Cruises may have suffered during the Covid19 pandemic, but they remain a much-desired option for holiday-makers. Trips to holiday destinations for families are especially in demand, as cruises offer the luxury of entertainment on the way.
When it comes to making sure kids are as entertained as they can manage, the best cruise lines for families are in high demand. Some ships offer some especially interesting things for kids to do, aside from hanging out with their parents.
With that in mind, consider these cruise lines as strong options for taking your young family on a cruise. Whether you’re heading to the Americas, Europe, or anywhere else on earth, the best cruise lines for kids will keep your whole family entertained in top style.
What Makes the Best Cruises for Kids and Families?
In most cases, the idea of a cruise is exciting for most. The destination is, of course, usually what it’s all about, especially on wildlife-based holidays. Usually, this is enough to set the entire holiday’s tone (see the first entry below).
In the case of larger luxury cruise lines and ships, it also can come down to onboard entertainment and food. It requires some insightful planning and innovative ways to use the space available on a cruise ship. That said, it’s not as if the multiple decks and the floor space are small by any means.
In fact, the setting does present some unique opportunities, as you’ll see below. These particular lines and cruises offer something special for the family with kids. I you are looking for something to listen to on your cruise, take a listen to this cruise ship playlist.
First, let’s talk about the type of cruise vacation that specifically is all about the destination. Voyagers Travel Galapagos Islands cruises are all about making a visit to these islands intimate and personal. Galapagos is a wonderland of nature with unique wildlife on land and sea, making it one of the best family cruises in 2022.
On these types of cruises, you need to get from location to location quickly in a small group. A small vessel makes it much easier to appreciate the natural beauty of the islands. In terms of a family vacation, this is one that builds a love of nature and a one-of-a-kind bonding experience.
It’s worth noting that some boats do offer up to five decks with jacuzzis and sundecks – not exactly a dingy. It’s like staying in your own personal floating hotel while you travel between islands.
Royal Caribbean International
RCI sails to an impressive 149 destinations around the world. It has top-tier entertainment with families and vacationing groups in mind. So you’ll find excellent summer-related activities like pools and water parks.
But you’ll also enjoy adult-oriented live entertainment and dining, which you’ll enjoy while the kids check out the best of ship-based entertainment. Some you can even join in if they don’t mind too much.
Anthem of the Seas
Probably the most famous checklist item on this particular ship is the North Star. Installed on three of RCI’s ships, this is one of the tallest cruise ship viewing decks in the world and is listed as a Guinness World Record. At more than 290 feet above the water, the moving boom is a thrill for the entire family.
If you’ve ever wanted to try skydiving but didn’t fancy the plane ride, this ship also offers the Ripcord, a free-falling air tube where you can experience what it might be like. Kids will love the dogs from Dog House and the classic American burger and fries fare from Johnny Rockets.
Harmony of the Seas
Ziplining on a ship? Why not? If you prefer depths, try the Ultimate Abyss, the world’s tallest cruise slide – a full ten stories. Another superb novelty (perhaps for the parents) is the Rising Tide bar that actually rises and falls three entire decks while you enjoy the cocktails.
Celeb Chef Jaime Oliver’s presence is felt here at Jaime’s Italian. Aside from the requisite food outlets like Johnny Rockets and Dog House, kids may get a thrill out of attending their first hibachi bar with you.
Oasis of the Seas
There’s a strong fantasy element to the entertainment on the Oasis. Here, the laser tag is set in a frozen post-apocalyptic wasteland, where the sun has died. Cue a glow-in-dark- laser tag adventure for the whole family.
You can also engage in a space-themed puzzle game. You’ll have to work out the mind-bender in order to launch the Apollo spacecraft. You might also just be happy to go bananas in the onboard waterpark. In fact, most of the entertainment here is geared towards kids, making the Oasis’ educational, interactive, and fun elements top attractions for family cruise holidays.
Symphony of the Seas
There’s no doubt that the Flowrider surf simulator is the place to be on this boat. Nearly 30 000 gallons of water flow in a high-pressure system that will make the thrillseeker beam with pride when – or – if – they master it.
Elsewhere, there’s the sci-fi laser tag game that everyone can play. Then there’s Sugar Beach, a candy superstore eatery that makes every possible use of sugar a reality. If you can’t find your favorite sugar-drenched candy here, it simply doesn’t exist.
Disney Cruise Line
If ever a company was focused on being the best cruise for kids, it’s Disney. The cruise ship line carries on in that tradition, with world-famous properties and trademark characters ever-present. Each ship is slightly different with its featured properties, but most of these characters are so famous that it really won’t matter in the end which one you choose.
The Disney ships focus mainly on The Caribbean and the Bahamas, although there are some routes out to Northern Europe and the rest of the world. Something to note is the occasional themed specialty cruise, like Marvel Day at Sea, Halloween on the High Seas, and Pixar Day at Sea.
As you might expect, all the Disney favorites will join you on your trip to the Bahamas and Castaway Cay. The Animator’s Palate is a restaurant that has a dinner show featuring the stars of the Disney Universe. Kids are invited to a makeover in the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Live stage shows like Beauty and the Beast are ongoing as well.
The featured stage show on the Caribbean-bound Fantasy is Aladdin, but there’s also a special focus on the Pixar gang. Buzz, Woody, and the gang are ever-present for some nautical fun. Kids will also love the Aqua Duck, a water-coaster that is pretty unique when it comes to cruise ships even like this one.
Tangled is a musical stage show, and there’s at least one day on the cruise that is entirely dedicated to the Marvel Universe. On this day, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, and others lead a full-ship celebration of the heroes. Best of all, you get to see the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Europe all on one of the best cruise ships for kids!
The Wonder is very interesting from a live entertainment point of view. Here, one of the main attractions is Tiana’s Place, a celebration of the Southern US’s music and history. The theme of this amazing restaurant can be traced back to The Princess and the Frog.
The Marvel gang host a Marvel Superhero Academy, with games, and interactive shows, while the main live musical is everyone’s favorite: Frozen!
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival has put a significant effort into catering to families with kids. The company is based in Florida and operates 23 ships, of the which the notable family offerings are:
Carnival Horizon has an IMAX theater! Movies and documentaries have never looked so large on the high seas. Outside there’s a Waterworks park and the amazing Skyride. This is best described as riding a bike in the air, high above the ship’s deck. Kids can also try the SkyCourse ropes course if that’s too much.
The whole family can check out Guy Fieri’s burger joint for a great family dinner. All these kid-friendly cruises leave from Miami, headed for the Caribbean.
The Panorama sails from Long Beach, CA, to the Mexican Riviera. A unique trampoline park called the Sky Zone is one of the most popular and fun-filled features of this 15-deck beauty. The Panorama also has a Skyride, as well as live music shows, a water park, and enough food options to satisfy a galaxy.
If your family has reservations and misconceptions about a Caribbean Cruise, this option is a great middle ground . For the kids, there’s Camp Ocean. It’s modeled on their very own traditional summer camp, except it’s on the boat, of course, and it’s at sea. Kids are grouped into appropriate age groups for the experience and participate in all the things we used to love about summer camp. Best of all, the camp allows parents to spend some time vacationing for themselves, too.
And they will, with plenty of adult-focused activities to enjoy, like the Skyride mentioned above, the Serenity retreat, or the Redfrog Pub.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Oddly, Norwegian is not a Northern European-based company. It is in fact an American company headquartered in Miami. It has an impressive general offering for families, as might be expected from the third-largest operator in the world (in terms of passengers).
The Breakaway has an entire quarter-mile of “waterfront”, a promenade in the style of a land-based seaside walk. It’s like being on the coastline or boardwalk, complete with bars, restaurants, and space to stroll.
There’s music, broadway-style entertainment, and the waterpark and sports facilities to enjoy by the whole family. The Breakaway sails the Caribbean and across the Atlantic. Especially interesting for younger passengers is Entourage -a teen-focused lounge, and the Splash Academy for younger kids.
MSC Cruise Line
MSC is based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is the world’s largest privately-owned cruise ship company. The large fleet offers great facilities, with family-based entertainment highlighted on these two ships.
Heading to the private island in the Bahamas, the Divina is a beauty for both adults and teens especially. Among the key highlights are a huge broadway-style theater and the virtual World games arcade. But teens will want to get to the F1 simulator first.
The Meraviglia is a relatively new addition to the fleet, sailing to Cuba and the Caribbean. For a breathtaking view, see the two-floor internal promenade, which is a covered walk offering shops, restaurants, parties, and shows.
Challenge the kids in the full-sized bowling alley, or simply let them indulge in the mini and juniors clubs hosted on board. And yes, there’s an F1 simulator here, too.
Princes cruises sail variously from San Francisco, Southampton, and other ports to several destinations around the world. They visit the Caribbean, Europe, South America, Central America, North America, the Pacific, Asia, Africa, and even Antarctica. Most of the boats carry the same or similar offerings for families.
Regal Princess, Royal Princess, Ruby Princess, Crown Princess, Emerald Princess
The Discovery partnership program is perfect for both adults and kids to enjoy. It’s a series of activities like stargazing from the deck, the “Finding Bigfoot” project, and special programs like Shark week. It’s extremely educational and fun, perfect while you’re on your way.
Special areas like The Treehouse, the Lodge, and the beach house are specifically designed for various age groups. You can all get together again at night to try the movies under the stars, a live show, or tasty restaurant fare.
Final Thoughts on Best Cruises for Families
As you can see, it’s not easy to be disappointed with most of these fun cruises for families. The best cruise line for kids, by virtue of amazing ships and offerings, is all about entertainment. Aside from these great uniquely-styled options, you have great choices for the actual accommodation and basic facilities.
The holiday cruise, as we know it, is a highly prized and special time. It’s an opportunity to simply relax with your partner and family and enjoy some quality time doing fun things. And better yet, no need to worry about boarding planes or driving.
Just get to the onboard waterpark, play a bit of sport, munch on a burger, and watch something cool – like a show, an IMAX movie, or the night sky!