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5 Best Cruise Lines for Families

The best places to make memories with your family.
Last Updated
:
February 7, 2024
by
Editorial Staff
Family children beach cruise ship relaxation concept
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Adobe Stock
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Between the kids’ chorus of “Are we there yet?!” and the teens’ grumbles of “I’m bored,” family vacations can go from tranquil to stressful faster than your minivan backfires when accelerating up a hill. But cruises offer the ultimate family getaway, with something to entertain every age group beyond just shuffling the Wi-Fi password.

Take it from us – on our last Royal Caribbean cruise attempt, we nearly rioted when the 24-hour ice cream bar was inexplicably closed. How else were we supposed to endure the in-laws for a whole week?! This time, we’ve done our homework to find the cruise lines catering best to frazzled parents like us.

In this blog post, we’ll highlight our top picks for the most family-friendly cruises on the high seas. We’re talking kids clubs tailored specifically to different age groups, multi-story water slides that even Uncle Jerry can enjoy, and all the soft serve one can inhale at 2 AM when the kids finally fall asleep. We’ve meticulously evaluated each cruise line so you don’t have to spend your precious planning time reading the fine print.

Read on to discover which lines offer the best bonuses like unlimited chicken fingers for finicky eaters, how to get the most bang out of your buck by booking family suites, and insider tips to divide and conquer when wrangling the whole herd. No overpriced Wi-Fi package required – just the best-curated advice so your next cruise looks more like the Love Boat and less like the Titanic.

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Disney Cruise Line

disney fantasy cruise ship
@disney_cruise_picture_of_day / Instagram

When it comes to cruising for families, Disney Cruise Line is a must. Their ships are spacious and feature numerous activities and themes for families to enjoy. The cruises are also affordable and offer discounts for kids. Kids eat for free in most specialty restaurants, and the Night Owls babysitting service is free.

Onboard, the Disney Cruise Line provides a relaxed atmosphere that will relax and refresh parents. Kids can enjoy movie-themed play areas and character meet-and-greets. They can also participate in stage shows and interactive dining rooms. Adults can enjoy upscale dining, couples’ spa treatments, and onboard splash areas.

For families with older children, the Disney cruise ships feature a kids club. It has a themed area for young children and a dedicated area for older kids. Children can also enjoy a stage production of Beauty and the Beast. Kids can also take part in family-friendly activities on the pool deck.

Another excellent cruise line for families is MSC Cruises. The European flair and cuisine make this line a favorite among families. The cruise line also offers a Kids Sail Free program and exclusive activities for kids. The kids’ club offers a year-round program for kids, which makes it easy to plan a family vacation on a budget. Its ships also include some of the largest cruise ships in the world.

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Royal Caribbean International

Icon of The Seas cruise ship from Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean International

Families can find lots of things to do on a Royal Caribbean cruise. For example, there is a supervised kids club that will keep kids occupied during the day. Kids can also enjoy activities such as swimming, surfing, and mini golf. Kids are also provided with babysitting services. They may also like to spend time at the ship’s water parks, which feature water slides, water acrobatics, and bumper cars.

Royal Caribbean International is known for its excellent family cruises. Its ships offer many features that will appeal to children of any age. Its newest ship, the Symphony of the Seas, builds on the strengths of its other ships in the Oasis Class. It features seven distinct neighborhoods, a 10-story Ultimate Abyss slide, three water slides, and a kids’ waterpark called Splashaway Bay. For adults, there are also theaters, arcades, and live entertainment.

Royal Caribbean also offers private islands that are free for children to explore. Their CocoCay island is a favorite among families. The private island is equipped with an abundance of activities, including a freshwater pool. In addition, kids can enjoy a kid’s corner and a kid’s menu.

Carnival Cruise Line is another excellent cruise line for families. It provides a number of fun activities for kids, including rock climbing, roller skating, ice skating on ice rinks, and bumper cars. It also offers a 4D cinema and an arcade.

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Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Jubilee cruise ship from Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line offers a variety of family-friendly amenities, including kids’ clubs and nightly shows. They also have two movie theaters, including an IMAX screen. Onboard, kids can enjoy a variety of activities such as mini bowling and ping pong, or play at the water park. There are also many specialty restaurants that cater to kids and nightly babysitting is provided.

Carnival Cruise Line has more ships and more kid-friendly activities than any other cruise line. A popular new feature for children is the introduction of five-berth staterooms, which offer a lower price than adjoining rooms. The line also has the largest aqua park to date, including a 303-foot spiral slide. Other amenities include an 18-hole mini-golf course and a massive LED screen by the pool. For the youngest passengers, there are separate facilities for children aged two to 11 years old, twelve to fourteen years old, and fifteen to 17-year-olds.

Onboard, children can participate in a number of activities on board, including games and arts and crafts. The line even has a partnership with National Geographic and offers a program called National Geographic Global Explorer. This program allows kids to get a hands-on look at marine life.

Kids can also enjoy the upscale amenities of luxury cruise lines. Onboard, children can play in movie-themed play areas, meet Disney characters, and enjoy the shows.

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MSC Cruises

MSC Seaside cruise ship from MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises is one of the best choices for families, especially if your travel party includes young children. It offers numerous family-friendly amenities including a kids club, oversized balconies, and free activities for young children. Families can also enjoy activities like bowling, racing car simulators, arcades, and 4D cinemas.

In addition to its family-friendly ambiance, MSC offers a wide variety of cruise activities, including special family-friendly cabins. MSC also offers Kids Under 11 Sail Free promotions and a partnership with LEGO, as well as a variety of on-deck activities for children of all ages.

Onboard activities include theater shows and kids’ clubs. MSC Meraviglia also offers theater shows and exclusive Cirque du Soleil shows. Families can also find activities for younger children on the MSC Armonia and MSC Divina. The ship also has more bars than a typical adult could drink in a week.

MSC Cruises also has a full slate of Bahamas and Eastern Caribbean sailings, as well as Caribbean sailings. These sailings range in length from three nights to two weeks. There are different levels, and each level offers different perks. Families can choose from either an affordable or a luxury package.

MSC Cruises has family cabins that can accommodate up to four passengers. They have two bathrooms and a balcony. Some of these cabins are equipped with bunk beds and a king or queen bed. The MSC Meraviglia and Seaside also have Super Family Cabins, which include two bathrooms.

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Costa Cruises

Costa Toscana cruise ship from Costa Cruises
Costa Cruises

Costa Cruises caters to families with younger children, with specially designed areas for them. However, older children may find that there isn’t much variety in the activities. Teenagers may prefer the atmosphere. One downside is that Costa Cruises do not offer sailings from the UK. However, there are many ports of call throughout Europe.

The fleet consists of more than a dozen ships and sails to over 100 ports around the world. Guests can expect to be entertained by games and activities in the pool or on the water slide. There are also costume parties and casino games on board. The food is also great, with the best Italian cuisine served onboard.

Costa Cruises offers a variety of cabin options at affordable prices. The ships feature multiple pools, live shows, casino games, specialty restaurants, and shops. While many ships will offer these facilities, some may not be available when COVID-19 is in effect. Families can also take advantage of Costa Cruises’ flat-rate drink packages. These include draft beer and house wine.

Costa Cruises is an Italian cruise line based in Genoa. The ships feature Italian flair, with a friendly and lively atmosphere. Guests of all nationalities flock to the cruise ship. Evening entertainment tends to be more traditional and involves dancing, music, and language-based productions. Parents can dress casually to relax and enjoy the cruise.

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