

With over 50 cruise lines operating, you’re probably wondering what are the best cruise ships for kids, and it’s essential you pick the right one!

You want to pick one of the best family cruises that will keep the kids entertained, but also allow you to have some time to relax. After all, everyone should enjoy the experience, not just the kids.

Carnival Vista

Oh, wait. I haven’t introduced myself. My name is Lewis Nunn and I’m a luxury cruise and travel blogger, at The Luxury Traveller.

You might be thinking, how is a luxury cruise & travel blogger knowledgeable on cruise lines for families? Well, aside from my passion for luxury cruise and travel, I’m also sixteen years old!

Over the years I have grown up exploring the best cruise ships for kids, with holidays often consisting of all twenty members of my family.

And so, I’ve developed a wide amount of knowledge on the topic of family cruises, based on my own experience.

So what you will read in this article will be straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

Want to know what to pack for a cruise? Check out our tips and our free cruise packing checklist

Without further ado, here are my top 7 best cruise lines for kids.

Best Cruise Ships for Kids

Allure of the Seas. Image by .com

No other cruise line could sit at the top of my list of the best cruise ship for kids than Royal Caribbean Cruises.

From the Broadway shows (such as Grease and Mamma Mia) to the 3D Cinemas and Parades, this is one of the best cruise lines for families.

Royal Caribbean has gained a reputation for its futuristic experience with:

  • RipCord skydiving simulators
  • Surf simulators
  • Dodgems
  • Robot operated cocktail bars

Kids & Teens Club

Excluding all these out-of-this-world facilities, Royal Caribbean also features one of the best kids programs at sea.

Royal Babies (6-18 months) or Royal Tots (18-36 months) can partake in interactive playgroup sessions involving toys and music, where a parent must be present.

Aquanauts, (3-5 years) can enjoy many activities involving from bubbling potions to Jurassic Park dinosaurs. Also getting the chance to participate in the Pirate Party Parade around the ship.

Whereas Space Mud, Meteorology, and Fossils are the types of activities Explorers (6-8 years) will be involved in.

For slightly older children, Voyagers (9-11 years), the science theme is still present. However, kids in this category also get the opportunity to take part in backstage tours at the onboard theatres.

Teenagers (aged 12-14) partake in much more hands-on activities such as rock climbing, dodgeball, and Dance Dance Revolution.

As the sun sets, teens can enjoy private BBQ’s and movie nights. Or alternately, they can join in the open mic nights, talent shows and Scratch DJ Academy.

The eldest teen category (15-17) gives a much more laid back experience with theme nights, pool parties and teen dinners.


Earlier I mentioned about fussy eaters. In order to enjoy gourmet dining (like at Jamie’s Italian), Royal Caribbean has developed the perfect solution without moaning kids.

Expedited dining allows your children to be collected as soon as they finish eating, and then taken for fun and games at the kids club, therefore allowing you to spend as much time as you want to unwind at the restaurant – now that right there deserves a mention on a list of the best cruise lines for kids!

This may, for example, be a multi-course meal in the Main Dining Room; primarily consisting of American or Italian cuisine.

For smaller bites and buffet-style dining, Windjammer Café is open throughout the day.


Sadly, family holidays can sometimes be rather stressful spending all that time together in a closed environment.

However, this does not always have to be the case with your cabin. In fact, Royal Caribbean actually features some of the largest accommodation at sea.

If you’re cruising onboard an Oasis or Quantum Class Ship, money depending, you can stay in one of the Loft Suites which definitely makes them one of the best cruise ships for kids.

Spanning over two stories, they offer the most cabin space at sea which includes facilities such as:

  • Jacuzzi
  • Indoor and outdoor dining rooms
  • Private Wet Bar
  • Library
  • Extended balcony and even a Baby Grand Piano!

Book your Royal Caribbean Cruise with Cruise Direct and never pay a booking fee!

2. Carnival Cruises

Carnival Vista

Boasting 25 ships, Carnival Cruise Line is one of the best cruise ships for kids traveling on a slightly smaller budget. That’s not to say your experience will be any less than 5-star family-fun.

Famed for the party atmosphere onboard, Carnival is especially good for families traveling with teenagers. With modernized onboard facilities such as:

  • Gigantic waterparks
  • Mile-high (well…ish) air-ropes courses with a suspended peddle bike
  • Golf course and even the very first IMAX at sea

Kids & Teens Clubs

Floating away from the endless facilities, children and teenagers can also attend the onboard youth clubs, separated into a wide amount of age categories.

Children aged 2-11 can attend Camp Ocean (or Camp Carnival), then separated into sub-age-categories of 2-5, 6-8 and 9-11.

The younger end of the spectrum (2-5) can take part in many activities such as:

  • Soft play
  • Slide equipment
  • Indoor ball games
  • Owl Jams Parties (consisting of Candy, dancing, and games)

Whereas the slightly older 6-8-year-olds can spend time on Playstations, Nintendo Wii’s, spin art and many themed activities.

Children in the oldest kid’s category, 9-11, partake in kid’s discos, pizza pig-out and swimming under the stars.

The first age category in the teen section (12-14) includes older activities such as:

  • Video gaming consoles
  • Dance parties
  • Late night movies
  • Karaoke
  • Carnival twister waterslide races

Whereas the elder teenage group, Club O2, is partnered with Coca-Cola providing a ‘Coke-tail’ lounge where teens can savor the taste of non-alcoholic specialty drinks.


Now – what about fun for parents!

While you attend a bar crawl or boogie till dawn, take full advantage of Carnival’s babysitting service, available daily from 10:00 pm to 3:00 am. This service costs just $6.75 an hour.

Parents, do you see why Carnival is near the top of my list of best cruise lines for families?!

Related Post – read about our 6 night Caribbean Cruise on Carnival Vista

Book your Carnival Cruise with Cruise Direct and never pay a booking fee!

3. Norwegian Cruise Line

The Norwegian Getaway. Image by

Home to freestyle cruising, Norwegian Cruise Line has developed some of the best facilities and amenities for family cruising.

One example being, of course, the freestyle dining, where passengers are not confined to a strict dining time, making your evenings much more flexible and relaxed.

After all, things don’t always go to plan on a family holiday.

The onboard youth programs are really never-seen-before with activities ranging from Cirque du Soleil classes to over twenty sports for older teenagers.

Serving a hint of Disney and Royal Caribbean, some cruises also feature onboard characters such as Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob.

Separating kids into the age categories of 2-9, 10-12 and 13-17 with an entourage for teenagers fitted with air hockey, pinball and a transformation to a nightclub in the evening.

Or as the sun falls, your teenagers may prefer to catch one of the Broadway-style musicals available onboard.

© Norwegian Cruise Line

Onboard Facilities

Nonetheless, there is also plenty you can do together as a family with the numerous onboard facilities available such as:

  • A high ropes course fitted with its very own walk-the-plank
  • Vast water parks with jaw-dropping slides such as The Epic Plunge
  • And even 33-foot high rock climbing walls

Even a dedicated sports deck with:

  • Outdoor ice-skating rink
  • Basketball court
  • Bungee trampoline

© Norwegian Cruise Line

In fact, on Norwegian’s latest vessel the Norwegian Joy, sits the first go-karting track at sea spanning over the top deck.

27 things to know about the Norwegian Bliss Cruise Ship

Book your Norwegian Cruise with Cruise Direct and never pay a booking fee!

4. Disney Cruise Line

Disney Dream. Image by .com

Similar to their land-based adventures, Disney’s operated cruise line caters primarily to kids as the main audience, giving your little ones the opportunity to collect autographs with some of their favorite Disney characters.

On Alaskan voyages, special visits are featured with Anna and Elsa for the ‘Frozen, a Musical Spectacular” event.

Another reason Disney is one of the best family cruise lines is it incorporates various movies, games, Broadway-style musicals and even a 1,800-foot water park fitted with river rapids and an Aqua Duck spanning over a total of four decks.

Dinner time is important when it comes to child-friendly cruises, and Disney created the inception of interactive dining, with hundreds of LCD screens creating the experience of dining under the sea.

This includes special visits from Nemo and Dory of course.

Interactive experiences don’t finish there; Disney cruises also created the idea of a ‘virtual window’.

When staying in an inside cabin, many feature a porthole filled with a virtual window fixed to a camera outside of the ship.

Kids Clubs & Adult Facilities

For time to yourself, children can attend the Disney’s Oceaneer Club with character performances, dress up parties and movies to ensure a boredom-free holiday.

Children as young as six months are permitted to cruise with Disney Cruise Line, and so they have established the Flounder’s Reef nursery. Here, staff members can look after your children aged six months to three years old at an hourly fee of $9.

During this time, parents can head to the adults-only areas such as Quiet Cove Pool and Vista Spa.

Book your Disney Cruise with Cruise Direct and never pay a booking fee!

5. MSC Cruises

One of the best cruise ship for kids for those families traveling on a shoestring budget, MSC offer many discounts such as kids cruise free, which was present during my time onboard.

Four years ago, I ventured across the sun-kissed Mediterranean onboard the star-studded haven, the MSC Splendida. Along with twenty other relatives!

Present across MSC’s fleet is a lively buzz, filling days jam-packed with activities and transporting guests to a Vegas-style atmosphere in the evenings.

©MSC Cruises

Onboard Facilities & Kids Clubs

Reflecting on my days spent onboard (aged twelve), they mainly consisted of sunbathing, swimming, playing tennis and drinking unlimited mocktails.

Having said that, MSC features a range of other sports facilities such as basketball and table-tennis. Complemented by the many kids and teens clubs with age ranges 0-2 years, 3-6 years, 7-11 years, 12-14 years and 16-18 years.

As for evenings, after being entertained by one of many acrobatic and music-centered performances, families can enjoy many technology-based facilities such as the 4-D Cinema.

Or, while the kids are kept entertained, parents can enjoy time to themselves at the onboard Spa. Taking that much needed time to de-stress.

There is a range of accommodation onboard the ships, suiting all different kinds of budgets.

In terms of accommodation, should you have the budget for it, I have two recommendations:

      • Stay in a balcony cabin
      • Select two adjoining cabins

6. Princess Cruises

Princess cruises initial claim to fame was found in the hit television series, The Love Boat, which didn’t portay it as one of the best cruises for children.

Since those days the cruise line has excelled incorporating some of the best family-themed facilities at sea.

Kids Clubs

As far as teenagers go, there is plenty to do onboard from hip-hop classes to hot tub parties and even mocktails socials (my favorite) for the more sophisticated teens.

In fact, there are even makeup and skincare training sessions for those beauty gurus.

© Princess Cruises

Nonetheless, children are also able to participate in many activities alongside their parents.

This includes yoga where passengers can participate from age three.

If yoga does not appeal, children and teens can also find their inner Gordon Ramsay with cooking workshops led by onboard Chefs. Here, they can learn to prepare many dishes such as Sushi and Linguini.

As the sun floats down, families can enjoy quality time together in the movie under the stars experience. Where passengers recline out on deck wrapped up in a warm blanket and delving into bags on popcorn.

Speaking of food, children can sometimes tend to be rather fussy eaters. Gosh-I know I was!

Although you can indulge in gourmet Mediterranean cuisine at the onboard restaurants, you can alternately just head to the buffet. Residing here is a selection of Pizzas, French fries, hot dogs, and desserts.

7. P&O Cruises

P&O Pacific Dawn

Shamefully, I must admit something.

Before stepping onboard a P&O cruise ship, I held certain misconceptions about the cruise line. Thinking it to be no more than bingo and shuffleboard onboard.

This misconception was completely annihilated after attending a day visit onboard the P&O Britannia.

Aiming at the British market, reminders of the country are present throughout the fleet. Especially on the newest vessel, the P&O Britannia, where the entire hull is covered by a Union Jack!

Teens Club

Never before have I found a better teens club, than that onboard the Britannia, making it one of the best cruise ship for kids (teens).

With their own dedicated deck area, teens can relax in the large hot tubs or take a bit of time to develop their tan. Ideal for those moments when slurping on a mock “mojito”.

Inside the teen entourage itself, facilities include:

  • Many computers
  • X-Box facilities
  • Bean Bags
  • Football tables

There are plenty of other ways your teenagers and kids can stay entertained onboard, one example being through the many sports facilities.

Inside the Sports Arena sits dedicated areas for:

  • Tennis
  • Basketball
  • Cricket
  • Football
  • Table Tennis

Meaning you can certainly stay fit and active while you indulge in gourmet cuisine.

Over 17 dining options are situated onboard, ranging from buffet style cuisine to gourmet a la carte.

Much to my surprise, dining can also be an area for some quality family time at the Cookery Club. Famous chefs constantly circle here, such as James Martin.

Luckily, I was able to try some of the moist luscious brownies here, which were delicious.

The menu is changed daily onboard P&O ships with a special Gala dinner on formal nights.

Following the trend set by Norwegian Cruise Line, P&O cruises also offer their own form of flexible dining. In some of the main dining rooms you can eat at any time between 6:00 pm and 9:30 pm, making it flexible for last minute hiccups.

The cuisine is spread over 5 courses, with 6 courses on Gala evenings.

Global dining is prevalent in the main dining rooms, with the daily special often reflecting the port the ship is visiting.

Although, you will find traditional British cuisine onboard such as Welsh rarebit and Scottish smoked salmon. Complimented by a cheeseboard to round off your evening meal.

Hopefully, from this article, I’ve been able to provide some guidance on the best cruises for kids and help you move that one step closer to cruising.

For more cruise and travel tips, destination guides and 5* trip reviews from around the world, head to The Luxury Traveller.

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Have you experienced any family-friendly cruises? What do you think are the best cruise ship for kids?

The Best Cruises to Take This Summer


Image zoom Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

This summer, cruisers can visit the Galapagos aboard the Celebrity Flora, a new Celebrity Cruises ship designed specifically for the destination, with luxurious suites, a stargazing platform for guided or individual night sky enjoyment, new tenders with ramps that make landings more convenient, and a library for learning more about the Galapagos during the cruise.

Sailings throughout the summer on the Celebrity Flora include the 10-night “Galapagos Outer Loop Itinerary” beginning in Quito, Ecuador with stops at volcanic islands to see blue-footed boobies, sea lions, pelicans, sea turtles, flamingoes, tropical birds, and more. Snorkeling, swimming, Zodiac rides, and hiking activities allow travelers various ways to explore the islands. Prices vary depending on sailing date, but average is listed at $9,999 per person for an Aug. 16 departure.

Oregon to Washington

Image zoom Courtesy of American Cruise Lines

With departures from Portland throughout July and August, the American Cruise Lines “Columbia and Snake Rivers Cruise” features eight days aboard one of their modern riverboats. Three ships ply the Columbia River: American Pride, Queen of the West, and the newest, American Song, all offering complimentary Wi-Fi, private balconies, spacious staterooms, and more.

The trip takes cruisers to the historic town of Astoria at the western end of Lewis and Clark Trail, to view and learn about Mount St. Helens, the powerful volcano that erupted in 1980, along the Columbia River Gorge, with waterfalls, cliffs, lakes, streams, and wildflowers. Complimentary and optional excursions at each port enhance the experience and education along the way. Prices vary depending on the ship and sailing date, but start at around $4,000 per person for July departures on Queen of the West.

Hawaiian Islands

Image zoom Photo Courtesy from Norwegian Cruise Line

On the Norwegian Cruise Line “7-Day Hawaii,” passengers board the newly renovated Pride of America in Honolulu for a week of visits to waterfalls, beaches, volcanoes, and a total of four Hawaiian Islands. Overnight stops in Maui and Kauai provide extra time to explore the islands, and all-day visits to Kona and Hilo offer opportunities to take advantage of a variety of optional excursions, at additional cost.

Weekly departures throughout summer make it possible to visit each of the islands, with time in Honolulu at either end of the cruise. Excursions include helicopter tours, snorkeling, catamaran sailing, Zodiac rides, volcanoes, farms, and cooking classes. Prices begin at $1,599 for an inside stateroom and $1,799 for an ocean view.

Copenhagen, Denmark to Stockholm, Sweden

Image zoom Courtesy of Crystal Cruises

This 10-night luxury cruise, “Baltic Treasures,” aboard Crystal Serenity begins in Copenhagen before sailing to Berlin, Germany; Helsinki, Finland; St. Petersburg, Russia; Tallinn, Estonia; and Stockholm, Sweden, with a variety of tours to choose from in each port. Three days in St. Petersburg with 40 optional excursions provide opportunities to visit the opulent Winter Palace, the Hermitage Museum, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral with its gold-plated dome, the Faberge Museum, and more.

Onboard entertainment includes musicians, dancers, magicians, lounge pianists, and traditional Broadway revues. Also offered are wellness programs, educational opportunities, art classes, and lectures by experts on current topics. Fares for the Crystal Cruises July 7 sailing start at $6,250.

Venice, Italy to Athens, Greece

Image zoom Courtesy of Seabourn

Seabourn Cruises “7-day Adriatic and Greek Glories” will be departing on June 29, July 27, and Aug. 24 aboard Seabourn Odyssey with opportunities to explore Venice, its canals, and the Islands of Murano and Burano before boarding. The next port will be Vodice, a seaside town on the Dalmatian coast, and then on to Montenegro and the medieval town of Kotor. At the Greek island of Corfu, an optional excursion takes guests through olive groves and traditional villages. Visits to Cephalonia, Sparta, and ancient Mycenae blend ancient history, Greek mythology, and World Heritage sites before arriving at the port of Piraeus for Athens. Optional excursions at the destination include the Acropolis and tours with private drivers.

Ocean view staterooms start at $4,799 with additional costs for optional excursions. Onboard dining options range from casual to formal to in-suite dining.

Port Canaveral, Florida to Bahamas

Image zoom Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line’s “4-Night Bahamiam Cruise from Port Canaveral” begins with a Sail-away Celebration on the ship’s deck—a party with Disney characters, music, and dancing. Then, sail overnight to Nassau to explore the historic town, swim with dolphins, or see the coral reefs and tropical fish from a semi-submarine. Wake up the next day on Disney Castaway Cay, a private island for Disney guests with beaches, lagoons, snorkeling, boating, and adults-only Serenity Bay. The next day at sea provides time to enjoy the ship’s freshwater pool and fun in clubs designed for kids, teens, tweens, and adults.

Dates throughout July and August aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy include three, four, and five night cruises with similar destinations. Per person prices start at $1,865 (three nights), $3,645 (four nights), and $4,399 (five nights). Visit Disney World or tour the Kennedy Space Center before or after the cruise.

Tahiti, Society Islands

Image zoom Courtesy of Paul Gauguin Cruises

The seven night “Society Islands and Tahiti Iti” cruise by Paul Gauguin Cruises begins in Papeete, home to a colorful public market, boutiques, and the Pearl Museum. From there, visit Tahiti Iti for waterfalls, beaches, caves, and quiet beauty and then on to Huahine, Taha’a, Bora Bora, Moorea before returning to Papeete for a few days. Activities on the islands include snorkeling, diving, kayaking, swimming with reef sharks, cruising in glass bottom boats, catamarans, and outrigger canoes. On Bora Bora, experience the Lagoonarium, a natural aquarium with sharks, turtles, rays, and ocean fish.

The luxurious Paul Gauguin was designed for the shallow seas of the South Pacific and boasts spacious suites and staterooms, three dining venues, and spa. Several summer sailings are available, and prices start at $4,995 including airfare from Los Angeles or San Francisco.

London, England to Norway

Image zoom Courtesy of Princess Cruises

The “7-Day Norwegian Fjords” from Princess Cruises begins in London with optional excursions to Windsor Castle or Stonehenge. The next day is spent in the North Sea cruising towards Norway. On the Sapphire Princess, guests can enjoy the freshwater pools, hot tubs, games, shops, and dining at one of several venues. The first port is Stavanger, where the Vikings once sailed, and where historic buildings still remain. At the next port of Olden, optional excursions include cruising among glaciers and motorcoach tours. Other ports and excursions offer views of mountains, waterfalls, rivers, and medieval seaport towns before returning to London after another day at sea.

Two summer departure dates are available — July 6 and Aug. 10 — with a starting rate of $1,099 per person for an interior room.

Hungary, Austria, and Germany

Image zoom Courtesy of Viking

On the eight-day “Romantic Danube” river cruise aboard Viking River Cruises, passengers board in Budapest, Hungary and tour the city’s picturesque mansions and historic buildings. Stops along the way include Vienna with shore excursions to explore the Opera House, Schonbrunn Palace, and optional concert. The Danube cruise continues through the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to Passau, Germany with an optional trip to Salzburg to see settings from “The Sound of Music” film. The cruise ends in Nuremburg, Germany.

Departure dates throughout the summer offer many options, with cruises in both directions between Budapest and Nuremburg aboard Viking’s Longships. Enjoy the shoreline views from the ship’s verandas or dine al fresco as you pass the sights along the Danube. Prices start at $2,999 and vary depending on the stateroom and date, with airfare additional.